Sunday, May 20, 2012

Efficacy or the Egg?

Quick question. Which comes first, efficacious faculties or high-achieving schools? Maybe this post will help us find an answer.

Most of the scholarly work that I've engaged in includes inquiring about collective teacher efficacy (CTE). As a doctoral student at Rutgers University, I was intrigued by a paper written by Hoy, Sweetland, and Smith (2002) when they reported that CTE is a school level variable that can mitigate the strong influence that socioeconomic status (SES) continues to have on academic achievement. As part of my doctoral studies, I examined whether certain instructional leadership behaviors and tasks associated with the high school principalship influence CTE. I was hoping to find specific leadership traits related with high levels of CTE, however, in the sample of NJ high schools that I studied, there was little evidence of this. As inquiry is intended to do, these findings have caused me to continue to think about how principals can improve CTE to improve student achievement in their schools.

For a manuscript I'm currently writing, I examined the relationships between and predictive value of teacher degree status, student attendance rates, and prior mathematics achievement and CTE. I selected teacher degree status and student attendance rates because practitioners have a big role in improving these variables in their schools. They can encourage teachers to pursue and earn advanced degrees, and principals can do many different things to improve student attendance. Of course, all principals are hired with the expectation that they will improve school achievement. I selected prior mathematics achievement because student math scores are less sensitive to the influence of SES than language arts/literacy scores.

Can principals improve CTE by targeting teacher degree status and student attendance? In this analysis, teacher degree status, student attendance rates, and prior mathematics achievement are all related with CTE, and the relationships are quite strong. This suggests that as more teachers in a school earn advanced degrees, or principals hire teachers who hold advanced degrees, and student attendance improves, school CTE will also improve. Only prior mathematics achievement emerged as a predictor of CTE, though. This analysis leads me to infer that mathematics achievement will predict CTE, but prior evidence suggests that CTE predicts mathematics achievement. So, which comes first, improved mathematics achievement, or improved CTE? Is it efficacy, or the egg?

I have so much more work to do.


Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: W. H. Freeman and Company.

Fancera, S. F. & Bliss, J. R. (2011). Instructional leadership influence on collective teacher efficacy to improve school achievement. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 10, 349-370.

Goddard, R. (2002). A theoretical and empirical analysis of the measurement of collective efficacy: The development of a short form. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 62, 97-110.

Goddard, R. D., LoGerfo, L., & Hoy, W. K. (2004). High School Accountability: The role of perceived collective efficacy. Educational Policy, 18, 403-425.

Hoy, W. K., Sweetland, S. R., and Smith, P. A. (2002). Toward an organizational model of achievement in high schools: The significance of collective efficacy. Educational Administration Quarterly, 38, 77-93.

Leithwood, K., Patten, S., & Jantzi, D. (2010). Testing a conception of how school leadership influences student learning. Educational Administration Quarterly, 46, 671-706.

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