Date of Award

Spring 8-2018

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)

Department

Professional Studies in Education

First Advisor

David M. Piper

Second Advisor

Sue Rieg

Third Advisor

Beatrice S. Fennimore

Abstract

Schools with similar demographics have varying school performance; these differences exist among schools across Western Pennsylvania. Questions remain as to why some schools perform at higher levels than other schools in similar regions. Some researchers posit that leadership practices in different schools may influence student learning and school performance.

The purpose of this study was to research the relationship between teachers’ and principals’ beliefs about the extent to which leadership practices influence school performance for high-, low-, and middle-level performing schools. This study examined how leadership practices are perceived by teachers and principals to influence school performance.

The beliefs of teachers and principals in regard to leadership behaviors were not assumed to reflect documented leadership behaviors within their schools. Teachers’ and principals’ perceptions about the extent to which they believe particular leadership practices influence school performance were collected and analyzed. Teachers and principals were asked to complete a survey to rate how much they believe certain leadership practices influence school performance. The results of the teachers’ and principals’ perceptions of leadership practices for how those leadership practices influence school performance were correlated to School Performance Profiles to see if relationships exist. Similarities as well as differences among higher, middle, and lower performing schools were also examined.

The results of this study do not determine causation, but the information gathered does reveal that differences and relationships exist between teachers and principals in terms of how much they believe certain leadership practices influence school performance. Principals tend to see challenging teachers’ past beliefs about their work and assumptions about students as a more influential leadership practice concerning school performance. Treating teachers as individuals with unique needs and areas of expertise is associated with higher performing schools, and Communicating a shared vision with excitement about what can be accomplished through team work is associated with lower performing schools. While both teachers and principals feel that Providing Individual Support is important, only principals believe that Building Vision is important. The results of this study lead to the conclusion that school leaders cannot focus on building vision alone if they wish to improve the school performance; they must provide teachers with the necessary support they need to gain confidence in their ability to reach the goals within the vision.

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