Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Title

The Impact of Pre-K Programs on Student Achievement and Instructional Leadership in Rural Mississippi School Districts

Date of Award

2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D. in Education

First Advisor

Rosusan D. Bartee

Second Advisor

Jerilou Moore

Third Advisor

Susan McClelland

Abstract

In 2011, Mississippi continues to be the only state in the southern region without a single state-funded pre-k program (NIEER, 2007), and all preschool funds in the state are currently allotted to Head Start. Witte and Trowbridge (2004) warned that the combination of pre-k programs could be the reason for highly fragmented systems of state funding, policies, and regulations. The purpose of this mixed methods study was to investigate whether differences exist between preschool groups in three North Mississippi school districts and to determine the degree to which stakeholders in the programs practice instructional leadership. From a quantitative perspective, the STAR GE and STAR Est. ORF scores of 388 second graders were analyzed using a one-way ANOVA, and significant differences were found in academic achievement between all three groups of students who attended public school pre-k, Head Start, or no pre-k. From a qualitative perspective, the researcher followed a phenomenological approach to determine the degree to which 22 school instructional leaders collaborate to make decisions concerning their pre-k programs. The responses from four research questions indicate that traditional macro and micro-level roles of instructional leadership exist between administration and teachers, and collaboration between administrators and teachers dropped substantially after each program began. Trust and autonomy are strong and appreciated by the pre-k teachers, yet the teachers expressed a desire for ongoing collaboration with administration. Additionally, collaborative relationships need to be cultivated between public school programs and Head Start. Finally, several recommendations for further research and practice are suggested.

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