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Title page for ETD etd-07202018-130416

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Kho, Adam
Author's Email Address adam.kho@gmail.com
URN etd-07202018-130416
Title Three Essays on School Reform
Degree PhD
Department Leadership and Policy Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Gary T. Henry Committee Chair
Carolyn J. Heinrich Committee Member
Christopher A. Candelaria Committee Member
Ron Zimmer Committee Member
  • School Meals
  • Charter Schools
  • School Turnaround
  • School Improvement
  • Education
  • School Reform
Date of Defense 2018-06-28
Availability unrestricted
Various school reforms have been implemented to improve the quality of education for the nation’s most disadvantaged students. It is important to evaluate these reforms to understand both their intended and unintended effects. This dissertation uses administrative data from Tennessee and quasi-experimental methods to examine three recent reforms – the Community Eligibility Provision, systemic effects of the Memphis Innovation Zone school turnaround initiative, and Tennessee’s charter schools. (1) The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) allowed schools and districts with large proportions of economically disadvantaged students to transition from an individually-based application process for applying for subsidized school meals to a community-based eligibility criteria that would provide free school meals for all students, regardless of income. This essay evaluates the effect of CEP on various student outcomes and finds that CEP reduced the number of student suspensions and expulsions and appeared to reduce the social stigma with participating in free school meals. (2) Previous research has found that the success of the Memphis Innovation Zone’s school turnaround initiatives have been driven by the recruitment of highly effective teachers from throughout the state. However, little work has been done to examine the systemic effect of this teacher recruitment. This study explores this gap in the literature and finds that schools losing these highly effective teachers experience a small drop in student achievement, offsetting some of the positive effects seen in turnaround schools receiving these teachers. (3) Tennessee is one of the nation’s most recent states to adopt charter schools onto its education landscape. This essay examines the effectiveness of Tennessee’s charter schools and uses theory from the community development literature to understand how charter schools founded by national charter management organizations (CMO) may differ in effectiveness relative to locally-developed charter schools. The study finds that charter schools are more effective than traditional public schools serving similar students in the same districts. In addition, there is some evidence that national CMO charter schools are overall more effective than local independent charter schools.
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