Term of Award

Spring 2011

Degree Name

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

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Department

Department of Leadership, Technology, and Human Development

Committee Chair

Yasar Bodur

Committee Member 1

Linda M. Arthur

Committee Member 2

Scott Beck

Committee Member 3

Debra Sabia

Abstract

Principals are becoming the instructional leaders in their buildings. Researchers of numerous studies on leadership have provided research-based conclusions about successful principals that effectively influence student learning with the challenges of diversity and accountability. Substantive research findings on school leadership support the claim that principal leadership is instrumental to student achievement. Researchers and the principal participants in this study agree that the teacher is the most powerful indicator of student success in any classroom. Researchers also found that the principal's leadership in high poverty schools make a difference in teaching and learning. Using a mixed method descriptive research design, the researcher studied leadership characteristics of four Georgia elementary school principals from one metropolitan school district. The participating principals have consistently met the accountability demands of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. These four elementary schools have a high population of high poverty Hispanic students. The mixed methods research design was utilized for this study because it provided useful descriptive statistics from the quantitative surveys, while the qualitative interviews provided a means for in-depth exploration of the characteristics of the principals. The collections of data were obtained from surveys and interviews. Each teacher and principal was given a survey to evaluate the leadership characteristics of the principal. Additionally the teachers were given three open ended questions. After analyzing the data from the surveys the researcher conducted in-depth semi--structured interviews with each principal. As a result of this study, two overarching themes emerged: 1) awareness of needs and 2) allocation of resources to meet those needs. Furthermore, these two themes have four subthemes: 1) high expectations for student learning, 2) parental involvement, 3) literacy focus, and 4) teacher professional development. These themes were characteristic of the participating principals in the study and deemed influential on student achievement. This study furnishes a description of the leadership characteristics of principals with a high population of Hispanic students, a high rate of poverty, and who consistently make AYP. The candid expressions of these principals as to what works in their schools to increase the achievement of their students serves as a meaningful contribution to the body of knowledge in the field of educational leadership.

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