Date of Award:

7-2013

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

School of Teacher Education and Leadership

Department name when degree awarded

Education and Human Services

Advisor/Chair:

Richard West

Abstract

Research on variables that are related to student academic proficiency has intensified due to the increased emphasis on high achievement for all students. The purpose of this correlational study was to explore the relative strength of the relationship between the school's learning environment and student achievement, and a literacy benchmark assessment and student achievement. Schools in the state of Utah that administered the Indicators of School Quality (ISQ) survey during the 2010-2011 school year and the Dynamic Indicators of Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) assessments during the same school year were included in the study. The study examined a combination of measures to determine the extent to which an assessment of literacy skills and stakeholder reports regarding the school's learning environment predicted student learning. Results from the ISQ descriptive study showed that students' perceptions of the school climate were more favorable in all domains (parent support, teacher excellence, student commitment, school leadership, instructional quality, resource management domain, and school safety) than the perceptions of parents and teachers. ISQ scores were correlated with the DIBELS results to determine the predictive power of the ISQ and the DIBELS for the Utah Criterion-referenced Test (CRT), the end-of-level, summative assessment used to determine progress toward Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). The relationship between literacy skills and academic achievement was statistically significant at the p > .05 level. However, the strongest relationship was between the conditions for learning, a component of the school's learning environment, and academic achievement. This relationship was statistically significant and robust, remaining strong even when the influence of social and economic risk and literacy skills were statistically controlled. These findings suggest the importance of considering the school's learning environment, and possibly other factors, in the instruction and school improvement process.

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