Paula Gordon
Paula Gordon

Urban Education


Work Position
Dean of Students

Date passed dissertation defense
September 2011


Paula Gordon is currently the Dean of Students at Uncommon Charter High School in  Brooklyn,.Ms. Gordon has spent over 15 years in urban education as a teacher and a leader in the public sector and charter school sectors. She has taught on several levels including upper elementary, middle school and college and has been a leader on the middle and high school levels.

Ms. Gordon has served as a University Supervisor for the undergraduate student teachers in the Urban Education department at Rutgers and as a research assistant for the Institute on Educational Law and Policy (IELP). She has worked as an Adjunct faculty at Mercy College in the NYC Fellows program and also as an instructor in the Urban Education department at Rutgers-Newark. Ms. Gordon has presented at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and also the American Educational Studies Association (AESA) conferences.

Prior to matriculating in the doctoral program, Ms. Gordon taught in Newark and in the Elizabeth public school district.  She was awarded the New Jersey Governor’s Teacher of the Year in 1997 at Benjamin Franklin Elementary school in Elizabeth. At North Star Academy Charter School in Newark, Ms. Gordon served in a leadership capacity as the Dean of Students, mentored new faculty in their professional development and taught middle school mathematics. Ms. Gordon is a Teach for America alumni (93) and was part of the first group of corp members in New Jersey. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Beta Alpha Omega chapter in Newark.

Her current research interests include educational reform, effective urban schools, the academic achievement gap, educational leadership and educational policy. Ms. Gordon holds a BA in Psychology from Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT and her MSW from Howard University with a focus in Community Organization.

Title of the Dissertation

Understanding Academic Achievement Differences in an Urban School

Dissertation Abstract

This research project is a case study of achievement differences in an urban school, where student achievement is high at the K-5 levels and then declines at the 6-8 levels. The purpose of this project is to better understand the processes that are related to the high academic achievement of students at the Summit school (pseudonym) at the K-5 levels and the factors that contribute to the decline at the 6-8 levels.  Through an examination of school and classroom level factors such as the principal’s leadership, school culture, school vision, qualified teachers, the use of student performance data, curriculum and instructional practices and outside school factors such as parent and community partnerships and family and student cultures, this study will provide important findings on the achievement gap within an urban school.

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