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Leading a learning-centered culture: Collaboration, collegiality, teacher efficacy, and parent engagement

Dissertation
Author: Connie Jean Hayes
Abstract:
In this study, the researcher proposed to expand current theories to determine the degree collaboration, collegiality, teacher efficacy, and parent engagement correlate to student achievement. Based on a review of the literature, specific characteristics emerged that needed further study for school improvement efforts. The purpose of the research was to investigate the correlation of school culture characteristics and parent engagement to student achievement levels in public elementary schools in Kentucky. A quantitative research design was used to determine the correlation of school culture characteristics and parent engagement to student learning. The population of this study was comprised of fifty Kentucky elementary schools sampled from the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System biennium of 2004-2006 accountability indices and performance levels. Kentucky schools were divided into three performance categories: (a) Meets Goals, (b) Progressing, and (c) Needs Assistance. One hundred twenty-three schools were in the random sample population, which resulted in fifty being selected to participate. Thirty-seven Kentucky elementary schools returned surveys. Data collected includes 672 teachers and 3000 parents. The multiple regression analyses yielded the following theoretical equation that can be used to predict the accountability index and determine student achievement in a learning-centered culture. Accountability Index = -.981(collegiality) + .924 (teacher efficacy) + 83.47.

CONTENTS Page ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS............................................................................................iii ABSTRACT.................................................................................................................…iiii CHAPTER I......................................................................................................................1 Introduction……………………………………………………………………………..1 Problem Statement and Purpose of the Study…………..…………………..…………..4 Significance of the Study……………………………………………..…..…………….7 Potential Limitations of the study………….…..……………………………..……….10 Research Questions ……………………………………………………………………12 CHAPTER II...................................................................................................................13 Literature Review Introduction …………………………………………………………...……………….13 Defining Culture; Tracing Its Impact on Business Culture……………………….......16 School Culture and its Impact on Student Achievement……………………………...19 Leadership and its Impact on Student Achievement………………………………….26 A Learning-Centered Culture: Collaboration, Collegiality, Self-Determination and Teacher Efficacy…………………………………………………………..………….32

Parent Engagement’s Impact on Student Achievement……………………………………………………..……………………37 The Cornerstone for Improvement: School Culture Analysis………………………...42 School Culture Analysis………………………………………………………………50 Summary………………………………………………………………………………50

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CHAPTER III……..……………………………………………………………………51 Methodology Introduction…………………………………………………………………………...51 Statement of the Problem and Purpose of the Study…………………………………..52 Population……………………………………………………………………………..53 Participants and Sample……………………………………………………………….54 Approval of the Study Involving Human Subjects and Protection Rights…………….55 Instrumentation………………………………………………………………………..55 Pilot Study for an Additional Instrument……………………………………………………………………………..57 Research Design………………………………………………………………………58 Data Collection and Procedures……………………………………………………….59 Data Analysis……………………………………………………..…….……….…….59 Limitations…………………………………………………………………….………62 Summary……………………………………………………………………………....63

CHAPTER IV…………………………………………………………………………..65

Results Demographics…………………………………………………………………………64

ANOVA……………………………………………………………………………….65

MANOVA…….………………………………………….……………………………73

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Multiple Regressions………………………………………………………………….73

Correlations……………………………………………………………………………80 Summary………………………………………………………………………………82 CHAPTER V……………………………………………………………………………83 Discussions, Implications and Recommendations Statement of the Problem and Review of the Methodology……….………………….83

Summary of Results ………………………………………………………………......84

Discussion and Implications ………………………………………………………….90 Recommendations for Future Research……………………………….……………....95

GLOSSARY………………………………………………………………………….....97 REFERENCES….…………………………………………….………..………………99 APPENDIXES Appendix A Spalding University Ethics Proposal Approval Letter..……….……….111

Appendix B. Informed Consent……………………………………………………...113

Appendix C. Letter To Participate…………………………………………………...115

Appendix D. Permission to Use School Culture Triage…...………………………....117 Appendix E. School Culture Triage………………………...………………………..118

Appendix F. Parent Engagement Survey...………………………………………......121 Appendix G. Data Collection………………………………………………………...123

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Page BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH…………………………………………………………124 LIST OF TABLES Table 1: Mean School Culture Scores…………………………….…….….…………....65 Table 2: ANOVA School Culture Scores………………………….…….…………...…65 Table 3: Multiple Comparisons for School Culture Means…..………..……..….……..66 Table 4: Means for ANOVA……………...……………….….………...…….………...66 Table 5: Mean Collaboration Scores………..………….….….…………….….……….67 Table 6: ANOVA Sub Category Collaboration…...……….….…….……..…..……….67 Table 7: Multiple Comparison for Collaboration Means…....….….……..….….……...68 Table 8: Mean Collegiality Scores……..…………………..……..…..…….…….…….68 Table 9: ANOVA Sub Category Collegiality….…………...….….……...….…………69 Table 10: Multiple Comparison of Collegiality mean……..………..……....…………...69 Table 11: Mean Teacher Efficacy Scores…………………………..………..…………..70 Table 12: ANOVA Sub Category Teacher Efficacy…………………..…...…………….70 Table 13: Multiple Comparison for Teacher Efficacy Mean……….……..…..…………71 Table 14: Mean Parent Engagement Scores…………………………..……..…………..71 Table 15: ANOVA Sub Category Parent Engagement…………………...……….……..72 Table 16: Multiple Comparison for Parent Engagement………………………....……...72 Table 17: MANOVA Results …………..…………………………………….….…..…..73 Table 18: Correlation Matrix for School Culture and Parent Engagement………..….....74

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Table 19: ANOVA Multiple Regression Using Parent Engagement and School Culture........…………………………………………...……………………....74 Table 20: Coefficients for Parent Engagement…………………………………………..75 Table 21: ANOVA for Multiple Regression Using School Culture……………………..76 Table 22: Coefficients for School Culture ………………………………………………76 Table 23: Correlation Matrix for Collaboration, Collegiality, and Teacher Efficacy………………………………………………………….77 Table 24: ANOVA for Multiple Regression Using Collaboration, Collegiality, Teacher Efficacy, and Parent Engagement…..………………………………..77 Table 25: Coefficients for Parent Engagement, Collaboration, Collegiality…………….77 Table 26: ANOVA for Multiple Regressions Using Collegiality, Collaboration, Teacher Efficacy,...……………………………………………………………78 Table 27: Coefficients for Collegiality, Collaboration, and Teacher Efficacy…………..78 Table 28: ANOVA for Multiple Regression Using Collegiality and Teacher Efficacy…79 Table 29: Coefficients for Collegiality and Teacher Efficacy…………………………...79 Table 30: Correlations Matrix Accountability Index for Performance Level, Collaboration, Collegiality, Teacher Efficacy, and Parent Engagement……....80

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Leading a Learning-Centered Culture: Collaboration, Collegiality, Teacher Efficacy, and Parent Engagement

CHAPTER I

Introduction

In today’s high-stakes testing era of accountability, the demands on school leaders have not only increased, but require significant changes in leadership. Researchers have developed a much deeper understanding of school culture and a deeper appreciation of effective schools (Levine & Lezotte, 1990). In some schools, the culture inspires educators and the parent community to engage in a collaborative setting, and to work collegially to achieve optimal results. In others, however, a myriad of beliefs exist that inhibit both adult and student learning; therefore, influencing student achievement (Peterson, 1999). Student learning improves in professional learning cultures (Richardson, 1998).

States and districts hold school leaders accountable for student achievement more than ever before in the history of education. School stakeholders turn to the school leaders and question, “What will educators do to improve student test scores?” Because an existing school culture is overt, successful leaders often review the organization’s history as a source of perspective to guide them in making decisions and implementing strategies designed to improve student learning. An organization’s culture can hinder or positively influence performance and productivity in any situation, but its impact is particularly critical in a school setting.

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The nature of school culture advances interdependent systems within the school environment and establishes relationships among the participants through a collaborative process (Fullan, 1998; Schein, 1998; Deal, 2002; DuFour, 2002; Dufour, 2005; Wheatley, 2005). Specifically, a learning-centered culture may involve collaboration, collegiality, teacher efficacy, and parent engagement. Within this model, an interdependent group of teachers and parents may choose to cooperate, learn to exhibit active parent engagement behaviors in a school organization, and may work together to achieve exceptional results in student learning. With proper participation and development, a learning-centered culture may result in an organization conducive to effective teaching, lifelong adult learning, working relationships, outstanding performance, and the continual pursuit of excellence. Analyzing a school’s level of success through the perspective of a learning-centered culture may provide leaders with a broad context for understanding difficult problems, challenging dynamics, and the intricate relationships within a complex living system (Wheatley, 2005). The study of the specific behavioral characteristics of collaboration, collegiality, teacher efficacy, and parent engagement requires the review of past and current educational research about culture to determine how to progress in developing a learning-centered culture. These behavioral characteristics may determine how a learning- centered culture can impact an organization and its existing school culture to improve student achievement .

The conceptual framework guiding this premise is that schools are multifaceted, living and changing social systems embedded within a larger culture, and these social systems determine the learning opportunities for students (Wheatley, 2005). Viewing school culture through a wide-angle lens allows a more inclusive perspective, and

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succinctly highlights the range of learning opportunities for students, and adds a deeper dimension to school accountability. A deeper understanding of a learning-centered school culture may afford leaders profound insights into the human dynamics within a school setting that may be utilized to improve student achievement. By understanding the reciprocal relationships and behaviors of the individuals in a school setting, and analyzing how and why these actions occur, leaders may be afforded information that demonstrates and encompasses the learning-centered culture’s direct influence on student achievement. By deepening the understanding and broadening the scope of a learning-centered culture to include the specific factors and behaviors that exist, leaders may be better equipped to contour the values, beliefs, and attitudes necessary to promote a positive and effective learning-centered culture and educational environment. This improved learning-centered culture may enhance academic productivity, and successfully prepare students to address the challenges of a rapidly changing, global society. Educational researchers have explored and analyzed the caveats of successful schools from the perspectives of instructional practice, leadership, school culture, and parent involvement and, as a result, have suggested numerous theories, strategies, and activities for school improvement (Cotton, 2001; Marzano, 2005; Redding, 2005; Schmoker, 2006; Reeves, 2006). A school’s learning-centered culture consistently emerges as a proven framework for studying school performance (Marzano, 2005). Many characteristics are successful in fostering student achievement; however, a professional learning-centered culture repeatedly materializes as the central, holistic framework around which leaders must address concerns if school leaders are to impact school performance and improve student learning in the future (DuFour, 2005).

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An Historical Look at Organizational and School Culture Problem Statement and Purpose of the Study

Organizational and school cultural researchers (Deal & Peterson, 1998) sought to observe, describe, and understand existing cultures. Likewise, the study of school culture reveals the connection between academic productivity and school performance to specific characteristics within the learning-centered culture. The influence of culture on school performance and academic productivity is so powerful that developing a culture that supports school effectiveness is critical and essential to school success and improvement (Barth, 2001; Wagner & Phillips, 2002). If people in the school do not continue to learn and improve instructional practice, the programs used by those people never will improve student achievement (Phillips, & Wagner, 2003). By improving the school culture, almost any focused program of improvement will see positive results because teachers become learners (Phillips & Wagner, 2003). Either schools have a culture that supports educational success and academic productivity for student learning or they do not. School improvement begins by evaluating the people within the academic organization, such as the faculty and the administrative staff in terms of the attitudes, values, and beliefs of these individuals (Barth, 2001;

Phillips &

Wagner, 2003). A leader who is equipped with specific strategies to change an existing, yet hidden, culture and one who strives to develop a learning- centered community for the purpose of school improvement may survive the high-stakes testing era in public education. To do so, the leader must revolutionize the beliefs, learning behaviors, and attitudes of the individuals within the existing culture and foster change in the approach in which things are accomplished (Deal & Kennedy, 1983; Sergovianni, 1997; Deal & Peterson, 1998; Wagner, 2002).

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According to Dufour, (2005) schools and people in an organization, along with beliefs and behaviors, drive success and the learning culture of the organization. The field of education has a clear definition of school culture and researchers compile evidence about school culture that directly correlates with increased student achievement (DuFour & Eaker, 2005). Interpretation of the findings emphasizes that shared values by all participants in the schools constitutes the “ethos” of the school, or in other words, the school culture (Deal & Peterson 1998; Phillips & Wagner, 2003). If a positive school culture is developed, and “the right people are on the right seats on the right bus” (Collins, 2004: pp 42), success happens (DuFour, 2002). Building positive relationships creates an environment that helps improve student achievement. In order to accomplish change and create improvements in achievement within the organization, leaders must consider the learning-centered culture of the organization of paramount importance (Schein, 1992). The difficulty for school leaders is to determine the factors within the learning- centered culture that directly influence school success. While research describes the characteristics of school culture, it does not outline or clearly identify behaviors to improve a school culture that promotes academic achievement. The research defines school culture and targets some characteristics of a positive school culture; however, limited amounts of research and educational literature identify particular elements and strategies within the culture or offer a school leader definite behaviors and activities for revolutionizing an existing culture to improve student performance (Marzano, 2005). In other words, there appears to be no roadmap or guideline for creating a learning-centered culture designed to improve student learning (DuFour, 2005). Leaders are now discovering a critical “missing link” to school performance: a

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learning-centered school culture of collaboration, collegiality, teacher efficacy (Hall- O’Phelan

& Wagner, 1998). Recent school culture studies examine the beneficial characteristics of collaboration, collegiality, and teacher efficacy in a learning-centered culture to determine the influence on student achievement within an existing school environment (Little, 1990; Cunningham, 2002; Phillips &Wagner, 2003; Melton-Shutt, 2004; DuFour & Eaker, 2005). It is evident that some research links the direct relationship between specific school culture characteristics and student achievement (Phillips & Wagner, 2003; Cunningham, 2003; Melton-Shutt, 2004). In this study, the researcher examines the beneficial aspects of developing a learning-centered culture. The research may present a framework or roadmap for school leaders to address the needs of an existing culture, and create a positive educational environment of collaboration, collegiality, teacher efficacy, along with parent engagement, as the cornerstones of school culture to improve academic productivity and student achievement (Wagner, 2004). There is no evidence a correlation exists between school culture and parent engagement, and no relationship between parent engagement and the school’s culture to student learning. This study scrutinizes the characteristics of the learning-centered culture necessary to improve school performance, thereby increasing student achievement and academic productivity. In this challenging era of school leadership, the researcher proposes to inform school leaders of the researched school culture characteristics that correlate with student achievement efforts, and examine specific behaviors in a learning-centered culture to intentionally design and transform an existing school’s culture. To influence student achievement, the learning-centered culture within an

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organization must be supportive and conducive to student learning. The purpose of this study is to investigate school culture characteristics to expand the present research concerning the beliefs, behaviors, and attitudes that influence school performance. An analysis of school culture may lead to specific strategies and behaviors a leader may use to create a learning-centered culture that supports academic productivity. This research is designed to highlight specific components that facilitate school improvement efforts. Leaders must assess the existing culture, ascertain ways to make improvements, and locate characteristics within the culture that improve student achievement (Wagner, 2004). Will a leader’s efforts to create a learning-centered culture, rooted in collaboration, collegiality, teacher efficacy, and parent engagement impact student achievement? Does parent engagement correlate with high student achievement in a learning-centered culture? In this study, the researcher proposes to expand current theories to determine specifically the degree to which collaboration, collegiality, teacher efficacy, parent engagement may influence student learning. In order to establish a learning-centered culture, the researcher will determine specific elements in a school culture that emphasize overall school performance and academic productivity. Significance of the Study

Today, school leadership appears powerless in the face of complexity, as many leaders remain uncertain how to influence the school culture and improve school performance based on standards and expectations in an era of high-stakes testing. Change must occur within an existing culture in order to improve student achievement (Fullan, 2005; DuFour, 2005).

Today’s school leaders continue to be the subjects of endless debate about school success and student achievement. Leaders struggle with decisions about how

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to sustain “the business” of developing a quality school, improve student performance, and prepare students for the global society. In the meantime, these same leaders are ultimately responsible for continuous school improvement amid the changing demographics of American society (Lapkoff & Li, 2007). Using current research results, leaders are required to evoke a variety of school improvement efforts in the midst of substantial barriers to student learning. School leaders are required to correct deficiencies in society and improve school performance as they continue to promote higher levels of student achievement. Because state and district officials hold school leaders accountable for high-stakes testing results, additional information gleaned from the research may be presented to school leaders in the attempts to boost student achievement in a positive and productive learning- centered culture. Anderson & Walberg (1968) first noted the importance of enhancing the learning- centered culture in the 1960’s. This early research noted the impact and subsequent development of culture to student achievement in clinical observations. In the past three decades since the initial study, a vast number of studies of the learning environment and school culture have emerged (Deal & Kennedy, 1983). An increasing number of constructs have surfaced in the literature to engage researchers in the further examination and discussion of the characteristics of school culture, with respect to their direct or indirect impact on student learning and achievement (Reeves, 2006). Synthesis of these studies reveals a need for further investigation into this area of the learning-centered culture, along with a deeper analysis to speak to the premise that collaboration, collegiality, teacher efficacy, and parent engagement may influence student learning. These characteristics may act as catalysts for creating cultural change to improve the student achievement within an

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existing school’s culture (Fullan, 2002; Phillips & Wagner 2003; Marzano, 2005; Reeves, 2006). An analysis of these factors may reveal the importance for educators to develop a learning-centered culture in a school, which recognizes a needed improvement for student achievement (Reeves, 2006). School leaders have the potential to transform an existing school culture, and school culture is recognized as a “missing link” in the chain of educational success (Hall-O’Phelan & Wagner, 1998). Leaders must be equipped with the skills and tools to implement strategies designed to develop a learning-centered culture grounded in collaboration, collegiality, and teacher efficacy (Phillips & Wagner, 2003), and parent engagement

(Redding, 2005; Thorkildsen & Scott 1998). Leaders tend to undervalue school culture as a strategy for improved student achievement (Richardson, 1998). Additional information about these specific characteristics of a learning-centered culture is required to determine their role as the most important tenets for school improvement (Reeves, 2006). If educators desire to boost student learning, they must pay immediate attention to the study of the characteristics of school culture to improve academic achievement (Wagner, 2002; Reeves, 2006). An understanding of the key components of, and specific strategies for, improving an existing school culture to raise student achievement is of grave importance to school leaders who need answers. Although the studies of specific school cultural characteristics are mentioned throughout the literature, overall there is no equation or specific set of steps to create a learning-centered school culture to influence student achievement. The need for answers supports and lends credence to the need for additional research into these particulars.

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Without a concentrated effort from educational researchers, asking serious questions pertaining to school culture characteristics and the development of learning-centered school culture, meaningful school improvement is an elusive goal (Deal & Kennedy, 1983; Barth, 1990; Levine & Lezotte, 1995; Phillips, 1996; Deal & Peterson, 1998; Wagner, 2003; Dufour, 2005; Reeves, 2006; Schmoker, 2006). This study is fully justified, based on the potential value it has for school leaders about school culture and student learning. Current research does not address the concept of a learning-centered school culture in combination with collaboration, collegiality, teacher efficacy, and parent engagement. Further research that examines the correlation of these specific characteristics of school culture to school performance is needed. A more in-depth study of the learning-centered school culture may provide school leaders valuable, research-based information necessary to facilitate school performance efforts and meet the demands of high-stakes testing. Potential Limitations of the Study

Several limitations were identified within the research study. First, the sample was limited to the study of Kentucky elementary school educators and parents in the 2004-2006 school years. With the proposed study, the researcher used a random, systematic computer- generated sample to have flexibility in selecting elementary schools from the 123 individual school administrators who volunteered to participate in the study. Another potential limitation of this study was the size of the systematic sample from each predetermined category and geographic location of the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System (CATS) assessment. The third limitation was the human element, when the results were completed, and the emotional state of the individuals in a school setting on any given day. The quantitative

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research design of the study and the numerical collection of the data analysis addressed these human limitations for greater reliability and validity of the research. The results were ultimately dependent on the accuracy of the responses given by staff and parents. The survey instrument and the CATS accountability reports of student achievement reflected the measurement of the study though a single source on a single day. Any instrument in self-evaluation presents the possibility of bias. Any day in the life of a school presents challenges that may interfere with the emotions and attitudes of the participants when answering the survey questions. The range of school diversity, regarding demographics, populations, and socio-economic levels selected regionally in the state of Kentucky may have impeded the study. All variables that may have impeded the study were recognized and examined . The research study began December 15, 2006 and ended February 15, 2007.

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Research Questions

1. Do the specific learning-centered culture characteristics of collaboration, collegiality, and teacher efficacy impact student achievement? 2. Does a relationship exist between student achievement and parent engagement? 3. Does a correlation of collaboration, collegiality, and teacher efficacy to parent engagement exist within a learning-centered culture to student achievement?

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CHAPTER II Literature Review Introduction

According to a Chinese proverb, “A vision without a plan is a dream. A plan without vision is just plain drudgery. However, a vision with a plan can change the world.” At no time in history has there been a greater urgency for a vision and a plan for effective and inspired leadership in public schools. The reality is an ever-changing, global society demanding knowledgeable, skilled, and responsible workers, and this reality determines an increasing need for improved student performance. This places additional pressure on today’s school leaders. According to Freedman (2005) in his nationally acclaimed book, The World Is Flat, the United States ranks eighth in the world in education and other countries are becoming equally competitive in the global economy and changing world of technology. The United States educational leaders require a plan for public school improvement; educators must focus on improving the learning-centered school culture to improve student achievement. The most powerful high-level school improvements are not associated with advanced theory, but rather lie in a common sense approach of the implementation of simple knowledge (Pfeiffer & Sutton, 2000). Schmoker (2006) states that any research- based practice or strategy will not have a significant impact until teams of teachers, in a professional collaborative and collegial learning-centered culture, find appropriate situations in which to apply them. Teams of teachers must collaborate and adjust instruction based on assessments in the classroom, and a focus on the behaviors and perceptions of teachers and parents (DuFour & Eaker, 2005; Schmoker, 2006; Reeves,

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2006). In a learning-centered culture, dependency on teachers remains at the forefront of school improvement efforts for school leaders (Fullan, 2001). Parent involvement links to student achievement. (Redding 2005) All schools have unique cultures that shape values, beliefs and feelings. Schools decide what is of paramount value and strive to achieve it (Deal & Peterson, 1998; Fullan, 1998). Although school culture is not visible to the human eye, artifacts and symbols reflect the priorities of the organization (Hanson, 2001). A learning-centered culture is implicitly and explicitly attended to in virtually every theory and principle espoused by researchers. Although it is a by-product of people working together, the culture can have either a positive or a negative influence on school performance (Marzano, 2005, DuFour & Eaker, 2005; Reeves, 2006). An effective learning-centered culture is the primary tool a leader can use to foster change (Fullan, 2002; Marzano, 2005; Schmoker, 2006). Researchers recognize that many schools do not operate under the assumption that a group of synergized people, or the development of an effective school culture, can make a difference (DuFour, 2005; Sergovanni, 2004). Most schools function only as a collection of independent contractors, united by a common parking lot (Haycock, 2005). Teacher isolation ensures that highly unprofessional practices are tolerated, and these instructional practices proliferate in the teaching community, gradually morphing into a school culture that promotes the status quo instead of school improvement (Haycock, 2005). Teachers operate from a perspective their own contribution is more a function of individual effort than from the collective efforts of an entire staff. Reeves (2006) states that a system of isolation exists in most schools, where talented, hard-working teachers have engaged in inferior practices for decades without

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receiving the necessary collaborative learning and professional dialogue to forge an awareness of something more effective ( Haycock, 2005). Given these tendencies toward isolation, it is the work of the school leaders to undo this trend and to foster a belief in the power of learning and collective teacher efficacy in an improved learning-centered culture (Marzano, 2005). According to Reeves (2006), if we leave virtually every instructional decision to the individual teacher without collaboration and new learning, then inferior practices will continue to dominate public schools in America (Reeves, 2006). Most educators will admit that constructive, professional, collaborative dialogue leads to improved teacher efficacy and instructional best practices in classrooms, and a climate of isolation hides and protects effective teachers allowing mediocre performance to prevail (Haycock, 2005; Reeves, 2006; Schmoker, 2006). Leaders must recognize and communicate that knowledge for improvement is something needed and generated within a synergetic, interdependent group of individuals in a learning-centered culture, not performed in isolation in the classroom (Haycock, 2005). Only then can a new trajectory and a true professional learning-centered culture ignite in schools, as members within the organization assume responsibility for their own success (Heibert and Stizler, 2004; DuFour & Eaker, 2005). This new trajectory starts with the recognition that leaders must identify and cultivate the adult learning potential that lies within each individual in order to inspire teachers in a school (Schmoker, 2006). Highly effective school leaders have a dramatic influence on the overall academic achievement in schools by focusing efforts on improving the learning-centered culture (Marzano, 2003; Reeves, 2006). True leaders act through and with people. They often model desired behavior with words and actions, and have a direct influence on the primary learning goals of the organization.

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Fostering a school culture that indirectly influences student achievement remains a concurrent theme throughout the literature on leadership and school culture (Marzano, 2005; Schmoker, 2006; Reeves, 2006). Internal expertise is far more valuable than any program or specific type of instruction delivered to students. When teams of teachers improve, student achievement improves (Little, 1990; Richardson, 1998;

Elmore 2003). Teachers learn best, not from outsiders, but from one another in a collaborative environment focused on student learning (Rosenthal, 1991; DuFour & Eaker, 2005; Marzano, 2005). Business research often indicates the differences between good and great organizations. Great business leaders look within an organization to build a company’s success. Leadership is about vision, but leadership is equally about creating a climate of success and inspiring a learning-centered culture within in an organization (Collins, 2005). A successful company promotes open and truthful dialogue and confronts the brutal facts about the performance to improve results (Schein, 1992).

Defining Culture: Tracing Its Impact on Business Culture

Research on culture is rooted in broad studies of different ethnic cultures throughout civilization, and evolved from social anthropology. Studies conducted in the late 19th century and early 20th century focused on the culture of primitive societies such as the Eskimos, Africans, and Native Americans. Researchers analyzed the “way of life” for individuals (Truske, 2002). The studies focused on the shared beliefs of a society’s members in order to gain an understanding of the cultural beliefs, values, behaviors, and norms that classified people as a group (Dennison, 1996). Group behavior norms revealed that beliefs and values do not impose themselves on

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others by formalized written rules, but rather by the behaviors of others as they begin to understand acceptable and non-acceptable behavior as determined by the majority of the group. Members who conform are valued, while those who do not conform are treated as outcasts (Kotter, 1992). In a practical sense, behaviors involve assumptions about the way individuals behave in a group. Beliefs drive behaviors. In the early 1980’s, the business world began to quantify and measure organizational culture for the purpose of drawing linkage between various cultural dimensions to the bottom-line performance of the organization (Dennison, 1996). Views surfaced that ignited several discussions in this arena, regarding topics such as customer service, competition, and employee satisfaction. It was determined that company culture was built around people’s deep-seated behaviors based on their beliefs and values. When people join an organization, they bring with them values and beliefs gained by past personal experiences. The key challenge for any organizational leader is to instill and sustain the desired cultural elements that encourage knowledge sharing beliefs, high expectations for self and others, and the desire to learn and grow professionally (Schein 1992: Kotter, 1996; Dennison, 1996). People invent assumptions and patterns, discover, and develop behaviors as an organization learns to cope with problems of the external adaptations and integration within the culture (Schein, 1992). As a result, new employees are taught expected ways to think and believe in order to accomplish business and performance goals. Within cultures, certain beliefs and values become the “correct” way to think and believe, in relation to solving problems as they occur in the organization (Kotter, 1996). Assumptions about work and “the way we do things around here” influence the silent voice that shapes employee beliefs

Full document contains 136 pages
Abstract: In this study, the researcher proposed to expand current theories to determine the degree collaboration, collegiality, teacher efficacy, and parent engagement correlate to student achievement. Based on a review of the literature, specific characteristics emerged that needed further study for school improvement efforts. The purpose of the research was to investigate the correlation of school culture characteristics and parent engagement to student achievement levels in public elementary schools in Kentucky. A quantitative research design was used to determine the correlation of school culture characteristics and parent engagement to student learning. The population of this study was comprised of fifty Kentucky elementary schools sampled from the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System biennium of 2004-2006 accountability indices and performance levels. Kentucky schools were divided into three performance categories: (a) Meets Goals, (b) Progressing, and (c) Needs Assistance. One hundred twenty-three schools were in the random sample population, which resulted in fifty being selected to participate. Thirty-seven Kentucky elementary schools returned surveys. Data collected includes 672 teachers and 3000 parents. The multiple regression analyses yielded the following theoretical equation that can be used to predict the accountability index and determine student achievement in a learning-centered culture. Accountability Index = -.981(collegiality) + .924 (teacher efficacy) + 83.47.