Citation
The relationship between school and site-bound decisionmaking and successful school improvement

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Title:
The relationship between school and site-bound decisionmaking and successful school improvement
Alternate title:
School site-bound decisionmaking
Creator:
Hatchell, M. Mark
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
x, 207 leaves : illustrations, forms ; 29 cm

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Subjects / Keywords:
Education, Secondary -- Case studies -- Colorado -- Thornton ( lcsh )
Education, Secondary -- Decision making -- Case studies ( lcsh )
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 129-132).
General Note:
Spine title: School site-bound decisionmaking.
General Note:
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree, Doctor of Education, School of Education and Human Development.
Statement of Responsibility:
by M. Mark Hatchell.

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Source Institution:
University of Colorado Denver
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Auraria Library
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
23602988 ( OCLC )
ocm23602988
Classification:
LD1190.E3 1989d .H375 ( lcc )

Full Text
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN
SCHOOL SITE-BOUND DECISIONMAKING
AND SUCCESSFUL SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT
by
M. Mark Hatchell
B.S., Colorado State University, 1982
M.E., Colorado State University, 1985
A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate
School of the University of Colorado in partial
fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Education
School of Education


This thesis for the Doctor of Education degree by
M. Mark Hatchell
has been approved for the
School of
Education
by


Hatchell, Michael Mark (Ed.D., Education)
The Relationship Between School Site-Bound Decisionmaking and
Successful School Improvement
Thesis directed by Professor Bob L. Taylor
The problem of this study was to examine the relationship
between school site-bound decisionmaking and successful school
improvement. Specifically, the problem statement asked, "Was the
Thornton High School Improvement Program successful?" In
addition, the following sub-problem was analyzed, "Did the
Thornton High School Improvement Program use a selected group of
eight strategies common to school site-bound decisionmaking?"
Data gathering was accomplished through questionnaire
responses and follow-up interviews. A random sample of
students, teachers, and administrators at Thornton High School
provided representative information from each of the populations
being studied. Their perceptions were compared and analyzed.
The questionnaire was developed by the researcher. It utilized a
Likert-type scale to record responses. Additional data were
obtained from follow-up interviews of randomly selected students,
teachers, and administrators. Statistical findings and follow-up
interviews were analyzed and presented with respect to school
site-bound decisionmaking and successful school improvement.


IV
Based on the literature review, research findings, and
follow-up interviews, the following conclusions were warranted:
1. The Thornton High School Improvement Program was
neither successful nor unsuccessful.
2. The Thornton High School Improvement Program was
successful at encouraging two-way communication.
3. The Thornton High School Improvement Program was
unsuccessful at improving students' attitudes.
4. The use of teacher facilitators, the utilization of
teacher input, the utilization of teacher-committee
input, the commitment and "buy-in" of teachers, and
the use of teacher release time were important to
the success of a school improvement program.
5. The use of school-level decisionmaking, the fact
that the plan met the needs of the school, and
again, utilization of teacher input were important
strategies to achieving school improvement.
6. A change in leadership during the course of the
school improvement program might have affected the
program's success.
7. Those aspects of the school improvement program
which are most successful have a direct and
continuing impact on teachers. If it did not make a
difference with teachers, it did not add to the
improvement program.


This abstract is approved as to form and content.
recommend its publication.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The writer wishes to express his gratitude for all those
who assisted him in conducting this study. Special thanks are
extended to Dr. Bob L. Taylor, committee chairman and advisor,
for his guidance, support, and the interest he maintained
throughout the course of this study and the writer's graduate
career. Other members of the University of Colorado faculty who
provided advice and encouragement include Dr. Russell Meyers,
Dr. Michael Murphy, and Dr. Lance Wright.
This study could not have been conducted without the
cooperation of the students, teachers, and administrators at
Thornton High School. Their participation is gratefully
acknowledged. Appreciation is also extended to Dr. Curt Furness,
Associate Principal of Thornton High School, for supporting and
facilitating this study as well as his timely advice.
Finally, the writer wishes to acknowledge those close to
him. The writer wishes to thank his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Don M.
Hatchell, both outstanding educators, whose love, support,
encouragement, and lessons on the value of education will never
be forgotten. The writer also wishes to thank his wife, Cindi,
for her assistance, inspiration, moral support, loving
encouragement, and tolerance of a constantly busy husband. To
these loved ones this paper is
dedicated.


CONTENTS
CHAPTER
I. NATURE AND SCOPE OF THE STUDY........................... 1
Introduction ....................................... 1
Significance of This Study ......................... 6
Statement of the Problem ........................... 7
Limitations of This Study.......................... 12
Definition of Terms................................ 13
II. REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE........................... 17
Introduction ...................................... 17
Decentralized Decisionmaking ...................... 18
Schools Defining Their Own
Mission and Means................................. 23
Successful Models ................................. 26
Summary............................................ 33
III. DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY................................. 34
Overview........................................... 34
Sources of Data.................................... 34
Methods and Procedures ............................ 35
Case Study Data.................................... 37
Data Gathering..................................... 44
Statistical Analysis
I
48


viii
IV. RESEARCH FINDINGS .'................................. 53
Introduction ...................................... 53
Sample............................................ 59
Data Analysis...................................... 63
Sub-problem 1...................................... 66
Perceptions of the Processes....................... 78
Sub-problem 2...................................... 96
Additional Research Questions .................... 104
Summary.........................................115
V. SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ........... 119
Introduction ......................................119
Problem Statement ................................ 119
Data Collection....................................120
Major Findings..................................121
Conclusion ........................................123
Recommendations .................................. 126
REFERENCES................-........................ . 129
APPENDIX
A. Student Questionnaire ........................ 133
B. Teacher Questionnaire ........................ 142
C. Administrator Questionnaire .................. 151
D. Questionnaire Responses ...................... 160
E. Rank Analysis of Responses.....................203


ix
TABLES
Table
1. Questionnaire Respondents........................ . .
2. Students' Years in School District #12 Schools . .
3. Teachers' Years in Education ..........................
4. Administrators' Years of Experience
in Administration ...................................
5. Perceptions of Program's Success: Means of
Groups, All Respondents .............................
6. Perceptions of Attainment of the Five
Program Objectives ..................................
7. Successful and Unsuccessful Perceptions
of the Program Overall, and of the Five
Objectives ..........................................
8. Comparison of the Overall Success, and
Attainment of Program Objectives . ..............
9. Perceptions of Implementation and Utilization
of Processes to Achieve Expanding the
Curriculum...........................................
10. Perception of Implementation and Utilization
of Processes to Achieve Increasing the
Commitment to Making Cross-Content Link .............
11. Perceptions of Implementation and Utilization
of Processes to Achieve Improving Students'
Attitudes ...........................................
12. Perceptions of Implementation and Utilization
of Processes to Achieve Building Flexibility
into School Week ....................................
13. Perceptions of Implementation and Utilization
of the Three Processes to Achieve Two-Way
Communication .......................................
14. Perceptions of Success or Lack of Success
With Respect to the Process Implementation
and Utilization .....................................
60
61
62
62
64
67
75
77
79
82
84
86
88
90


X
Table
15. Perceptions of Success or the Lack of Success
With Respect to the Objectives and Their
Processes............................................... 93
16. Perceptions of Program Utilization of Strategies
Common to School Site-Bound Decisionmaking ............. 97
17. Parameter Estimates for the Model with
Overall Success, Utilization of Teacher
Input, and Teacher "Buy-In" ........................... 106
18. Correlation Between the Use of Teacher-
Facilitators and Overall Success of the
Thornton High School Improvement Program .............. 107
19. Correlation Between the Utilization of Teacher
Input and Overall Success of the School
Improvement Program................................... 108
20. Correlation Between the Utilization of Teacher-
Committee Input and Overall Success of the
School Improvement Program ............................ 109
21. Correlation Between the Commitment and "Buy In"
of Teachers and Overall Success of the
School Improvement Program ............................ 110
22. Correlation Between the Use of Teacher Release
Time and Overall Success of the School
Improvement Program .................................. Ill
23. Rankings of Key Strategies Which Contributed
to the Success of the School Improvement
Program
113


CHAPTER I
NATURE AND SCOPE OF THE STUDY
Introduction
Much national attention has been given to the problem of
excellence in our schools. Various panel presentations, studies,
and research reports have pointed to needed improvements in our
schools. School improvement and how to best accomplish it are
leading issues in education today.
In spite of all the information available, specific
guidance regarding the actions that should be taken in school
improvement has not been provided in realistic terms. New
legislation, larger school budgets, a revamped teaching
profession, and similar student population are constraints on the
public schools and do not assist current efforts for school
improvement.
Research has shown that following a distinctive model,
tuned specifically to a school's own situation and needs, is. the
most successful way to effective school improvement. In
addition, the more input teachers in the building have, the
greater the chance of effective school improvement (Purkey,
1982).


2
Related research (Sizer, 1984; Boyer, 1984; Goodlad,
1984; Slaughter and others, 1984; Joyce, Hersh, McKibben, 1984)
has shown that decisionmaking must be decentralized, and the more
input at the school level, the greater is the chance for
effective change. In addition, schools must select their own
focus, mission, and means (Joyce, Hersh, McKibben, 1983). In
other words, schools need to develop a model tuned specifically
to their own situation and needs, not a generic model to be used
by all schools.
Based on these common threads of agreement by the
aforementioned researchers, this investigator found an excellent
opportunity to study a plan that was not o.nly highly
decentralized, but also one in which all of the input had come
from teachers. This faculty had also developed its own goals and
strategies to meet the present needs of the school.
Stimulated by these findings, this researcher undertook a
study of the Thornton High School Improvement Plan. This plan,
initially called the High School Project, was planned, initiated,
and carried out by the faculty of the school.
The Thornton High School Improvement Plan was completed
the summer of 1988. This study assessed the perceived success or
lack of success of this particular school improvement plan
designed specifically for the situation and needs of Thornton
High School by the teachers of that school. Also, perceptions of
students,, teachers, and administrators were studied with regard
to the goals established for school improvement.


3
The school improvement plan was a three-year project,
beginning in the fall of 1985 and finishing in the fall of 1988.
It was implemented as a means which allowed students and faculty
to examine instructional methods, curriculum, attitudes toward
school, and the communication process within the school.
Activities were facilitated by three teacher-^-facilitators who
were released two-fifths of the school day to work on the
project.
The teacher-facilitators were chosen by the staff of
Thornton High School and had attended special sessions with
national experts such as John Goodlad, Theodore Sizer, Paul
Heckman, Gil Johnson, and Joel Spring. They had also met with
local school improvement groups: The Bennett Project and the
Denver Area Cluster Group. In addition, the teacher-facilitators
had attended School Improvement Program Workshops I and II
conducted by the Institute for Development of Educational
Activities, Inc.
Interviews with the three teacher-facilitators provided
this investigator with information concerning how and why they
initiated the plan the way they did.
Many of their ideas concerning how to proceed with a
school improvement plan were preconceived. Based on these
preconceived notions, they wanted a plan in which the faculty was
not only the decisionmaker, but also devised its own plan. With
this in mind, they attended sessions and workshops searching for
models, ideas, and theories that reflected their desires.


4
The teacher-facilitators did not find the perfect model
for which they were searching; rather, they drew from many plans
to develop their own plan. Again, this was a plan in which the
faculty was highly involved and made their own decisions
regarding what was best for their school.
However, the teacher-facilitators did reveal during the
interviews that they were most impressed by the Institute of
Development of Educational Activities, Inc.School Improvement
Program. This program closely matched the teacher-facilitators'
beliefs in that the school should develop a sense of both
ownership and accountability for decisions made concerning its
future. In other words, decisions should be made as close as
possible to those of the individuals who must carry them out
(Raywid, 1984). Although the teacher-facilitators were impressed
with these basic concepts, they were not willing to follow the
five-step plan to achieve their goals.
In conclusion, the teacher-facilitators decided to
implement their own plan relating directly to their preconceived
beliefs. They decided to utilize a survey filled out by the
faculty to set up committees and to develop the school's plan of
action. The information received from the various sessions with
nationally known education experts, workshops, and journal
articles were used to facilitate the process of faculty making
their own decisions and reaching consensus.


5
In addition, the teacher-facilitators were self-educated
by exchanging articles and discussing school improvement issues
raised in the articles.
The following three concepts were used by the teacher-
facilitators when developing and initiating the process. (1) The
decisionmaking must remain decentralized at the school level
because we know what our situation and needs are. (2) We must
devise a plan that fits our school. (3) Teachers must be brought
in from the start to assure strong teacher support (buy-in) in
the plan.
These concepts relate directly to the theories cited
earlier that decisionmaking must be decentralized with a
substantial amount of the input coming from the teachers and that
they must decide their own focus, mission, and means.
The Thornton High School Improvement Plan was funded by
the Curriculum and Instruction Division of Adams County School
District #12. The school was funded with the equivalent of one
release person for the year from the district and $5,000 per year
from the building understaffing fund.
Presently the Thornton High School. Improvement Plan has
successfully completed a non-traditional North Central Visitation
involving the entire staff for three inservice sessions and also
short group interviews during the team's visit. In addition, the
teacher-facilitators completed a Data Gathering Study of the 1986
graduates, interviewed all full-time faculty members, completed a
goals identification process by the staff, initiated discussion


by the staff on implementation strategies for the goals,
increased the awareness of the faculty to school improvement
issues, and maintained communication links with other schools
6
regarding school improvement programs.
Significance of This Study
Because education exerts such a significant influence on
the young, society places great constraints and influences on its
schools. The public closely watches its investment. Excellence
is highly prized, but change is watched carefully. Currently,
the prevailing public opinion is that schools need improving. In
the past, schools have been far too dependent on the practice of
central administration choosing one of the few simple methods of
school improvement, staff development, climate improvement or
whatever particular phase of education they wanted to concentrate
on. Then, that model which they wanted to implement was sent to
the school, and the faculty was told to follow those particular
steps and improve. Of course, more often than not, this practice
was not only unsuccessful, but it was also resented at the school
building level.
Current research by Goodlad, Joyce, Sizer, Boyer, Purkey,
and others has stressed that decisionmaking must be decentralized
with a maximum amount of input from teachers. Also, school
faculties must decide for themselves on their focus, mission, and
means. Following these theories, there is a significant amount


7
of support (buy-in) from the teachers that greatly enhances the
chances of improvement in the school.
This study was significant because this researcher had
the excellent opportunity to study a plan that directly adhered
to these theories. Consequently, this researcher was able to
determine the success, if there was any, the teacher support, if
there was any, and the perception of students, teachers, and
administrators, with regard to the success of a plan that closely
followed current theories by major researchers.
This study of the Thornton High School Improvement Plan
which utilized decentralized decisionmaking and faculty
determination of focus, mission and means provided insight into
the success of a model adhering to those principles.
Statement of the Problem
Was the Thornton High School Improvement Program
successful?
Sub-problem 1
To achieve successful school improvement, did the
Thornton High School Improvement Program establish the following
five objectives and the processes to accomplish these objectives?
a. Expand the curriculum in every class to include a
variety of learning activities.
(1) Provide inservice preparation on learning
styles.


8
(2) Develop a teaching-learning strategy for the
week.
(3) Develop a channel for exchange of ideas.
b. Increase the commitment of teachers to making cross
content-links for students.
(1) Develop a talent bank.
(2) Develop a plan to publicize cross-content link
successes.
(3) Develop a plan to provide release time for the
development of cross-content links.
c. Establish an improvement in students' attitudes
toward their school experience.
(1) Develop consistency in policies.
(2) Develop a plan to encourage student involvement
in school activities.
(3) Develop a workable plan to try to limit
students' work hours away from school.
d. Build flexibility into the school week so that
teachers can have time to meet for planning and
professional grants.
(1) Develop a plan to utilize compacted days.
(2) Develop a plan for granting mini-sabbaticals.
(3) Develop a plan for utilizing a rotating
schedule.
e. Encourage two-way communication among all groups in
the educational environment.


9
(1) Develop a plan to utilize the parent
newsletter.
(2) Develop a plan to utilize open houses and award
banquets.
(3) Develop a plan to utilize parent-teacher
committees.
Sub-problem 2
In the perceptions of the students, teachers, and
administrators, did the Thornton High School Improvement Program
use a selected group of strategies common to school site-bound
decisionmaking?
Specifically, the questions asked were:
1. Did the teacher-facilitators have the major
responsibility for planning, organizing, and
developing the School Improvement Program?
2. Did the teacher-facilitators have the major
responsibility for coordinating the implementation
of the School Improvement Program?
3. Was teacher input sought and used throughout the
School Improvement Program?
4. Was teacher-committee input sought and used
throughout the School Improvement Program?
5. Did the teachers commit and "buy-in" to the School
Improvement Program?


10
6. Were teachers given release time to work on the
School Improvement Program?
7. Did the School Improvement Program fit the needs of
the school?
8. Were the major decisions about the School
Improvement Program made by the teachers at Thornton
High School?
Additional Research Questions
In addition to the problem statement and sub-problems one
and two, three additional questions have been investigated.
Research Question 1
Based on the perceptions of five of the selected group of
eight strategies, does site-bound decisionmaking significantly
contribute to successful school improvement, as perceived by
Thornton High School students, teachers, and administrators?
School site-bound decisionmaking was analyzed in relation
to five selected strategies:
a. The use of teacher facilitators.
b. The utilization of teacher input.
c. The utilization of teacher-committee input.
d. The commitment and "buy-in" of teachers.
e. The use of teacher release time.
How do each of these basic strategies correlate with
successful school improvement?


11
Research Question 2
The following null hypotheses were tested in this study.
It was hypothesized that:
1. There was no significant correlation between the use
of teacher facilitation and successful school
improvement as perceived by:
a. students.
b. teachers.
c. administrators.
2. There was no significant correlation between the
utilization of teacher input and successful school
improvement as perceived by:
a. students.
b. teachers.
c. administrators.
3. There was no significant correlation between the
utilization of teacher-committee input and
successful school improvement as perceived by:
a. students.
b. teachers.
c. administrators.
4. There was no significant correlation between the
commitment and "buy-in" of teachers and successful
school improvement as perceived by:
a. students.
b. teachers.


12
c. administrators.
5. There was no significant correlation between the use
of teacher release time and successful school
improvement as perceived by:
a. students.
b. teachers.
c. administrators.
Research Question 3
Based on the Thornton High School Improvement Program,
what are the most important factors which contribute to the
success of a school improvement program?
Limitations of the Study
This study was limited to Thornton High School: students
at Thornton, teachers at Thornton, and the administrators of
Thornton High School. Furthermore, this study was limited to
research regarding the perceptions of the Thornton High School
Improvement Plan by students, teachers, and administrators. In
addition, this study examined the school improvement plan
approximately four months after its completion.
Self-reporting information from survey research about
perception must be interpreted carefully. The subjects'
perceptions were only as accurate as the subjects' willingness to
express them honestly on the questionnaire. Perception of


13
success may not be equivalent to actual success. Finally, 67% of
the questionnaires were returned and analyzed.
Delimitations of the Study
The study was a summative, case study; hence, drawing
conclusions from the data does not necessarily generalize to
other schools.
No experimental manipulations were used. Consequently,
any inferences made from the data were not causal, but
associative.
This study relied heavily on the memory of the subjects
about the Thornton High School Improvement Program over the past
three years. There was no attempt to validate any of the
responses made by students, teachers, or administration.
Definition of Terms
The following terms have been defined as used in this
study.
Administration.
A Principal, Associate Principal, Assistant Principal,
Dean or Athletic Director at Thornton High during the 1988-89
school year.
Compact Days.
A day in which normal 50-minute class periods are
shortened to 40 minutes.


14
Cross-content Links.
The method of merging inter- and intra-departmental
instruction to teach curricula.
Curriculum.
The term curriculum in this study refers to all areas of
the educational program for which the school assumes
responsibility.
Decentralized Decisionmaking.
The plan which moves decisionmaking from a central
office, i.e., a district administration office to a decentralized
place, i.e., a school.
High School Project.
The initial name in the fall of 1985 of the Thornton High
School Improvement Plan.
Implementation.
Plan and processes used to ensure accomplishment by
concrete measures.
Instruction.
The methods, procedures, and techniques used for
presenting the curriculum to the students.
Mini-Sabbaticals.
The process of granting teachers 2-5 days' release time
to work on a curriculum project.
Perceptions.
Prediction or judgment regarding an event or subject.


15
Release Time.
Teachers are granted paid time from normal classroom
duties to work on a curriculum process.
Rotating Schedule.
A plan whereby the class periods during a school day are
changed from their normal order.
School Site Bound Decisionmaking.
The process whereby the staff of an individual school
makes a decision regarding itself, without input from a central
site.
Student.
A junior or senior attending Thornton High School during
the 1988-89 school year.
Successful School Improvement.
The perception of success by students, teachers, and
administrators with regard to the Thornton High School
Improvement Program.
Teacher.
A full-time teacher at Thornton High School during the
1988-89 school year.
Teacher-facilitator.
The three full-time teachers released two-fifths of the
school day to coordinate and lead the school improvement plan.


16
School Improvement Plan.
The plan is a school improvement project that seeks to
involve the entire school community (students, teachers, and
administrators) in improving the school's learning environment.


CHAPTER II
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
Introduction
The long tradition of dissatisfaction with schools and
schooling was reported as early as 1892 when James Rice used such
words as "chaotic," "barbaric," and "mechanical" to describe the
schools of that time. Even when John Dewey published School and
Society in 1889, the debate over schooling was already in full
gear. One only needs to glance at a sample of recent book titles
relating to education to realize that the debate is far from
over.
One fact is often overlooked amidst all the outcry
almost everyone is interested in schools and education. Whether
the goal is security, health, equality of opportunity, national
defense, s'trong families, economic stability, of good nutrition,
the schools are generally regarded as the place where the pursuit
of that goal begins. Education is viewed as the key to
fulfillment.
The pressures for improvement in education are
increasing. New knowledge both in education and other fields
strains the ability of schools to incorporate what is known into


18
existing educational programs. Technological advances that
provide opportunities for new ways of learning remain
underutilized. Social expectations create pressure for schools
to respond to the diverse needs of pluralistic communities in
ways for which schools are ill-prepared. Economic factors have
the dual effect of creating pressures to better prepare students
for the world of work and to do it with less money (Raywid,
1984).
This review of related literature highlights key
conclusions and findings of previous research about decentralized
decisionmaking and schools designing their own program to fit
their needs. Also covered is a selector of successful models and
perceptions, attributes, pitfalls, characteristics, and
commandments of effective school improvement.
Decentralized Decisionmaking
Joyce, Hersh, and McKibben (1983) believe that school
improvement decisions must be made by responsible parties at the
local school. What they propose for the school requires a
loosening of state and district restraints, accompanied
simultaneously by decentralization of decisionmaking authority.
Their belief is that the school is the key unit for change and to
accomplish change, decisions that affect the school must be made
by the school itself.
Social institutions tend to deteriorate unless they are
continuously rejuvenated. The public faces the dilemma of


19
keeping familiar, traditional practice, or making changes to meet
the challenges presented by social change.
The practice of "quick-fixes" and turning the school into
jigsaw puzzle parts that need fixing do not work. A holistic
approach of viewing the whole school and involving those that
will be affected in the decisionmaking process is the way to make
schools more effective (Joyce, Hersh, McKibben, 1983) Joyce
(1982) envisions the responsible parties (faculty of the school
with input from community members and central administration) as
a permanent organization responsible for establishing a climate
conducive to change, for assessing the strengths and weaknesses
of the school, and for effectively bringing about improvements.
Goodlad (1984) pictures decentralization not as a school
cut loose, but rather a school making decisions with input from
the hubthe district officeand to other schools in a network.
A teacher is the most powerful, influential, single
aspect in the education of children. If effective school
improvement is to occur, these teachers must be involved in the
decisions that affect them and the process of educating the youth
in school (Goodlad, 1984).
Decentralized decisionmaking should not be limited to
school improvement. Essentially, local schools should have much
more control over their own budgets, operating guidelines, and
materials. In addition, local schools should have a School
Improvement Fund, discretionary money to provide for school
improvement at the local school level (Boyer, 1983).


20
Dr. John Goodlad, Dr. Ernest Boyer, and Dr. Theodore
Sizer are three well-known researchers who agree that substantive
changes in the structures of schooling are needed. These
researchers have common threads of agreement, and number one on
the list is that decisionmaking within school districts and
within individual schools must be decentralized (Howard, 1984).
For many years the accepted practice in school
improvement had been for the central administration to decide
what improvement a particular school or group of schools in the
district needed, then find a model or plan which addressed that
perceived need, and to instruct the school on how to implement
that model or plan. Olson (1985) found this approach seriously
lacking the application of teachers' abilities to make effective
decisions about the problems that face them. Also, the above-
stated accepted practice was at fault for not considering the
teachers' influence, experience, abilities, and support. In
summary, teachers can make choices best based on their own
assessments of the situation (Olson, 1985).
Common (1983) agreed with Olson's concept. She claimed
teachers believe that "behind the classroom door, teachers see
themselves as free actors on an exciting stage, influencing and
caring for children." Common suggested that disregarding
teachers conceptions and expectations of themselves as being the
most important factor in the classroom, and school for that
matter, would be a serious mistake. This error would seriously
jeopardize any chance for successful school improvement.


21
Recognizing the importance of the role teachers take in
implementing change in the school is a key factor that must be
addressed in any model, plan, or program hoping for effective
school improvement (Huberman, 1983). Winn (1985) recognized the
importance of the role of the teacher and suggested seven ideas
that enable teachers to have input and enable the teachers to
accept the change more easily. Winn suggested that:
(1) those required to change have input,
(2) implementation decisions be made by those affected
by them,
(3) adequate training be provided,
(4) change should permit input from participants in the
process,
(5) support system be developed,
(6) feedback be provided,
(7) evaluation be conducted.
These seven ideas reflect the importance of decentralized
decisionmaking in the acceptance of change.
This general theory was tested in a study of teachers in
Wisconsin by Schneider (1984). Schneider's study found that
those highly involved in school decisionmaking had higher levels
of job satisfaction than those less involved. Administration
should provide, to the greatest extent possible, opportunities
for teachers who are affected by a decision, interested in the
decision, and/or knowledgeable about the decision to be involved
in making the decision. By so doing, teachers' perceived levels


22
of involvement will increase and higher levels of job
satisfaction will result. These findings were also found by
Belasco and Alutta (1984) in a survey of 427 teachers.
Teachers often lack a sense of ownership, a sense that
the school is theirs, among the teachers working together, and
that its future and their reputations are indistinguishable.
Hired hands own nothing, and are told what to do, and have little
stake in their enterprises .... Not surprisingly . .
teachers . often act like hired hands (Sizer, 1984).
In summary, Raywid (1984) stated that there is much
evidence on how to accomplish successful school improvement, but
two major obstacles stand in the way. The first is the reliance
on formal top-down systems and policies. The second is the
increasingly detailed and precise specification for improvement.
Both notions fly in the face of what we know about
successful schools, and about excellence in other types of
organizations as well.
If we want excellence, we must look toward school
organizations that generate greater efficacy on the part of
teachers, who are the crucial figures in the drama.
There are critical reasons why we must assign teachers
more responsibility and authority.
The first reason is that unless people possess a sense of
efficacythe power to produce desired effectsit is hopeless to
expect them to assume responsibility for improving their own
performance.


23
Two, efficacy is also essential to teachers' professional
ratification, morale, and ultimately, their performance.
And finally, teachers must not be subject to teacher-
proof methodologies. To be effective and to have effective
schools, teachers must believe that their decisions matter
(Raywid, 1984).
Schools Defining Their Own Mission and Means
Purkey (1982) reviewed research for effective schools,
literature on the implementation of educational innovation, and
current theories of school organization. Through this research,
Purkey believed that the most critical step in the process is for
the school (faculty and students) to discover their own needs in
order to become an effective high school.
Schools defining their own mission and means, or school
site-bound decisionmaking, whichever phrase is used, is an
extremely crucial step in the school improvement process. School
site-bound decisionmaking means the critical, important, and
significant decisions are made at the school level by the people
who will be effected most by the changes. This greatly enhances
any plans chances for not only implementation, but also success
(Joyce, Hersh and McKibben 1983).
Some of the most important ingredients of school site-
bound decisionmaking are teacher support, teacher input, and
teacher buy-in. Also important is the input of teacher
committees and release time to perform the needed tasks. The


24
district should limit constraints on the school and act as a
guide setting general directions for the school to follow
(Goodland, 1984).
A synthesis of findings from research indicated that
differences among schools have an effect on student achievement.
Specifically, it is the school's culture that is responsible for
this effect (Purkey, 1982). By critically studying academically
effective schools, we can identify characteristics that together
create a school culture conducive to student achievement. These
characteristics, hence, the school culture are alterable (cited
in Bloom, 1981) via faculty and administration collaboration,
plus deciding what their needs are to become an academically
effective school.
There is no one best model for school improvement. The
program must be developed by those closest to the situation.
Joyce, Hersh, and McKibben (1983) again stressed that there is no
one best model because of the different conditions that exist in
the local schools. There are myriad ways of traveling toward the
mission, but the one with the fewest bumps in the road is the one
where faculty and administrators design their own program (Joyce,
Hersh, McKibben, 1983). They went on to state that local schools
must decide their own purposes, plans, and programs looking
realistically at the children in their school.
These findings are echoed in a 1978 Rand Corporation
study (cited in Tom Bird, 1984) which concluded that innovation
must be modified to fit the local circumstances, and those


25
closest to the implementation must have input so that the
solution could survive and work.
Similar conclusions were found in Griffin and Barnes'
(1984) study about research-based strategy for school change.
They concluded that effective leaders for school change will take
into account:
(1) opportunities for teacher interaction focused on
professional issues.
(2) technical assistance to teachers.
(3) adaptation of ideas and programs that found a "fit"
with the school and classroom.
(4) opportunities for reflection.
(5) focused and precise attention on important school
issues.
To summarize, the plan must be made with interaction of teachers,
while also fitting the school with focused attention on the
school's important issues.
Common (1983) stated that teachers who are on the
receiving end of the bureaucratic hierarchy feel relatively
powerless. Winn (1985) suggested that to implement effective
change (school improvement) those required to change should have
input, and the decisions about the program should be made by
those most affected by the change.
Duke, Showers, and Imber (1980) interviewed 50 teachers
in the San Francisco Bay Area. The researchers echoed earlier
findings that found that shared decisionmaking was the most


26
effective way to achieve needed change in the school. However,
they also added that shared decisionmaking was of little benefit
if teachers did not also have some actual power in designing a
plan to fit the school to accomplish the desired outcomes (Duke,
Showers, and Imber, 1980).
This theory was advanced by Riley (1984) who found that
teachers, because of their special knowledge and
responsibilities, exercise more control over their classroom than
administrators. For this reason, teachers must have a pivotal
role in not only decisionmaking, but also the designing of a
program.
Successful Models
Research has shown that there are successful models for
school improvement. Sparks (1984) evaluated a six-step staff
development model for school improvement. The six steps were:
(1) awareness, readiness and commitment; (2) needs' assessment;
(3) proposal writing; (4) implementations; (5) evaluation; and
(6) reassessment.
Sparks collected data from 19 schools to obtain
perception on how well the staff believed the six-step model
worked. Questionnaires using a Likert-type scale were employed
and the results were averaged.
The major conclusion of the study was that the six-step
model was effective in helping school improvement. Other
conclusions were that the model was less likely to work if the


27
staff and principal had communication problems, and that the
principal seemed to be the single most important factor in the
success of the model.
In a recent study of employers' perceptions of the new
high school graduate employees, Crain (1985) researched how high
school preparation was perceived by employers. Crain sent
questionnaires to 1,250 employers who were hiring young people.
The major conclusion of the study was that a high school diploma
was no longer being withheld from students of low ability or from
people with social behavior problems. There are just as good, if
not better, applicants today, but an employer cannot assume that
just because they have a high school diploma, they are
necessarily one of the "better" applicants.
In a three-year study, Gallagher (1986) researched the
responsibility for instructional leadership in urban high
schools. Using a list of five positions: principal,
administrative team, curriculum council, director of studies, and
department chairperson, a large urban high school in Chicago was
studied to determine the primary administrative responsibilities.
The Instructional Management Rating Scale (IMRS)
developed by Hallinger (1983) was used, and the results were
analyzed by comparing the data from the beginning and the end of
the year. It was concluded that the high school principal was
not the lone leadership figure in improving teaching. The
efficiency of the division of administrative labor did not
necessarily mean loss of instructional leadership for the


28
principal. Also, the principal appeared to be more the executive
who delegated and coordinated responsibilities for improvement of
learning.
Sousa (1982) researched shared decisionmaking in the
schools. Principals of 55 public secondary schools in New Jersey
were asked to identify the level within the school district where
certain decisions were made to determine whether the principals
were sharing the decisionmaking authority with subordinates.
Questionnaire results were analyzed by taking the number of
subordinate decisions and dividing them by the total number of
decisions made within the school. The higher the number, the
more shared decisionmaking was occurring.
Conclusions were that shared decisionmaking as an
approach to school administration seems to be declining. The
trend of more shared decisionmaking seems to have passed.
Principals seem reluctant to share decisionmaking authority.
Finn (1984), in cooperation with the COSMOS corporation
and others, did an extensive study on excellence in urban high
schools. Effective high schools across the country were
identified as having the following 14 attributes:
1. The principal as an instructional leader;
2. A safe, orderly school climate;
3. An emphasis on basic skills;
4. Teachers with high expectations for student
achievement;


29
5. A system for monitoring and assessing student
.performance;
6. The pronouncement of clear academic goals;
7. A sense of teacher efficacy over the conduct of the
school;
8. The existence of rewards and incentives for
individual teachers and students;
9. The development of community support for the school;
10. Concentration on academic learning time;
11. Emphasis on frequent and monitored homework;
12. A coordinated curriculum;
13. The use of a variety of teaching strategies; and
14. Opportunities for student responsibilities in school
affairs.
The main question studied was "What were the major
pitfalls to be avoided in developing a policy-relevant framework
for excellence in urban high schools?" Observations and
questionnaires were used to sample 45 urban high schools. Data
were compared for statistical differences and correlations. It
was concluded that there are three major pitfalls to be avoided.
These were identified as: (1) absence of linkage between
organizational and instructional settings; (2) avoidance of
simplistic organizational concepts; and (3) correlative, rather
than causal, frameworks.
Gallagher (1984) conducted a study on teacher perceptions
of the principal's instructional leadership style using the Blake


30
and Moutoni managerial grid. He studied an elementary school of
approximately 800 students with a staff of 37 full-time
professionals. The school was located in a large, urban K-12
district in the Midwest. Teachers, who had been randomly
selected, were asked to rate their principal on concern for
people and on concern for production. The results were compared
to how the principal rated himself. The study concluded that
although the overall faculty rating was slightly higher for the
principal's production emphasis than for people emphasis, the
score was not high enough to indicate the principal was perceived
as being an instructional leader.
The Minnesota School Effectiveness Program packet
developed in 1984 was designed to assist educational leaders in
presenting current research-based information on the
characteristics of effective schools. The packet also reviews
information related to effective school improvement, staff
development program, and the stages of planned change. This
packet identifies the following nine organizational
characteristics of effective schools:
1. Goals and expectations clear;
2. School climate comfortable;
3. Effective leadership;
4. School-site management;
5. District-level support;
6. Collaborative planning;
7. Continuing staff development;


31
8. Curriculum articulation;
9. Parental involvement.
Research has shown that there is one very critical factor
in any school improvement plan, that the teacher must believe in
and be highly involved in the process.
In addition, the 1984 Minnesota School Effectiveness
Program stated there are six steps to planned change in a
successful school improvement process:
1. Recognition and assessment of need;
2. Initiation and formulation of preliminary plans;
3. Adoption of the plan;
4. Implementation;
5. Institutionalization;
6. Evaluation.
Successful programs are characterized by a problem-
solving view of change. The new program, or procedure, must be
viewed as a workable solution to a shared problem. In successful
programs, the time and effort involved in implementing a change
is recognized, and the conditions necessary to assist teachers in
making the change are provided.
The Tucson Unified School District used a process of
restricting its Chapter/Program to allow more building level
flexibility and autonomy for the principal and staff in program
development and implementation. The program was reviewed and
evaluated by Slaughter (1984). It was found that by working with
principals and staff, rather than ignoring them, a higher level


32
of commitment to school improvement and successful implementation
was attained than had previously been accomplished (Slaughter,
1984).
A 50-state survey (Odden, 1982) was recently conducted to
find a variety of low-cost, innovative, and successful school
improvement activities that have been initiated at both state and
local levels in the past few years. A common thread of all
successful strategies was that they share three general
characteristics: (1) the school was the unit of educational
improvement; (2) clear academic goals were focused on the basic
skills; and (3) student-level data were used for individual
feedback to students and for modification of the instructional
program.
Finn (1984) studied the problems faced by many
policymakers who attempted to transform the findings of
"effective schools" research into improved educational practice.
Finn listed the following nine commandments for enhancing
school effectiveness.
1. Recognize the school as the key organizational unit
in public education;
2. Set rigorous educational standards;
3. Encourage schools to be different, except for the
case of cognitive schools;
4. Develop effective school-level leadership;
5. Make the selection and deployment of professional
staff predominantly a school-level responsibility;


33
6. Treat teachers as individuals;
7. More budgetary authority should evolve at the school
level;
8. State and federal policymakers should avoid
inhibiting school-level governance; and
9. Recognize that improving school effectiveness is a
dynamic, cyclical process that takes place over a
long period of time.
Summary
The literature has shown that decisionmaking must be
decentralized to increase the chances of successful school
improvement. The accepted practice of central administration
deciding what improvement a particular school or group of schools
in the district need, then finding a model or plan and
instructing the school on how to implement the plan is
unproductive.
Teachers must be involved in the process of school
improvement. Quick-fixes do not work. The road with the fewest
bumps to successful school improvement is one where the school's
staff decides its own needs and problems. Then they develop
their own plan to meet those needs and problems.
The experts agree school improvement decisions must be
made at the school level.



CHAPTER III
DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY
Overview
This chapter discusses the research design and
methodology. It explains the methods involved for sample
selection, sources of data, data collection and date analysis.
This study sought to analyze the following problem
statement. Was the Thornton High School Improvement Program
successful?
Sources of Data
These data sources were used in this study.
1. Data were collected from a random sample of students
from Thornton High School.
2. Data were collected from all full-time teachers at
Thornton High School.
3. Data were collected from all Thornton High School
administrators.
4. Interviews were conducted with randomly selected
students.


35
5. Interviews were conducted with randomly selected
teachers.
6. Interviews were conducted with randomly selected
administrators.
Methods and Procedures Used
This investigator used the following methods and
procedures to analyze.data collected in order to test the
perceived success of the Thornton High School Improvement
Program.
There were 1,452 students at Thornton High School as of
January 9, 1989, and of these students, 1,103 were juniors and
seniors. Only the juniors and seniors of the school were sampled
because they were best able to judge the changes caused by the
school improvement plan. A random sample of the juniors and
seniors provided a list of 110 students needed to fill out the
questionnaires (see Appendix A).
There were 88 full-time, teachers at Thornton High School
for the 1988-1989 school year. All 88 full-time teachers
received a questionnaire (see Appendix B). These questionnaires
provided the investigator with the needed responses for the
teacher's perceptions on the Thornton High School Improvement
Program.
Permission was received from Dr. Curt Furness, Associate
Principal in charge of curriculum and instruction at Thornton
High School, to conduct this study. Permission received allowed


36
this researcher.to administer the questionnaire to the randomly
selected students, all teachers, and all the administrators
during regular school hours.
One hundred ten questionnaires were sent out to students;
79 were returned for a 72% return rate. Fifty-one of the 88
teacher questionnaires were returned for a 58% return rate. To
solicit more response, all teachers received a letter in their
school mail boxes asking for their prompt reply to the
questionnaire after one week. Finally, all six of the
administrator questionnaires were returned for a 100% return rate
(see Table 4.1).
The six Thornton High School administrators completed the
questionnaire (see Appendix C). These questionnaires provided
this investigator with the needed responses for the
administrators' perceptions on the Thornton High School
Improvement Program.
A random sample of the juniors and seniors, all teachers,
and all the Thornton High School administrators provided
representative information from each of the populations being
studied. Their perceptions on how successful the Thornton High
School Improvement Program were compared and analyzed.
In addition, follow-up interviews were conducted using 10
randomly selected subjects from students and teachers, and
follow-up interviews were also conducted with three randomly
selected administrators. These 23 in-depth interviews provided
information regarding the perception of the three groups.


37
This research study addressed the specific problem:
Was the Thornton High School Improvement Program
successful?
In addition, this research study addressed two sub-
problems :
Sub-problem 1
To achieve successful school improvement, did the
Thornton High School Improvement Program establish objectives and
the processes to accomplish these objectives?
Sub-problem 2
In the perception of the students, teachers, and
administrators, did the Thornton High School Improvement Program
use a selected group of strategies common to school site-bound
decisionmaking?
The three components studied were: the perceptions of
students, the perceptions of teachers, and the perceptions of
administrators with regard to the success of the Thornton High
School Improvement Program.
Case Study Data
The data of this study included a case study of
students', teachers', and administrators' perceptions of the
Thornton High School Improvement Program. Since this was a case
study, much of the detail of what happened and how teachers
reacted to it was gathered via written questionnaires and


38
follow-up interviews with randomly selected students, teachers,
and administrators at Thornton High School. In addition,
bulletins, memos, agendas of meetings, and minutes of meetings
were analyzed as needed for additional details about how the
Improvement Program was designed and implemented. The problem
and sub-problems in this case study were used to guide the
overall research.
Thornton High School was a school of 1,452 students, 88
full-time teachers, and six administrators. The facility, which
opened in the fall of 1974, was located on a three-building
campus near a major thoroughfare. Prior to 1974, the school was
known as Meritt Hutton High School and was located on a site east
of the present campus, across Washington Street. The address of
Thornton High School was 9351 North Washington Street, Thornton,
Colorado. Thornton High School was one of the Denver Metro
area's large comprehensive high schools. Geographically, it
served students from six different political entities: Thornton,
Federal Heights, Northglenn, Westminster, Broomfield, and
unincorporated Adams County.
Thornton High School was one of three high schools in
Adams County School District #12. The other two high schools
were Northglenn High School and Horizon High School. All three
high schools contained grades 10-12. The total enrollment for
all Adams County School District #12 .schools was 20,122 students.
Of these students, 11,915 were enrolled in elementary schools,
4,482 were enrolled in junior high, and the remaining 3,725


39
students were enrolled in the three high schools. Thornton High
School had an enrollment of 1,452 students; Northglenn High
School had an enrollment of 1,564 students, and Horizon High
School had an enrollment of 709 students. In addition to the
three high schools, Adams County School District #12 had six
junior highs and 23 elementary schools. Ethnically, in Adams
County School District #12, 80 percent of the students were
Anglo, 17 percent were Hispanic, and 3 percent were Black.
The area surrounding Thornton High School was
residential, with a light mixture of commercial and small
industrial buildings located near the majpr thoroughfare. Homes
in the area were older than the school itself and relatively
small, but as one goes north within Thornton High School's
boundaries, the homes become newer and larger.
As stated before, Thornton High School served students
from six different political entities. The communities served
vary greatly. The western area within the boundaries were
primarily mobile homes and small older homes. The southeastern
area was mostly 20- to 25-year-old brick homes with primarily a
Hispanic population. The north end of the area served had newer,
more expensive homes with primarily an Anglo upper-middle class
population. The remaining area was primarily middle-sized homes
built 15 to 20 years ago and inhabited by blue-collar workers.
Persons living within the Thornton High School boundaries
were employed in every kind of job afforded by a major
metropolitan area, from farming to sophisticated scientific


40
research. Though the social-economic status of the major portion
of the persons served by the school remained blue-collar (lower-
middle class), a much larger segment of the population was white-
collar (upper-middle class) than was true in the past. The Adams
County area has the lowest median income of the four suburban
counties within the Denver metropolitan area.
The student population at Thornton High School came from
a variety of backgrounds. Ethnically, 77 percent of the students
were Anglo, 21 percent were Hispanic, and 3 percent were Black.
No other ethnic or minority group had significant representation
in the school population.
The Thornton High School faculty consisted of 88
teachers. The average number of years teaching experience was
9.7 years. The faculty had a wide range in years of teaching
experience due to the steady growth which the school experienced
over the previous 10 years.
The Principal at Thornton High School was appointed in
1985, four years ago. The previous Principal was promoted to the
Central Administration Building, as Director of Secondary School
Curriculum. The present Thornton High School Principal prior to
becoming Principal had worked for one year as Associate Principal
at the school, and prior to that, he had been Principal at one of
the district's junior high schools.
In addition to the principal, the Thornton High School
administrative team included five other members: an associate
principal, an assistant principal, an athletic director, and two


41
deans in charge of discipline. All of these administrators had
at least five years of administrative experience.
The Thornton High School Improvement Program was the idea
of the previous principal. Once the funding ran out in the fall
of 1984 for the program being utilized at that time, he decided
to explore different approaches to school improvement. He
initiated meetings over the next several months among himself,
the Assistant Superintendent in charge of Curriculum, and two
teachers from Thornton High School. They studied many different
options and elected to use a decentralized approach with Thornton
High School teachers deciding their own needs, mission, and
plans. To accomplish this, they proposed that the teachers be
given release time to help facilitate the process. Three
teachers were elected by the faculty at Thornton High School to
become the teacher-facilitators. Each of the three teacher-
facilitators were given two-fifths release time per day to work
on the High School Project.
During the summer of. 1985, the High School Project was
renamed the Thornton High School Improvement Program. In
addition, a new Principal was appointed at Thornton High School.
The new Principal during the fall 1985 assigned the Associate
Principal to work with the teacher-facilitators. When asked what
his role was with the teacher-facilitators, the Associate
Principal stated, "It was a role I really enjoyed. I supported
and encouraged the teacher-facilitators." He also said he tried
to help them by relating what they were trying to set up with the


42
findings of the experts in the field. He saw the experts in the
field being mainly John Goodlad, Theodore Sizer, and Ernest
Boyer.
The Thornton High School Improvement Program was
implemented in the fall of 1985. The teacher-facilitators were
given the authority to run the program, while the associate
principal was there for support and encouragement. The program
was set up as a three-year project, beginning in the fall of 1985
and finishing in the fall of 1988.
After studying the literature in school improvement,
attending workshops, listening to national experts in the field,
and meeting with local school improvement groups, the teacher-
facilitators decided to start with a survey to determine what the
teachers at Thornton High School thought should be the objective
of the Thornton High School Improvement Program. Using the
results from the surveys and two faculty work sessions, the
following five objectives were identified for the Thornton High
School Improvement Program:
a. Expand the curriculum in every class to include a
variety of learning activities.
b. Increase the commitment of teachers to making cross-
content links for students.
c. Establish an improvement in students1 attitudes
toward their school experience.


43
d. Build flexibility into the school week so that
teachers can have time to meet for planning and
professional grants.
e. Encourage two-way communication among all groups in
the educational environment.
After the five objectives were established, teachers were
given additional release time to work on one of five committees
set up to achieve a specific objective. Each committee was to
identify, articulate, and develop three processes to achieve
their objective. For instance, teachers on the committee to
expand the curriculum developed three processes to achieve this
objective:
(1) Provide inservice preparation on learning styles.
(2) Develop a teaching-learning strategy for the week.
(3) Develop a channel for exchange of ideas.
At this point, three subcommittees were set up, one for
each process. Teachers were free to choose any of the three
subcommittees. A significant amount of release time was given to
teachers in the early stages. After the subcommittees were
established, release time was dropped and the teachers were more
or less free to work on their subcommittee if they chose.
The work on identifying objectives, setting up
committees, identifying processes to achieve the objectives, and
setting up the subcommittees took approximately one year. The
last two years of the program were much less structured. In
addition, the amount of release time diminished, and


44
consequently, many of the subcommittees met on their own time
while others remained largely inactive. Many teachers seemed to
enjoy working on their committee and subcommittee, while others
seemed only to attend when specific release time was provided to
do so.
The Thornton High School Improvement Program ended in the
fall of 1988. The new administration replaced it with a new plan
aimed at incorporating more input from parents and the community.
The teacher-facilitator positions were discontinued and teachers
were encouraged to sign up for new committees with parents,
students, and community members to develop another school
improvement plan.
Data Gathering
Data were gathered for this study primarily utilizing a
questionnaire and follow-up interview.
Questionnaire Construction
The questionnaire was developed by the researcher. It
was designed as another method to gather data to enhance the
validity of the findings and to corroborate the findings from the
interviews. The questionnaire.used a Likert-type scale to record
responses.
The questionnaire contained 37 questions. These
questions provided this investigator with the information needed


45
on the perceptions of the Thornton High School Improvement
Program by students, teachers, and administrators.
To pilot the questionnaire, the instrument was trial-
tested in three different ways. The student questionnaire was
trial-tested by using 10 Thornton High School students not
selected in the sample. To trial-test the questionnaire for
teachers, five teachers from Northglenn High School were
selected. In addition to the trial-test of the questionnaire for
administrators, two administrators from Northglenn High School
were utilized. The questions to which the participants were
asked to respond in the trial-test were: .Did you understand the
instructions? Were there any questions you did not understand?
How long did it take you to complete it? Are there any
suggestions for improvement?
During the month of April, 1989, the questionnaire was
given to be filled out by randomly selected students, all the
teachers, and all the administrators. The data were collected
and analyzed during the latter part of April and May, 1989. The
dissertation was written during the summer of 1989. A copy of
the questionnaire is in Appendix B.
Follow-up Interviews
Interviews were conducted using ten randomly selected
subjects from the students and from the teachers. Also,


46
interviews were conducted with three randomly selected
administrators. These 23 interviews provided data regarding the
perceptions of the three groups.
The randomly selected students, all teachers plus all the
administrators were asked to respond freely and give their
opinions on the following 14 questions:
1. Overall, do you believe the Thornton High School
Improvement Program was a success?
2. Was the curriculum expanded in every class to
include a variety of learning activities?
Were any of the following processes
particularly effective in achieving that
objective:
Inservice on learning styles?
Developing a teaching-learning strategy of
the week?
Opening channels for exchange of ideas?
3. Did teachers increase their commitment to making
cross-content links?
Were any of the following processes
particularly effective in achieving that
objective:
Developing a talent bank?
Publicity of cross-content link successes?
Release time for development of cross-
content links?


47
Did students' attitudes toward their school
experiences improve?
Were any of the following processes
particularly effective in achieving that
objective:
Consistent policies?
Encouraging student involvement in school
activities?
A plan to limit students* work hours away
from school?
Was flexibility built into the school week so
teachers could have time for planning?
Were any of the following processes
particularly effective in achieving that
objective:
Utilizing compacted days?
Granting mini-sabbaticals?
Utilizing a rotating schedule?
Was two-way communication encouraged among all
groups in the educational environment?
. Were any of the following processes
particularly effective in achieving that
objective:
Utilizing the parent newsletter?
Utilizing open houses and award banquets?
Utilizing parent-teacher committees?


48
7. Did the teacher-facilitators have the major
responsibility for planning, organizing, and
developing the School Improvement Program?
8. Did the teacher-facilitators have the major
responsibility for coordinating the implementation
of the School Improvement Program?
9. Was teacher input sought and used?
10. Was teacher-committee input sought and used?
11. Did the teacher commit and "buy-in" to the Program?
12. Were teachers given release time to work on the
program?
13. Did the School Improvement Program fit the needs of
the school?
14. Were the major decisions about the School
Improvement Program made by the teachers at Thornton
High School?
These 14 questions asked during the follow-up interviews
were utilized to gather data for the case study about the
perceptions of students, teachers, and administrators with
respect to the success of the Thornton High School Improvement
Program.
Statistical Analysis
Statistical analysis procedures for the problem
statement, sub-problems, hypothesis, perceptions of success, and
interviews are described in this section.


49
Problem Statement
Was the Thornton High School Improvement Program
successful?
The responses from students, teachers and administrators
to the statement overall was the Thornton High School Improvement
Program a success were analyzed. Means were calculated by groups
and overall. The means were compared and analyzed for
interpretation.
After processing the data, follow-up interviews were
conducted. These interviews provided a deeper interpretation of
the statistical analysis of the data regarding the perceptions of
the three groups.
Success of the program was also analyzed by examining the
perceptions of responders as to whether or not the five
objectives of the Thornton High School Improvement Plan were
accomplished.
The five objectives were:
1. Expand the curriculum in every class to include a
variety of learning activities.
2. Increase the. commitment of teachers to making cross-
content links for students.
3. Establish an improvement in students' attitudes
toward their school experience.


50
4. Build flexibility into the school week so that
teachers can have time to meet for planning and
professional grants.
5. Encourage two-way communication among all groups in
the educational environment.
The perception of the three groups were again calculated
into means, compared and analyzed. In addition, the follow-up
interviews were also conducted to provide deeper and more
meaningful interpretations of the statistical findings.
The perceptions of achieving the objectives were analyzed
to help determine whether or not the Thornton High School
Improvement Program was a success.
Sub-problem 1
To achieve successful school improvement did the Thornton
High School Improvement Program establish the five objectives
mentioned earlier and the processes to accomplish those
objectives?
Means were calculated from the three groups' responses to
questions about the accomplishment of each objective. The means
were compared and analyzed. Follow-up interviews were also
conducted to gather more information.
In addition, responses were tabulated on the questions
regarding the establishment of processes to achieve the
objectives. Means were again calculated, compared, and analyzed.


51
Finally, follow-up interviews were conducted to gather additional
data.
Sub-problem 2
In the perceptions of the students, teachers, and
administrators, did the Thornton High School Improvement Program
use a selected group of strategies common to school site-bound
decisionmaking?
Eight strategies were identified and analyzed. From the
responses of the three groups with respect to the eight
strategies, means were computed, compared, and analyzed.
Follow-up interviews were, also conducted to gather additional
data about the use of the strategies.
Additional Research Questions
Research Question 1
Based on the perceptions of five of the selected group of
eight strategies, does site-bound decisionmaking significantly
contribute to successful school improvement as perceived by
Thornton High School students, teachers, and administrators?
Multiple regression analyses were performed to determine
which of the five selected strategies, if any, were predictive of
overall successful school improvement. These data were entered
into a regression equation using stepwise linear regression.


52
Research Question 2
Correlation and significance levels were computed for all
five hypotheses to determine whether or not there was a
significant position correlation between successful school
improvement and the five site-bound decisionmaking processes
established (use of teacher-facilitators, utilization of teacher
input, utilization of teacher-committee input, the commitment and
"buy-in" of teachers, and the use of teacher release time).
Research Question 3
Respondents were asked to identify in rank order two
elements from a list of seven which they believed were the most .
important factors which contributed to the success of the school
improvement program.
Chi-square analysis were done to determine whether there
existed any significant differences between the groups.


CHAPTER IV
RESEARCH FINDING
Introduction
The purpose of this study was to determine if the
Thornton High School Improvement Program was perceived to be a
success. In addition, two sub-problems were formulated to gather
information on the perceived success of the program. The two
sub-problems were:
1. To achieve successful school improvement, did the
Thornton High School Improvement Program establish
the following five objectives and the processes to
accomplish these objectives?
a. Expand the curriculum in every class to include
a variety of learning activities.
(1) Inservice on learning styles.
(2) Develop a teaching-learning strategy for
the week.
(3) Develop a channel for exchange of ideas.
b. Increase the commitment of teachers to making
cross content-links for students.
(1) Develop a talent bank.


54
(2) Develop a plan to publicize cross-content
link successes.
(3) Develop a plan to provide release time for
the development of cross-content links.
c. Establish an improvement in students' attitudes
toward their school experience.
(1) Develop consistency in policies.
(2) Develop a plan to encourage student
involvement in school activities.
(3) Develop a workable plan to try to limit
students' work hours away from school.
d. Build flexibility into the school week so that
teachers can have time to meet for planning and
professional grants.
(1) Develop a plan to utilize compacted days.
(2) Develop a plan for granting mini-
sabbaticals.
(3) Develop a plan for utilizing a rotating
schedule.
e. Encourage two-way communication among all
groups in the educational environment.
(1) Develop a plan to utilize the parent
newsletter.
(2) Develop a plan to utilize open houses and
award banquets.


55
(3) Develop a plan to utilize parent-teacher
committees.
2. In the perception of the students, teachers, and
administrators, did the Thornton High School
Improvement Program use a selected group of
strategies common to school site-bound
decisionmaking?
Specifically, the questions asked were:
a. Did the teacher-facilitators have the major
responsibility for planning, organizing, and
developing the School Improvement Program?
b. Did the teacher-facilitators have the major
responsibility for coordinating the
implementation of the School Improvement
Program?
c. Was teacher input sought and used throughout
the School Improvement Program?
d. Was teacher-committee input sought and used
throughout'the School Improvement Program?
e. Did the teachers commit and "buy-in" to the
School Improvement Program?
f. Were teachers given release time to work on the
School Improvement Program?
g. Did the School Improvement Program fit the
needs of the school?


56
h. Were the major decisions about the School
Improvement Program made by the teachers at
Thornton High School?
To gather data regarding the perceptions of the overall
success of the Thornton High School Improvement Program, 204
questionnaires were sent out during the month of May, 1989.
Responses were received from 136 subjects that included students,
teachers, and administrators from Thornton High School. The
total response was 67%.
The respondents were asked to respond to 37 different
questions regarding the Thornton High School Improvement Program
using a 1-5 Likert-type scale. The questionnaires also included
demographic questions for the students, teachers, and
administrators regarding sex, junior or senior status, years in
School District #12 schools, years teaching, main subject area,
years teaching at Thornton High School, year as an administrator,
and years at present position.
To gather corroborative information regarding the
perceptions of overall success of the Thornton High School
Improvement Program reported on the questionnaires, interviews
were conducted during the month of May, 1989. Randomly selected
subjects of 10 from students and 10 teachers were drawn from each
population. In addition, interviews were also conducted with
three randomly selected administrators. These 23 in-depth
interviews provided validating data regarding the perceptions of
the three groups' responses on the questionnaires.


57
The randomly selected students, teachers, and all the
administrators from Thornton High School were asked to respond
freely and give their opinions to the following 14 questions
about the Thornton High School Improvement Program:
1. Overall, do you believe the Thornton High School
Improvement Program was a success?
2. Was the curriculum expanded in every class to
include a variety of learning activities?
Were any of the following processes
particularly effective in achieving that
objective:
Inservice on learning styles?
Developing a teaching-learning strategy of
the week?
Opening channels for exchange of ideas?
3. Did teachers increase their commitment to making
cross-content links?
Were any of the following processes
particularly effective in achieving that
objective:
Developing a talent bank?
Publicity of cross-content link successes?
Release time for development of cross-
content links?
4. Did students' attitudes toward their school
experiences improve?


58
Were any of the following processes
particularly effective in achieving that
objective:
Consistent policies?
Encouraging student involvement in school
activities?
A plan to limit students' work hours away
from school?
5. Was flexibility built into the school week so
teachers could have time for planning?
Were any of the following processes
particularly effective in achieving that
objective:
Utilizing compacted days?
Granting mini-sabbaticals?
Utilizing a rotating schedule?
6. Was two-way communication encouraged among all
groups in the educational environment?
Were any of the following processes
particularly effective in achieving that
objective:
Utilizing the parent newsletter?
Utilizing open houses and award banquets?
Utilizing parent-teacher committees?


59
7. Did the teacher-facilitators have the major
responsibility for planning, organizing, and
developing the School Improvement Program?
8. Did the teacher-facilitators have the major
responsibility for coordinating the implementation
of the School Improvement Program?
9. Was teacher input sought and used?
10. Was teacher-committee input sought and used?
11. Did the teacher commit and "buy-in" to the Program?
12. Were teachers given release time to work on the
program?
13. Did the School Improvement Program fit the needs of
the school?
14. Were the major decisions about the School
Improvement Program made by the teachers at Thornton
High School?
This chapter presents the findings of the study in
relation to the problem statement and the two sub-problems. The
first section of this chapter offers a description of the sample.
Sample
Completed questionnaires were analyzed for the 136
i
subjects who responded. As shown in Table 1, 204 questionnaires
were sent out with a 67% return rate. Of the 136 returns, 79
(58%) of those were students, 51 (38%) were teachers, and 6 (4%)
were administrators. The school had a student body of


60
approximately 1,450 students, 88 full-time teachers, and 6
administrators.
Table 1
Questionnaire Respondents
Group Number of Questionnaires Sent Out Number of Questionnaires Returned Percentage Return Rate
Students 110 79 72%
Teachers 88 51 58%
Administrators 6 6 100%
Total 204 136 67%
Students
As seen in Table 2, 32.9% of the students had been in
the district for all of their school years, 38% had been there
for 6-11 years, 6.3% for 3-5 years, and 22.8% for less than two
years. In addition, 40 of the 79 students in the student sample
were females, and 39 were males. Of the student sample, 54.4% of
the students were juniors and 45.6% were seniors.


61
Table 2
Students' Years in School District #12 Schools
Years in School District Number of Students Percent
Less than 3 18 22.8%
3-5 5 6.3%
6-11 30 38.0%
All school years 26 32.9%
Total 79 100.0%
Teachers
As seen in Table 3, 39.2% of the teachers had been at
Thornton High School for over 10 years, 19.6% from 7-10 years,
23.5% from 4-6 years, 7.8% for three years, 3.9% for two years,
and 5.9% for one year. Of the teachers, 39.2% had been in
education for over 15 years, 33.3% for 11-15 years, 11.8% for
7-10 years, 7.8% for 4-6 years, 3.9% for three years and 3.9% for
two years. In addition, 26 of the 51 teachers were male and 25
were female. This was an experienced group of teachers, 72.5%
had been in teaching 11 or more years.


62
Table 3
Teachers' Years in Education
Years in Education Number of Teachers Percent
2 2 3.9%
3 2 3.9%
4-6 4 7.8%
7-10 6 11.8%
11-15 17 33.3%
16+ 20 39.2%
Total
51
99.9%
Administrators
As shown in Table 4, five of the six administrators were
male; 16.7% of the administrators had 1-3 years of experience in
administration, another 16.7% had 7-10 years of experience in
administration, and 66.7% had 11 or more years of experience in
administration. This was an experienced administrative team.
Table 4
Administrators1 Years of Experience in Administration
Years in Number of Percent
Administration Administrators
1-3 1 16.7%
4-6 0 0.0%
7-10 1 16.7%
11+ 4 66.7%
Total
6
100.1%


63
Data Analysis
Was the Thornton High School Improvement Program
successful? In the process of analyzing the data this researcher
utilized the following ranges for the means to classify the
results: 2.75 or below = unsuccessful, 2.76 to 3.24 = neither
successful nor unsuccessful, 3.25 or higher = successful.
Questionnaire Responses
To gather data with respect to the success of the School
Improvement Program, the following statement was on the
questionnaire:
All told, the Thornton High School Improvement
Program has been a success.
Respondents were asked to rate on a 1-5 Likert-type scale
the extent to which they perceived this statement to be true,
with 5 = total agreement and 1 = total disagreement. Table 5
presents the means by respondent groups relating to their
perceptions of the success of the Thornton High School
Improvement Program.


64
Table 5
Perceptions of Program's Success:
Means of Groups, All Respondents
Response Groups
Students Teachers Administrators All Respondents
Means 3.15 3.02
4.00
3.09
Table 5 indicates that students as a group perceived the
program to have been slightly more successful (3.15) than did
teachers as a group (3.02). However, both means were too low to
indicate perceptions of success. Only the administrators, on the
other hand, perceived the program to have been successful (4.00).
Finally, the mean for all respondents as a single group was 3.09,
much too low to suggest that the program was perceived as
successful. On the other hand, it was not rated as a failure.
Interview Results
Data gathered from the follow-up interviews corroborated
the above findings. Student interviews indicated that they
perceived the School Improvement Program to be "a wash". Some
students stated that the program started out great, but then
seemed to fade away. The following statement is indicative:
At first I was excited that the school wanted my opinions.
And I saw some neat things going on, but after awhile
everyone seemed to forget about it.
It was obvious from the teacher interviews that there was
little consensus on whether or not the program was successful. A


65
few teachers believed it was a waste of time, while others
thought the School Improvement Program was fairly successful.
The opinions expressed varied greatly.
All of the administrators thought that, overall, the
Thornton High School Improvement Program was a success. A common
thread through all responses was the belief that anytime the
faculty feels ownership in a plan, it has a good chance of
success. One administrator reflected:
I feel we could have used a little guidance in setting our
objectives, but overall I think the Improvement Program had a
great many successes.
That statement accurately reflects the perception of
three administrators, that the program had been successful, but
that they did have reservations about total success.
Results from the questionnaires and interviews indicated
that students and teachers had a wide variety of perceptions
about the success of the School Improvement Program. That
combined with the data revealing a high number of respondents who
answered "Don't Know" or "3" on the questionnaires indicated that
students and teacher perceived the program neither to be
successful nor unsuccessful (See Appendix B).
Administrators, on the other hand, both in questionnaires
and the interviews (with a few reservations) indicated they
believed that the program was basically successful.
Overall, the data failed to indicate that the Thornton
High School Improvement Program was perceived to have been either
successful or unsuccessful. It was a mixed response.


66
Sub-problem 1
To achieve successful school improvement, did the
Thornton High School Improvement Program establish five
objectives and the processes to accomplish these objectives.
Perceptions of Success Regarding the
Five Objectives of the Thornton High
School Improvement Program
Success of the Thornton High School Improvement Program
was measured by determining whether or not the five objectives
developed by the program were perceived to have been
accomplished.
The five objectives of the School Improvement Program
were:
(a) Expand the curriculum in every class to include a
variety of learning activities.
(b) Increase the commitment of teachers to making cross-
content links for students.
(c) Establish an improvement in students' attitudes
toward their school experience.
(d) Build flexibility into the school week so that
teachers can have time to meet for planning and
professional grants.
(e) Encourage two-way communication among all groups in
the educational environment.
Responses to items 12, 16, 21 and 28 on the questionnaire
(Appendix B) served as a measure of perceived success for


67
objectives a, b, c, and d which are listed above. The
questionnaire did not include a similar item for Objective e,
above, so responses to item 32 on the questionnaire were used as
a proxy measure. Table 6 provides means for each of those five
items by the respondent groups and for all respondents, as well
as a mean of means for the five objectives and each respondent
group.
Table 6
Perceptions of Attainment of the
Five Program Objectives
Respondent Group
Goal Students Teachers Administrators All Respondents
Expand the Curriculum 3.19 2.97 1.80 3.06
Increase Cross- Content Links 3.23 3.00 3.17 3.14
Improve Students' Attitudes 2.69 2.34 3.40 2.60
Build Flexibility into School Week 3.00 2.65 1.60 2.81
Encourage Two-Way Communication 3.26 3.36 4.33 3.36
Mean of Means 3.07 2.86 2.86 2.99


68


Table 6 indicates that the only objective that students
perceived to be successful was "Encouraging two-way
communication" (3.26). The same objective, "Encouraging two-way
communication" was also the only one of the five objectives that
teachers perceived to be successful (3.36). Administrators
perceived two objectives, "Improve student attitudes" (3.40) and
"Encourage two-way communication" (4.33), to be successful. The
means for all respondents combined indicated that only "Encourage
two-way communication" (3.36) was perceived as a success.
Objective a
The first objective to be analyzed is expanding the
curriculum to provide a variety of learning activities. Students
had the highest mean and administrators had the lowest mean. The
mean for all respondents was 3.06 (See Table 6).
The data indicated that students and teachers perceived
the program was neither successful nor unsuccessful in attaining
this objective, while the administrators perceived the program to
have been unsuccessful in expanding the curriculum. For all
respondents combined the objective of expanding the curriculum
was perceived to have been neither successful nor unsuccessful.
Follow-up interviews provided similar results. Students,
teachers, and administrators were asked, "Was the curriculum
expanded in every class to include a variety of learning
activities?"


69
The interview responses of students were the most
positive of the three groups regarding expansion of the
curriculum. Several of the students said they thought other
subjects were being emphasized in most classes. One student
stated: "English and Math seem to be emphasized in about all my
classes, even Art."
A few students did not think anything changed at all, and
several students did not know what "curriculum" was.
Teacher responses to expansion of the curriculum were
mildly negative. Although some of the teachers thought expansion
of the curriculum had taken place, the majority of the teachers
did not think that much, if any, change had taken place.
Administrator responses were also negative. They did not
think the School Improvement Program expanded the
curriculum in the classroom very much, although they did think
it was successful in other areas.
One administrator reflected:
Expanding the curriculum in every classroom to include a
variety of learning activities is an excellent objective, but
I believe it's beyond the scope of a school improvement
program. It's a very complex and involved process, one where
the teacher needs much support.
Results from the questionnaire and follow-up interviews
indicated that students and teachers perceived the objective of
expanding the curriculum to have been neither successful nor
unsuccessful. On the other hand, administrators perceived
expansion of the curriculum to have been unsuccessful.


70
Objective b
"Increase the commitment of teachers to making cross-
content links for students" was the second objective to be
analyzed.
As shown in Table 6, the mean for all respondents
regarding their perceptions that this objective was attained was
3.14. Students had the highest mean, and teachers had the lowest
mean.
These data indicate that all three groups perceived the
School Improvement Program to have been neither successful nor
unsuccessful in increasing the cross-content links, while the
student mean is not quite high enough to be interpreted as
slightly successful. Teachers', administrators', and all
respondents' means are in the middle of the range and cannot be
interpreted as being successful or unsuccessful.
Follow-up interviews seemed to indicate the strongest
support among students with respect to the teachers increasing
their commitment to making cross-content links.
A student discussed his cross-content experiences:
The biggest change I've seen at Thornton High School is that
the teachers are combining many different subjects into one
class. At first that bothered me, but usually it keeps
things interesting.
The follow-up interviews of teachers and administrators
obtained much the same results as on the questionnaire. Both
groups indicated that they perceived the program to have been "a
wash."


71
Overall, the results indicated the respondents perceived
the program to be neither successful nor unsuccessful in
attaining that objective.
Objective c
The third objective was to improve students' attitudes
toward their school experience.
As shown in Table 6, results from the questionnaire were
very interesting. Teachers had the lowest mean (2.34), and
administrators had the highest (3.4). The mean for all
respondents was 2.60.
The data indicate that the students perceived the program
as unsuccessful in improving students' attitudes. In addition,
teachers perceived the program as unsuccessful in improving
students' attitudes. But, administrators perceived the program
as successful in improving students' attitudes. Finally, all
respondents perceived the program as unsuccessful in improving
students' attitudes.
Follow-up interviews provided the same varying results.
The responses varied greatly, not only from group to group, but
also within groups. The only common thread seemed to be that
students and teachers were generally negative, while the
administrators were slightly positive.
The lack of agreement among respondents was indicated by
the following statements.


72
Students:
Students' attitudes are bad and getting worse.
I think the attitude here of students about their
experiences are great.
Teachers:
More and more of my students are not only working
part-time jobs, they're also working late at night.
They don't care about school.
It seems like more of my students today are
concerned about their school work and getting into
college. I think they care about school and
basically like the challenge.
Results from the questionnaire and interviews indicated
that students perceived the program as unsuccessful in improving
students' attitudes. Results also indicated that teachers
perceive the program as unsuccessful at improving students'
attitudes. Meanwhile, administrators perceived the program as
successful at improving students' attitudes. Overall, for all
respondents combined this objective received the lowest mean of
all five objectives. All respondents combined perceived the
program as unsuccessful at improving students' attitudes.
Objective d
The fourth objective to be "build flexibility into the
school week so that teachers can have time to meet for planning
and professional grants."
As shown in Table 6, results from the questionnaire
indicated that students had the highest mean (3.00), while


73
administrators had the lowest mean (1.60). Finally, all
respondents combined mean was 2.81.
The three groups perceived the program differently with
respect to building flexibility into the school week. Students
perceived the program as neither successful nor unsuccessful in
building flexibility into the school week, but while teachers
perceived the program to be somewhat unsuccessful, both
administrators and teachers perceived the program to be
unsuccessful at building flexibility into the school week.
Respondents in follow-up interviews expressed very
similar perceptions. Students' responses varied greatly as to
whether flexibility had been built into the school week, while
both teachers and administrators basically disagreed and did not
perceive that flexibility had been achieved.
Results from the questionnaire and follow-up interviews
indicated that students perceived the program as neither
successful nor unsuccessful at building flexibility into the
school week. While teachers perceived the program to be slightly
unsuccessful, the administrators perceived it as unsuccessful.
Finally, all respondents combined perceived the program to be
slightly unsuccessful at building flexibility into the school
week so that teachers could have time to meet for planning and
professional grants.


74
Objective e
"Encourage two-way communication among all groups in the
educational environment" was the fifth and final objective to be
analyzed.
Drawing again from Table 6, the results from the
questionnaires indicated that the most positive perception of all
the objectives were regarding encouraging two-way communication.
Students had the lowest mean (3.26), while administrators had the
highest mean (4.33). All respondents combined had a mean of
3.36.
The data indicated that students and teachers perceived
that the program was successful at encouraging two-way
communication. In addition, administrators perceived the program
to be successful in this area. Overall, the program was again
perceived to be successful at encouraging two-way communication
among all groups in the educational environment.
Follow-up interviews indicated that all groups again
generally agreed that two-way communication was increased.
A teacher stated:
I think the program's number one accomplishment was
increasing the communication between the school and parents.
Results from the questionnaire and the follow-up
interviews were the same. Students, teachers, administrators
separately, and all respondents combined agreed that the program
was at least slightly successful in encouraging two-way
communication among all groups in the educational environment.


75
Summary of Perceived Success
The means of all response groups to items measuring
overall program success and success in attaining the five program
objectives were presented in Tables 5 and 6, respectively. Table
7 brings these two sets of means together, to answer the
question, "Was the Thornton High School Improvement Program
successful?" Table 7 displays only the means in Tables 5 and 6
that fell into the "successful" and "unsuccessful" categories.
Table 7
Successful and Unsuccessful Perceptions of the
Program Overall, and of the Five Objectives
Respondent Group
Goal and Objectives Students Teachers Administrators All Respondents
Overall Success 4.00
Expand the Curriculum 1.80
Increase Cross- Content Links
Improve Students' Attitudes 2.69 2.34 3.40 2.60
Build Flexibility into School Week 2.65 1.60
Encourage Two-Way Communication 3.26 3.36 4.33 3.36
Mean of Means


76
When all respondents were considered as a single group,
the program was perceived as having been successful only in
attaining the goal of encouraging two-way communication. On the
other hand, only the mean for the goal of improving students'
attitudes fell in the unsuccessful category. Of six possible
measures of success, only one fell in the successful range.
Analysis of means by respondent group reinforce the
general findings of perception of minimum success. Ten of 18
possible means fell in either the successful or unsuccessful
rangesfive in each. However, when the three means for
encouraging two-way communication are excluded, only two
administrator means indicate program success. Interestingly,
both teachers and students indicated the program was unsuccessful
at improving students' attitudes, but administrators attributed
success to the program in that area. In addition, the
administrators mean was lower than teachers on the goal of
building flexibility into the school workboth in the
unsuccessful range.
Data permit concluding that the program was perceived to
have been neither successful nor unsuccessful. The data also
permits attributing measured success in attaining one objective,
and clearly unsuccessful in attaining another objectives.
Table 8 illustrates this clearly by presenting the means
for the overall measure of program success (Table 5) and the mean
of means regarding the success in attaining the objectives set
forth in the program (Table 6).


77
Summary of Overall Success
The means of all response groups to items measuring
overall program success and success in attaining the five program
objectives were presented in Tables 5 and 6, respectively. Table
7 brings these two sets of means together to compare overall
success and the attainment of program objectives. Table 8 only
shows the means for the overall measures of success and the mean
of means for the attainment of program objectives.
Table 8
Comparison of the Overall Success,
and Attainment of Program Objectives
Respondent Group Means Mean
AU
Students Teachers Administrators Respondents
Overall Measure 3.15 3.02 4.00 3.09
Objectives Mean
of Means 3.07 2.86 2.86 2.99
The only cell that indicates perceived success or
perceived lack of success is the administrator overall response,
corroborating earlier findings that, overall, the Thornton High
School Improvement Program was perceived to have been neither
successful nor unsuccessful.


78
Perceptions of the Processes
Each of the five objectives had three processes
established to achieve that objective. This section analyzes the
perceptions of how the processes were implemented and utilized to
achieve these objectives.
Expanding the Curriculum
Three processes were established to achieve the objective
of expanding the curriculum in every class to include a variety
of learning activities:
1) Develop inservices on learning styles.
2) Develop a teaching-learning strategy for the week.
3) Develop a channel for exchange of ideas.
Responses to items 13, 14, and 15 on the questionnaires
(Appendix B) served as measures of perceived implementation of
the processes listed earlier. The analysis is shown in Table 9.


79
Table 9
Perceptions of Implementation and Utilization of
Processes to Achieve Expanding the Curriculum
Respondent Group
Process Students Teachers Administrators All Respondents
Inservices on Learning Styles 3.77 2.94 3.00 3.38
Teaching-Learning Strategy of the Week 2.51 1.83 1.20 2.23
Channel for Exchange of Ideas 2.95 2.38 3.17 3.03
Mean of Means 3.08 2.38 2.46 2.88
Data in Table 9 indicate that, in general, the three
processes were not perceived to have been implemented. Only the
student mean of 3.77 on Inservices on Learning Styles fell above
3.25, and this is suspect since the student group was the group
least likely to know whether or not such inservice activities had
been held. On the other hand, there is general agreement that
the process of developing a Teaching-Learning Strategy for the
week was not implemented.
Learning Style Inservice. Data indicate that students
perceived that inservices on learning styles were implemented and


80
utilized. Teacher and administrator responses indicated that
they neither agreed nor disagreed that the process was
implemented and utilized. The mean for all respondents indicates
agreement that inservices on learning styles were utilized to
achieve expansion of the curriculum; however, this result
occurred because the number of student respondents exceed the
number of teacher and administrator responses combined.
Follow-up interviews corroborated data in Table 9.
Teaching-Learning Strategies. Means for all three groups
fell below 2.75, indicating that students, teachers, and
administrators perceived that a teaching-learning strategy for
each week was not developed.
Follow-up interview responses closely matched the data
obtained from the questionnaire. Students, teachers, and
administrators all responded with a big "no" when asked if a new
teaching-learning strategy was used every week. As one student
stated: "I'd go crazy if they changed things that often. No
way." A teacher shared his feelings:
No, I wouldn't do that. It is unrealistic, unproductive
and just plain silly to try a new teaching-learning
strategy each week. I don't know whose idea that was.
And, an administrator hoped that teachers were not trying a new
teaching-learning strategy each week.
The data from the questionnaires and follow-up interviews
indicated that all groups (students, teachers, and


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administrators) agreed that the process of developing a new
teaching-learning strategy for each week was not implemented.
Exchange of Ideas. The last process analyzed for
expanding the curriculum was developing a channel for exchange of
ideas. Teachers had the lowest and administrators the highest
means. The mean for all respondents combined was 3.03 as shown
in Table 9.
The data from the questionnaires indicated that students
and administrators neither agreed nor disagreed that a channel to
exchange ideas was developed, but teachers, on the other hand,
perceived that such a channel had not been developed.
Follow-up interview results differed slightly. Students'
responses mirrored the survey data, but administrators joined
teachers in saying that no channel for the exchange of ideas was
developed. A teacher stated: "I sure wish there was a channel
to exchange ideas; I'd use it."
An administrator observed, "We're not where we want to be
on having a channel to exchange ideas." Data from the
questionnaires and the interviews indicate that a channel for the
exchange of ideas was not developed.
Cross-Content Links
Increasing the commitment of teachers to making cross-
content links for students was the second of five objectives in
the Thornton High School Improvement Program. Three processes
were established to achieve that objective:


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1) Develop a talent bank.
2) Develop a plan to publicize cross-content link
successes.
3) Develop a plan to provide release time for the
development of cross-content links.
As shown in Table 10, responses to items 18, 19, and 20
on the questionnaire (Appendix B) served as measures of perceived
implementation of the processes listed above.
Table 10
Perception of Implementation and Utilization
of Processes to Achieve Increasing the
Commitment to Making Cross-Content Links
Respondent Group
All
Process Students Teachers Administrators Respondents
Talent Bank 2.85 2.94 3.67 2.93
Publicize Cross- Content 3.14 3.14 4.00 3.19
Release Time 2.90 3.30 4.50 3.16
Mean of Process
Means
2.96
3.13
4.06
3.18


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Table 10 neither clearly substantiates nor questions
whether the processes were developed. On the other hand, all
four means for administrators indicated development of the
processes, but none of the four means for all respondents as a
single group do. But, none of the teacher or student means fall
below 2.75, the base set for perceptions that the processes were
not developed.
Only the interview data on Release Time were helpful in
determining if the processes had been developed.
Release Time. Teachers and administrators both agreed
that this process was implemented and utilized. Students,
however, neither agreed nor disagreed. In addition, all
respondents combined neither agree nor disagree that release time
was provided.
Follow-up interviews provided slightly different results.
All groups in the interviews agreed that release time was
provided. One teacher offered the observation: "I was both
pleased and surprised at the amount of release time we were
provided to work on the School Improvement Program."
A student stated: "The first year was the best; we were
always getting out of school so the teachers could work on it."
An administrator provided these thoughts: We were very
committed to not only decentralized decisionmaking but also
providing the time to facilitate it."'


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Perceptions of Implementation of the Processes
to Achieve Improving Students' Attitudes
"Establish an improvement in students' attitudes toward
their school experience" was the third objective to be analyzed.
Three processes were established to achieve that objective:
1) Develop consistent policies.
2) Develop a plan to encourage student involvement in
school activities.
3) Develop a workable plan to try to limit students'
work hours away from school.
As shown in Table 11, responses to items 25, 26, and 27
on the questionnaire (Appendix B) served as measures of
implementation of the processes listed above.
Table 11
Perceptions of Implementation and Utilization of
Processes to Achieve Improving Students' Attitudes
Respondent Group
All
Process Students Teachers Administrators Respondents
Consistent Policies 3.03 2.44 2.80 2.81
Encourage Student Participation 2.70 2.60 2.00 2.63
Limit Work Hours 2.16 1.70 1.20 1.96
Mean of Means 2.63 2.25 2.00 2.45


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Data in Table 11 is clear. At least two of the three
processes were perceived as not being developed, and the third
borders on that. Sixteen means are displayed in the table; only
one of these (3.03) is above the midpoint on a 5-point scale. On
the other hand, all but three are below 2.75, the point set to
establish disagreement with the item statement.
The interview data are illustrative:
Students: "Even if all the policies were consistent,
teachers would never enforce them the same." "If a student
gets a car, he has to work, this isn't Cherry Creek. Plan or
no plan."
Teachers: "No way have consistent policies been developed."
"Give me a break; we aren't going to be able to limit student
work hours."
Overall, all respondents together did not perceive that
any of the three processes were developed.
Building Flexibility Into the School Week
"Building flexibility into the school week so that
teachers can have time to meet for planning and professional
grants," was the fourth objective to be analyzed. The three
processes established to achieve that objective were:
1) Develop a plan to utilize compacted days.
2) Develop a plan for granting mini-sabbaticals.
3) Develop a plan for utilizing a rotating schedule.
As shown in Table 12, responses to items 29, 30 and 31 on
the questionnaire (Appendix B) served as measures of
implementation of the processes listed above.


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Table 12
Perceptions of Implementation and Utilization
of Processes to Achieve Building Flexibility
Into School Week
Respondent Group
All
Process Students Teachers Administrators Respondents
Compacted Days 2.80 2.85 2.33 2.80
Mini-Sabbaticals 2.72 2.29 3.00 2.55
Rotating Schedule 1.79 1.65 1.50 1.72
Mean of Means 2.45 2.26 2.28 2.36
Data in Table 12 are similar to those in Table 11. On
the whole, the processes were perceived to have not been
developed. Only one of the 16 means (3.0) is at mid-point or
above on a 5-point scale, 12 are below the 2.75 point at which
disagreement with an item statement was set. The compacted day
means are interesting in that the teacher mean is higher than the
administrator mean, but this may be in part a function of the
small number in the administrator group.
Selected responses from the interview data support the
Table 12 findings.
Students: "I can't remember having compacted days." "
is a rotating schedule?"
What


87
Teachers: "I really don't think the mini-sabbaticals were
used." "We've never used a rotating schedule at Thornton."
Administrators: "I do wish the mini-sabbatical plans would
have been utilized."
Two-Way Communication
Three processes were established to achieve the objective of
encouraging two-way communication:
1) Develop a plan to utilize the parent newsletter.
2) Develop a plan to utilize open houses and awards
banquets.
3) Develop a plan to utilize parent-teacher committees.
As shown in Table 13, responses to items 29, 30 and 31 on the
questionnaire (Appendix B) served as measures of implementation
of the processes listed above.


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Table 13
Perceptions of Implementation and Utilization of the
Three Processes to Achieve Two-way Communication
Respondent Group
Process Students Teachers All Administrators Respondents
Parent Newsletter 3.46 3.45 4.17 3.50
Open Houses Awards Banquets 3.00 3.48 3.33 3.17
Parent-Teacher
Committees 2.92 3.19 4.60 3.10
Mean of Means 3.13 3.37 4.03 3.26
As indicated earlier (Table 7) , this objective was the
only one of five which respondents perceived as having been
attained. Data in Table 16 may suggest why the "encouraging
two-way communication" objective was achieved; at least two of
the processes were developed, or perceived to have been developed
by both teachers and administrators, and one of these similarly
perceived by students.
In contrast to Tables 11 and 12, 10 of the 16 means
exceeded the 3.25 point set at the minimum level at which
agreement with the item statement was accepted. None were below
2.75 and only one (2.92) was below 3.0. Clearly the development
of a parent newsletter was perceived as having been accomplished


89
and teachers (3.48) and administrators (3.33) felt that a plan to
utilize open houses and award banquets had been developed.
Selected responses from the interview data support Table
13 findings.
Students: "The school has done a good job with open houses."
"I think the awards banquets and parent newsletters get the
parents more involved."
Teachers: "I've really been impressed by the way we've used
the parent newsletter."
Administrators: "The parent newsletter and open houses have
had a positive effect on our school."
Summary of the Processes
The means for all response groups to items measuring the
development of the processes to achieve their respective
objectives are shown in Tables 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13. Table 14
displays only the means in Tables 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13 that fell
into the "successful" and "unsuccessful" categories.


90
Table 14
Perceptions of Success or Lack of Success
With Respect to the Process Implementation
and Utilization
Respondent Group
All
Objectives Processes Students Teachers Administrators Respondents
a. Expanding Learning
the Styles 3.77 3.38
Curriculum Learning Strategies 2.51 1.83 1.20 2.23
Channel Exchanges 2.38
Mean of Processes Mean 2.38 2.46
b. Cross- Talent Bank 3.67
Content
Links Publicize Cross-Content 4.00
Release Time 3.30 4.50
Mean of
Process Means 4.06
c. Students' Consistent
Attitudes Policies 2.44
Encourage Student Participation 2.70 2.60 2.00 2.63
Limit Work
Hours 2.16 1.70 1.20 1.96
Mean of
Process Means 2.63 2.25 2.00 2.45
(Continued on next page)