"No Excuse" Citizens: A Case Study of Citizenship in an Urban Charter Network Open Access

Pinkney, Adrianne Rochelle (2016)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/ft848q82p?locale=en


In this study I reveal how four charter schools prepare low-income minority students for citizenship using the "no excuse" model. I explored the relationship among the ethos of the schools, citizenship education in social studies classes, and students' depictions of themselves as citizens of their schools and the nation. Using a mixed methods approach, I collected data on students' classroom and out-of-school experiences, as well as on students' political and civic behaviors and attitudes, as they matriculated through an eighth grade social studies course. I analyzed data collected from student surveys, classroom and school observations, and interviews with principals, teachers, and students. The first major finding of this study is that "no excuse" charter schools belonging to the same network vary in their approach to and implementation of the national network model. Second, civic education was not an explicit goal of the four "no excuse" schools in this study as schools were most focused on preparation for standardized tests. Although teachers were somewhat committed to preparing students as future citizens, these commitments only occurred in ways that supported national and state curriculum standards. Third, enrolled students showed varied political attitudes. Students showed low levels of political trust as a result of uncertainty about the United States' ability to care for their communities. Yet, students were efficacious and reported that they were able to understand political events and felt most efficacious when acting with others. Although most findings were similar for students enrolled at different schools, females and students of higher socio-economic status (SES) had more positive attitudes toward the nation than did males and lower SES students. Finally, students supported voting as the most important civic action in a democracy and almost all expected to vote as adults.

Table of Contents

Chapter I. Statement of the Problem. 1

Purpose. 6

Research Questions. 7

Theoretical Framework: The IEA Octagon Model. 8

Definition of Terms. 9

Chapter II: Review of the Literature. 14

Civic Education and the Civic Empowerment Gap. 14

Civic Education in "No Excuse" Charter Schools. 18

School Ethos and the "No Excuse" Model 23

Civic and Political Beliefs, Attitudes, and Behaviors. 33

Chapter III: Methodology. 48

Site. 48

Participants. 50

Data Sources and Collection. 52

Instruments. 56

Qualitative Instruments. 56

Quantitative Instruments. 56

Data Analysis. 61

Qualitative Data. 62

Quantitative Data 65

Limitations. 67

Chapter IV: Findings. 68

Education First Inputs and Outcomes. 69

Funding. 70

Teachers. 71

Academic outcomes. 73

Behavioral Outcomes. 74

Four-Education First Schools. 74

Schools. 75

Culture. 78

Curriculum and Social Studies. 86

School Culture and Citizenship. 87

The Civic Goals of Four Education First Schools. 95

Civic Education in the Classroom. 99

Mr. Ali and his Classroom. 99

Ms. Hampton and her Classroom. 102

Mr. James and his Classroom. 105

The Intended, Implemented, and Received Civic Curriculum. 108

The Intended Curriculum. 109

The Implemented Curriculum. 116

The Received Curriculum. 123

Students' Conceptions of Citizenship and their Civic/Political Attitudes. 126

Students' Values, Beliefs, and Attitudes. 127

Students' Political Efficacy. 133

Students' Civic Engagement. 139

Variance in Student Responses by Gender, Socioeconomic Status, and School. 152

Chapter V: Discussion. 165

Civic Education through School Ethos. 165

Omission of Civic Missions. 166

Test Performance and Competition. 167

Lack of Racial and Economic Diversity. 170

Extra-curricular Activities. 175

Discipline Policies and Practices. 171

Citizenship Education in Three Eighth Grade Social Studies Classes. 177

Teachers' Preparation. 178

Standards-Based Instruction. 180

Teacher Practice. 181

Social Studies and Civic Education. 186

Political Attitudes and Behaviors of Eighth Graders. 189

Values, Beliefs, and Attitudes. 190

Political Efficacy. 193

Civic Engagement 195

Implications for Research, Theory, Policy, and Practice. 200

Conclusion. 206

References. 207

Appendix A: Examples of Guiding Questions for Student Interviews. 227

Appendix B: Examples of Guiding Questions for Teacher Interviews. 229

Appendix C: Examples of Guiding Questions for Principal Interviews. 231

Appendix D: Observation Guide. 232

Appendix E: Student Survey. 233

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