The effects of academic optimism on student academic achievement in Alabama
The purpose of the research was to determine the effects of academic optimism on student academic achievement through measuring the individual and collective effects of academic emphasis, collective efficacy, and faculty trust in clients. Data for this study were obtained from the School Academic Optimism Scale and the reading section of the Alabama Reading and Mathematics Test (ARMT) given to fifth grade students in the spring of 2008. The research designed included a correlation analysis using school scores on the School Academic Optimism Scale (SAOS) and fifth grade ARMT scores in reading. Descriptive statistics were calculated to describe the sample of 29 schools. A correlation analysis was run using the School Academic Optimism Scale (SAOS), Hoy, Hoy, and Tarter, 2006. Control variables included whether schools are rural or urban (this variable was later deleted since only three schools were designated as rural), student to teacher ratio, and student socioeconomic status determined by the percent of free and reduced lunch students at each school. The independent variables were academic emphasis, collective efficacy, and teacher trust of clients and collectively, academic optimism. The dependent variable of student achievement was measured by fifth grade reading scores on the ARMT for each school. Further analysis included two hierarchical multiple regressions. The analysis included Level I Bivariate correlations of all variables and Level II regression to test the effect of the independent variables on the dependent variable. The first step-wise regression was run using the control variables, (SES (F/R%) and student/teacher ratio (STR), in step one and the academic optimism variable in step two. The second step-wise regression reflected the three independent variables (academic emphasis (AE), collective efficacy (CE), and faculty trust in clients (FT)), in step two. Finally, reliability was assessed by determining the Cronbach's alpha. The findings in this study confirmed that there is a positive correlation between academic optimism and student achievement as measured by 5th grade reading scores on the Alabama Reading and Mathematics Test. Further, the data demonstrated the independent contribution that academic emphasis, collective efficacy, and faculty trust make on student achievement. There was a positive triadic relationship between all academic optimism variables and student achievement. Collectively, all variables were strong predictors of reading scores on the ARMT. This study adds to the existing body of knowledge about academic optimism and reading achievement for elementary, middle, and high schools. This knowledge benefits individual schools and school systems as they prepare school improvement plans required by NCLB legislation and in particular the accountability measures required by the Alabama State Department of Education. In addition this research provides information to guide professional development necessary to implement strategies outlined in school improvement plans.