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Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Russell O. Mays

Committee Members

Nancy Dishner, Louise L. MacKay, Harold Whitmore


Since the 1983 report by the National Council on Excellence declared the U.S. a nation at risk, the public has focused on the effectiveness of student achievement. Research over the past twenty years has yielded valuable information about how to improve student achievement for all students. The demand by the public for accountability in public education has resulted in state initiatives. In Tennessee, the Tennessee School Improvement Planning Process (TSIPP) is the state mandated vehicle for accountability. During the Fall of 2000, the Tennessee Department of Education’s Accountability Office placed four schools in one area of Tennessee on the “heads-up” list indicating a pattern of low student performance. In September, 2001, the four schools were placed in Good Standing based on state accountability measures. Was the TSIPP instrumental in the improvement of student achievement and removal of the schools from the state’s “heads-up” list?

The purpose of this study was to discover how four schools placed on the state’s “heads-up” list for low performance in 2000, improved their student achievement to be placed in good standing in September, 2001. An evaluation of teacher morale during this time was also sought.

Data were collected through a series of interviews with participants at the four school sites. An analysis of the data was conducted to identify emergent themes. Additional information was collected from archival Report Cards and School Improvement Plans for each site from the 2000 and 2001 school years.

Findings were presented thematically. Leadership, high expectations for students, time to collaborate and use data were found to be important factors in improving student achievement. Teacher morale was negatively impacted through the process of accountability. Teachers indicated loss of creativity in teaching necessitated by the focus on test objectives. They also indicated that accountability should be shared with parents and students.

Recommendations include restructuring the school day to include collaboration time for teachers, staff development to help teachers understand the values and mores of poverty level parents and students, a reduction in the amount of paperwork associated with the Tennessee School Improvement Plan, and research into the narrowing effects of the total curriculum due to accountability.

Document Type

Dissertation - restricted


Copyright by the authors.