Term of Award

Fall 2006

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Education Administration (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Leadership, Technology, and Human Development

Committee Chair

Walter Polka

Committee Member 1

James Burnham

Committee Member 2

Charles Reavis

Committee Member 3

Cordelia Zinskie

Committee Member 3 Email



Principals of elementary schools continue to be required to perform many duties which include administrative and instructional tasks. The increased accountability for all students to achieve, including the lower achieving students, has made principals focus on their leadership behaviors and practices. Researchers of various studies on principal leadership behaviors and student achievement have found that leadership behaviors make a difference in the academic achievement for all students. Researchers also found that the principal's most important role is that of an instructional leader. Principals leading elementary schools with at risk learners may assist them academically when effective strategies, programs, and organizational structures are present within the school. The demands and the complexity of the role of the principal in the 21st century make the principal's job a hard task, especially when leading schools with majority at-risk students. The legislation of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 obligates elementary principals to reflect on their best leadership behaviors and practices to encourage all students to succeed. Using a qualitative, phenomenological research design, the researcher explored the common leadership behaviors of six Georgia elementary principals of high 2 performing, high poverty schools. The phenomenological research design was appropriate for this study because it provided a means for exploring the lived experiences of the elementary principals leadership behaviors in a high performing, high poverty school. The collection of data was obtained from interviews, school observation, and school artifacts. Six common themes and patterns emerged from the qualitative research study: (1) monitoring of teachers educating at-risk learners, (2) gathering and analyzing student achievement data, (3) instructional decision making using a leadership team approach, (4) appropriate use of reading resources and materials, (5) a positive school climate, and (6) an effective staff of teachers. The six common themes and patterns were identified as common leadership behaviors of Georgia elementary principals from high performing, high poverty schools.

Research Data and Supplementary Material