Term of Award

Fall 2006

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Education Administration (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Leadership, Technology, and Human Development

Committee Chair

Walter Polka

Committee Member 1

F. Erik Brooks

Committee Member 2

Meta Harris

Committee Member 3

Ming Fang He

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine how Georgia middle school principals work with teachers to enhance student achievement in this era of standardized testing. This study became the focus of the researcher's attention because of the increased level of accountability for school systems, schools, and administrators in regard to student achievement. Each school is held accountable for the academic success of students, and the No Child Left Behind Act, which is federal law, requires that each state set high academic standards and implement student testing. However, while conducting a review of literature in the area of standardized testing and student achievement, the researcher felt it was important to examine how principals work with teachers to help students achieve acceptable scores on standardized tests that are consistent with achievement in the classroom. The literature identified the history of standardized testing, the advantages and disadvantages of standardized testing, and defined the current prevalent standards of the No Child Left Behind Act and Criterion-Referenced Competency Test (CRCT). There was a limited amount of information, however, on the strategies middle school principals use to maintain acceptable test scores and how they work with teachers to enhance student achievement. Since schools are graded based on standardized test performance, and administrators are expected to close any achievement gaps and to keep their school off the Needs Improvement List, it became clear that a study on how principals work with teachers to enhance student achievement would be beneficial. It is also important that acceptable standards are maintained without standardizing the curriculum. The following research is significant to administrators, teachers, and parents to help prepare students for standardized tests and academic achievement. The method of data collection included structured interviews with suburban Georgia middle school principals and the development of school portraitures for each respective school. The responses from the structured interviews were reported in narrative form. Findings that emerged from the study were staff development and professional learning helped ensure success, less emphasis should be placed on homework, the CRCT just measures basic competency, reading and differentiated instruction plays a critical role in achievement, and teachers needed time to plan so that students could be appropriately placed. Accountability, investment in teacher knowledge and skill, and assessment that drive curriculum will continue to bring successful standardized testing outcomes and greater student achievement when applied at schools and in school systems nationwide.

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