Site Selection in School District Research: A Measure of Effectiveness Using Hierarchical Longitudinal Growth Models of Performance

Bowers, Alex J.

School districts in the United States are an active area of study in education research as findings have shown that some districts find success in certain contexts, while others struggle. However, while significant resources are needed to study the complex day to day practices of district and central office staff, including researcher time and effort, to date the research domain has had few actionable methods for site selection to determine the extent to which a district should be considered unusually effective, while taking into account the cautions from 40 years of school effectiveness research. The present study analyzes all school districts in the state of Ohio (n=610) from 2005-06 through 2012-13 using a two-level hierarchical linear growth model to identify districts that significantly outperform or underperform the background and demographic variables in the Ohio Performance Index Score, that are outside the influence of the district administration. The aim of the study is to provide a framework for researchers, practitioners and policy-makers looking to select comparison and contrast sites for deep district effectiveness research. This study builds upon recent work by capturing the school level variance within districts to control for overall average district performance over an eight year period analyzing the entire population of districts. Fifteen outperforming districts are named as potential sites for site selection for in-depth qualitative studies of districts in comparison to similar districts that are at the norm for the state. Keywords: School District, District Effectiveness Research (DER), Hierarchical Modeling, Longitudinal Studies, School Effectiveness Research (SER), Student Attendance, Rural Urban Differences, Suburban, Municipalities, Enrollment


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School Leadership & Management

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Education Leadership
Published Here
July 16, 2015


This document is a pre-print of this manuscript, which is published in the journal School Leadership & Management. Recommended Citation: Bowers, A.J. (2015). Site Selection in School District Research: A Measure of Effectiveness Using Hierarchical Longitudinal Growth Models of Performance. School Leadership & Management, 35(1) p. 39-61.