Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership


Dr. Lynette Busceme


The purpose of this dissertation was to determine the perceptions of teachers at schools with moderately high poverty versus teachers’ perceptions at schools with moderately low poverty in six areas: Collaborative Leadership, Teacher Collaboration, Professional Development, Unity of Purpose, Collegial Support, and Learning Partnerships measured by the School Culture Survey for 9-12 teachers in six rural Arkansas high schools. During this era, schools are focusing on student assessments correlated with poverty level and targeting better instruction as the key to a student’s successful learning. Even though more rigor has been pushed through the educational systems, a positive school culture seems to be the key to having a conducive environment where students want to learn and therefore will. In order to have an established, positive culture, several characteristics in the school environment have to be recognized and evaluated starting with the teachers’ perceptions of the culture of the school. Although the trend seems to indicate that poverty level is a predominant factor in determining school outcomes, Sagar (2000) stated that schools do indeed make the critical difference in student learning, nurture is more powerful than nature, and school characteristics are better predictors of student performance than the individual poverty level.

A quantitative, causal-comparative strategy was used in this research with a non-experimental, between-groups design. Six one-way analyses of variance (ANOVAs) was used to examine the data with a .05 significance level. The School Culture Survey was used to collect perceptions of teachers in six rural schools in Arkansas. The survey was given by the school’s principal, and data were collected and kept confidential.

Significant differences existed within the areas of Collaborative Leadership, Teacher Collaboration, Unity of Purpose, Collegial Support, and Learning Partnership between teachers from moderately high and moderately low poverty schools. Those responding from moderately high poverty schools had significantly lower perceptions on each of these facets of school culture compared to those from moderately low poverty schools.

The success of each student could be significantly influenced by teachers’ perceptions of the school where they are employed. Conducive environments should be fostered by schools not only for the students but also for the teachers. Strong teamwork among teachers and administrators should be established. Once teachers feel confident in what is expected in the classroom, student success should come naturally to the educational outcome of the school’s overall academic success.

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