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Relationships Matter

Dr. Megan Tschannen-MoranThe William and Mary School of Education recently began a collaborative partnership with the Norfolk Public Schools. Dr. Jones, Superintendent of Norfolk Public Schools, sought a creative, research-based method for improving student outcomes that focused on greater attention to relationships in an effort to continue to make gains in student achievement as well as to meet other accountability targets such as improved attendance rates, fewer disciplinary referrals, and increased graduation rates.  In response, the district Office of Strategic Evaluation, Assessment, and Support reached out to the William and Mary School of Education in an effort to take a more theoretical approach to their annual stakeholder surveys. These surveys assess the perceptions of teachers, students in grades 3-12, and parents.  The stakeholders that participated in the studies during Spring 2009 included 2,583 teachers; 8,258 students in grades 3 - 12; and 1,874 parents.

"This is an exciting opportunity to bridge the gap between research and practice," commented the project director, Dr. Megan Tschannen-Moran. Seven W&M doctoral students are members of the research team, each exploring the relationships between subsets of these variables. These studies have explored the interrelationships of academic optimism, community engagement, organizational citizenship behaviors, collective teacher efficacy, and academic press, as well as the relationship of these constructs to student achievement in urban elementary schools.  Two additional studies investigated student and faculty perceptions of trust and their influence on student outcomes such as student identification with school, student perceptions of academic press, student achievement, attendance rates, and disciplinary referrals.  A final study analyzed the impact of the academic component of Response to Intervention on collective teacher efficacy, parents' trust in schools, student achievement, and referrals for special education.  Results to date have demonstrated strong, positive correlations between stakeholder perceptions of the quality of interpersonal relationships and positive student outcomes.

For more information on this project, contact Dr. Megan Tschannen-Moran at the William and Mary School of Education.