Variables Associated with Student Performance on SOL Tests in Virginia: A Comparison of Two Schools
Lawson, Brenda B.
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The public's continued disappointment with public education and the call for both teacher and student accountability is requiring a response from educators. School divisions in the state of Virginia are developing educational policies that address the state's Standards of Learning Objectives. Administrators and teachers continue to search for innovative ways to adapt the curriculum to guarantee individual student and school success for meeting accreditation requirements in the 2006-2007 school term. This demand for both student and teacher success has created an intense anxiousness among all persons involved in the educational process. The focus of this study was to determine what makes one school more successful in promoting student achievement on the Virginia Standards of Learning assessment than another comparable school. The exploration of a school's organizational structure, leadership practices, teaching behaviors of instructional personnel, school culture, and parent support were studied to determine their effect on student performance on the Standards of Learning assessments. The researcher was concerned with understanding of educational practices that would enrich the thinking of principals, teachers, and parents as they continue to accomplish Virginia's prescribed SOL benchmarks. Data was collected through classroom and school observations and interviews with the principals, teachers, and parents of the two schools. A cross-case comparison of the targeted schools was performed to check for commonalties and differences. Several variables emerged from the data that have implications for educators who desire to improve the effectiveness of their organizations and student achievement. An environment that promotes a sense of professional community, teacher efficacy, and a common commitment among stakeholders enhances teacher and student achievement. Principals willing to share leadership with teachers and parents have effective schools. They inspire and motivate teachers. Effective principals have high-energy levels. They listen to the people they serve. A school culture that encourages and rewards risk-taking serves to enhance teacher and student performance. Effective schools have positive, relaxed work environments. Principals that develop strong interpersonal relationships inside and outside the school positively influence student achievement and performance.
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