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ODU's Jennifer Clayton wins national award for doctoral dissertation

Jennifer Clayton, visiting assistant professor of educational foundations and leadership at Old Dominion University, has received the Dissertation of the Year Award from the Leadership for School Improvement Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association.

The purpose of the organization is to examine how leadership of teachers, principals and superintendents influences instructional capacity resulting in improved student outcomes and how policy guides this collaborative effort.

Clayton's dissertation is titled "Changing Diversity in U.S. Schools: The Impact on Elementary Student Performance and Achievement." She received her Ph.D. from ODU in August 2009. Clayton, who joined the university as an adjunct faculty member in 2008, also holds an education specialist degree from ODU, as well as a master's degree from Rutgers University and a bachelor's from James Madison University.

In her study, she examined the impact of racial segregation level, poverty and teacher quality of schools on elementary student achievement. She used quantitative data analysis to examine this phenomenon in Virginia elementary schools and then provided recommendations for redressing these disadvantages within existing legal constraints through both leadership and instructional methods.

Clayton said the results revealed a continued need for educational leaders to focus on the issues of racial and economic isolation and the impact of those challenges for historically underserved students, while paying particular attention to the changing demographics of the United States.

Clayton's dissertation award will be presented at the AERA Annual Meeting in Denver, April 30 to May 3. She will receive a $1,000 cash and plaque at the conference, where she will present her work at a poster session.

William Owings, professor and graduate program director of educational leadership at ODU, served as Clayton's dissertation chair and will receive a certificate of recognition and a stipend of $300.

This article was posted on: April 2, 2010

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