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Salient characteristics of high-performing Turkish elementary schools

Purpose – Considering student achievement in a nation-wide examination as an indicator of school effectiveness, the purpose of this paper is to investigate the common characteristics across nine highly performing schools. Design/methodology/approach – The study was designed as a multiple-case study. Semi-structured interviews with teachers and administrators were conducted when collecting the data. Content analysis was implemented in analyzing the interview transcripts. Findings – The findings of the study basically suggest building a vision of achievement and sharing this vision with different constituencies, structuring positive instructional environment and implementing positive classroom managerial practices, educational leadership identifying the needs of school environment and responding to these needs, investing in positive school climate, monitoring pupils’ progress, ensuring the contribution of parents in schooling practices, and structuring a safe physical environment and providing necessary materials are instrumental activities for positive student outcomes. Research limitations/implications – Although it is not uncommon in the literature, the study relies on students’ scores in a nation-wide examination as an indicator of school effectiveness. However, this was inevitable because of the fact that Turkish education system does not suggest behavioral or organizational effectiveness indicators. Hence, further research in Turkish context may identify multiple indicators and focus on school wide as well as environmental dynamics of effectiveness. Originality/value – The current study produced similar themes characterizing effective schools with the rest of the literature. However, the Turkish context exhibits a different understanding in relation to what causes effectiveness. The uniqueness of the Turkish context is largely related to the cultural context which has largely been shaped by conservatist philosophical orientations and centralized structure.