Educational Leadership Research Projects – 2011

Title: Relating Academic Achievement in Reading Comprehension to Technology Integration in a First Grade Classroom
Author: Alison Prescott
Affiliation: Winthrop (Maine) Public Schools

Abstract: This study is done to try and answer the question of whether or not the integration of technology throughout a first grade curriculum will help student’s reading comprehension by broadening their experiences? Will technology help student’s reflection skills? Will it help them with the “big idea” of a story? Do virtual field trips help students go beyond that which is concrete to making connections to real world events? The following study shows support in the hypothesis that technology will help students reading levels climb in comprehension specifically in the areas of reflection and making connections.
Keywords: Technology Integration


Title: School Intervention: Restructuring School Culture with a Focus on Student Achievement
Author:  James Black and Thomas Plourde

Affiliation: Maine Regional School Unit 54

Among 9th and 11th grade classes at Skowhegan Area High School, problems included high freshman failure rates, high drop out rates, and low SAT achievement levels. The purpose was to determine the relationship between two interventions (9th grade teaming and professional learning groups), and 9th grade failure rates and 11th grade SAT scores. We found no decrease in failure rates after teaming implementation. SAT data were unavailable in time for study completion. In conclusion, the two intervention programs need extended time to create clear and accurate data.
Keywords: School Culture


Title: Supporting An Effective High School Afterschool Program: At-Risk 9th Graders Can Reach Academic and Social Success When Afterschool Support Is Available
Author:  Sarah Ricker
Affiliation: Auburn (ME) School Department

Abstract: The percentage of courses identified students passed in the first semester of his or her 9th grade year, and the number of days in attendance were compared. Results indicated that a student who attends EL Connect for a greater number of days will most likely complete all of his or her first semester courses during the 9th grade year. Further discussion of this research included the use of testimonials and case studies to strengthen the outcomes of implementing an after school program in a high school.
Keywords: High School Afterschool Program


Title: The Benefits of Spanish as a Modern Language: A Case Study that Identifies the Benefits of Early Exposure to a World Language
Author:  Carlos Ochoa
Affiliation: Jay (Maine) School Department

Abstract: This research project examines the effects of early exposure to Spanish from grades 3 through 8 in the Jay School District in Jay, Maine. Although this project examined assessments of a very small number of individuals, making it difficult to draw many clear conclusions, it does shed some light on potential areas for further study.
Keywords: Early Exposure to a World Language


Title: The Gender Gap between Boys and Girls Achievement: A Look at Boys’ Perceptions and Their Experiences in Reading at the Elementary and High School Level
Author: Ruth Brown and Kimberly Fuller
Affiliation: Maine Regional School Unit 10 and Region 9 School of Applied Technology

Abstract: How boys were performing academically in the area of literacy, how they perceived themselves as learners, and how they viewed teachers with whom they worked. The study included boys in Western Maine at the elementary and secondary levels. Boys at both levels perceived themselves as competent readers, which was a discrepancy when the standardized test scores were reviewed. Boys at both levels indicated they wanted to learn in a caring, active, and respectful classroom. Educators need to look for ways to engage boys in literacy learning that provides choice, independence, and respectful feedback.
Boy’s Perceptions and Their Experiences in Reading


Title: The Relationship of SMART Board Utilization in the Elementary Classroom to Mathematics Achievement, Teacher Perceptions of Student Engagement, and Classroom Use
Author: Kelly Gilbert and Stacey Holman
Affiliation: Maine Regional School Unit 10

Abstract: Are more appropriate and social behaviors noted in classrooms that utilized SMART Boards and are the use of SMART Boards related to math achievement? Students first through fifth grades participated in this study. Student observations, interviews, surveys, and test scores were analyzed to measure the SMART Board’s efficacy. Results showed the interactive whiteboard increased student motivation, participation, and is having a gradual improvement on students’ math skills.
Keywords: SMART Board Utilization


Title: Experimental Study of Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Student Motivation Using Test Instructions as Independent Variables and Test Scores as Dependent Variables
Author: Kurt Rowley
Affiliation: Maine Regional School Unit 10

Abstract: The purpose of this experimental study of 57 high school juniors and seniors was to measure the value of specific types of intrinsic and extrinsic motivational prompts on a standardized test. In spite of limitations, the research indicated that the relationship between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation is complex and worthy of further study.
Keywords: Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Student Motivation


Title: The Value of a Professional Learning Community Model in Improving Primary Students Reading Achievement and Teachers Interest in Data Driven Decision Making
Author: Joyce Elliott and Andrea York
Affiliation: Maine Regional School Unit 10

Abstract: First grade literacy data at Dirigo Elementary School in Peru, Maine, shows a dramatic decline in reading achievement over the past five years. Through research on literacy and the Professional Learning Communities (PLC), we have created a team of invested educators to teach reading utilizing the PLC model. The team examined the effects on student literacy achievement using the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA). Our research showed 57% of students made the midyear benchmark. This is an increase of 23% from the previous year. We have determined that the PLC model is a positive addition to our literacy instruction.
Keywords:Professional Learning Community model


Title: Open Educational Resources: Leveraging the Opportunity of Laptops for Open Education in Maine
Author: Amity Beane

Affiliation: Maine Regional School Unit 10

Abstract: The Maine laptop initiative provides learners with the hardware and software needed to access OER (open educational resources). To meet learning standards teachers must identify and share these resources in an organized way. A group of educators from k‐12 schools identified existing open educational resources that meet curricular goals. For OER to grow in Maine schools, professional development, sustainability, funding, copyright, and quality control need to be considered.
Keywords:Open Educational Resources


Title: The Impact of a Teacher Staying with the Same Students for Multiple Years – “Looping.”
Author: Charmaine LaCasse
Affiliation: Maine Regional School Unit 10

Abstract: Looping is the pedagogical practice of a teacher moving to the next grade level with their students. This study investigated academic growth of looped students compared with matched non-looped students in reading and math: grades kindergarten/first, reading data from the TERRA NOVA; grades five/six, reading and math data from the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA). Perceptions of looping were gained from surveys of students (22), parents (22), and teachers (4). Findings reveal 95% of participants reported positive perceptions. Academic growth was shown as non-significant in reading. Math growth in looped fifth/sixth graders was significant. The discovered themes are discussed and also connection of looping to compliance of the No Child Left Behind Act.
Keywords: “Looping”


Title: College Readiness in Writing
Author: Maryellen Doughty and Margaret Nerney
Affiliation: Maine Regional School Unit 10 and Maine Regional School Unit 58

Abstract: A study of college readiness in writing was conducted in two school districts in rural western Maine. Researchers surveyed recent graduates via an online survey and interviewed faculty at four Maine colleges to identify perceived needs in first year writing skills. Students and faculty identified areas for improvement including research, mechanics, grammar and spelling as well as a need for exposure to more varied texts and writing styles. In conclusion, writing across the curriculum should be stressed, along with a new emphasis on grammar instruction in order for students to produce clear, concise and articulate thoughts.
Keywords: College Readiness


Title: Addressing Deficiencies in Writing Test Scores Among Elementary Students Through the use of a Common Writing Curriculum
Author: Jessica Frazee and Mandy Pinard
Affiliation: Maine Regional School Unit 4

Abstract: The lack of consistency between writing rubrics and a common writing curriculum used at the elementary level was addressed in this research. Through the use of a spreadsheet containing key concepts and skills, the researchers found frequent inconsistencies among the two documents and that there is no evidence of actual alignment. Recommendations would be for the district to thoroughly examine both documents and to create a strong alignment for better instruction.
Common Writing Curriculum


Title: The Effects of Two Reading Interventions on Motivation Among Eighteen Rural Fourth Graders in Western Maine 
Author:  Elizabeth Clarke
Affiliation: Maine Regional School Unit 44

Abstract: Contemporary research argues that traditional sustained silent reading programs do not offer reading instruction that work to motivate young readers. This study’s purpose was to change the culture of a classroom in order to support and nurture children so that they become highly motivated readers as evidenced by an increase in self-confidence and by a stronger belief that reading is valuable. The sample was made up of 18 fourth grade Maine students and motivation was measured using the Motivation to Read Profile. The results, collected in each of four intervention periods, indicated that students need: (a) social interaction; (b) opportunities to share and make connections; (c) time for reflection; (d) and guidance in order to become more interested in and excited about reading.
Keywords: Reading Interventions on motivation


Title: Levels of Preschool Experiences Related to Success in Kindergarten
Author:  Lisa Gagnon and Christine Harrington
Affiliation: Maine Regional School Unit 9

Abstract: This study is to determine if preschool aids in children’s readiness for kindergarten. It was conducted at the G.D. Cushing School in Wilton, Maine. The participants were kindergarten parents, teachers, and students. It was determined that parents found preschool to be beneficial in the transition to kindergarten, both academically and socially. Kindergarten teachers reported many differences between children who attended preschool and children who did not. A teacher questionnaire provided inconclusive results as to whether children who lack preschool require additional support when compared to children who had preschool. While preschool has many benefits, further research should be conducted.
Keywords: Preschool Experiences


Title: The effectiveness of After School Programs for Rural, White Elementary Students in Maine
Author:  Stacey Augustine, Rhonda Hartford, Keith Martin and Cynthia Stevens
Affiliation: Maine Regional School Unit 9

Abstract:Research has shown that after school program attendance may be effective in improving academic and social skills in urban and minority populations but is this true for rural white elementary students as well? A comparison of two after school programs, in Maine, was conducted using multiple standardized data sources, report cards and teacher perception information. Results suggested that there was a minimal benefit for math achievement, in one school. In both schools, there were no benefits for reading, motivation and social skills for after school attending participants.
Keywords: After School Programs, Elementary


Title: Parental Involvement in Homework and Student Achievement in one Low Economic School
Author:  Jenny MacIsaac
Affiliation: Maine Regional School Unit 9

Abstract: Low homework completion scores were compared with Developmental Reading Assessment scores in three grades over a span of two years. The six lowest students were identified and an ABAB study was conducted to see if phone calls home would help increase homework returns. The results indicate that teacher intervention slightly increases homework returns, but does little to motivate parents in taking an active engagement in their child(ren)’s homework. Professional development is necessary to find which methods of engaging parents are most effective.
Parental Involvement in Homework


Title: Teacher Efficacy and Content Literacy Strategies: Implications for Sustained Professional Development in High School
Author:  Jacob Bogar, Jocelyn Cahill, Hattie DeRaps, Samuel Dunbar, Meadow Sheldon and Martha Whittle
Affiliation: Maine Regional School Unit 9

Abstract: The connection between a public secondary school Literacy Initiative and student achievement, as well as a connection between the Literacy Initiative and individual and collective teacher efficacy was investigated. The results of the study indicated that the Literacy Initiative did not have a significant impact on the critical reading section of the SAT for junior cohorts over three years. Additionally, there is a correlation (not a causation) between the Literacy Initiative and SAT math scores for the same cohorts. The Literacy Initiative did have a positive impact on teacher efficacy as indicated in teacher surveys and interviews.
Keywords: Teacher Efficacy and Content Literacy


Title: Teacher Evaluation Systems: Ten Evaluation Tools from Rural Maine
Author:  Jodie Mathers
Affiliation: Maine Regional School Unit 52

Abstract: After reviewing the literature on what makes a teacher evaluation system effective, ten evaluation tools from rural, Maine schools were analyzed. Most of those tools fell short in the areas of fostering professional development, improving teacher performance, and providing a clear picture of what happens in the classroom on a regular basis. Teachers were also asked to complete a survey about their current evaluation system. Most teachers felt that their current system was ineffective (for various reasons), and had their own suggestions for improvement.
Keywords: Teacher Evaluation