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Four Years into No Child Left Behind: A Profile of California Tenth Grade Students' Well-Being and Mixed Methods Analysis of Its Associations with Academic Success

Teri Hollingsworth

Ph.D. Dissertation, Graduate Faculty of Education, Claremont Graduate University, 2007.

Abstract

The accountability movement, firmly established in the sixties by President Lyndon B. Johnson's Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), has been strengthened through No Child Left Behind's (NCLB) empirical data driven focus and sanctions for failure to meet test score requirements. However, to date, the implications of students' well-being in academic success have not been considered adequately in education research. The purpose of this study is to offer a view of student success that includes students' well-being as well as academic scores.

The variables for this study were collected through survey responses, California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) and California Standardized Test (CST) scores, and analyzed observation data. This data was collected four years after the implementation of NCLB, from both students (N=749) and teachers (N=18). The tenth grade student sample was from two economically, ethnically and culturally diverse high school communities.

Well-being indicators, presented in descriptive statistics, include reports of relationships with teachers, classmates and family, emotional measures, and measures of test anxiety. Key variables are students' reports of their safety in school and whether their lives have a purpose.

Multiple linear path analyses underscore the importance of well-being in academic success. Results of this study also reveal the importance of both safety and social relationships on student well-being. Clearly, results imply a need to measure and examine more closely the social climates on k-12 education campuses in terms of students' well-being and, just as importantly, in terms of students’ learning.