Term of Award

Fall 2001

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Administration

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)


Department of Leadership, Technology, and Human Development

Committee Chair

Harbison Pool

Committee Member 1

E. Ruth Carroll

Committee Member 2

T. C. Chan

Committee Member 3

Ming Fang He


Principals and teachers are being held increasingly accountable for student achievement. Every effort should be made to increase the chances of student success in school and in the global community. In this study, the researcher examined the perceptions of principals in the state of Georgia with regard to incompetent teachers, which according to the professional literature are a deterrent to student achievement. As previous research and literature have shown, incompetent teachers remain in school systems despite efforts of building-level administrators to dismiss them. The main focus of this study was to determine the means of minimizing the negative effect of such teachers and to find strategies for coping with these teachers.

Both quantitative and qualitative inquiry methods were employed. Using a two-phase design, the perceptions of principals about incompetent teachers were first explored through a mail-out survey. This phase was intended to answer the proposed research questions, some specifically and some in a more general way. The second phase consisted of interviews with six principals of various levels and in different school settings. The intent of the interviews was to find more specific answers to the overarching research question: How do principals manage incompetent teachers who have evaded dismissal and remain in classrooms under their supervision? The qualitative research inquiry method was implemented to enhance the statistical data and to provide more in-depth meanings to any findings.

This study did not result in a definitive meaning for the term incompetent teacher, but it helped the researcher more fully understand the concept and the idea that the incompetent teacher defines his or her own characteristics. A list of characteristics,compiled from the research, is only a database of information. It is not and cannot be a definition, because each incompetent teacher is an entity within himself or herself. A realistic viewpoint about how to overcome tenure, legal costs, and other roadblocks is part of the qualitative data gathered during this study. A list of suggestions, which will help with a broad spectrum of problems, and can be used to improve the educational focus of a teacher, was compiled using both quantitative and qualitative methods. Newly appointed administrators, administrators-in-training, and even veteran administrators can benefit from the experience of others. The present study concluded that 3.81% of the teachers in Georgia are perceived by their principals to be incompetent. The researcher hopes that this study will be used to improve the educational experience of those students who are in classrooms of incompetent teachers.


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