Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




This study was designed to examine the factors associated with effectiveness in two exemplary public alternative schools in the state of Iowa. A modified ethnographic methodology was used to study the two schools. It required that the investigator spend ten days in both schools collecting data from as many sources as possible. The techniques used to collect data included on-site observation, interviews, survey inventory, and the examination of school documents;The investigator utilized a participant-observer approach when visiting classrooms, school activities and school-community functions. The study also included the use of the School Improvement Inventory (SII) designed to gather information to evaluate school effectiveness. The instrument was administered to staff members in the two schools (N = 44);The findings in this study were presented in three journal manuscripts suitable for publication in professional journals;Article I describes the factors associated with two exemplary alternative schools located in the state of Iowa. Qualitative research methods were used to determine what made the two exemplary alternative schools special;Article II addresses the following questions: (1) What do teachers in alternative schools expect from their administrators? (2) What do effective principals do? and (3) What additional factors make a difference in the two schools?;Article III presents one of the exemplary schools' unique approach to teaching and learning;From the data collected, the investigator concluded, that the effectiveness in alternative schools is attributed to many of the characteristics which surfaced in studies of conventional schools. In addition to the above findings, other specific factors surfaced which contributed to the success of the two schools. Those factors included staff beliefs, leadership techniques and a variety of organizational procedures.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Clemmye L. Jackson



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136 pages