College of Education Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Spring 2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

College of Education, Doctoral Program

First Advisor

Amira Proweller, PhD

Second Advisor

Horace Hall, PhD

Third Advisor

Kevin Anderson, EdD

Abstract

This case study explored a high-achieving elementary school on Chicago’s far South Side that fosters academic success for its African American students who come from predominately low-income homes. Tyler School serves a demographic group that historically underperforms. Yet multiple measures of evaluating student achievement indicate that Tyler is an exceptional school.

The research question driving this study is this: How does the school’s administrative team at Tyler School create conditions that support student achievement? Secondary questions explore the school's climate, teachers' qualifications, curriculum, and the other factors that contribute to student success. Interviews with administrators, teachers, and parents, as well as observations of staff meetings served as the primary methods of inquiry. A review of the school’s improvement plan and School Report Card supplemented the data collection.

Research revealed that under the administrators' leadership, Tyler School features these inter-related conditions that support success: a warm, positive, inclusive, and optimistic culture where relationships between administrators, teachers, parents, and students thrive; highly qualified teachers; and a rigorous curriculum. Through the administrators’ resourcefulness and perseverance, some structural features at Tyler are comparable to those at schools serving affluent Caucasian students. Curricular materials and technological resources are up-to-date.

The results of this dissertation, that a complex matrix of inter-related iv supports underscores student achievement at a high-performing school serving low-income African American students reinforces the findings of the Effective Schools Movement and other research on demographically similar high-achieving schools. Contributing to this body of research is essential since national accountability-based education reform efforts have proven unsuccessful in closing the achievement gap. Documenting how schools such as Tyler operate, and disseminating that data, will support dedicated administrators and educators at low-income, low-performing schools to transform their schools by implementing best practices from real-life school success stories.

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