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A Study of Comprehensive School Reform Programs in Arizona


by Mary McCaslin & Thomas L. Good — 2008

Background/Context: The U.S. federal government has been interested in improving the performance of students who come from low-income homes since the time of Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” initiatives in the 1960s. The current administration strongly supports the belief that good schools can be created and has funded the Comprehensive School Reform Program (CSR) to support these beliefs. This article briefly reviews literature related to school reform throughout this period, describes our research plan to study CSR elementary schools in the state of Arizona, and introduces the articles included in this special issue.

Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: The basic intent of this study was to inform working theories of learning, motivation, and social/emotional development in school contexts in Grades 3–5. We hoped that an emphasis on theory, contextual enactment, and participant mediation would yield a richer picture of classroom practices and motivational dynamics that might underlie student achievement and CSR effectiveness. This study focused in particular on participant perspectives (principals and students) and classroom practices associated with CSR programs in elementary schools in the state of Arizona.

Research Design: The research program includes interview (with principals), observation (of classroom practices), and survey measures and an adaptation of Thematic Apperception Test procedures (with students).

Conclusions/Recommendations: School reform initiatives can profit from more research on participant perceptions, actual classroom practices, and student mediation of those practices. These understandings can better link program design and student achievement to enhance the effectiveness of comprehensive school reform initiatives.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 110 Number 11, 2008, p. 2319-2340
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15276, Date Accessed: 10/17/2017 3:52:23 AM

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About the Author
  • Mary McCaslin
    University of Arizona
    E-mail Author
    MARY MCCASLIN is a professor of educational psychology at the University of Arizona. Her scholarship focuses on the relationships among cultural, social, and personal sources of influence that coregulate student adaptive learning, motivational dynamics, and emergent identity. Her recent publications are “Co-Regulation of Student Motivation and Emergent Identity” in Educational Psychologist (in press), and “Co-Regulation of Opportunity, Activity, and Identity in Student Motivation: Elaborations on Vygotskian Themes” in S. M. McInerney and S. Van Etten (Eds.), Big Theories Revisited: Research on Sociocultural Influences on Motivation and Learning(Information Age, 2004).
  • Thomas Good
    University of Arizona
    THOMAS L. GOOD is the Editor of the Elementary School Journal and is the head of the Educational Psychology Department at the University of Arizona. His research interests include the study of teacher-student communication in classrooms as it unfolds in both the formal and informal curriculum. Recent publications are, with coauthors T. L. Good, S. Nichols, J. Zhang, C. R. H. Wiley, A. R. Bozack, et al., “Comprehensive School Reform: An Observational Study of Teaching in Grades 3 Through 5” in Elementary School Journal (2006); and, with coauthors T. L. Good, M. McCaslin, H. Y. Tsang, J. Zhang, C. R. H. Wiley, A. R. Bozack, et al., “How Well Do 1st-Year Teachers Teach: Does Type of Preparation Make a Difference?” in Journal of Teacher Education (2006).
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