A Case Study of a Predominantly African American School District and Federally Mandated Education Reform, 2000-2010 Open Access

Croft, Sheryl Jones (2013)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/2j62s512v?locale=en



A Case Study of a Predominantly African American School District and Federally Mandated Education Reform, 2000-2010

By Sheryl Jones Croft

Researchers who have critiqued federal reforms have used a top-down conceptual orientation to evaluate the success of reform (Brown & Clift, 2010; Darling-Hammond, 2010; Gray, 2005; Guisbond & Neill, 2004; Noguera, 2003; Payne, 2010; Rorrer & Skrla, 2005; Stringfield & Yakimowski-Srebnick, 2005; Theoharis, 2009). Frequently, a top-down assessment of reform fails to interrogate the agency of stakeholders. In contrast, this research used a "bottom-up" (Sabatier, 1986) conceptual orientation and Critical Race Theory to explore school reform from two vantage points. First, the study interrogated state and district level political responses to federally mandated reform initiatives. Second, this study explored school reform from the vantage point of six African American school leaders who served within the selected predominantly African American school district. Using No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Race to the Top as the federal mandates from 2000 to 2010, this case study relied on a review of newspaper articles, interviews with elite informants and interviews with principals, as well as ancillary data found in schools' Comprehensive School Improvement Plans (CSIP), to glean information about state-level implementation and its potential impact on reform for local school leaders. Specifically, this study explored the following questions:

1. What school reforms were initiated in Georgia from 2000 to 2010?

2. What explanations did stakeholders provide to explain state-sponsored reform initiatives?

3. How were these state mandates implemented in a local predominantly African American school district?

4. What were the responses of local school leaders to state and district reforms?

5. How did federal, state, and local interests converge or diverge?

Results indicate that there was no congruency between federal, state, and district level implementation of reform. Results also demonstrate that principals in this study did not make decisions about school needs based on mandated reform. Instead, they made reform decisions based upon what they believed was in the best interest of their schools.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Statement of Problem...1


Research Questions...3


Conceptual Orientation...5

Definition of Terms...7

Chapter 2: Review of Literature...10

Critiques of Federal Mandates for Reform...10

Critiques of State-Related Implementation of Reform...17

Critiques of Local-Level Implementation of Reform...23

Chapter 3: Methodology...32

Data Collection...34

Data Analysis...40

Reliability and Validity...43


Researcher Perspective...47



Chapter 4: Reforms in Georgia from 2000 to 2010...49

Educational Reform during the Governorship of Roy Barnes: 2000-2002...50

Educational Reform during the Governorship of Sonny Perdue's: 2002 - 2010...57

Summary of Governor Barnes's and Perdue's Legislation...80

Chapter 5: Explanations for State- Sponsored School Reform...85

Influence of Outside Organizations...86

Shift in Language to Convey Hidden Meanings...90

Elite Stake-holder Explanations of Georgia's Reform...94

Chapter 6: Ramifications of Federal, State and District Level Reform on the District Level...102

Overview of Conquest District...102

Implementation of State Mandates in a Local District...103

Principals' Response to Mandated Federal and District Reform...108

Principals' Response to the Unintended Consequences of Federal and State Reform...116

Convergence and Divergence of Federal, State, and Local Interests...122

Chapter 7: Discussion...135

Implications for Future Research...141

Implications for Practice and Policy...143



Appendix A Sources for Review of Literature...166

Appendix B Summary of Legislative Acts during Perdue's Tenure...168

Appendix C Sample Interview Protocol for Elite Informant...177

Appendix D Interview Protocol for Key Informants...178

Appendix E Frequency of Perdue's Reform, 2003 - 2010...180

Appendix F Georgia Legislative Acts and Legislation Related to ALEC...182

List of Figures and Tables

Figure 1 Chain of Evidence: Sources Related to State Level Education Reform...44

Figure 2 Chain of Evidence: Sources Related to Local Level School Reform...44

Figure 3 Types of Cuts during Perdue's Tenure...62

Figure 4 Timeline for Perdue's Reform Legislation...82

Table 1 Data Sources and Research Questions...45

Table 2 Perdue's Charter School Legislation...71

Table 3 Administrative Description of Principals in Conquest District...108

Table 4 Alignment of Federal, State and District Reform Measures...133

Table 5 Principals Perceptions of Impact of State and Federal Legislation on Schools...140

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