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Doctoral Dissertation

An Historical Analysis of the Role of Magnet Schools in the Desegregation of Riverview School District

Available from: University of Illinois - IDEALS

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Abstract/Notes: This historical study provides a concise history of desegregation in public schools in the United States and the subsequent establishment of magnet schools. An historical timeline from the establishment of the first magnet schools to current magnet schools models of excellence was presented. Equity theory framed this study as educational practitioners continue to strive for equal access to educational programs for all students. This study examined historical, racial, and socio-economic data from a school district in central Illinois that established magnet programs in 1979 to stop White flight. The results of the study included information regarding the historical and political events that led to the establishment of magnet programs. Additional data examined if the magnet programs led to improved integration in the school district and if there were differences between students enrolled in both the magnet classes and the non-magnet classes in terms of race and socio-economic status. The study found that there were many factors which led to the establishment of the magnet programs in Riverview. Additionally, the study found that the magnet programs did not accomplish their initial task, and that there are some significant racial and socio-economic differences between students enrolled in magnet and non-magnet classes. Recommendations for further study were provided.

Language: English

Published: Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, 2015

Doctoral Dissertation

Measuring Parent Perception and Understanding of Montessori Education in Three Massachusetts Montessori Schools

Available from: University of Pepperdine

Americas, Montessori schools, North America, Parent participation, Parents - Perceptions, United States of America

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Abstract/Notes: The Montessori method is a comprehensive, child-centered, developmentalist philosophy of education developed by Dr. Maria Montessori in Rome, Italy, in the early 1900s. The Montessori method differs from traditional approaches to education, and has had limited exposure in the U.S. until the last 20 years. Despite this growth, little research data exists on the effectiveness of the method or of parent understanding of the method. This research project attempted to determine parent understanding of the Montessori method of education at three Montessori schools in Massachusetts that educate children from toddlers to grade 8. The objective of the research was to design, implement, and analyze a survey that measured parent understanding of the Montessori principles and classroom practices. The survey was developed using the Montessori principles as the foundation. The goal was to determine both the extent of parent understanding of the Montessori principles and parent perception of how these principles are carried out in the Montessori classroom. Parents and guardians were asked a total of 10 questions, 7 of which were five-point Likert scales. The quantitative questions specifically addressed the six Montessori principles and were designed to test parents’ overall understanding of each principle. Responses ranged from a principle being not at all important to very important. The qualitative portion of the survey instrument utilized three open-ended, self-completed questions designed to reveal a range of parent perceptions about Montessori education and classroom practices. The surveys revealed that parent values and thinking do line up with some aspects of the Montessori method and philosophy. The surveys also revealed that parents seem to value classroom practices contrary to the founding principles. What parents value and what parents think about regarding concepts such as goal setting, achievement, competition with peers, and teachers preparing and presenting lessons is in direct contrast with some of the Montessori founding principles and intentions. If Montessori schools wish to remain viable, they will need to reconcile the Montessori principles with conflicting parent values and, further, determine how to better align their principles with parent views and desires for their children.

Language: English

Published: Malibu, California, 2015

Doctoral Dissertation

Fostering Prosocial Behaviors in Urban Elementary Schools: A Closer Look at the Montessori Approach

Available from: ProQuest Dissertations and Theses

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Abstract/Notes: Montessori education emphasizes the development of prosocial skills, which are correlated with positive educational and behavioral outcomes in both middle-class and low-income school environments. Two recent studies document the effectiveness of the Montessori approach in this area. Historically, the Montessori method, developed in Italy in 1906, became widespread in American independent schools in the 1950s. With the advent of charter school legislation, the number of public Montessori schools serving lower income children has been increasing over the last decade. The purpose of this study was: (a) to observe and describe how Montessori teachers foster prosocial skills, and (b) to explore whether and how this differs in public and private Montessori schools serving students of different backgrounds/SES. Five mixed-age (first-third grade) Montessori classrooms (two private, three public) were observed and videotaped on two occasions between December 2006 and February 2007. An observation tool developed for non-Montessori classrooms was used to record teacher behaviors linked to prosocial skills development. Similar teacher strategies to promote prosocial skills were recorded in both the public and private schools. These similarities were apparent despite vastly different student and school characteristics. A number of teacher strategies typically associated with the promotion of prosocial skills which were emphasized in the observation tool were not observed in either school. The findings of this study raise questions about the use of observation tools outside of the context in which they were developed. This finding may also be attributed to the timing of the observations (in winter), as the teacher behaviors are more likely to be exhibited during the first few months of school. Interviews with teachers and principals also revealed different leadership needs of a start-up school as opposed to an established school.

Language: English

Published: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2007

Doctoral Dissertation

Negotiating Dual Accountability Systems: Strategic Responses of Big Picture Schools to State-Mandated Standards and Assessment

Available from: ProQuest Dissertations and Theses

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Abstract/Notes: The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 mandated that states implement standards and test-based accountability systems. In theory, local educators are free to select the means for teaching the standards so long as students achieve a predetermined proficiency level on the exams. What is unclear, however, is how this theory plays out in schools committed to educational approaches that are seemingly incompatible with state-determined standards and testing. This dissertation examines how such schools strategically respond to the opposing demands of their program design and these government mandates. This qualitative study focuses on five schools affiliated with the Big Picture Learning (BPL) network. BPL offers an example of an educational program whose emphasis on individualized interest-driven learning and authentic real-world assessment is not easily aligned with standards-driven content and tests. This study considers empirical research on school-level response to externally imposed accountability mandates (Carnoy, Elmore & Siskin, 2003). In addition, it draws on sociology's organization-environment relations literature including institutional isomorphism (DiMaggio & Powell, 1983), agency (DiMaggio, 1988; Oliver, 1991) and the theoretical models of bridging, buffering and decoupling (Scott & Davis, 2007) to create a conceptual framework of how these BPL schools negotiate competing expectations. Findings show that these schools filter state demands for accountability through the lenses of both individual teachers and Big Picture design. While taking action both to meet the demands and protect the core program, schools internalize the value of a standards-based curriculum and increase internal accountability to incorporate content-standards while simultaneously rejecting the validity of testing and gaming the system. Currently, failure to meet state mandates comes with such severe consequences that these schools may be forced to choose between radically morphing to survive or maintaining integrity and possibly closing. However, if the regulatory climate becomes less standardized and more qualitative, these schools could be forerunners in meeting revised mandates. The study suggests policy implications surrounding the intersection of belief systems, consequences and strategic responses. It offers a cautionary tale about the power of the state, the precarious nature of falling outside state norms and what prioritizing bureaucratic efficiency may mean for innovation in education.

Language: English

Published: Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2012

Doctoral Dissertation

Relationships Between Theory and Practice in London Montessori Pre-Schools

Available from: British Library - EthOS

England, Europe, Great Britain, Montessori method of education - Evaluation, Northern Europe, United Kingdom

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Abstract/Notes: This study undertook to investigate the practical application of the Montessori method in London Montessori pre-schools, and how this relates to the individual teacher's interpretation of the theory underpinning the method. This entailed an examination and analysis of the understanding and attitudes of teachers towards the practicalities of Montessori theory, as well as the relationship between that interpretation and the subsequent practice. Hence the key research aimed to determine the position and attitudes of a selection of Montessori teachers in schools today...

Language: English

Published: Brighton, England, 1993

Doctoral Dissertation

Teacher Beliefs, Attitudes, and Expectations Towards Students with Attention Disorders in Three Schools in the United Kingdom's Independent School System

Available from: ProQuest Dissertations and Theses

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Attention-deficit-disordered children, Children with disabilities, England, Europe, Inclusive education, Northern Europe, Northern Ireland, Perceptions, Scotland, Teachers - Attitudes, United Kingdom

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Abstract/Notes: Scope and method of study. The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate the connection between the beliefs, attitudes, and expectations teachers exhibit towards students who have attention challenges in three independent schools in England and the pathognomonic-interventionist continuum as identified by Jordan-Wilson and Silverman (1991), which identifies, along a scale, where teachers' beliefs lie. Teachers' sense of efficacy as they meet individual student needs was also explored as was what educators in these schools, who have limited, if any, recourse to special education assistance, do to support students who display the characteristics of attention deficit. The pathognomonic-interventionist continuum and Bandura's (1977) construct of self-efficacy were the lenses used to focus the research. The study records participants' responses and reflections about the phenomenon under study, describing what it is they do, how they perceive their responsibility towards their students, and how they support each other. Findings and conclusions. Data compiled from a sample of 10 teachers and 3 head-teachers, were disaggregated to provide a picture of how participant teachers work with attentionally challenged children in selected English independent schools. The results provide evidence that teachers whose profile identifies them with the interventionist perspective present stronger senses of self-efficacy. They are prepared to undertake prereferral-type activities to determine where the student is experiencing difficulty and are then willing to manipulate the learning environment to meet individual student needs. Teachers in these schools perceive it as their professional obligation to design teaching scenarios to benefit all students. Teacher efficacy, their sense of their ability to positively influence their students' educational performance and achievement, is unrelated to years of experience or educational background, but is related to the beliefs which they hold.

Language: English

Published: Stillwater, Oklahoma, 2006

Doctoral Dissertation

Comparison of Montessori and Non-Montessori Teachers' Beliefs About Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Preschools

Available from: ProQuest Dissertations and Theses

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Abstract/Notes: In this study, 173 preschool teachers (80 non-Montessori teachers and 93 Montessori teachers) were given a survey at two early childhood professional conferences that examined their beliefs about Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP). The purpose of this study was to (a) investigate preschool teachers' beliefs about Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP) and Developmentally Inappropriate Practice (DIP); (b) discover the similarities and differences in the factor structures of the Teacher's Beliefs Scale (TBS) between the study conducted by Charlesworth, Hart, Burts, Thomasson, Mosley, and Fleege in 1993 and the current study about DAP; (c) discover the similarities and differences of Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP) and Developmentally Inappropriate Practice (DIP) beliefs between Montessori teachers and preschool teachers; and (d) investigate the factors that are related to teachers' beliefs about DAP and DIP. The Teacher Beliefs Scale (TBS) was used to assess preschool teachers' beliefs about DAP and DIP. Factor analysis was used to support the validity of TBS in the current study. Multiple t-tests were used to identify the differences in developmental appropriate/inappropriate beliefs between Montessori and non-Montessori teachers. Multiple regression analyses were used to explain the relationship between variables of 173 Montessori and non-Montessori preschool teachers. Results of the study showed that a majority of preschool teachers agreed with 22 Developmentally Appropriate Practices (DAP) and 12 Developmentally Inappropriate Practices (DIP). Responses to seven items were different from the original study (Charlesworth et al., 1993). There was a significant difference on Inappropriate Activities and on Appropriate Child Choice between non-Montessori and Montessori teachers. There was a relationship between teachers' beliefs about DAP and teachers' educational backgrounds, teaching experiences, ethics, and DAP understanding level in the current study.

Language: English

Published: Greeley, Colorado, 2003

Doctoral Dissertation

Balancing Act: Race and the Kansas City, Missouri Public Schools, 1949–1999

Available from: ProQuest Dissertations and Theses

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Abstract/Notes: Public school integration has been a wrenching process in a number of American cities during the last half of the twentieth century. In few cities, however, has the process been so heavily litigated, so rife with controversy, so costly, so lengthy, or, ultimately, yielded results so mixed as in Kansas City, Missouri. This dissertation analyzes the troubled course of integration in the Kansas City public schools and the numerous forces that influenced that course. In short, this dissertation is a case study of one district's struggle to formulate an integrated school system and the manner in which changing legal standards, shifting demographic patterns, pressure from various community groups, financial limitations, and other political considerations have shaped public policy choices regarding integration in the Kansas City schools. During the fifty year period between 1949 and 1999, racial issues have figured prominently, and at times dominated, the policy making process in the Kansas City schools. In 1955 the city's public schools were integrated, but the extent of integration produced by the initial desegregation plan failed to satisfy the black community and the district faced several lawsuits seeking additional steps to promote integration. The paucity of integration in the Kansas City schools also drew criticism from the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare. In the mid-1970s, under pressure from HEW, school officials in Kansas City initiated a busing plan that produced more extensive integration. However, by the mid-1980s, the school district was again a defendant in a desegregation suit. The school district was found liable for the vestiges of segregation that remained in the public schools and a sweeping remedy was ordered by the court. in a series of rulings announced in the mid-1980s, the district court approved a remedy providing for educational enhancements, massive improvements to the district's schools, and the establishment of the nation's most expansive and expensive magnet schools system for purposes of integration. The magnet plan, however, failed to meet the ambitious goals established by the district court, and the remedy was continually attacked in the courts by the state of Missouri and disgruntled taxpayers. In 1995, the United States Supreme Court overturned much of the remedy and four years later the case was dismissed.

Language: English

Published: Manhattan, Kansas, 2000

Doctoral Dissertation

Barriers Contributing to the Minimal Participation of African American Parents in Their Children's Schools: A Qualitative Case Study of African American Parent Involvement in an Urban K–8 Elementary School in Minnesota

Available from: ProQuest Dissertations and Theses

African American community, African Americans, Americas, Early childhood care and education - Parent participation, Early childhood education - Parent participation, Montessori method of education, Montessori schools, North America, Parent participation, Parent-teacher relationships, United States of America

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Abstract/Notes: This research is a case study of African American parent involvement at a urban Montessori school in Minnesota. African American parents at this school have had limited involvement in conferences, PTSO meetings, school activities, and on the Site-Based Leadership Team. An examination of the literature was made to investigate the influences on African American parents when they make decisions about their parental involvement. This research covered the historical background, theoretical background, implications, racial barriers, and strategies that increased African American parent involvement. An ethnography was designed to gather data from 9 mothers of African American students. These parents provided information about their backgrounds and their experiences with the school. Staff at the school (6) were interviewed as to their experiences with African American parent involvement. The results of the study offer findings on attitudes, perceptions, needs and ideas for improving African American parent involvement at any school.

Language: English

Published: St. Paul, Minnesota, 2000

Doctoral Dissertation

Where Have All the Children Gone? A Case Study of Three American Preschools

Available from: ProQuest Dissertations and Theses

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Abstract/Notes: In sociological investigation, Weber (1968) believes that concrete historical events can be interpreted in terms of social action. These patterns of action differ from historical accounts, which explore the importance of causal explanation of individual events. Entwistle and Alexander (1993) contend that sociologists of education have paid little attention to patterns of class interaction and inequality in preschools. Adding to Hartley's (1993) work on nursery schools in Scotland, and using an organizational model with a sociohistorical standpoint, this ethnographic case study helps to bridge that gap by concentrating on the historical and ecological contexts of (1) a Laboratory school; (2) a Montessori school; and, (3) a Head Start center. The central problem of the study seeks an answer to the question "If inequalities in preschools exist, what do they look like?" This study assumes that historically educational systems have exerted a form of social control over children in order to transmit cultural values. Part I of the study examines ancient and modern societies, their cultures and their philosophical grounding to reveal the values and trends that contribute to social change in the early education of children. Part II adds a triangulation strategy to explore the ecology (environment and culture) of the three schools in the study. These strategies include archival content analysis of the preschool organizations, nonparticipant observation of the classrooms (Bell, 1993), intensive interviewing of the staff and administration members and a brief survey of the preschool parents. This study draws from the sociology of Weber's "ideal bureaucracy," Berger's "bureaucratic cognitive style," Elias' "civilizing process," Bernstein's "visible and invisible" pedagogy, Bourdieu's "cultural capital" and Anyon's "biased ideological messages." In this exploratory study, the data analysis uses a descriptive methodology, not to draw conclusions, but similar to Glaser and Strauss' "grounded theory" to introduce questions to be explored further by researchers. A final section on policy recommendations is included.

Language: English

Published: Boston, Massachusetts, 2000

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