Distinguishing Practices for Administrators: A Case Study of One University's Lab Settings' Journey to Academic Excellence

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Determining effective or distinguishing practices implemented by academically successful educational institutions that lead to student academic success is crucial for school administrators today. In our high accountability environment fueled by the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act, educational leaders scramble to meet high standards, such as, testing requirements, reading and math expectations, and higher qualifications for teachers (Jennings & Renter, 2006; Odland, 2006). School leaders may turn to canned instructional programs with claims of scientifically proven practices, and oftentimes, require teachers to follow these programs in hopes that higher student achievement will follow. Even though, effective schools research emerged over thirty years ago which identified common characteristics of effective schools, numerous educational institutions struggle to meet national and state expectations (Effective Schools, 2008). For example, in the state of Texas, there are 1,235 school campuses including charter campuses. In 2009, only 117 or approximately 10% of these campuses achieved the state’s top accountability rating of exemplary, and 73 or six percent were rated unacceptable. Furthermore, results from the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress indicated no significant change in fourth grade reading scores, and eighth grade scores were only one point higher compared to 2007. Mathematics scores were higher when compared to 2007 scores at grade eight but unchanged at grade four. Academic gaps between ethnic minorities and whites are not narrowing (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2010). However, some schools have promoted student achievement. The intent of this study was to discover the organizational and instructional practices of one university’s educational lab settings that led to documented student academic success over time. Recent literature supports this effort of unearthing distinguishing or successful practices.


Gresham, G. J. (2011). Distinguishing practices for administrators: A case study of one university's lab settings' journey to academic excellence (2011 Yearbook). National Council of Professors of Educational Administration. pp. 199-210.



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