Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Kathryn M. Borman, Ph.D.


Ethnographic research, Federal education policy, Applied research, Educational anthropology, Urban schools, Social capital


This thesis is an analysis of teacher perceptions of the implementation of their school's comprehensive school reform, and the George W. Bush administration's federal educational policy, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Data were collected by a research team as a part of the National Longitudinal Evaluation of Comprehensive School Reform (NLECSR), a project under the direction of the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The thesis is a supplemental qualitative analysis by the author who was part of the NLECSR research team from 2004 through 2005. The NLECSR had a quantitative component (called the Core Study) consisting of a large-scale national survey, and a qualitative component (called the Focus Study) consisting of interviews and observations in a smaller subset of schools in five urban districts in the central and eastern United States. AIR was primarily responsible for the quantitative study while researchers at USF were responsible for the qualitative work. This thesis exploited a major strength of the Focus Study, which made classrooms within schools the unit of analysis. This thesis analyzed data from three schools from one of the five Focus Study districts. Three research questions predominate: First, what do teachers who are implementing CSR say about how NCLB impacts their work? Second, what do teachers' responses reveal about how well NCLB as a policy aligns or misaligns with implementing CSR? Third, where might these perceived policy conflicts lie? Thematic analysis revealed perceived competing pressures in the development of social capital, or the collective commitment, relational trust and communications that foster productive or supportive exchanges between teachers, students and other school stakeholders. I found that the NCLB mandates and sanctions were perceived by teachers as unfair, at odds with the goals of reform and potentially detrimental to some of the gains won through implementing CSR, such as social capital.