Dr. Kent McLellan

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Title School district variables including superintendent/principal conflict and their contribution to student achievement in Nebraska class III public school districts
Author McLellan, Kenton John
School The University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Degree EdD
Date 2002
Adviser Bryant, Miles T.
Pages 239
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  Chapters 1-3
Chapters 4-5
Abstract Using data from 38 small/rural school districts in Nebraska, this study examined what attributes of a school district affected students' aggregate levels of academic achievement in reading and mathematics. District attributes were measured through four environmental variables, four organizational variables, and an 80-item school district health survey. District data was collected from a state report card. A survey was administered to a randomly selected sample of five teachers or ten percent of the total number of teachers (whichever was greater) in each of 50 randomly chosen districts. Teachers answered questions about their perceptions of their district. Districts that had a return rate of at least three surveys were included in the study. This resulted in a final sample of 38 districts. Analysis of data showed the following: (1) there was an insignificant correlation between staff qualifications and pupil teacher ratio and student achievement; (2) number of professional support staff had no significant effect on achievement; (3) increasing district resources did not correlate with increased student achievement; (4) school size was unrelated to student achievement; and (5) neither levels of conflict nor district leadership had a relationship with student achievement. A significant negative correlation was found between the number of minority students in the district and student achievement. Multiple regression was used to analyze the contribution of predictor variables to variation in achievement. The one variable that consistently explained variation in achievement was the number of minorities in the district. In several models, measures of organizational health were significant contributors to a model that achieved significance. Establishing the characteristics of school districts that can be directly linked to student achievement is a difficult task. This study identified little within the control of a school district that could be manipulated to impact student achievement. As a consequence, educators should be wary of reform initiatives that seem to offer easy fixes to raising student achievement.
 
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