Dissertation Defense Announcement

The College of Education announces the Final Dissertation of

Kendra Ashford-Hightower

for the Degree of Doctor of Education

November 2, 2018 at 10:00 AM in Ball Hall, Conference Room

Advisor: Reginald Leon Green

Improvement through Empowerment: The Effects of Secondary School Teacher Involvement in the Decision-Making Process

ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships between secondary level teachers' perceived empowerment with respect their making pedagogical and administrative decisions at their schools and four measures of school productivity. Grounded in archived accountability information stored on the Tennessee Department of Education website, these four productivity measures were the student attendance, graduation, suspension, and event dropout rates computed for 248 high schools for the 2012-2014 academic year. At these same 248 institutions, teachers' perceived empowerment was computed from responses to a section on teachers' roles in decision making that appeared on the 2013 state-wide administration of the Teaching, Empowering, Leading, and Learning survey in Tennessee (TELL Tennessee). A principal component analysis of the mean responses to the eight items constituting this section yielded two interpretable components that could be termed classroom-based or "pedagogical" and institution-based or "administrative." Inspection of the zero-order correlations between teachers' perceived empowerment as regards pedagogical decision-making and school productivity revealed statistically significant positive relationships with rates of student attendance (r(248) = .23, p < .01) and graduation (r(248) = .20, p < .01) and negative relationships with rates of student suspension (r(248) = -.38, p < .01) and dropping out (r(248) = -.26, p < .01). When student demographic characteristics were controlled, hierarchical multiple regressions analyses indicated that these statistically significant relationships were sustained with respect to student attendance rates (Beta = 0.153, t = 2.604, p = .010) and student suspension rates (Beta = -0.116, t = -2.974, p = .003, but not for student graduation and event dropout rates. Conversely, positive student outcomes evidenced no connection with teachers' perceived empowerment with respect to deciding administrative issues. Correlational analyses were suggestive of counter-intuitive relationships with rates of student suspension (r(248) = .22, p < .01), graduation (r(248) = -.20, p < .01), and dropping out (r(248) = .14, p < .05), while hierarchical multiple regressions analyses showed no effect on any of the outcomes examined in this study after student demographics were taken into account.