Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Committee Member

Robert S. McCord

Second Committee Member

LeAnn G. Putney

Number of Pages



Since the re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 2001 (also known as No Child Left Behind), public schools are required to be more accountable in relationship to student achievement. With the current attention on accountability that is based mostly upon standardized tests, it becomes compelling to study the school experience from the students' perspective. The purpose of this study is not to analyze traditional data from students, but to instead, examine the perceptions of high school senior students based upon their schooling experience and its implications for school leaders; Invitational education and critical theory provide a theoretical framework for this study. In addition, the review of literature provides a conceptual framework. The literature reveals that the quality of the instructional program, support for student learning, positive school climate, and meaningful student activities contribute to student achievement and positive perceptions of school by students; This study is a descriptive comparative case study, which follows the research designs of qualitative investigation. During the spring of 2003, juniors at two Utah high schools took the National Study of School Evaluation (NSSE) student opinion inventory. The data from the NSSE survey provided a basis by which to delineate questions for focus group interviews. In December 2003 and January 2004, interviews took place in focus groups that consisted of seniors at each high school; Results of this study formed several themes. Results revealed that students want rigor, but they also want caring and supportive teachers, meaningful work, and an opportunity to apply the knowledge they learn. Students want to be trusted and want their voices heard when decisions are made that affect them. In addition, they want to interact with school administrators and guidance counselors; There were several issues identified for further research including replicating the study in five years with the same students and conducting the study with three schools (large, medium sized, and small) to ascertain the impact of school size from the student perspective. There are also implications for school leaders. The student voice can be a powerful force in school improvement and the leader's role as instructional leader.


Analysis; Achievement; Case; Comparative; Experiences; High School Students; Perspective; School; School Experience; Students; Study

Controlled Subject

School management and organization; Curriculum planning; Educational psychology; Education, Secondary

File Format


File Size

4341.76 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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