Abstract of the Dissertation
A Collective Inquiry Response to High-Stakes Accountability
Claremont Graduate University: 2005
This study examined the practices of schools that demonstrated remarkable growth in student achievement in response to high-stakes performance accountability, despite a legacy of low performance and challenges of high-poverty, high-minority, and high English learner populations. Three schools were selected for study from an urban school district, based on demographic criteria, growth in academic achievement, and stability in leadership. The study compared findings from research on successful school improvement practices with practices identified by school leaders as having contributed to growth. The processes of collective inquiry used to operationalize these practices were examined in detail.
Interviews, observations, and document reviews were conducted in a descriptive, holistic, multiple-case study research design. Data were analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively using the computer software NUD*IST QSR6 to aid in coding, analysis, and generation of reports. The results were reported overall, by case, and by respondent groups- lead teachers and principals.
The results confirmed the importance of Shared Purpose/Focus on Results, Data Use, Collaboration, Professional Development, and Leadership, which were derived form the literature on school improvement. The findings identified three additional practices- District Direction/Support, Parent Involvement, and Expectations/Success Culture.