Student engagement, academic optimism, and leadership : a case study of performance-based schools
Ruyle, Michael Alan
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The performance-based model of education has been proven successful in a number of schools across the United States and the world. The majority of the students and teachers who are currently operating in innovative performance-based programs have been exposed to the traditional model of education for the bulk of their educational lives, and are in a unique position to judge the efficacy of the system. In an earlier pilot study, there was a significant difference in the perspective of the students and teachers in favor of the performance-based system, which could eventually lead to the adoption of the model on a larger scale in future years. The purpose of this embedded, multiple-case study was to analyze how students and teachers operating in two educational programs that had implemented the performance-based model perceived their own levels of engagement and optimism, and how the teachers judged the leadership that helped put the system in place. The case is bound by the system of performance-based education, bound by place in terms of one school in California and one in Montana, and bound by time in that the analysis of the participant data is from the early months of 2014. This research was framed by the following central question: How do teachers and students who operate in a performance-based educational system describe academic optimism, student engagement, and transformational leadership behaviors of their principals? Three primary sources of data were used: individual interviews, student and teacher surveys, and achievement documentation. Analysis and triangulation of the data identified key issues and painted a rich picture of academic success in this innovative model.