Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)



First Advisor

Faith Waters, Ed. D.

Second Advisor

Sue Rieg, Ed. D.

Third Advisor

Douglas Lare, Ed. D.


This mixed-method study addressed the following problem: What type of leadership is most appropriate to guide schools through the process of continuous rapid change required by the No Child Left Behind legislation and the twenty-first century while still performing well? It investigated a possible relationship between improved student achievement on state assessments, improved four-year graduation rate for high schools, improved attendance for schools without graduating classes, and the Leithwood model of Transformational Leadership in principals of high-poverty secondary schools in Pennsylvania. Principals whose schools improved on at least one element of Adequate Yearly Progress self-reported their leadership styles on the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire. The mean score for the Leithwood model of Transformational Leadership was 3.33 from a Likert scale ranging from zero to four. Six of the Transformational principals participated in interviews to triangulate data. Pearson correlation coefficients indicated no relationship between the Leithwood model of Transformational Leadership and improvement in math, reading, attendance, or four-year graduation rate. Coefficients for the schools led by the six principals who participated in the interviews also found no correlation for any of the factors. Further examination resulted in a negative relationship at the two-star level between high beginning scores and improvement indicating that as beginning scores increased, improvement decreased. There was a significant presence of Transformational behaviors in the interviewed group. These principals strongly believed that their leadership was responsible for school improvement. They posited that demographics were the biggest challenge to meeting AYP. The research validated that concern. This study could not find any statistically significant direct relationship between leadership style and student improvement in any of the variables. The researcher concluded that too many intervening variables existed to make a reliable conclusion regarding whether or not a particular leadership style is most appropriate for meeting the challenges of the twenty-first century.