Research Discussion: What leadership and organizational features at the school level are associated with mitigating science achievement gaps?
The SOSA Project focuses on elementary schools whose student populations perform above their expected levels on the State 5th grade science assessment. We identify these schools as positive outliers. Schools are categorized by various student population factors such as ethnicity, English fluency, and social status; and these factors are used to predict science achievement. Researchers investigate the elementary schools using a measurement instrument developed for the project, School Organization and Leadership in Science (SOLIS). The SOLIS survey is given to the instructional staff at each school, and is designed to measure the leadership and organization of that school in terms of potential influences on science achievement. In addition to teacher surveys, researchers conduct interviews at outlier schools with Principals and science teachers/coaches to look for potential influences on school organization and science achievement.
The School Science Infrastructure (SSI)* survey instrument was developed by Project SOSA researchers, forming the basis for the SOLIS, to explore associations between school-level variables and equitable science performance.
*Settlage, J., Butler, M. B., Wenner, J., Smetana, L. K. and McCoach, B. (2015), Examining Elementary School Science Achievement Gaps Using an Organizational and Leadership Perspective. School Science and Mathematics, 115: 381-391. doi: 10.1111/ssm.12144
Literature Discussion: School organization, social capital, and social justice leadership.
There is a dearth in the literature on science achievement in schools related to school structure and organization, as well as social justice leadership. The SOSA project aims to demonstrate school leadership and social capital influence on science performance. We explore organizational structure of our schools through the lens of Anthony Bryk’s 5 Essentials model for school improvement. On social justice leadership in schools, our study is informed by the works of George Theoharis and others.
* Theoharis, G. (2007). Social justice educational leaders and resistance: Toward a theory of social justice leadership. Educational Administration Quarterly, 43(2), 221-258.
Title I explanation
The SOSA Project recognizes disadvantaged schools as identified under the Title I program by the US Department of Education.