Ed.D. in School Improvement
Education Center • 678-839-6062
Please check our website for the most up-to-date information. *The Doctoral Program in School Improvement is currently implementing program changes and improvements.
Our mission is to develop educators who initiate sustainable and systemic improvements in P-12 education. Graduates will strategically and collaboratively plan, design, implement, and document the impact of educational improvements that promote and increase the academic achievement and social development of all students.
The Doctoral Program in School Improvement, which has existed for 12 years, is now delivered as an online program. The program serves students in Georgia and from places as far away as Seattle, Washington. Online does not mean on your own. Using a cohort model, students are admitted one time each year, with classes beginning in the summer semester. In the first summer session, the program requires a multi-day visit to the Carrollton campus for a focused, face-to-face orientation to the program. A return visit to campus is required during the second summer for the intensive Dissertation Prep Summer Institute. The remainder of the coursework is delivered online, and the use of a wide variety of technologies ensures that students stay connected to members of their cohort and their professors.
The focus of the program is the development of leaders at all levels of education who will be prepared to lead reform and change efforts in schools throughout Georgia and the nation. It is important to note that the target audience for this program is comprised of educators at a variety of levels. These include classroom teachers, special educators, counselors, school-based social workers, building-level administrators, and district-level administrators. Many of these educators in the program do not hope to move into formal administrative positions following receipt of their doctorate. In contrast, they hope to lead reform efforts from a variety of perspectives. Therefore, this is not a "typical" educational leadership doctorate and should not be confused with those programs.
There are only a handful of programs throughout the United States that offer degrees in school improvement, and even fewer that do so at the doctoral level. In this era of high-stakes educational accountability, states, school districts, and individual professional educators are in great need of developing the knowledge and skills that will enable them to implement change in the schools they serve. We are pleased to develop leaders who transform schools.
Core Competencies/Learning Outcomes
STRAND 1: School Improvement and Reform
Definition: Moving schools and stakeholders in directions that enhance student learning and social development and ultimately benefit society.
- Differentiate among whole school and content area renewal, restructuring, and reform
- Articulate the roles of the legal system, policy, power, and ethics for key stakeholders in school improvement and reform
- Describe trends, issues, and barriers to school improvement and reform
- Describe the roles of a change agent in the school culture
- Articulate how the legal system recognizes and protects the legal and ethical rights of all stakeholders in school improvement and reform, including special populations
- Strategically plan to remove or circumvent barriers to school improvement and reform
- Collaboratively unify stakeholders committed to school improvement and reform
- Collaboratively design, implement, and document school improvement plans
- Act as a change agent to remove barriers within the social and political contexts of schooling
- Recognize, with proper perspective, the need for school improvement and reform
- Value the involvement and engagement of key stakeholders as well as representatives of underserved populations in school improvement efforts
- Develop a personal vision of and commitment to school improvement and reform
- recognize the power of group consensus over individual action
- Value legal and ethical professional relationships among all stakeholders as an integral part of the school reform process
STRAND 2: Leadership
Definition: Influencing others toward a shared commitment to a common purpose.
- Articulate principles of organizational development, including mission statements, the process of monitoring quality, and core values of an organization
- Describe the change process, including how to organize and prepare an individual, group, or organization for change.
- Identify personality styles, including how to observe and assess interpersonal dynamics between self and others, and individuals within a group to strategically influence others
- Articulate leadership theories and strategies and how to apply them to diverse situations
- Identify and describe communication and interaction styles and issues in diverse populations, and how they impact group efforts and organizations.
- Prioritize and focus organizational work
- Move groups through an agenda
- Facilitate groups and achieve consensus
- Reflect on and change self
- Analyze human behavior
- Identify the area in which group members need development and provide needed training
- Create networks within and outside an organization whereby members can interact with their peers and with key stakeholders
- Strategically gain and use political power
- Identify and correct an unjust and/or inequitable situation
- Appropriately use leadership strategies in diverse situations
- Affirm differences among individuals
- Value optimum academic achievement and social development of all students
- Value integrity and trust
- Value risk-taking
STRAND 3: Teaching and Learning
Definition: Understanding and using the knowledge base on effective teaching and learning to initiate teacher development and school improvement.
- Synthesize recent research and practice in the areas of teaching, learning, curriculum, and assessment
- Describe the role of teachers, both individually and collectively, in school improvement
- Become cognizant of the historical, philosophical, socio-cultural, and theoretical development of education
- Identify and discuss socio-affective, cognitive, and interactional characteristics and needs of divers groups
- Effectively use the knowledge base to bring about change for increased student academic learning and social development
- Effectively use the knowledge base to bring about change that empowers educators to enhance their effectiveness
- Lead teachers and other educators to develop needs-specific instructional strategies for culturally and linguistically diverse student groups
- Discriminate between sound and unsound reports, research, and instructional practice
- Value providing equitable an appropriate educational access to all students
- Value research and the knowledge base about effective teaching and learning as useful in educational reform
- Prioritize student learning over political problems
STRAND 4: Research and the Effective Use of Data
Definition: Understanding, conducting, and applying impactful research in school improvement and reform.
- Describe forms of research used in education including traditional, school-based, and program evaluation
- Interpret and communicate various forms of data including graphic presentations, descriptive statistics, and effect size
- Outline the research cycle as it applies to school-based research and program evaluation
- Describe the importance of validity, reliability, credibility, and generalizability in the research process
- Demonstrate the effective use of standardized test data
- Describe how to use program evaluation to improve schools
- Articulate how to guide others through the program evaluation cycle
- Outline how to lead others to conduct school-based research
- Use reflective and proactive processes of of inquiry to identify a research focus for school improvement
- Evaluate, synthesize, and use professional literature to build a theoretical base for a research focus
- Generate research questions which develop a research focus
- Develop and implement a theoretically-based intervention or innovation for outcomes-based research studies
- Create a systematic data collection plan aligned with the research focus
- Collect and analyze multiple forms of data using data analysis consultants if necessary
- Draw credible, valid conclusions based on the analysis of data
- Use research results for continuous school improvement
- Interpret and communicate research results effectively to both professional and lay audiences
- Value data-based decision making as an integral part of school improvement
- Value dissemination of research findings to advocate for school improvement
STRAND 5: Scholarly Persuasion
Definition: Engaging in rational discussion informed by and grounded in the knowledge base and research in education and school improvement.
- Demonstrate different oral and written communication styles and their effective use
- Identify and interpret nonverbal signals in different language systems
- Draw from the knowledge base in education and school improvement to construct scholarly defensible positions
- Effectively communicate educational issues using oral and written communication to diverse professional and lay audience
- Recognize networks and pathways appropriate for disseminating information, positions, and decisions regarding education
- Communicate in a logical, scholarly style using the format prescribed by the American Psychological Association (APA)
- Prefer scholarly and rational discourse over emotional arguments that lack sound reasoning
- Value proactive and effective communication
- Value contributing to the knowledge base in school improvement
STRAND 6: Technology
Definition: Developing sound technological literacy that impacts professional competence and school improvement
- Articulate principles of effective electronic communication
- Identify past, existing, and emerging technology resources used in education
- and match them to teaching, learning, and school administrative needs
- Describe how information is organized in electronic media in contrast to print media
- Use technology resources to exchange information and ideas with others, including email, list serves, and electronic dialogues
- Conduct electronic searches and access other electronic resources
- Navigate and create websites
- Prepare and transmit professional quality documents electronically
- Model social, legal, and ethical practices to promote responsible use of technology
- Value effective preparation and use of multiple media to communicate with professional and lay audiences
- Value the potential of new and emerging technology to shape school improvement strategies and initiatives
- Value participation in an electronic network with others in the educational community
The core coursework in the School Improvement program falls within three curricular strands:
Teaching and Learning (9 hours)
- Courses include Models of School Improvement, Instructional Leadership that Facilitates School Improvement, and Models of Professional Development.
Leadership for School Improvement (9 hours)
- Courses include Leadership for Diversity in the 21st Century, Policy Analysis for School Improvement and Leadership for Change.
Research and the Effective Use of Data (15 hours)
- Courses include School Improvement through Data-Driven Decision Making, Quantitative Methods for School Improvement, Qualitative Methods for School Improvement, Action Research for Change I, and Action Research for Change II.
The Core also includes the following:
- The School Improvement Orientation (no credit)
- Dissertation Mentoring I, II, and III (2 credit hours each)
- The Dissertation Prep Summer Institute (no credit).
- A graduate degree from an accredited institution
- A cumulative minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for all previous graduate work
- You are required to submit GRE Scores
- GRE scores are ONLY one of several criteria that are used to collectively evaluate your application for admission to the School Improvement Program
- Although there are no required minimum scores, the minimum expected scores are a composite score of 1000, with at least a 450 on the verbal section AND a 450 on the quantitative section. NEW GRE scoring effective August, 2011. Minimum expected scores are: Verbal Reasoning 151 and Quantitative Reasoning 142.
- Submitted GRE scores cannot be more than 10 years old (from the application deadline date)
- Note: International students are also required to submit TOEFL scores
- Completion of the Graduate School's Online Application
- A 750-1000 word essay that indicates personal goals and suitability for the School Improvement Program. If you do not have professional experience in schools, you must include a rationale for you application to the Doctoral Program in School Improvement. In the essay, you may include a brief discussion of any literature (e.g., research articles, textbooks) that has informed your professional practice or otherwise influenced you in some way. (Please also include appropriate APA citations.)
- Three recommendations completed by individuals who have supervised your work in schools, or other type of professional setting
- A vitae listing education and employment history, experience with school improvement awards and recognitions, etc. Please be sure to include your current and complete contact information, including an active e-mail address
- Signed acknowledgement of the School improvement Mission Statement
Application Review Process
Once you have submitted your application, the remainder of the admission process is as follows:
- Within several weeks following the application deadline, all applications will be reviewed and evaluated by a committee of faculty.
- At this time, the original pool of applicants will be reduced to a smaller subgroup of applicants for interviews.
- If you are selected for an interview, you will be contacted via email to schedule a real-time video or telephone interview with the selection committee.
- Following the interviews with all selected applicants, a smaller subgroup will be invited for admission to the School Improvement Program.
- The entire process of reviewing applications, interviewing applicants, and inviting the selected applicants for admission will take approximately 6 weeks.