Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Michael F. DiPaola


In response to the increase in accountability, based on federal and state legislation, educators have searched for factors to positively impact student achievement. The Coleman Report (1966) stated that student socioeconomic status was the greatest predictor of academic success. Researchers and educators alike have worked to demonstrate that other factors within a school's control may be powerful predictors as well and may assist schools in overcoming this environmental obstacle. The purpose of this study was to examine academic optimism as a construct consisting of academic emphasis, collective efficacy, and trust in students and parents and their relationship to instructional leadership behaviors and student achievement among a sample of urban elementary schools in Virginia.;A convenience sample of 35 urban elementary schools in Virginia serving students K-5 was used to collect survey data from full-time teachers during a faculty meeting using the Norfolk Public Schools Teacher Climate Survey. Student achievement data were obtained from the 2008--2009 Virginia Standards of Learning assessment results in English and mathematics for students in grades 3--5.;The initial factor analysis confirmed that academic optimism is a unified construct comprised of academic emphasis, collective efficacy, and trust in students and parents. The construct of instructional leadership was also confirmed using a factor analysis to ensure the survey items pulled together and measured along a common factor. Correlational analyses demonstrated a moderate, positive relationship between academic optimism and student achievement and academic optimism and instructional leadership even when controlling for socioeconomic status. Correlational analysis did not demonstrate a direct relationship between instructional leadership and student achievement. While limited, this study may offer educational practitioners insight on how instructional leaders can indirectly impact student achievement by creating a culture of academic optimism.



© The Author