Date of Award

Summer 8-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

John A. Anderson, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

J. Beth Mabry, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Melissa L. Swauger, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Jon C. Landis, Ph.D.

Abstract

As a result of the achievement gaps that exists between high poverty and low poverty student groups, as well as accountability criteria mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind Act (2001), which requires significant improvements in student achievement for low-income and minority students, school districts must now implement strategies that assist them in obtaining outcomes that demonstrate significant growth in achievement for these students. One strategy considered for improving achievement in high poverty schools suggests assigning the best educator resources to the most disadvantaged groups. This study more closely examines the theory about the impact of leadership for low income groups and acknowledges the negative impact of poverty on student achievement outcomes. Despite poverty’s negative impact, the researcher hypothesizes that principal leadership can mitigate the impact of poverty to improve student achievement for disadvantaged student groups.

In order to examine the proposed theory, the study employs a quantitative research design using a secondary dataset from the New Teachers Center to explore relationships that exist between key variables including principal leadership, school culture, student achievement and school poverty. Further the research explores whether the influence of principal leadership when used to impact the school culture is more significant in high poverty schools than low poverty schools in hopes that the information will contribute to the conversation for developing strategies that improve achievement for disadvantaged student groups.

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