A multilevel organizational analysis of the effects of school *policies and leadership on teacher community in urban elementary schools

John M Weathers, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine for urban elementary public schools, the extent to which teachers can be considered tightly coupled around a shared sense of community within their schools, in what ways this sense of community varies by teacher and school characteristics, and what school structures, policies, and leadership practices are associated with teachers' sense of community within and across schools. Data for this study come from the National Center for Education Statistics' (NCES) Schools and Staffing Survey (1999-2000). The methodology used for analyzing the effect of school structures, policies, and leadership practices on teachers' sense of community, a two-level multilevel regression analysis was used with a public school urban elementary (K-5) subset of the SASS data. This study is situated within the discourse over the importance of schools developing a professional community of teachers who share common values, cooperate in support of these values, and a have sense of mutual accountability to the members and values of the community as a means of improving student achievement. However, to date, there are only a handful of research studies that have examined what organizational policies and structures may have an effect on teacher communities, and for most of these studies, they do not correctly conceptualize and measure teacher community. Additionally, there is a pervasive and mostly untested belief by advocates of teacher professionalization that top-down management, standards, and accountability policies are antithetical to teacher communities. The findings demonstrate that teachers in general are tightly coupled in the social sense, in that they tend to share a sense of community. This sense of community does vary by teacher characteristics such as gender, race, and education level and by school characteristics such as school level, the percent of minority students, and the level of student poverty. In terms of the effect of school structures, policies, and leadership practices on teachers' sense of community, the findings demonstrate that: the strongest policy amenable effect on teachers' sense of community is teachers' perception of their principal's leadership, particularly his/her efforts to recognize their effort and communicate expectations, which in essence, help to clarify community beliefs and values; a principal's direct efforts to build community amongst teachers; giving teachers more control/influence is positively associated with promoting a sense of community amongst teachers, although moderated significantly by teachers' perception of principal leadership; teachers' reported use of learning standards has a moderate positive association with teachers' sense of community; teachers' autonomy over professional development activities has a moderate positive effect; and a somewhat limited measure of school accountability has no association. Interestingly, the strongest effect overall is the proportion of male teachers, which has very large negative effect on the average sense of community within each school. ^

Subject Area

Education, Sociology of|Education, Administration|Sociology, Industrial and Labor Relations

Recommended Citation

John M Weathers, "A multilevel organizational analysis of the effects of school *policies and leadership on teacher community in urban elementary schools" (January 1, 2006). Dissertations available from ProQuest. Paper AAI3211163.
http://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI3211163

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