Date of Award

Spring 3-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Dr. Stephen Sherblom

Second Advisor

Dr. Vicki Hedges-Oldani

Third Advisor

Dr. Michael Koebel


This mixed methods study examines what makes Bluffview Elementary School a success as measured by the ISAT, the mandated state test of Illinois. Despite national reports of achievement gaps and low test scores, Bluffview Elementary has shown sustained success in educating children. This paper reviews how Bluffview Elementary students are achieving success, and what similarities exist among other highly successful, low equalized assessed valuation (EAV) schools. This study utilized a meta-analysis from more than 20 studies reviewing successful schools to first identify which characteristics contribute to the success of a low EAV school. The studies, most of which examined elementary schools, focused on schools with students who achieved at higher levels than their demographics would predict. This study mixed qualitative and quantitative methods to establish if a relationship existed between the characteristics of successful schools discovered in the review of literature and the characteristics that made Bluffview Elementary students achieve. The quantitative part examined one year of data provided from 1,078 K-5 and K-6 Elementary Schools in Illinois to establish if EAV can be used as a predictor of student success on the ISAT. At the time of this writing, Bluffview was currently scoring 10.6 points better than expected on the ISAT based on the district’s EAV of $62,035 for the 2008-2009 school year. Bluffview students achieve in the upper 75th percentile of elementary schools in Illinois while being in the lower 25th percentile of EAV in the state. What makes Bluffview successful is similar to the characteristics evident in the literature review, with the exception of parent and community support. Although much literature claimed parent and community support as one of the most common characteristics of successful schools, Bluffview Elementary is able to succeed with limited support from parents and community. Teacher questionnaire responses and interviews demonstrated that a clear vision is apparent in the school, the standards and expectations for students and staff are high, and professional development is focused. The evidence supports that the key reason for Bluffview’s success is the care and dedication the teachers have for the students at Bluffview Elementary.


Copyright 2011