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The behaviors of effective urban school principals

Material Information

Title:
The behaviors of effective urban school principals
Creator:
Lopez, Maggie
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
228 leaves : ; 28 cm

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Degree:
Doctorate ( Doctor of Philosophy)
Degree Grantor:
University of Colorado Denver
Degree Divisions:
School of Education and Human Development, CU Denver
Degree Disciplines:
Educational leadership and innovation

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
School principals ( lcsh )
Urban schools ( lcsh )
Effective teaching ( lcsh )
Effective teaching ( fast )
School principals ( fast )
Urban schools ( fast )
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 217-228).
General Note:
School of Education and Human Development
Statement of Responsibility:
by Maggie Lopez.

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Source Institution:
University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
55536114 ( OCLC )
ocm55536114
Classification:
LD1190.E3 2003d L66 ( lcc )

Full Text
THE BEHAVIORS OF EFFECTIVE URBAN SCHOOL PRINCIPALS
by
Maggie Lopez
B. S., University of Northern Colorado, 1977
M. A., University of Colorado, 1987
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Educational Leadership and Innovation
2003


2003 by Maggie Lopez
All rights reserved.


This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy
degree by
Maggie Lopez
has been approved
Rodney Muth
n-iH-o 3
Date


Lopez, Maggie (Ph.D., Educational Leadership and Innovation)
The Behaviors of Effective Urban School Principals
Dissertation directed by Professor Rodney Muth
ABSTRACT
Present day educational legislation mandates greater school accountability.
For our nations urban schools facing complex issues related to school achievement,
accountability measures have become both the impetus and dictum for imposing
greater reform. Critical to the implementation and success of these reforms is the role
of the school principal. Principals who lead urban schools and the leadership traits
and skills they demonstrate, often become the vehicle for effective school
improvement.
This study explored the leadership behaviors of effective urban school
principals based on the Effective Urban School Principal Behaviors (EUSPB) model.
The EUSPB model is based on research pertaining to principal leadership, effective
schools, and change and reform and identifies behaviors demonstrated by urban
school principals who lead high-performing schools. The specific areas/traits
identified in the model are aligned according to the research on effective urban
principals. These areas/traits include instructional leadership, change leadership,
strong communication skills, shared decision making and collaboration leadership,
in


comprehension of the urban context, entrepreneurial leadership skills, problem-
solving leadership skills, and overall leadership skills.
Conducted in six large urban school districts in the contiguous United States,
the study compared the leadership behaviors of high-performing school principals and
low-performing school principals. Schools in the study represented grades PK-12 and
included public schools, charter schools, and alternative school settings.
A survey design was employed for this study. The survey design included
both closed and open-ended questions. Surveys were completed by principals,
teachers, and parents residing in the identified study schools.
A low return rate on the studys survey response hampered generalizability of
results. However, outcome data supported two critical differences between principals
of high-performing schools and low-performing schools. They were the traits of
change leadership (the ability to lead staff through change and the ability to act as a
change agent) and problem-solving leadership (the ability to effectively identify
potential problems, lead staff through problem-solving, and view problem-solving as
a function of their position). Another study finding was the confidence level with
which high-performing school principals versus low-performing school principals
rated themselves related to their own skill levels based on the EUSPB model.
IV


This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates dissertation. I
recommend its publication.
Signed
todney Muth
v


DEDICATION
My work is dedicated to Barb, Nancy, and Ken who have been a consistent, positive
force during this journey and whose continuous cajoling and support got me to the
finish line!
I


ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
My sincere thanks to Rod Muth who patiently and consistently taught me,
even when I was unteachable. Special thanks to Nadyne Guzman who believed! My
deepest appreciation to Cherie Lyons and A1 Ramirez for serving on my committee.
To KV, MD, LT, and SM, I am grateful for your support and encouragement to
finish!


CONTENTS
List of Figures.................................................xiii
List of Tables..................................................xv
CHAPTER
1. INTRODUCTION................................................1
Background of the Study..................................3
Value of the Study.......................................7
Thesis Organization......................................8
2. PRINCIPAL LEADERSHIP.......................................10
Systems Thinking as an Effective Way to Lead Urban
Schools..........................................12
The Important Role of Leader-Follower Relationship for
Urban Principals.................................17
The Role of Responsibility and Power for Urban Principals.20
Conclusion..............................................23
3. EFFECTIVE SCHOOLS..........................................24
Theoretical Framework...................................24
Effective Schools: An Introduction......................26
Implications of the Effective Schools Research for
Todays Urban Schools............................27
Qualities of Todays Effective Urban Schools............29
vii


Urban Context
31
Discipline...................................................32
Parent Involvement...........................................32
School Climate...............................................33
Teachers.....................................................34
Role of the Principal........................................36
Effective Urban Schools of the Future........................38
Effective Behaviors of the Urban Principal...................40
Urban Student Context........................................41
Instructional Context........................................43
School Achievement Context...................................45
School Climate...............................................47
Conclusion.................................................. 49
4. CHANGE AND REFORM...............................................51
Change and Reform from a Business Orientation................51
Change in Business Impacts Change in Education...............54
Change and Effective School Leaders..........................56
Change and Urban School Principals...........................59
Specific Behaviors of Effective Urban School
Leaders of Change.....................................62
Data-Driven Instructional Leadership.........................63
viii


Facilitate Learning.......................................63
Communication Skills......................................63
Effectively Deal with Emotional Response to Change........64
Comprehend the Urban Context..............................64
Parents and the Urban Community...........................65
Conclusion................................................65
5. METHODOLOGY...................................................69
Research Sample...........................................70
Survey Instrument.........................................72
Expert Panel Review ......................................74
Pilot Study...............................................75
Validity and Reliability Measures Employed in This Study..78
Data Collection...........................................79
Internal Review Board Approval......................80
Survey Dissemination Process........................81
Statistical Analysis Procedures...........................84
Reliability Analysis of the Scales........................88
Parent Survey Scales......................................89
Principal and Teacher Scales..............................92
6. RESULTS OF THE STUDY..........................................97
School Representation.....................................97
ix


Demographics.............................................100
Principals and Teachers..................................101
Parents..................................................102
Survey Findings..........................................103
Instructional Leadership Trait.....................104
Problem-Solving Leadership Trait...................107
Shared Decision Making/Collaboration
Leadership Skills...........................109
Comprehension of the Urban Context Leadership......112
Strong Communications Skills.......................114
Change Leadership Skills...........................116
Entrepreneurial Leadership Skills..................118
Overall Leadership Skills..........................121
Open-Ended Questions...............................128
Question 48: How Staff is Held Accountable
By Principal: High-Performing Schools.......128
Question 48: How Staff is Held Accountable
By Principal: Low-Performing Schools........128
Question 49: How Leadership is Shared by
Principal: High-Performing Schools..........131
Question 49: How Leadership is Shared by
Principal: Low-Performing Schools...........131
x


Question 50: Special Programs That Have
Been Started/Promoted by Principal: High-
Performing Schools..........................134
Question 50: Special Programs That Have
Been Started/Promoted by Principal: Low-
Performing Schools..........................135
Conclusions..............................................138
7. DISCUSSION, LIMITATIONS, IMPLICATIONS AND
CONCLUSIONS..............................................139
Discussion............................................. 140
Study Limitations........................................144
Implications.............................................147
Conclusions..............................................150
Final Thoughts...........................................153
APPENDIX
A. UCD Human Subjects Research Committee Cover Sheet..........155
B. Schools Participating in the Study.........................158
C. Preliminary Approval Letters: State and District...........161
D. Preliminary Approval Letters: Northeast School District....166
E. School Letters and Participant Consent Forms...............168
F. Survey Instructions and Surveys............................174
G. Survey Follow-up Letters...................................198
H. Complete Survey Data.......................................202
xi


REFERENCES


FIGURES
Figure
3.1 Effective Urban School Model.........................................39
3.2 Effective Urban School Principal Behaviors Model: Integration of
Effective Leadership...............................................50
4.1 Effective Urban School Principal Behaviors (EUSPB) Model.............68
6.1 Instructional Leadership Scale by School Performance: Principals....105
6.2 Instructional Leadership Scale by School Performance: Teachers......106
6.3 Instructional Leadership Scale by School Performance: Parents.......106
6.4 Problem-Solving Leadership Scale by School Performance: Principals..107
6.5 Problem-Solving Leadership Scale by School Performance: Teachers....108
6.6 Problem-Solving Leadership Scale by School Performance: Parents.....109
6.7 Shared Decision Making Scale by School Performance: Principals......110
6.8 Shared Decision Making Scale by School Performance: Teachers........Ill
6.9 Shared Decision Making Scale by School Performance: Parents.........111
6.10 Comprehension of the Urban Context Scale by School Performance:
Principals........................................................112
6.11 Comprehension of the Urban Context Scale by School Performance:
Teachers..........................................................113
6.12 Comprehension of the Urban Context Scale by School Performance:
xiii


Parents
113
6.13 Strong Communication Scale by School Performance: Principals.......114
6.14 Strong Communication Scale by School Performance: Teachers.........115
6.15 Strong Communication Scale by School Performance: Parents..........116
6.16 Change Leadership Scale by School Performance: Principals..........117
6.17 Change Leadership Scale by School Performance: Teachers............117
6.18 Change Leadership Scale by School Performance: Parents.............118
6.19 Entrepreneurial Leadership Scale by School Performance: Principals.119
6.20 Entrepreneurial Leadership Scale by School Performance: Teachers...120
6.21 Entrepreneurial Leadership Scale by School Performance: Parents....121
6.22 Overall Leadership Scale by School Performance: Principals.........122
6.23 Overall Leadership Scale by School Performance: Teachers...........123
6.24 Overall Leadership Scale by School Performance: Parents............124
xiv


TABLES
Table
3.1 Qualities of Effective Urban Schools..................................30
3.2 Effective Urban School Model: Behaviors of the Principal.............41
3.3 Effective Urban School Model: Urban Student Context..................43
3.4 Effective Urban School Model: Instructional Context..................44
3.5 Effective Urban School Model: School Achievement Context.............46
3.6 Effective Urban School Model: School Climate.........................48
6.1 School Descriptors....................................................99
6.2 Respondent Demographics.............................................101
6.3 Mean Ranks of Significant Findings among the Scales between
High-Performing Schools and Low-Performing Schools by
Questionnaire Version.............................................104
6.4 Mean Ranks of Significant Findings between High-Performing
Schools and Low-Performing Schools by Questionnaire Version.......125
6.5 Q48. How Staff is Held Accountable by Principal.....................129
6.6 Q49. How Leadership is Shared by Principal..........................132
6.7 Q50. Special Programs that have been Started/Promoted by Principal.135
xv


CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
Todays schools exist in a time of intensive public scrutiny. Legislative
mandates (e.g., No Child Left Behind Act, 2001) and media attention have placed
much focus on school accountability as measured by standardized student test scores
(Meier, 2002; Southern Regional Education Board, 2001). In some states, an
assignment of a school performance rating or school report card further promotes an
accountability agenda (Berliner & Biddle, 1997; Henley, 2001).
The pressure to improve student achievement has affected schools across our
nation. Perhaps most affected by todays accountability laws are schools in urban
settings (Engvall, 1996; Meir, 2002; Manpower Demonstration Research
Corporation, 2002). Issues of poverty and low student achievement challenge
educators in these schools (Dunne, 2001; Meier, 1995, 2002). Among the challenges
are reform and program change aimed at failing urban schools. At times, with little
knowledge of how these improvement efforts align with student needs, it appears that
trying anything is better than the pending threat of school reconstitution, vouchers,
and charter-school takeovers (Diamond & Spillane, 2001; Fullan, 1999; Glazer,
1993).
1


The most critical individual in these schools is the principal (Englert, 1993;
McEwan, 2003; Sammons, Hillman, & Mortimore, 1995; Whitaker, 2003). Often
responsible for facilitating change, serving as instructional leader, and taking on the
task of change and reform implementation, the principal is a key player in school
accountability (Barth, 1990; Fullan, 1991, 1997). With the many challenges urban
school settings present, the principals role in leading instructional change and new
program implementation is critical to school success (Hopkins, 1999; Northwest
Regional Educational Laboratory, 2001a; Wang, Haertel, & Walberg, 1995). Serving
as the leader of problem-solving and instructional practices and as a role model for
change and reform, a principals leadership behavior determines whether or not a
school will be effective (Bearden, Benbry, & Babu, 1995; Bredeson, 1989; McEwan,
2003). Recognizing the importance of the principal specific to reform and
improvement, particularly in urban school settings leads to the need for further
exploration of those behaviors and/or leadership qualities that those principals who
reside in the most successful urban schools demonstrate. By identifying the
behaviors of the most effective urban principals, ideas, theories, and patterns of
behaviors may be observed that if identified could translate to positive findings
specific to addressing the main focus of this study: The behaviors demonstrated by
effective urban school principals.
2


Background of the Study
The research states the important role that school principals play in the school
setting: The behavior of the school principal is the single most important factor
supporting high quality educational programs, and while schools make a difference in
what students learn, principals make a difference in schools (Bredeson, 1989, p. 29).
Principals who lead todays schools are leaders who demonstrate the
importance of change and reform. They often act as the catalyst for change (Fullan,
1997, 1999, 2002). Their leadership style is collaborative and team oriented. These
school leaders work side by side with staff to analyze test data and align instruction to
students academic needs (Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, 2001b;
Wang, Reynolds, & Walberg, 1993). Their goal is to encourage teachers to explore
and discover, always prodding their staff to find better ways of addressing urban
school achievement (Barth, 1990; Kretovics & Nussel, 1994; Meir, 2002). Effective
urban school leaders are good problem solvers and encourage others to also become
good problem solvers (Crockett, 1996). They are not experts in addressing low
student performance, but rather strive to lead cohesive teams of educators to find
answers together (Koschoreck, 2001; Murphy & Louis, 1995). These principals teach
others to lead, by sharing the leadership challenge (Crow, Hausman, & Scribner,
2002; Pavan & Reid, 1990).
This shift from principal as all-knowing expert to collaborative leader and co-
problem solver requires specific skills and behaviors (Barth, 1990; Whitaker, 2003).
3


With significant differences between urban and suburban settings, the need for highly
skilled leadership in urban schools is accentuated (Engvall, 1993; Hannaway &
Talbert, 1993). Specifically, urban principals face large populations of multicultural,
at-risk students who are reluctant and complex learners and for whom traditional
pedagogy does not connect them to learning. Challenging home environments may
engulf these students in poverty and their overwhelmed parents frequently contribute
to dysfunctional, non-supportive family behaviors (Bames, 2002; Cartwright, 1993;
Meier, 1995; NWREL, 2001a).
Urban principals who most effectively lead urban schools demonstrate
specific beliefs about urban learners (Engvall, 1993; Kretovics & Nussel, 1994;
NWREL, 2001b). Often more understanding of the many challenges urban students
face, they maintain high expectations for students (Bames, 2002; Sammons et al.,
1995). They connect home and school by being grounded and knowledgeable in the
students family background and culture, often helping teachers understand how these
tie to instructional outcomes. Effective leaders encourage staff to rethink
instructional strategies so that they are more aligned to the students learning style
and cognitive needs (Bames, 2002; Valverde, 1988).
Effective urban principals look at test scores as signs of academic needs, yet
they also look beyond test scores and place students at center stage (Meier, 2002;
Williams, 1994). Programs are created and implemented that meet student needs
rather than implementing canned programs (NWREL, 2001b; Wang et al., 1993).
4


The principal views urban students as complex, diverse learners who challenge
instructors skills. They view these students as resilient rather than as victims of their
circumstances (Barnes, 2002; Bickart & Wollin, 1997; Jones, 1991; NWREL, 2001a).
They view these students with great hope.
Successful urban principals set a positive, proactive tone (Bearden et al.,
1995). They create a climate of high expectations (Dunne & Delisio, 2001; Edmonds,
1979). They are more connected to those they lead in facing the many challenges of
urban settings (Bames, 2002; Osterman & Sullivan, 1994). They invite followers to
engage in problem-solving while discovering ways to improve achievement and
eliminate learning roadblocks (Crockett, 1996). Principals do not leave students
academic success to change, rather, they and their staff continually evaluate student
performance while focusing on increased alignment of student academic needs and
instruction (Bottoms & ONeill, 2001; Sammons et al., 1995). They encourage
continuous instructional dialogue, keeping the focus on how students learn most
effectively (Meier, 1995).
These leaders are often change agents in urban school settings (Fullan, 1997,
2002). They promote acceptance of ambiguity and teach others to deal with conflict
(Hopkins, 1999). They share decision making and serve as instructional role models
for staff (Valverde, 1988). They encourage creativity and model effective behaviors
for staff including worrying less about right answers and more about opportunities
to identify problems, investigate and then, ultimately try new approaches. They
5


motivate staff to become disciples of learning while exploring new ways of thinking
(Kretovics & Nussel, 1994; Morgan, 1997; Tye, 1994).
Effective urban leaders address the challenges of diverse learners by creating
diverse educator teams. Instead of encouraging a fix-it approach, they promote staff
to be creative problem solvers who think outside the boundaries of the mainstream or
ordinary school experience (Crockett, 1996; Senge, 1999). They constantly remind
staff of the school vision and clarify its purpose. They hold their teachers
accountable while also offering much support (Bearden, et al., 1995; Dunne, 2001).
A critical attribute of successful urban principals is their ability to
comprehend the full context of the urban school setting (Barnes, 2002; Hannaway &
Talbert, 1993; Valverde, 1988). These school leaders assess how best to implement
reform while recognizing the many roadblocks in urban settings. They make the
necessary adjustments and align the schools instructional program and service
delivery with student needs (Wang et al., 1995). They help transform a culture of
failure into a culture of promise by recognizing that urban schools exist in a very
different context with unique challenges quite different from the suburban setting
(Catania, 2001; Riggins, 2001). They believe that learning resides within the
emerging cloud of poverty, family and neighborhood trauma, and unanticipated
circumstances outside the school environment (Cartwright, 1993; Meier, 1995; Payne,
2001).
6


Effective urban principals are in-tune with the many subsystems of their
schools (e.g., staff, students, parents, community) and use their skills to coordinate
and influence these systems to improve student achievement (Englert, 1993; Payne,
2001). Those who are most successful demonstrate their influential skills by being
exceptional instructional leaders and collaborators. These principals lead in a
difficult environment yet they possess a clear sense of how to eliminate learning
roadblocks (Meier, 1995). The schools lack of resources requires them to be
entrepreneurial (Bames, 2002; Englert, 1993). Their battle consists of constant
energy and investment and hard work with no guarantee of student performance gains
(Meier, 1995). The obstacles that they face are so complex that, at times, these
leaders find more questions than answers (Bames, 2002; Cartwright, 1993).
Value of the Study
In a time of legislative mandates and push for greater accountability, urban
leaders face pressure to improve and recreate urban schools (Bearden, et al., 1995;
Charles A. Dana Center, 1999). In order for needed changes to occur, more research
needs to be completed specific to urban school leadership (Sammons et al., 1995;
Wang et al., 1995). Todays educational arena leaves little, if any, room for urban
school leaders to fail. The expectation for todays urban principals is one of
unequivocal success even if that means educating one student at a time (ONeill,
2001). The role these leaders play in reforming urban schools is significant (Bames,
7


2002; Englert, 1993). It is therefore important for researchers to study and analyze
the specific behaviors exhibited by effective urban school principals. This research
could lead to answers on educational effectiveness and descriptors of behaviors that
other urban principals could emulate.
Despite the magnitude of research completed on effective schools (Edmonds,
1979, 1980; Hopkins, 1999; Sammons et al., 1995; Wang et al., 1995), much of this
research offers little in-depth information on the role of the principal. Additionally,
much of the research often cannot be generalized to urban settings (Hannaway &
Talbert, 1993). Few studies have focused solely on the urban school principals role
as it relates to student achievement in urban settings.
In a time of difficulty for urban schools, great opportunities arise. Increased
research on how the best urban school leaders perform, may help one component of
urban school improvement. If the behaviors of the most effective urban principals
can be identified and then conveyed to other urban principals, then perhaps sound
approaches as to how best to lead urban schools to high performance can be
established.
Thesis Organization
This thesis begins with Chapter One, the introduction to the study. The
introduction discusses the purpose of the study which is the need to identify those
behaviors which the most effective urban principals demonstrate. The background of
8


the study explores the research literature. The value of the study states the potential
this study has to contribute to urban school effectiveness research.
Chapters Two, Three, and Four present literature reviews. Chapter Two
focuses on principal leadership, Chapter Three reviews effective schools research,
and Chapter Four presents research pertaining to change and reform. Chapter Five
discusses methodology, addressing the research process for this study, including the
study design, sample selections, and data analysis. Chapter Six presents the results
and Chapter Seven focuses on discussion, conclusions, limitations, and implications,
9


CHAPTER TWO
PRINCIPAL LEADERSHIP
Defining the essence of exceptional leadership is an age old challenge. For
centuries, mankind has studied and written about leadership and great leaders in an
effort to create a definition. In the end, much of what has been written on leadership
and exceptional leaders better describes personality traits as opposed to specific
leadership qualities (Rost, 1993).
Outstanding leaders are described as individuals who connect with followers
in a way that results in a transformation for the betterment of both leader and follower
(Bums, 1978). They are people who inspire others to follow them, invoking their
enthusiasm and devotion, ultimately committing to promotion of leaderships vision
(McEwan, 2003; Stoner & Freeman, 1992; Whitaker, 2003). Often, researchers
describe exceptional leaders as problem solvers and collaborators. These are
individuals who easily process ambiguity and change, often themselves acting as
catalysts for change (Deming, 1994; Fullan, 1991, 2002, 2003; Wheatley, 1992).
Despite the many descriptions of what exemplary leadership looks like and
how these leaders behave, much of what is written inadequately grasps and
communicates leaderships true meaning (Rost, 1993). This is best observed in a
10


conversation noted between Bennis and a fellow colleague. Upon discussion with his
colleague of a proposed study on leadership that would identify the basic
characteristics of exceptional leaders, Bennis friend responded Look, the only thing
we can say about leadership is that its like pornography. You cant describe it; you
cant define it, but you know it when you see it (Bennis, 1999, p. 8).
The dilemma of describing and defining outstanding leader behaviors is a
critical aspect for defining effective urban leadership. The important role principals
play in creating effective schools makes being able to describe and define effective
urban leadership behaviors even more relevant. Yet as previously stated, being able
to clearly define leadership excellence is in itself an elusive process.
This challenge of leadership definition is often observed in the educational
arena. In 1983, the National Commission on Excellence in Education released a
document entitled A Nation at Risk. This document sounded the alarm in our nations
public schools. A system that had been considered one of high performance was now
being described as mediocre. As the public began to explore how to improve our
nations schools, a plethora of reform ideas began to unfold. Research focused on
school leadership as an important piece of the reform puzzle. Specifically, the
important role the principal plays in issues related to reform was identified (Fullan,
1993). Also significant were emerging patterns of leadership behavior that effective
principals demonstrate (Barth, 1990).
11


As the need for school reform grows, a greater focus is being placed on
leadership in the educational arena. Research continues to highlight the role of
principal leadership in all aspects of school success and confirms the link between
effective school leadership and effective schools (Barth, 1990; Ethridge, 2001;
Fullan, 1988,1991,1993,2002; McEwan, 2003; NAESP, 2003; Whitaker, 2003). It
is imperative to be able to describe what effective principal leadership entails because
it is evident that leadership is a key component to successful school reform and
improvement (Barnes, 2002; Fullan, 1999,2002).
Studies of successful schools indicates that the most effective school leaders
demonstrate leadership behaviors that support and in fact enhance school
effectiveness (Barth, 1990; Fullan, 1999,2002; McEwan, 2003; Whitaker, 2003). In
reviewing the literature on leader behaviors, issues such as systems thinking, leader-
follower relationships, and responsibility and power all become significant
descriptors of the most skilled school leaders.
Systems Thinking as an Effective Way to Lead Urban Schools
As principal leadership becomes critical to school success, consideration of
the importance of the systems that exist within our school organizations is required.
Leadership is impacted by the structural systems it serves. Effective school leaders
who are able to understand the structures of their existing systems can grasp how they
connect with each other (Payne, 2001; Payne & Sommers, 2001). Organizations are
12


interdependent, with decisions made in one area effecting another. Organizations
(schools) are organic and continuously changing. Effective leaders who approach
leadership from a systems perspective demonstrate the ability to be continuous
problem solvers. They become comfortable with the fluidity that the ever-changing
system presents. This metanoia or shift of mind in leadership, implores leaders to
constantly ask questions, expand their perspective, and take a more open ended
approach to leading (Senge, 1990; Wheatley, 1992).
Senge (1990) describes an approach to systems thinking that best creates
systems-focused leaders. Among these principles are personal mastery, a behavior
that requires leaders to become learners, constantly seeking clarification in their
vision of what is important and essential. The second discipline, mental models, asks
leaders to examine their own filters on how they view the world. Effective leaders
are aware of their generalizations and assumptions about the world. The next two
disciplines, shared vision and team learning, are effective leader behaviors that
engage followers. These disciplines require leaders to focus followers on a shared
purpose and to then create a team spirit that invites exploration, conflict, and shared
learning. The final discipline is systems thinking. This discipline requires an
effective leader to integrate all the disciplines. He/she will be adept at interweaving
them into the whole of their leadership practice rather than addressing them
individually.
13


The integration of systems into leadership practice allows leaders to view their
organization as organic entities which fluctuate between order and chaos.
Interactions between leader and follower create a balance of engagement that is much
like a live and changing organism. Systems thinking leaders consider feedback loops
of information and invite disequilibrium. This behavior shift in leading others from a
point of stability to a more fluid, adaptive mode, is more organization needs driven.
Leaders look at the organizations they lead as open to change and diverse
perspectives. This approach to leading is an amoebic construct that is constantly
changing, evolving, and emerging, producing a self-renewal in the organization
(Wheatley, 1992).
If self-renewal is an outcome of systems thinking leadership, then this
leadership model may be of value in application by urban principals. Greater
awareness on the part of urban leaders of how the systems they lead interconnect is
valuable information. How to become more comfortable with ambiguity, lack of
routine and the complexity that swirls around them are also important qualities for
these principals to develop (NAESP, 2003; Payne, 2001; Payne & Sommers, 2001).
In the many systems within which urban principals interact, they play a key role in
setting the tone for exploration and seeing chaos as an opportunity for growth,
change, and learning (Barnes, 2002; Goldring & Rallis, 1993; Senge, 1990; Wheatley,
1992; Whitaker, 2003).
14


In urban settings, the idea of systems learning and organizations as organic
entities is critical. Principals attempts to lead schools with dilapidated buildings,
poor materials, incompetent or burned out staff and intense poverty creates an
atmosphere of chaos and unpredictability (Kozol, 1991; Payne, 2001). The systems
urban principals lead are often dysfunctional bureaucracies that create roadblocks to
change. The lack of participation from parents due to greater family dysfunction, low
education level of parents, and poverty, create home support systems that are non-
functional or non-existent. Children come to school hungry, traumatized, and
unprepared to learn (Barnes, 2002; Dunne 2001; Manpower Demonstration Research
Corporation, 2002). The urban principal often finds ways to create systems within
their schools that take on the responsibilities of families (Cartwright, 1993; Meier,
1995; Payne, 2001). The principal, many times, acts as the creator, implementer, and
mediator between school and home assuring the two interconnect and offer support
to students (Payne, 2001).
An example of a system imposed into urban schools as a way to address
inequities of learning is compensatory programs (e.g., Title I). The original intent of
these programs was to equalize learning and resources for urban students. The
introduction of these programs into already established systems, at times, created
more chaos than help. Measures often attempted to fix problems while failing to
evaluate what systems already existed and how the new system being imposed would
fit in. An assumption was made that the program or new system was the answer to
15


the existing problem without a clear sense of other existing systems or structures
(Howe, 1997).
Another important skill systems thinking brings to urban principals is the
ability to focus on a more global perspective. Often laws and mandates force urban
principals to define effectiveness as a single variable, test score results (e.g., No Child
Left Behind, 2001). In considering the systems within urban settings and their ability
or inability to interact or function, a broader picture is created. For example, test
score results may be an outcome of instruction, but the fact that urban students often
come to school with little background knowledge or readiness for learning also plays
a role in test results (Berry, 1996; Howe, 1997; Meier, 2002).
Current legislation like No Child Left Behind (2001) demonstrates an imposed
variable on school systems that is more stagnant them organic. By focusing on test
results, school success is determined. The need for principals to analyze and respond
to functional and dysfunctional systems within their schools will be essential.
Exploration of instructional strategies and ongoing clarification of vision will also be
critical as present systems are recreated. Some systems that have been in place for
many years may experience chaos. Those within the systems may feel a sense of
ambiguity and ungroundedness as new structures are created and old ones cease to
exist. This organic and uncomfortable process will allow for new perspectives to
emerge and reform to begin (Senge, 1990; Wheatley, 1992; NAESP, 2003).
16


The Important Role of Leader-Follower Relationship for
Urban Principals
As leaders engage followers in reform, leader-follower relationships will be of
great importance (Fullan, 2002). Effective urban leaders will have to be well
connected to those they lead (Fullan, 2002). They will anticipate issues as they occur
and, in their wisdom, these leaders will help followers to become comfortable with
ambiguity as experience evolves (Fullan, 2002,2003). They will continually focus
followers on the common purpose and teach them to think for themselves as they
invite followers to themselves become leaders (Bottoms & ONeill, 2001; Graham,
1995).
In todays urban schools, the need to create leaders from the teacher ranks is a
necessity (Barth, 1990; Bottoms & ONeill, 2001). It will be important for principals
to share their own expertise but equally important for teachers to lead and present
their own perspectives. Ultimately successful schools will occur as a result of sharing
the responsibility for change (Fullan, 1991,1993; McEwan, 2003; Whitaker, 2003).
This dance between leader and follower creates interactions that can be
described as either transactional or transformational (Bums, 1978). Transactional
leadership is described as an exchange between leader and follower for the purpose of
an exchange of valued things. Transformational leadership occurs in a manner that
creates an exchange between leader and follower that brings both to a greater level of
motivation and morality. Both support a common purpose (p. 20).
17


Transactional leadership has resided in our nations schools for centuries.
Principals are often more aligned with the managerial aspects of leading such as
facility, maintenance, budget, and day to day operations (Fullan, 1988,1991, 1993;
Whitaker, 2003). Reform requires more transformational leadership skills from
school leaders. The ability of principals to collaborate with followers on the
instructional program, clarify the vision, and focus followers on the common purpose
are all part of reform (Barnes, 2002; Fullan, 2002). The effective urban principal
creates a sense among followers of shared responsibility and exploration. Never
certain whose leadership may emerge, the effective urban leader serves more in the
role of lead teacher, inciting others to come forward (Bottoms & ONeill, 2001).
Problems and issues become the responsibility of everyone to solve. This includes
the larger school community. If students are not achieving, everyone is in need of
response (i.e., home, school, neighborhood, businesses) (Payne, 2001). This shift to
shared problem-solving and decision making invokes urban principals to facilitate
more groups than previously experienced and also to encourage others within the
groups to develop their own leadership skills (Meier, 1995, 2002; Whitaker, 2003).
Along with demonstrating facilitation skills comes the opportunity to create
interpersonal connection and motivation within a more diverse setting (Fullan, 2002).
Urban principals modeling, for staff, of acceptance and understanding of diverse
cultures, hopefully results in abetter comprehension of learner needs (Payne, 2001).
Particularly important is an understanding of the students home experience and how
18


it connects to the school experience (Payne, 2001). Each should support the other. In
making program decisions based on research models, urban leaders may miss the
important role the students home life plays (Payne, 2001). Better connections
between home and school create a school setting more grounded in a culture which is
familiar to students. In some cases, this will require rethinking instructional
presentation and considering learning styles inclusive of ethnicity. Family barriers
that keep students from learning and identification of students emotional concerns as
well as cognitive concerns creates a more global perspective of the urban learner
(Payne, 2001; Valverde, 1988).
A view of the urban learner from a broader perspective allows urban
principals to invite staff to look beyond students test scores as the sole indicator of
achievement. Taking students from their current academic level and creating an
attitude of hope and high expectations is a perspective effective urban principals
communicate to staff. Putting the student as center stage instead of trying to fit them
to pre- determined academic programs will better connect students to learning
(Englert, 1993; NAESP, 2003; Payne, 2001; Payne & Sommers, 2001). In essence,
this shift from urban student as victim to urban student as a complex and diversified
learner, introduces the concept of the resiliency which these students can possess
despite their difficult environmental and family backgrounds (Bickart & Wollin,
1997; Jones, 1991; NWREL, 2001a).
19


Urban principals ability to create settings which meet the needs of diversified
learners requires strong skills in communication and interpersonal communication.
These attributes coupled with their ability to serve their staff as mentors, trainers and
instructional coaches, allow principals to further develop knowledge of what students
need and what staff can offer. Effective urban leaders identify the gap between the
ability of staff and the needs of students (Boss, 1999; Fredericks, 1993; Meier, 2003;
Payne, 2001).
Urban principals who successfully lead their schools through reform and
improvement demonstrate strong problem-solving skills and problem interpretation.
Their perspective is more positive and future oriented. Obstacles are seen more as
challenges. The strength of their leadership is in their connection with those they lead
and the issues that the school faces (McEwan, 2003; Osterman & Sullivan, 1994;
Payne & Sommers, 2001).
The Role of Responsibility and Power for Urban Principals
The power and responsibility of the principal is evident: The behavior of the
school principal is the single most important factor supporting high quality
educational programs, and while schools make a difference in what students leam,
principals make a difference in schools (Bredeson, 1989, pp. 298-299). Principals
are often the gatekeepers of change. They are key to school change, improvement,
and success. By inviting individualism while facilitating a collective goal, followers
20


have the opportunity to share the power. The shift in leading followers to engage in
change rather than be forced to change, creates follower and leader experiences that
are non-linear and exploratory. Less control by leadership and greater influence by
followers often results in an emergence of change agents from the follower groups
(Fullan, 1988,1991,1993,2002,2003).
This emergence of change agents is particularly important to urban principal
leadership. The ability to help staff develop and expand their skills, results in a direct
impact to student achievement (Fullan, 1991,1993). By being able to consider
options to present program models, by encouraging teachers to lead others to
problem-solve the needs of urban students, urban principals expand their reach
beyond just staff (Payne, 2001). Their leadership then serves as a role model for a
network of others on how change can best occur. Rather than a top down change
effort as is often experienced in urban school reform (e.g., School Accountability
Reports), a synergy occurs whereby the principal is leading teachers to change.
Teachers lead others to change, ultimately resulting in a network of leaders
addressing the challenging issues facing urban schools (Barnes, 2002; Fullan, 1993;
Kretovics & Nussell, 1994; Louis & Miles, 1990). The multiplicity of leaders in the
school setting is a move to more of a shared leadership experience for urban
principals (Barth, 1990; NAESP, 2003). Greenleaf (1977) discusses the need for not
only more shared leadership in school settings but also greater encouragement of
21


students in urban settings who grew up in disparity to return to those same settings as
leaders.
This concept of returning to serve those most in need Greenleaf (1977) calls
servant leadership. In education, servant leaders create a balance of power. Servant
leaders role model from their past and present experiences the ability to venture forth
in uncertain and ambiguous circumstances. They know answers will eventually
surface. This dependable certainty (p. 189) creates a picture of the leader as
someone that will help those they serve become healthier, wiser, freer, and more
autonomous.
For urban principals, the concept of servant leadership is a resourceful idea.
In the suburbs adults typically focus on how to best serve the needs of students.
Achievement is a shared goal. In fact superior achievement is a common expectation
(Kozol, 1991). In urban settings, poverty often leads adults to focus on family
survival (Payne, 2001). Achievement may be a secondary goal. It is critical for
principals to convey to staff and community the tremendous impact literacy, love of
learning, and academic expectations can have. Staff expectations and belief in
students potential convey a feeling of hope and a future to students. Urban
principals ability to focus on expectations and help staff transform curriculum and
instruction so as to create opportunities of academic hope for urban students is
leaderships best example of servant leadership (Greenleaf, 1977; Meier, 1995;
Payne, 2001; Williams &Newcombe, 1994).
22


This manipulation of power for the good of others may categorize true urban
leadership power. This power is more dramatic and far reaching. Urban leaders who
utilize this power tend to move beyond the problem and create opportunity. They
employ imagination and creativity. They have the power to arouse strong, positive
emotion in others. The sharing of the leadership responsibility creates an amiticia
(p. 32) or a relationship of mutual obligation. Leader and follower share power and
authority (Zalesnik, 1989).
In urban settings, power and influence flow beyond the school itself (Meier,
1995; 2002). Those outside the school such as neighbors, local businesses, churches,
even adults affiliated with the school through others, play a significant role.
Principals partnerships with resources outside the school creates networks for
potential mentors, tutors, and financial contributors (NAESP, 2001). Effective urban
principals create a web of support that brings diverse support to urban settings
(Hammiller, 1994) (see Figure 3.1, p. 39).
Conclusion
Effective Principal leadership is both a powerful and transcending force. In
urban settings, the many challenges encountered, create environments of learning that
demand much from staff and leaders. The Principal is critical in these settings. Their
leadership skills and talents directly impact schools and often determine success or
failure (Bredeson, 1995; Barth, 1990; McEwan, 2003; Whitaker, 2003).
23


CHAPTER THREE
EFFECTIVE SCHOOLS
It is a time of great difficulty for Americas urban schools and those principals
leading them. Increased accountability legislation has defined high test scores as the
ultimate measure of school effectiveness (Charles A. Dana Center, 1999; Meier,
2002). In urban schools where low student test performance is the norm, the critical
question today is What components of a school most directly impact improved
student achievement and performance? (Bearden et al., 1995; Hopkins, 1999).
As this inquiry into what creates effective schools (as presently defined by test
scores) unfolds, the important role the principal plays in urban school success is often
stated in research (Hopkins, 1999; NWREL, 2001b; Richard, 2001). The behaviors
the most effective principals demonstrate, become the tools that they use to create
positive school climates, student-centered instructional programs, and environments
of student academic success (Johnson, Livingston, Schwartz, & Slate, 2000;
Sweeney, 1982).
Theoretical Framework
As stated in Chapter Two, school principals play a critical role in creating
effective schools (Pavan & Reid, 1990; McEwan, 2003; Wang, Haertel, & Walberg,
24


1995; Whitaker, 2003). The research that confirms the important role of school
principals in leading effective schools, is the framework for this study on the
behaviors of those principals who lead effective urban schools. The research
discussed in this chapter on effective schools, contains the information on the
behaviors of those principals who most effectively lead successful schools (Hopkins,
1999; McEwan, 2003; Purkey & Smith, 1993).
Effective urban school leadership research describes the most effective
principals as change agents (Barnes, 2002; Fullan, 1997, 2002; MDRC, 2002). They
are often seen as collaborators and instigators of thinking and discourse (Crow et al.,
2002; Murphy, 1994). In the urban context, these leaders are also able to comprehend
and interpret for themselves and others the context within which school success
occurs. Inclusive of their comprehension of the urban context is the role culture,
family, and poverty issues play within the urban school environment (Hannaway &
Talbert, 1993; Payne, 2001; Valverde, 1988).
These school leaders demonstrate skills of instructional leadership and invite
staff to participate in knowledge acquisition through inquiry (Barnes, 2002; Bearden
et al., 1995; Tye, 1994; Kretovics & Nussel, 1994). They create communities of
learners (Barth, 1990; DuFour & Eaker, 1998; Single, 1995). They are a key
component of school effectiveness (Bredeson, 1989; Hopkins, 1999; McEwan, 2003).
25


Effective Schools: An Introduction
In the 1960s, the majority of Americans were confident that the schools that their
children attended were able to teach a variety of students and were, in fact, doing it
well (Austin, 1979). As the 1960s progressed and the 1970s began, studies
questioned how well students were learning and whether schools had significant
impact on student performance (Coleman, Campbell, Hobson, McPartland, Mood, &
Winfield, 1966; Jencks, Smith, Ackland, Bane, Cohen, & Ginter, 1972). Conclusions
from these studies proposed that student achievement was not related to instructional
events or experiences a student had in school but rather more directly to family and
the childs background and socio-economic status.
This research created a great stir in the educational community. Educators
rejected Colemans findings. One researcher in particular, Ronald Edmonds (1979,
1980) questioned whether family background could truly have so much influence as
to be the direct cause of student achievement. He set out to show that schools effect
student achievement and that the quality of the school (i.e., its effectiveness) is
critical to students ability to demonstrate academic performance. Edmonds proposed
that test results are determined by how effectively a school teaches its students rather
than by the socio-economic status of a students family.
In an effort to prove his premise and discount the Coleman and Jencks
research, Edmonds (1979,1980) began what today is referred to as effective schools
research. His first study focused on an analysis of the schools in Detroit, Michigan,
26


under the Model Cities Neighborhoods Project. This study concluded that some
urban schools outperform others in testing despite the low socio-economic status of
their students. Edmonds (1980) began to develop theories about the behaviors of staff
who worked in these schools and the atmosphere emphasized by school
administration.
Seeking further research opportunities, Edmonds accepted an appointment as
Chancellor of Instruction for the New York City Public Schools. His studies further
expanded his hypothesis that certain factors make one school more effective than
another. Among those components that contribute to more effective schools,
according to Edmonds, are the style of the principal, the schools instructional focus,
the schools climate, expectations held for students, and the use of assessments
(Edmonds, 1979,1980). These findings have today become the framework for
continuing research studies on effective schools (Hopkins, 1999; Wang et al., 1995).
Implications of the Effective Schools Research for
Todays Urban Schools
Edmonds (1979) research began a dialogue in the educational community
that focused on disadvantaged children and their ability to perform despite their
impoverished backgrounds. It also served as the impetus for researchers to explore
how schools, serving these children and performing successfully, accomplished it
(Edmonds, 1980; Hopkins, 1999). Edmonds (1979) inadvertently began the school
27


accountability movement at a time when the term was not even defined. He also
introduced the concept of equity in education by often stating that children of the poor
had the right to an equitable education. In fact, Edmonds believed that schools had a
significant enough impact to lift poor children out of their poverty. Progress
requires public policy ... that begins by making the poor less poor and ends by
making them not poor at all (p. 15).
Edmonds died prematurely, but the impact of his research has come full circle.
Increased legislation, focusing on school accountability, has rejuvenated the research
communitys interest in identifying qualities of effective schools, specifically those in
urban settings (Barth, Haycock, Jackson, Mora, Ruiz, 1999; Charles A. Dana Center,
1999; Meier, 2002). Legislation such as No Child Left Behind Act (2001) and
Colorados School Accountability Report (Henley, 2001) are examples. In the case
of Colorados School Accountability Report, actually labeling each school with a
grade of excellent to unsatisfactory, poor performing urban schools are faced with
even greater accountability. Add to this the presidents push for accountability
through the No Child Left Behind legislation, and it becomes obvious that as
accountability rises in our nations schools the need to know what makes schools
effective is paramount.
Just as Edmonds set out to show the impact of public schools on student
performance, todays researchers of effective schools seek to learn how schools
become effective. Many of the same issues in Edmonds (1979, 1980) research
28


prevails today but with increased urgency of the looming threat of charter schools,
state takeovers of low-performing schools, and private-school vouchers (Glazer,
1993; Hopkins, 1999).
Those factors Edmonds originally described as typical of effective schools
are still prevalent in present-day findings (Hopkins, 1999; Koschoreck, 2001; Wang
et al., 1995; Sweetland & Hoy, 2000). They provide todays researchers with a
foundation and framework from which to study urban schools and further explore
how to create the effective and accountable school settings in which to best serve
urban students. These factors are key in establishing the foundation and framework
for this proposed study on behaviors of effective urban school principals.
Qualities of Todays Effective Urban Schools
Much is heard and read in the media today about failing urban schools. At
almost any adult gathering, when the topic of schools arise, an avalanche of
commentary ensues. Individuals often cite examples of their own experiences with
poor performing schools or quote at least one news article on the dismal performance
of our nations public schools (Berliner & Biddle, 1997; NAESP, 2003).
Despite the reality that many urban schools struggle academically, many
urban schools also demonstrate academic accomplishment and do, in fact, succeed
(Charles A. Dana Center, 1999; Meier, 2002). These schools are often described as
schools that meet and exceed students emotional and academic needs while being
29


able to focus on specific goals that result in high student achievement (Bearden et al.,
1995; Campbell & Campbell, 1999; Payne, 2001). These schools demonstrate a
specific set of behaviors and qualities that become their indicators of success (see
Table 3.1, p. 30).
Table 3.1
Qualities of Effective Urban Schools
QUALITY CHARACTERISTICS
Urban Context Leadership and staff are able to align unique needs of urban learners to instructional strategies and programs (Barnes, 2002; Boss, 1999; Cartwright, 1993; Hannaway & Talbert, 1993; Kozol, 1991; Kretovics & Nussel, 1994; Meier, 1995, 2002; Payne, 2001).
Discipline Staff attitudes promote student acceptance of responsibility and problem-solving. They practice preventive discipline to create a sense of fairness while holding high behavioral expectations (Barnes, 2002; Bearden, Benry, & Babu, 1995; Glanz, 1993; Kretovics & Nussel, 1994; Meier, 1995; Payne, 2001; Single, 1995; Wang, Reynolds, & Walberg, 1993).
Parental Involvement School encourages parents to participate in family support services. Many schools conduct home conferences. Volunteer programs are fluid and unconventional (Allen, 1991; Barth, 1991; Bearden et al., 1995; Charles A. Dana Center, 1999; Johnson et al., 2000; Louis & Miles, 1990).
School Climate School offers positive, welcoming environment that has a sense of order and safety. The staff focus is on service to children and families (Brookover, et al, 1978; Cartwright, 1993; Paven & Reid, 1990; Payne & Sommers, 2001; Wang, et al., 1993).
30


Table 3.1 (continued)
QUALITY CHARACTERISTICS
Teachers Teachers communicate high student expectations by establishing specific goals and continuously monitoring student progress. Instruction is data driven and aligned to standards. Lessons integrate high level skills and problem-solving. By understanding student home life and culture, teachers also become advocates for their students. Curriculum focuses on reading, writing, and math (Adelman & Walking Eagle, 1997; Bearden et al., 1995; Behr & Bachelor, 1981; Bickart & Wolin, 1997; Charles A. Dana Center, 1999; Dunne, 2001; Esquith, 2003; ONeil, 2001).
Principal The principal also has high student expectations and, as such, is the schools instructional leader. He/she demonstrates involvement and shared leadership through classroom visibility and collaborative staff planning. He/she sets the tone for success (Alenander, 1992; Barnes, 2002; Barth, 1991; Bearden et al., 1995; Bottoms & ONeil, 2001; Catania, 2001; Diamond & Spillane, 2001; Dunne, 2001; Fullan, 2002; Fredericks, 1993).
Urban Context
When such successful schools are closely observed, despite unique and
challenging issues such as poverty and lack of resources, these schools manage to
reach students so that learning occurs (Barnes, 2002; McEwan, 2003; Meier, 1995;
Payne, 2001). Within urban settings, it becomes quickly apparent that the context
within which these schools reside is an important factor that administrators, teachers,
and parents should take into consideration when evaluating school effectiveness
(Hannaway & Talbert, 1993; Meier, 2002; Valverde, 1988). Once the urban context
31


is fully comprehended, schools are better able to align their unique needs with the
specific needs students require in programs and instructional strategies (Barnes, 2002;
Engvall, 1993; Payne, 2001).
Discipline
One aspect of urban schools to consider when examining effectiveness is
discipline. In the most effective urban schools, discipline is improved by creating a
sense of fairness while also being clear with students about behavioral expectations
(Bearden et al., 1995; Sammons, et al., 1995; Whitaker, 2003). A set of behaviors,
expectations, and attitudes are promoted that help students take responsibility for
themselves (Single, 1995). Students are also taught to become problem solvers
(Crockett, 1996; Esquith, 2003). These practices implement preventive control,
attempting to address discipline issues before they occur (Meier, 1995, 2002; Payne,
2001; Single, 1995).
Parent Involvement
In effective urban schools, parents are encouraged to come to school and be
partners in education. This, however, does not necessarily mean come to school and
volunteer. Instead, these schools encourage parents to come to school and participate
in family support services such as health care, housing assistance, or adult education
(Wang, et al., 1993).
32


These schools are more open and sensitive to parents. At times, they go to
parents for conferences rather than requiring parents to come to school. Staff attempt
to educate parents on school goals so that everyone is on the same page (Barnes,
2002; Charles A. Dana Center, 1999; Kretovics & Nussel, 1994). Unlike suburban
settings where Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) are promoted and encouraged as
the driving force for parent involvement, in the urban context these organizations are
seen as cliques that discourage parent involvement (Sammons et al., 1995).
Volunteer programs in effective urban schools tend to be more informal and
impromptu. Parents are encouraged just to drop in rather than to follow a set,
volunteer regimen. In the most effective urban schools, the staff are seen as
nonjudgmental cheerleaders for families, and they seek out ways to create meaningful
relationships with parents (Single, 1995).
School Climate
One way that urban schools create positive relationships with parents is by
working to create a positive school climate (Single, 1995). With the chaos and
poverty that often permeates students lives, the most effective urban school promotes
school climates that offer students a sense of order and safety (Johnson et al., 2000;
Wang et al., 1995). The climate of these schools is one of predictability and a
welcoming atmosphere. When parents and students come to the school, they feel a
sense of community and belonging (Engvall, 1993; Single, 1995). Staff focus is one
33


of service to children (Charles A. Dana Center, 1999). They are more responsive to
students and family needs (Bearden et al., 1995) and this positive climate contributes
to greater performance (Brookover, Beady, Flood, Schneider, & Schweitzer, 1978;
Payne, DeVol, & Smith, 2001).
Teachers
In their response to students and their specific needs, teachers in the most
effective urban schools play a critical role. The most effective teachers clearly
communicate high expectations for their students and help students to achieve set
goals (Bames, 2002; Hopkins, 1999). They are proactive with students, offer direct
instruction, and give students immediate feedback. Re-teaching occurs immediately
when concepts presented are not grasped by students (Brookover et al., 1978;
Hopkins, 1999).
Teachers match students instructional needs by providing continuous
monitoring of student progress, often using test data results to identify skill deficits.
Instruction is then aligned to specific student needs while incorporating the use of
standards. Targets for learning are made clear to students and communicated
regularly (Bames, 2002; Barth et al., 1999; Charles A. Dana Center, 1999).
Often noted in these schools is a greater focus by teachers on math and
reading (Barth et al., 1999; Charles A. Dana Center, 1999). More time is spent
teaching the basics. Instruction is consistent, purposeful, and focused so as to
34


maximize learning (Bames, 2002; Sammons et al., 1995; Wang et al., 1995).
Teachers, with support from administration, work to acquire more teaching time by
eliminating disruptions to learning. Lessons focus on critical aspects of the
curriculum, and they integrate problem-solving skills and high-level thinking
(Crockett, 1996; Hopkins, 1999; NAESP, 2003). Teachers also offer students wait
time and promote a philosophy that students are capable of learning (Bearden et al.,
1995; Hopkins, 1999).
Teachers ability to adapt instruction to the needs of students is specifically
identified as a characteristic of most effective urban schools (Bames, 2002; Hopkins,
1999). Teachers also act as coordinators of services, such as Title I, so as to keep a
students daily schedule from being fragmented (Wang et al., 1993). Their goal is to
create an instructional program that most effectively serves students and keeps
classroom instruction and special services connected (Engvall, 1993).
The most effective urban school teachers also have an understanding of each
students home life. They are familiar with the culture of the home. They attempt to
incorporate that culture into the instructional process (Payne et al., 2001; Valverde,
1988). Sometimes, this is seen in the multicultural lessons that occur in a classroom
or in a teachers attempts to present students with multicultural role models (Glazer,
1993). These teachers focus on the resiliency students possess and their potential for
success (Bames, 2001; Bickart & Wolin, 1997; Engvall, 1993; NWREL, 2001a).
35


Part of these teachers attempts to set students up for success is their focus on
leaving nothing to chance. In todays educational climate of high stakes testing, this
means frequent monitoring of student progress so as to support student assessments
(Barth et al., 1999; Charles A. Dana Center, 1999). Assessment skills are taught and
practiced, giving students every opportunity to perform well when state mandated
assessment occurs (Bearden et al., 1995).
Clearly, an essential component of the most effective urban school is its
teachers (NAESP, 2003; Wang et al., 1993). Their ability to provide authentic
instruction (Crockett, 1996) and be responsive to students to the point of being
described as advocates is important (Barnes, 2002; Bearden et al., 1995). Their
mastery of manipulation of the most challenging, educational components of the
urban school context creates hope for urban students (Cartwright, 1993; Meier, 1995,
2002; Payne et al., 2001).
Role of the Principal
Just as teachers are instrumental to effective urban schools, so too are
principals. Playing a vital role by setting high expectations for students and staff, the
principal contributes to school success (Barnes, 2002; Engvall, 1996; Valverde,
1988). Principals are viewed as instructional leaders (McEwan, 2003; Purkey &
Smith, 1993; Rowan, Bossert, & Dwyer, 1983; Whitaker, 2003) and serve as
instructional role models to staff (Valverde, 1988; Whitaker, 2003). These school
36


leaders know standards and help staff align student needs with instruction. Their
awareness of those factors (e.g., poverty) that block learning in urban settings, do not
become excuses for poor performance (Bearden et al., 1995; NAESP, 2003). Instead,
the most effective principals encourage staff to have high expectations and to do
whatever it takes to support student learning (McEwan, 2003; Wang et al., 1995;
Whitaker, 2003).
The leadership style of these principals is more hands on, being visible in
classrooms, and fostering leadership in others. They hold staff highly accountable
(Charles A. Dana Center, 1999; Pavan & Reid, 1990; Single, 1995; Whitaker, 2003).
Strong and frequent communication is another skill these principals possess. They
are facilitators of change, frequently offering staff opportunities to learn through
ongoing staff development (Crockett, 1996; Fullan, 1997; McEwan, 2003).
Ultimately, these principals are supportive of staff, helping them acquire needed
resources, offering emotional support, and focusing on staff needs (Hopkins, 1999).
The most evident characteristic in todays most effective principals is their
ability to lead through collaboration. They collaborate with staff, parents, and the
community. They work to eliminate status barriers and invite shared decision
making. They encourage others to share in the leadership experience (Charles A.
Dana Center, 1999; Hopkins, 1999; Single, 1995).
37


Effective Urban Schools of the Future
Considerable research on effective school practices confirms the critical role
effective principals play in leading successful schools (NAESP, 2003). Much
research also outlines the characteristics of effective schools, including quality,
instructionally talented teachers, programs that address student emotional and
academic needs, and school climates that support families and nurture students
(Bearden et al., 1995; Charles A. Dana Center, 1999; Hopkins, 1999; Meier, 2002).
Despite all of the research on the important role of principal leadership and its
impact on school effectiveness, creating effective urban schools continue to be an
important area for research (Bames, 2002; Engvall, 1996; Hannaway & Talbert,
1995). Clearly, the achievement disparities observed in many urban schools today
accentuate the need to pursue additional research on urban school effectiveness
(Wang et al., 1995).
In order to create urban schools that produce greater student achievement and
improved test scores, we need to study the most critical aspects of success for any
school. At the center of this, I believe, is the role of the principal. Using the
information from the effective schools and urban schools research (Bearden et al.,
1995; Charles A. Dana Center, 1999; Edmonds, 1979,1980; Engvall, 1996; NAESP,
2001, 2003; Wang, et al., 1993; Wang, et al., 1995), I propose a model that suggests
critical factors that will be studied related to urban school effectiveness with the
principal at the center of the model.
38


Functioning as the center for all other components of school success, the
principal is the focal point. He/she becomes the part of the model that keeps all other
aspects aligned and working productively and effectively (see Figure 3.1, p. 39). In
looking at each aspect of the model, a framework for study arises. Each section of the
model presents indicators that according to the literature are present in effective urban
schools. How the principal is able to demonstrate effective behaviors specific to each
identified component is key to this research study.
Urban
Student
Context
School
Climate
Context
Instructional
Context
School
Achievement
Context
Figure 3.1. Effective Urban School Model.
39


Effective Behaviors of the Urban Principal
At the center of this model is the principal. Playing a key role in all that
happens in schools, the principal is crucial to school success (Barnes, 2002;
Bredeson, 1989; Fullan, 1999; McEwan, 2003; Whitaker, 2003). In this model,
specific behaviors and skills are required for effective principal leadership. When
integrated with the other components in the model, a synergy creates an urban school
that is a student-focused learning community (Barth, 1990; NAESP, 2003).
Specific skills demonstrated by effective urban principals include the ability to
interpret the context of the urban student to staff (Meier, 1995, 2002; Payne, 2001,
2001). This requires strong communication skills. The principal uses those skills to
encourage high expectations from students as well as staff, despite the multitude of
challenges they face (Hopkins, 1999; McEwan, 2003; Wang et al., 1995).
The principals leadership is instructionally focused (Sammons et al., 1995;
Charles A. Dana Center, 1999; Whitaker, 2003). Collaborating with staff, using
support staff to mentor and coach teachers, he/she presents a clear mission and vision
that is academically and accountability driven (Hopkins, 1999; NAESP, 2003). These
unified efforts create a school environment that sets its goal on academic excellence
(Charles A. Dana Center, 1999; Hopkins, 1999).
All of these qualities (see Table 3.2, p. 41) create a checklist of the most
effective urban school leaders behaviors (Engvall, 1993). This checklist creates a
40


description of behaviors that, when observed, define effective urban principal
behaviors (Hopkins, 1999).
Table 3.2
Effective Urban School Model: Behaviors of the Principal
Effective Urban Principal Behaviors
Understands and can communicate urban context to all involved
Instructional leader
Strong communication and collaboration skills
Has a clear mission and vision and is accountability focused
Uses staff consultants for professional development
High expectations for students, staff, and self
Creates an atmosphere of academic excellence that focuses on students
and staff support
Engages others to participate in the accomplishment of the vision and
mission
Entrepreneurial
Change agent_______________________________________________________
Urban Student Context
Improving urban schools requires principals who lead urban educators to have
clear comprehension of the many challenges urban students face (Meier, 1995; Payne,
2001). Variables not often observed in the suburbs, such as poverty, lack of parental
involvement, or poor pre-school preparation, are common in urban settings (Barnes,
2002; Cartwright, 1993). Students may reside in dysfunctional families, have
illiterate parents, or live in neighborhoods that are crime ridden (Barnes, 2002;
41


Cartwright, 1993; Kozol, 1991). These and many other issues create living and
learning environments for students that are laden with trauma-inducing events
(Cartwright, 1993; Meier, 1995; Payne, 2001).
These environments of poverty and dysfunction demand that urban principals
possess strong skills in communication (Bearden et al., 1995). The principals skills
in communication guide staff to consider all factors when working with students
(Engvall, 1993) (see Table 3.2, p. 41). These variables (e.g., poverty) are prevalent in
urban schools and demand a different approach to instruction (Meier, 1995, 2002;
Wang et al., 1995). Traditional instructional delivery is frequently ineffective in
urban settings (Meier, 1995,2002). By having full awareness of a students life,
circumstances, and challenges, principals communicate to staff the need for
alternative instructional methods that may require more interventional teaching
strategies (Engvall, 1993; Valverde, 1988). All the while, principals dialogue with
staff on the need to adjust instruction to engage the learner and create more
meaningful, connected learning for students (NAESP, 2003; Sammons et al., 1995;
Wang et al., 1995). Principals also lead staff to become instructional and emotional
advocates for students (Englert, 1993).
The principal is the communicator in the urban school regarding the context of
urban students (Barnes, 2002; Engvall, 1993; Payne 2001). He/she needs to
collaborate with students, families, community people, and others involved in a
students life who know the student both as learner and individual. Principals who
42


communicate and collaborate tend to promote home visits, hire staff who are attuned
to student culture, and find other ways to communicate information on the students
home life to teachers to ensure full comprehension of the student as a person and a
learner (Cartwright, 1993; Hopkins, 1999; Meier, 1995) (see Table 3.3, p. 43).
Table 3.3
Effective Urban School Model: Urban Student Context
Urban Student Context
Experiences trauma (family and neighborhood)
Family is often in crisis (poverty, conflict)
Lacks pre-school experiences for success
Requires alternative instructional strategies
Requires interventional teaching
Requires emotional, academic, and motivational supports from the school
The principals role as a communicator is to help all adults in the school see
the student as a person living within a world of challenges yet fully capable of
successful learning (Payne, 2001; Payne & Sommers, 2001).
Instructional Context
The instructional context within which urban students reside is a critical factor
for principals to comprehend. With clear knowledge of this context, principals
leading urban schools need to help staff apply this information to instruction (see
Table 3.4, p. 44). This leads to more positive instructional relationships between
43


student and staff (Payne, 2001; Single, 1995). When principals help teachers
comprehend issues students face that may create learning blocks, students become
more engaged learners and learning becomes purposeful (Barnes, 2002; Meier, 1995;
Sammons et al., 1995).
Table 3.4
Effective Urban School Model: Instructional Context
Instructional Context
Staff has knowledge of students familial, cultural, and emotional context
prior to determining instructional strategies
Staff has high expectations for learners and believes that they have necessary
cognitive acquisition skills
Pedagogy is fluid/flexible to accommodate student needs
Instruction focuses on mastery of basic skills (reading, writing, math) and
they build from one grade level to the next
Pedagogy incorporates strategies that address standards, assessment data,
learning styles, cultural research, and diverse learners
School promotes a community of learners philosophy__________________________
Instructional strategies may then incorporate a more fluid, flexible approach to
teaching that focuses on accommodating student needs (Cartwright, 1993; Meier,
1995). This is particularly necessary for the basics of reading, writing, and math
(Edmonds, 1979,1980). The principals role becomes one of facilitator (Crockett,
1996; Whitaker, 2003), continuously engaging staff in examining student
achievement data while at the same time working collaboratively with staff to set
44


high expectations for learners (Hopkins, 1999; Koschoreck, 2001; Wang, et al.,
1995).
The principal uses her/his own instructional expertise to help teachers reframe
pedagogy that addresses diverse learners and their learning styles (NAESP, 2003;
Sammons et al., 1995; Wang, et al., 1993). Instructional strategies focused on
standards and accountability for instruction become critical (MDRC, 2002; Wang et
al., 1993). Equally important is offering students assistance and reteaching concepts
immediately so as to redirect the students cognitive acquisition and set knowledge in
place (Brookover et al., 1993).
The goal of the effective school leader is to create a community of learners
among students and staff (Barth, 1990; McEwan, 2003; NAESP, 2003; Whitaker,
2003). The principal leads staff in exploring all aspects of the student as a learner
while asking, How does this impact instruction? What needs to occur
instructionally for this student to succeed in school? Principal and staff together
then explore how students leam best (Barnes, 2002; Sammons et al., 1995; Wang et
al., 1995).
School Achievement Context
Also important is the principals ability to understand the context within
which the urban student achieves (see Table 3.5, p. 46). Principals help staff focus on
prescriptive, standards-based instruction that is data driven (Charles A. Dana Center,
45


1999; ONeill & Bottoms, 2001; Reeves, 2002). They facilitate opportunities for
staff to align assessment to instruction (Charles A. Dana Center, 1999; Engvall, 1993;
Whitaker, 2003). Likewise, these principals offer feedback to teachers on how the
changes in instruction should address individual student academic needs (Whitaker,
2003).
Table 3.5
Effective Urban School Model: School Achievement Context
School Achievement Context
Focuses on prescriptive instruction that is aligned to standards
Continuous evaluation of instructional performance of teacher and student
Prepares student for assessment
Does not leave performance to chance
Instructional model fits students cognitive needs
Test score results become indicators for instructional success.
Effective urban principals do not leave successful student performance to
chance (Bames, 2002; Barth et al., 1999). They provide opportunities for teachers to
understand what the state test may require. They help teachers create classrooms that
are focused on data driven instruction. Integrated into this instruction are effective
teaching strategies that incorporate standards, problem-solving, and critical thinking
(Crockett, 1996; Ethridge, 2001).
Another trait principals who lead effective schools demonstrate is their ability
to help staff see test scores as indicators not judgments (Barth et al., 1999; Hopkins,
46


1999; Whitaker, 2003). Principals help staff to not see the test as the enemy but
rather a source of data that will support the need for instructional changes (McEwan,
2003; NAESP, 2003; Whitaker, 2003). Despite the many challenges urban students
face, the most effective urban leaders help staff see that these challenges are not
excuses for poor student achievement (Barnes, 2002; Bearden et al., 1995; Meier,
2002).
School Climate
Positive school climate is another important aspect of effective urban schools
(see Table 3.6, p. 48). Research identifies positive school climate as a clear indicator
of an effective school (Barnes, 2002; Brookover, 1978; Edmonds, 1979, 1980;
McEwan, 2003; Whitaker, 2003). The most effective urban school principals lead
positive school climates that create productive school-family relationships (Austin,
1979; Meier, 2002). The school is seen as a safe, welcoming place for students and
their families (Engvall, 1993; Single, 1995). The most successful urban principals
support in-school programs such as health, housing, and counseling services. These
programs provide needed resources to families (Wang, et al., 1993).
Effective urban leaders help create school climates that consider urban student
needs. These schools provide ancillary programs such as tutoring or role model
mentors. Before and after school academic and enrichment programs are often
available for students (Cartwright, 1993; Dunne, 2001; Katz, 1999; Meier, 1995).
47


Table 3.6
Effective Urban School Model: School Climate
School Climate
Family and student centered
Provides supports to families on site (e.g., health, housing, counseling
services)
Adjusts school schedule to student learning needs (e.g., longer day, year-round
programs)
Safe and welcoming
Provides ancillary programs for student support (e.g., tutorials, role model
mentors)
Embraces chaos theory. Principal and staff see school as constantly evolving
through ongoing problem-solving__________________________________________
Principals and their staffs may even consider adjusting the school day or year
to better meet the needs of latchkey students and working families (Single, 1995;
Meier, 1995). Meals, such as breakfast or lunch, may be provided for students during
the school year, and in some cases, year round (Dunne & Delisio, 2001).
Perhaps the most important aspect of creating a positive school climate in
urban settings is the principals ability to embrace chaos (Payne, 2001; Payne &
Sommers, 2001). Principal and staff see the issues that challenge these students as
ongoing and evolving (Kretovics & Nussell, 1994; Payne, 2001). There is an attitude
of non-judgment and continuous problem-solving (Barnes, 2002; Payne, 2001).
There is a sense that everyone in the school community (i.e., staff, students, parents,
outside agencies) has answers and together can problem-solve any issues that arise
48


(Kretovics & Nussell, 1994; Meier, 2002; Single, 1995). This is inclusive of
achievement challenges and low test scores as well as family or neighborhood crises
that arise. The attitude these school leaders promote is one of hope and perseverance
(Cartwright, 1993; Payne, 2001; Payne & Sommers, 2001).
Conclusion
The proposed model defines those characteristics that research aligns with
effective urban schools. These descriptors create a general overview of what is
observed in the most successful urban schools.
From these descriptors, a model is created that puts the principal at the central
core. The model then creates the framework for the study on behaviors of effective
urban principals. The behaviors these principals demonstrate become the vehicles for
change. The role the principal plays by having full comprehension of the change
process and the skills required for implementation are parameters that need further
study (see Figure 3.2, p. 50).
In the next chapter the topic of change and reform is explored. This skill area
is the final necessary aspect of effective principal behavior.
49


Figure 3.2. Effective Urban School Principal Behaviors Model: Integration of Effective Leadership


CHAPTER FOUR
CHANGE AND REFORM
As we look at the significant role principals play in impacting urban school
performance, the role of change and reform is critical (Fullan, 1999). Principals who
lead effective schools are people who have skills in change leadership (Fullan, 1999,
2002, 2003; NAESP, 2003).
In this chapter, I look at change and reform and the significance it plays in
effective principal behaviors. This discussion begins with a look at change and
reform from a business orientation and then continues to discuss change and reform
in the educational setting, specifically as it applies to the role of the effective urban
principal.
Change and Reform from a Business Orientation
A new corporate America has been emerging for most of the last half century.
In the 1980s, organizations tried to redefine operations and competition for an
international world of business. With tremendous gains in world information systems
and rapidly declining performance on the world marketplace, most organizations
sought ways to compete with the Japans of the world (Moss-Kanter, 1989).
51


In 1910, the United States made half of the manufactured products in the
world. America was viewed as the worlds economic leader. For almost 30 years
after World War II, the United States benefited from its enormous exports to
countries such as Japan. Starting as early as 1955, Japan began its own export trade
to many countries, including the United States and Japanese production since has
infiltrated the world market. The junk product from Japan of the 1940s and earlier
has been replaced with quality products. As international competition infiltrates the
world market, the United States position in the balance of trade continues to decrease
(Deming, 1994; Moss-Kanter, 1983; Deal & Peterson, 1999).
The tremendous and tumultuous change in American business and
manufacturing dining the 1980s drove organizations to flatten their organizational
structures. Organizations experienced changes in how they could efficiently,
effectively, and successfully perform (Moss-Kanter, 1983). The evolving
competition between U.S. manufacturing and overseas competitors contributed to
these dramatic changes in American companies. Restructuring and downsizing
were commonplace. Veteran employees, affiliated with their company for decades,
suddenly found themselves out of work. These senior employees were displaced in
the golden years of their careers in an effort to create leaner organizational charts and
lower costs (Deal & Kennedy, 1999; Senge, 1999). The changes that occurred were
corporate Americas attempts to revive a marketplace that was on a fast track to
52


changing how American business would produce and survive amidst intensive
competition (Moss-Kanter, 1989).
Embedded in the challenges American business faced, was an infusion of
change for leadership. Demings (1994) work with Japanese business and its
influence on Japans ability to transform itself from a miniscule business competitor
to a powerful entity with a voracious appetite for the American market, led many
organizations to introduce new ways of leading. In the 1980s and 1990s, business
began to explore the role of leadership in organizations (Peters, 1987; Deal &
Kennedy, 1999; Senge, 1999).
Among those who explored changes in how organizational leaders led was
Deming (1994). The Total Quality Management (TQM) Model that he proposed
introduced the concept of leaders sharing decision making and leading through
collaboration. Rather than working and problem solving in isolation, Demings
model of leadership implored leaders to put workers into teams. The work group, in
synchrony with the leader, problem solved together in an effort to resolve issues as a
team. Demings model for leadership reform required leaders to use their skills of
communication, collaboration, vision interpretation, and group facilitation as tools for
leading others. A transition of leader as director and decision maker to leader as
facilitator of problem solving, became a necessary leadership skill (Deming, 1994).
Moss-Kanter (1983, 1989) joined Deming in proposing change for leadership
in organizational structures. She suggested greater use of integrative thinking by
53


organizational leaders. In Moss-Kanters proposals, she said leaders needed to look
at the entirety of the systems they led as more open. Change from this open-system
perspective required leaders to open up communication so that all workers in the
organization could offer input. In her model, the hierarchy became obsolete. Leaders
moved projects downward, creating teams that would do problem solving and be the
decision makers.
Moss-Kanters model required leaders to improve lateral communication and
see the individual employee as the critical unit in organizational change. Each
individual was a prime mover, a potential proponent for change. Leaders served as
the guides/facilitators in this process. The organizational changes needed in
leadership required leaders to become change masters (p. 228). In essence, both
Deming and Moss-Kanter proposed that leaders become initiators and supporters of
change (Deming 1994; Moss-Kanter, 1983).
Change in Business Impacts Change in Education
The evolutionary changes that started in the world of business in response to
intense competition began to permeate other fields. As American business practices
and leadership changed, leaders in other arenas of performance such as education also
began to question their own practices and their effectiveness (Edmonds, 1979,1980;
Lewis, 1989). As a prominent participant in the process of self-reflection and
questioning the viability of existing organizational structures, educators began
54


addressing the issues surrounding school reform (National Commission on
Excellence in Education, 1983).
Issues of best practices, accountability, public satisfaction and dissatisfaction
with schools, and school choice became fodder for discourse on school effectiveness
and the need for change (Austin, 1979; Edmonds, 1979,1980; Fullan, 1999,2002,
2003). The response to school change and reform was research that addressed a
variety of school components that if deleted, reconfigured, or tweeked might better
serve achievement and school accountability (Tyack & Cuban, 1995).
The research specifically addressed the need for schools, like businesses, to
reinvent themselves in order to become viable competitors against impending charter
schools and vouchers (Glazer, 1993). Reform efforts, included reforming
instructional practices, suggested consideration of school culture, staff development,
and a reexamination of the role of the principal in regards to overall school success
(Barth, 1991; Fullan, 1991,1997).
Like business, those who initially led school reform efforts recognized that
change implementation and the role of leadership were directly related (Bredeson,
1989; Fullan, 1991,1997,2002, 2003). Principals would have to go through the
necessary metamorphosis to emerge as instructional leaders, visionaries, strategic
planners, entrepreneurial retrievers of resources outside their school budgets, public
relations officers, and staff developers (Fullan, 1988,1991,2002,2003; Louis &
Miles, 1990; McEwan, 2003; Whitaker, 2003). Americas school leaders were in
55


essence experiencing the same evolutionary change process that corporate America
was experiencing. Just as business was competing to keep its clients, education was
competing to keep its students from the threat of privatization (Glazer, 1993).
Americas corporate leaders had to examine their own leadership practices in
order to compete in the world market. In education, school principals were now
reflecting on how best to transform their own leadership skills so as to lead schools
most effectively. They were attempting to determine what efforts would best
accomplish school change (Fullan, 1991,2002; Murphy, 1994).
Change and Effective School Leaders
Those who lead todays schools are leaders of change (Fullan, 1997,1999,
2002, 2003; Murphy, 1994; NAESP, 2003; Whitaker, 2003). These principals engage
staff in the very behaviors that Deming (1994) and Moss-Kanter (1989) proposed for
business leaders. Teaming, shared decision-making, and collaboration are the skills
that principals leading reform promote (McEwan, 2003). This includes collaborating
with staff on assessment data analysis and deciding how to allocate resources. These
activities are ways principals help staff become members of a community of learners,
all seeking ways to reform schools (Barth, 1990, 1991, 1999; Whitaker, 2003)). This
engagement of partnership between principal and teacher becomes an important
aspect of real school reform (Murphy & Louis, 1995; Pavan & Reid, 1990).
56


Principals and teachers now become equally important leaders of change (McEwan,
2003; Pavan & Reid, 1990).
Any change implementation the principal presents creates a response from
staff. The proposed change may create operational effects (alterations in how work is
done), social effects (changes in established relationships), or psychological effects
(how people relate to and regard their work) (Judson, 1991). These responses are part
of the change process. Effective leaders help staff work through these responses so as
to be able to begin innovation implementation (Crockett, 1996; Fullan, 2002, 2003).
The ability of school leaders to act as a bridge for change requires acquisition
of specific skills. Skills of communication, facilitation, listening skills, and problem
solving are critical. Leaders need to create a sense of common purpose, strong
collaboration, and demonstrate sensitivity to all experiencing the throes of reform
(NAESP, 2003; Scott & Jaffe, 1989).
Even with acquisition of these skills, principals may find staff responses to
change difficult to manage. While a core group of change agents (those who respond
positively to change and see it as an opportunity) may lead, others may be simply
bystanders (passive), resisters (see change as a threat), or traditionalists (passive and
threatened). It is the school leaders role to help staff comprehend these responses
and guide them to work through their affective response to change (Strebel, 1998).
Along with helping staff through their responses to the proposed reform, principals
also need to process their own feelings about the impending reform. Principals need
57


to themselves understand and support the change in order to be able to lead others
through the change process. The leader must be in tune with their own feelings,
positive and negative, about the proposed innovation (Fullan, 2002,2003; Strebel,
1998; Want, 1995; Whitaker, 2003).
This more holistic approach to change presents the reform process as more
organic in nature. When faced with change, all systems respond in circular patterns,
acting autonomously and resisting outside forces. As the forces of change push staff
to respond, the shift towards equilibrium may feel like chaos. At this juncture, the
principals role becomes critical. He/she will need to guide staff through this period
of chaos in a manner which allows new patterns to emerge and new contexts to be
created (Morgan, 1997).
The principals role shifts from manager to problem solver. This is a
significant change for school leaders (McEwan, 2003; Tye, 1994). The principal as
change facilitator encourages patterns to emerge and unfold. He/she invites others to
look at problems in creative and innovative ways. Exploring issues and options will
allow for loop learning, solutions which lead to new problems, and to the realization
that no grand design or answer exists (Wheatley, 1992).
This shift in thinking about change as a natural constant in the life of schools,
creates the need for the principals role to be redefined and for staff to embrace this
transformation (Fullan, 2003; Meier, 1995). Principals become less the experts and
more learners alongside their staff. They encourage more collaboration and
58


encourage open dialogue that allow all to learn together (Barth, 1990; NAESP, 2001).
As the principal facilitates this transition, he/she remains the shock absorber in the
system, taking on the role of buffer as the ups and downs of change occur. They
become facilitators, consultants, and supporters as all in the system reinvent their
roles (Dolan, 1994).
Throughout the reform process, Principals understand that conflict and
questioning may become the norm (Fullan, 2003; Senge, 1999; Whitaker, 2003).
They reframe how innovation will best serve students. Couched in the dialogue with
staff is discussion of how present skills will support the change process and what new
skills should be acquired. Principals continuously clarify the vision and meaning of
the proposed change (Fullan, 1988,1999,2003; McEwan, 2003).
It is the integration of the newly needed skills (e.g., collaboration skills) that
will most likely create more effective leaders who can successfully lead change
(Senge, 1999). The need for principals to develop and practice skills of leadership
that will most effectively create change are critical. Todays principals work in a
time of high-stakes accountability. Skills that pertain to assessment data analysis,
change cycle knowledge, and the emotional aspects of leading others are imperative
to leadership success (Fullan, 1999, 2003; Guzman, 1997).
Change and Urban School Principals
The need for greater comprehension of the change process and definitive
59


development of change focused leadership skills is paramount in urban settings
(Bames, 2002; Kretovics & Nussel, 1994; Murphy & Louis, 1995). In these settings,
the issue of low student performance and failing schools often forces the hand of
reform (Cartwright, 1993; Meier, 1995, 2002).
Urban principals face issues of reform most often when they are implementing
legislative mandates. The No Child Left Behind (2001) legislation, although well-
intentioned to create greater accountability and thereby forcing the hand of
instructional reform also creates an expectation of reform implementation that is
clearly the responsibility of the school leaders in Colorado schools. Another example
of a legislative mandate that pushes the accountability issues, is Colorado Governor
Bill Owens School Accountability Report (SAR). The SAR assigns a performance
rating of excellent to poor to all Colorado K-12 schools. Those schools with poor
ratings, have three years to show improvement, or risk becoming charter schools
(Colorado Department of Education, 1999; Senate Bill 186, 2000).
Colorados School Accountability Report is based solely on test scores from
the CSAP (Colorado Student Assessment Program) and ACT testing. Schools
residing in urban settings which have historically demonstrated low test scores, are
forced into immediate reform. Principals in these schools face issues of change. The
SAR requires urban principals with low performing schools to examine their
leadership practices and begin to lead from a change perspective in order to keep their
schools from charter takeover (Barth, et al., 1999; Senate Bill 186, 2000). Increased
60


accountability through testing programs pushes urban principals to deal with reform.
Unlike their suburban counterparts, urban leaders face many more obstacles. Issues
of poverty, lack of resources, how best to instruct high risk students, and how best to
align test data with instruction, creates a complex tapestry. Coupled with all the
challenges of the change process, it is critical for all school leaders, but particularly
urban school leaders, to develop leadership practices that best support change
implementation (Charles A. Dana Center, 1999; Judson, 1991; Murphy, 1994;
NAESP, 2003; Shields & Knapp, 1997).
In Chapter 3, a model was presented describing those behaviors that principals
who lead effective schools demonstrate. Effective Leadership Behaviors are on the
rim of this model. The most effective leaders must be leaders of change (Fullan,
1997, 2003). They are adept at facilitation, collaboration, problem solving, and
engaging staff in puiposefiil and effective reform efforts (Barnes, 2002; Murphy,
1994; Whitaker, 2003). She/he works to transform the school culture into a
community of learners that asks questions like, How will this change help students?
(Barth, 1990, NAESP, 2001). As reform unfolds, the principal engages staff in
looking at instructional strategy, data-driven instruction, and differentiated instruction
(NAESP, 2003). Creative problem solving becomes common practice for these
leaders as they guide schools to discover their own answers to change as opposed to
simply implementing transplanted reforms (Deal & Peterson, 1999; Fullan, 1999,
2002).
61


The most effective urban principals who lead change have a theoretical
framework to guide their reform efforts (Barnes, 2002). They focus on not only a
vision for change but also a purpose for reform implementation (McEwan, 2003;
Meier, 2002). As change agents, these principals facilitate problem solving, probe,
and provoke thinking. All the while, they lead dialogues that may eventually lead to
discussion of the need for deep structure changes (Crockett, 1996; Tye, 1994).
Specific Behaviors of Effective Urban School Leaders
of Change
Facilitating successful change and reform requires specific behaviors on the
part of urban principals. Leaders set the tone for change, facilitate reform, and act as
catalysts for change (Barth, 1990; Fullan, 1999,2002).
An in-depth look at those behaviors most affiliated with effective change
leadership includes data-driven instructional leadership (Kretovics and Nussel, 1994;
NAESP, 2003), the ability to facilitate learning (Barth, 1990), demonstration of
strong skills in communication (Fullan, 2003; Guzman, 1995; 1997), the ability to
deal with the emotional responses that occur with change (Fullan, 1999; Whitaker,
2003), comprehension of the urban context (Hannaway & Talbert, 1993; Payne &
Sommers, 2001), and being able to include the parents and greater urban community
in the change process (Payne, 2001). A closer discussion specific to each of these
areas reveals the importance of these skills/behaviors.
62


Data-Driven Instructional Leadership
Effective principals leading change are instructional leaders who help staff
make instructional decisions based on data (McEwan, 2003; NAESP, 2003). An
alignment between standards and instructional strategy becomes the basis for lesson
planning and instruction. Instructional strategy and its success are not left to chance,
rather test score analysis, ongoing evaluation of student performance, and actual
instruction are continuous dialogues (Kretovics & Nussel, 1994; NAESP, 2003; Tye,
1995).
Facilitate Learning
These leaders work towards a realization that change implies continuous
learning (Bennis, 1989, 1999). They broaden the boundaries between teacher and
parents, including them both in the responsibility of learning. They involve staff in
professional development and in deciding what training will facilitate change. They
invite innovative learning by modeling learning themselves. They communicate the
message to followers that not only is learning key to change, but that it is how change
occurs (Crockett, 1996; Fullan, 2003; McEwan, 2003).
Communication Skills
Principals effectively leading change are strong communicators who create
diverse teams. They help people problem solve. They encourage creativity, they
63


promote thinking outside the boundaries. Their strong communication skills give
followers a clear sense of vision and purpose. They see conflict as healthy, often
presenting it as a learning experience. These leaders communicate change as
opportunity (DePree, 1992; Guzman, 1995, 1997; Senge, 1999).
Effectively Deal with Emotional Response to Change
Effective urban principals of change also have skills that help them process
the emotional responses to change. They are people who do not apologize for the
truth. When mistakes occur, they are open to learning from them (Fullan, 1999;
Payne, 2001; Payne & Sommers, 2001). They have high levels of sensitivity to
others. They encourage reflective thinking. When change begins to feel like chaos,
they rally the team and reframe the vision and goal (Fullan, 1999; Institute for
Educational Leadership, 2000). Rather than moving away from the emotional
response change brings, these leaders move towards it (Bolman & Deal, 1995;
Goleman, 1998).
Comprehend the Urban Context
In the midst of this framework, perhaps the most critical aspect is the urban
principals ability to comprehend the context within which reform occurs (Fredericks,
1993; Hannaway & Talbert, 1993; Payne, 2001,2001; Valverde, 1988). These
leaders consider issues that impact urban schools inclusive of minority student
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achievement, poverty, lack of parent support, poor facility, neighborhood conditions,
and much more (Payne, 2001). These principals implement reform while also
recognizing the many roadblocks urban settings present. They assess how to best
implement reform in the midst of multiple challenges, making the necessary
adjustments to align reform with their school needs (Barnes, 2002; Crockett, 1996;
Fullan, 1999; Payne, 2001).
Parents and the Urban Community
Finally, effective urban principals leading change help individuals learn in the
schools community (i.e., parents, larger community) to develop their own skills in
processing change. As the principal leams needed skills such as collaboration, he/she
helps participants to also acquire these skills. In tandem with the leader, followers
emerge as students of change themselves (Fullan, 1999; Senge, 1999). Often, the
principals greatest skill in leading others through change is her/his ability to improve
and develop positive relationships with those he/she leads. Skills in emotional
intelligence (regarding others), emotional self-management, and empathy become
critical in building effective teams that successfully motivate others and implement
change (Fullan, 2002; Payne & Sommers, 2001).
Conclusion
Change is rarely started by group consensus (DePree, 1992). In most
65


instances a need creates a crisis (e.g., low test scores) or a societal issue provokes
reform (e.g., global market competition). In all cases, the role of leadership is crucial
in how reform unfolds (Bennis, 1999; Fullan, 2002, 2003; Senge, 1999). In urban
school settings, the pivotal role of the principal and reform are paramount. Effective
urban principals who effectively lead change, help transform school cultures (Fullan,
1997,1999, 2002,2003; Institute for Educational Leadership, 2000). They lead
others to problem-solve, create change that positively impact achievement, and create
hope for the future despite obstacles (Fuilan, 2002; Leithwood & Jantzi, 1990).
In the last few chapters, a model has been constructed that presents a research-
based framework. The components of the model included the important role of
principal leadership, descriptors of effective urban schools, and the impact of change
and reform leadership. The model from here forward will be called the Effective
Urban School Principal (EUSPB) model (Figure 4.1, p. 68).
The construction of this model is now incorporated into the studys main
question: What behaviors do principals leading low-performing urban schools versus
principals leading high-performing urban schools demonstrate according to the
EUSPB model? My hypothesis for this study is: Principals leading high-performing
urban schools are more likely to demonstrate more the of traits identified in the
EUSPB model than do principals of low-performing urban schools.
The potential of this study is the ability to identify those behaviors effective
urban school principals demonstrate and utilize them as a way to train principals in
66


these skill areas. Perhaps this then becomes another way to impact urban school
achievement (Richard, 2001). In the next chapter, methodology, the plan and
protocol for implementation of the study design and data collection will be presented.
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Figure 4.1. Effective Urban School Principal Behaviors (EUSPB) Model
68
ue^ sjo


CHAPTER FIVE
METHODOLOGY
This research study explores the leadership behaviors of principals as they
relate to urban school success. In developing the theoretical framework for this
study, a review of the literature on effective schools, change and reform, and principal
leadership led to a model of Effective Urban School Principal Behaviors (Chapter 4,
Figure 4.1, p. 68). A definition of effective urban principal leadership behaviors is
contained in the model.
The research question the study explores is: What behaviors do principals of
high-performing urban schools demonstrate compared to principals of low-
performing urban schools according to the Effective Urban School Principal
Behaviors (EUSPB) model?
The hypothesis is that principals leading high-performing urban schools are
likely to demonstrate more leadership traits, identified in the EUSPB model, than are
principals of low-performing urban schools. This hypothesis incorporates research
that illustrates the parallel between effective principal leadership behaviors and high-
performing schools (Barth, 1990,1991; Fullan, 1991, 1997; Kretovics &Nussell,
1994; Meier, 1995; NAESP, 2001; Whitaker, 2003).
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Research Sample
The sample for this study was selected from a sub-set of 14 large urban cities.
The cities identified for the study were selected based on the criteria that they were a
Large Metropolitan Statistical Area as defined by the United States census and that
they represent geographically diverse metropolitan areas throughout the contiguous
United States. The cities originally selected for the study are designated as: Coastal,
East, Eastern Inland, Far South, Far West, Midwest, North, North Coastal, Northeast,
Northern Midwest, Northwest, South, Southeast, and West.
A letter of contact (Appendix C, p.161) was sent to each of the 14 cities State
Department of Education. The following information was requested from each: (a)
identification of the largest urban school district in the designated city, (b)
information (website address, standardized testing requirements, etc.) that would help
identify the top and bottom five percent performing schools in the district, and (c) a
contact name for follow-up purposes.
A 100% return rate was received on the letters sent to the Departments of
Education. With the information obtained from these responses, websites were
accessed and reviewed for all 14 urban school districts. This provided the name and
address for each districts superintendent.
The superintendent of each district was the initial point of contact for the
study. A letter was mailed to each superintendent explaining the study (Appendix C,
p. 163) and inviting them to participate. A follow-up telephone call was made to each
70


superintendent two weeks after the letter was mailed out. The following cities
responded by return letter or telephone conversation: Southeast; Northeast; South;
Coastal; North; Far South; North Coastal; and East. Eastern Inland and West did not
respond to either letter or phone calls. The superintendents of Northern Midwest, Far
West, and Northwest declined participation due to district issues or financial woes.
Midwests superintendent gave me permission over the telephone to conduct the
study based on the information contained in the letter that he received. The
remaining superintendents referred me to their Assessment Director to request an
Internal Review Board application.
Applications for Internal Review Board were completed and sent back to
Southeast, Northeast, South, Coastal, and North. As previously mentioned, Midwest
had been pre-approved by the superintendent. A decision to drop Far South was
made because of the many roadblocks encountered. North Coastal and East were so
late in providing me with the Internal Review Board application that the study was
well underway when the information arrived. Therefore, I also decided to drop these
two cities from the study.
Six of the 14 originally identified cities finally participated in this study. In
the six participant cities, a total of 40 schools were identified in the bottom five
percent performing schools and 41 schools identified in the top five percent
performing schools. This produced a total sample of 81 schools.
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The sample identification process employed purposive sampling (Fink &
Kosecoff, 1985). The process provided a large, representative sample. Fink (1995)
states that the samples are optimal when representative of the whole population.
Fowler (1988) describes the importance of sample selection. The key to good
sampling is finding a way to give all population members the same choice of being
sampled (p. 12). The six cities identified as the study participants represented a
variety of urban school settings and a multitude of schools representing grades PK-
12, including public schools, charter schools, and choice schools.
The use of non-probability methods (Fowler, 1988, 1995) further defined
sample participants. In each of the participant schools, the following people were
identified to complete the survey study: (a) the principal, (b) the two most veteran
teachers, (c) the two least veteran teachers, (d) the PTA/PTO president and vice-
president, and (e) the accountability committee chair and vice-chair. As a result of
findings from the pilot study, the only person identified by name, for contact
purposes, was the principal. All participant surveys were sent to the principal who
was asked to disseminate the surveys to the remaining study designees.
Survey Instrument
A survey instrument was developed for this study based on the EUSPB model.
The EUSPB model identifies behaviors demonstrated by principals of high-
72


performing urban schools. The EUSPB model incorporates research specific to
effective schools, change and reform, and principal leadership.
Eight skill areas/traits are identified in the EUSPB model. These skill
areas/traits are aligned with behaviors demonstrated by principals of high-performing
schools. These skill areas are instructional leadership, change leadership, strong
communication skills, shared decision making and collaboration leadership,
comprehension of the urban context, entrepreneurial leadership, problem-solving
leadership, and overall leadership. The survey incorporated a series of questions
focused on each skill area as it pertained to leadership in high-performing schools.
The survey employed an ordinal method of measurement using a 6 point Likert-type
scale. Survey responses were coded
0 = dont know
1 = strongly disagree
2 = disagree
3 = slightly disagree
4 = slightly agree
5 = agree
6 = strongly agree
Development of the survey questions involved identification of the eight skill
areas/traits from the EUSPB model. Research related to each area/trait was reviewed.
Descriptors of leadership behaviors were listed for each skill area/trait (e.g.,
73


instructional leadership was described as demonstrating knowledge of curriculum).
Using these descriptors, 10 questions were written for each of the eight skill
areas/traits. This produced a total of 80 close-ended questions. Five open-ended
questions also were added to the survey for a grand total of 85 survey questions.
An important additional step in survey question development was question by
question cross referencing. In this regard, each question was assigned a research
citation that affirmed that its usage was supported by research.
Expert Panel Review
A critical step in survey revision involved review of my survey questions by
my Ph.D. advisor and two committee members. This group offered feedback on
clarity of questions, data collection goals for specific questions, and, in one members
case (a former principal), offered the principals perspective.
Among the recommendations given by this group were (a) the survey was too
long, (b) some questions were duplicates, (c) some questions contained two separate
response components, (d) question wording needed to be simplified, (e) questions
needed to be worded according to the participant group (i.e., principals, teachers,
parents), (f) a letter of introduction specific to each participant group needed to be
attached to each survey, (g) a demographics page specific to each participant group
needed to be added to the survey, and (h) individual survey versions needed to be
created for each participant group.
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In addition to this expert panel group, the survey was reviewed by an
.Assessment Director for a large urban school district in Colorado. The Assessment
Directors primary role in the district is to create and implement surveys and analyze
survey results. Much of the Assessment Directors feedback paralleled that of the
Ph.D. committee members. A recommendation was made to simplify the survey and
shorten it. Also recommended was the use of vocabulary on the parent survey that
would be more user friendly. A recommendation to provide the parent survey in
other languages for English as a Second Language parent participation was also taken
under advisement. Although this was an excellent recommendation, time and
resources prohibited its implementation.
Pilot Study
Prior to beginning the pilot study, the number of survey questions was
reduced. In addition, a demographics page was added to each survey. The parent
survey demographic page requested the following information: gender, number of
children in the study school, grades attended by each child, the parents involvement
in the school (e.g., PTA/PTO President), the number of years their child(ren) had
attended the study school, the familys ethnicity, and the parents opinion of the
school facility (e.g., poor physical condition).
The teacher survey demographic page asked study participants for the
following information: gender, ethnicity, grade/area/subject taught, highest degree
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received, years worked with the study schools principal, estimated free/reduced
school lunch rate, ethnic diversity of the school (e.g., moderately diverse), number of
years in teaching, and the teachers opinion of the school facility (e.g., poor
condition).
The principals survey demographic page requested information on gender,
ethnicity, highest degree earned, number of years as a principal, number of years at
the study school, number of students at the school, grade levels served by the school,
estimated free/reduced school lunch rate, ethnic diversity of the school (e.g.,
moderately diverse), the principals opinion of the school facility (e.g., poor
condition), and the principals opinion on the level of support received from the
district specific to funding and other issues.
Recommendations for items to be included on the demographics page came
from the expert panel, the Assessment Director, and issues that I was curious about
after reading the literature. One example of this was the question about the physical
condition of the school facility. I had read so much research that discussed the poor
physical condition of urban schools that I was curious to see if, in fact, this is how
survey participants viewed their schools.
The six schools identified for the pilot study represented grades PK-12. Four
were traditional public schools, one was a charter school, and one was a choice
school. The schools identified represented the top 5% and the bottom 5% performing
schools in a large urban district in Colorado. Permission to complete the pilot study
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required completion of a modified Internal Review Board application. This was
reviewed and approved by the District Assessment Department.
Initially, the pilot surveys were to be sent directly to each study participant.
Upon discussion with the pilot study districts Assessment Director, I was informed
that no names could be released due to the privacy laws. The recommendation was
made that I send all surveys, labeled by participant title, to the principal and have
her/him disseminate the surveys accordingly. This recommendation was followed.
The pilot study had a 63% return rate. Changes resulting from the pilot study
included modifications to the demographics page and realignment of survey
questions. Analysis of the pilot surveys further revealed issues pertaining to the
survey questions. A measure of reliability used in this study was a correlation
coefficient procedure. This reliability measure was used in the pilot study to seek out
duplicate measures or items that were highly correlative in order to fine tune survey
questions (Balnaves & Caputi, 2001; Cozby, 2001; Fink, 1995; Fowler, 1988,1995).
When the questions on the pilot study were correlated with one another, those with a
high correlation of .90 or above were reviewed as possible duplicate measures. Based
on this review, decisions were made about remaining questions for the final survey.
Another outcome of the pilot study was the need to ensure that the parent
surveys numerically coincided with those in the principal and teacher surveys. I
decided that it would be necessary to rearrange parent-survey questions so this could
occur. I also recognized that I needed to be sure that the scale for all three surveys
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used the same verbiage. By matching the scales, data analysis was easier when
matching items between surveys.
Validity and Reliability Measures Employed in This Study
Validity and reliability are key to effective survey design. By applying
validity and reliability measures to survey construction, a perceived foundation of
credibility for the survey is established. Validity, pertaining to instrument design,
addresses the issue of whether a study is measuring what it intends to measure
(Balnaves & Caputi, 2001; Cozby, 2001). Reliability, on the other hand, refers to the
dependability of the instrument used in the study (Balnaves & Caputi, 2001; Cozby,
2001). If an instrument is reliable, it should produce the same results time after time
(Balnaves & Caputi, 2001; Cozby, 2001).
In the framework of this survey study, several measures of validity and
reliability were employed. The use of test scores as the method for identifying the
high- and low-performing schools employed criterion validity measures. Criterion-
related validity, also known as predictive validity, is based on external criterion. Its
focus is prediction rather than explanation. An example of this validity measure is
the use of a high school students ACT scores to predict probable college success
(Balnaves & Caputi, 2001; Cozby, 2001; Fink, 1995,1998).
Content validity measures identify how much a measure covers the range of
meaning included within a concept (Balnaves & Caputi, 2001; Cozby, 2001; Fink,
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1995; Fowler, 1988,1995). Another way to conceptualize this measure is to ask
yourself if the complete content of a definition is represented in the measure (Cozby,
2001). Content validity was employed in this study by measuring effective principal
behaviors in a variety of dimensions. Examples of this include measurement of
communication skills and instructional leadership skills/traits. Each of the categories
identified in the EUSPB model and used in the survey instrument represented a
construct to be measured. The EUSPB model that these categories of questions
employ were formulated based on research that aligns to behaviors of principals who
lead high-performing schools.
Along with the use of validity measures, several reliability measures were
employed in this study. Stability reliability (reliability across time) was used in this
study when the pilot study was conducted prior to initiation of the formal surveys.
This type of reliability measure is also known as the test-retest method (Cozby,
2001). Also employed in this study was equivalence reliability. This measure of
reliability requires the researcher to use multiple indicators to measure the same
construct (Balnaves & Caputi, 2001; Cozby, 2001, Fink, 1995). In this study, the use
of multiple indicators (questions) for each construct (e.g., instructional leadership
skills/traits) created greater instrument reliability.
Data Collection
Data collection for any study is an important step that should follow an
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organized and methodical process (Fowler, 1988, 1995). Every effort was made to
follow a process for survey dissemination that was linear and well organized
(Balnaves & Caputi, 2001).
Internal Review Board Approval
The first step in gaining entry into the targeted districts was to complete each
districts Internal Review Board (IRB) application (except Midwest, because the
superintendent pre-approved the study). This process was completed during the fall
of 2002. Once IRB approval was given, a schedule was set for survey dispersal
beginning in January 2003. Not all surveys went out at the same time. South insisted
no surveys be sent until after all their state testing was completed (May 2003). After
IRB approval, Northeast also required me to contact each targeted schools cluster
leader to gain additional approval prior to survey dissemination to the individual
schools. This process required a month of phone calls before obtaining final
approval. Southeasts IRB did not review applications until February 2003, unlike
other IRBs that gave permission to begin survey dispersal during January 2003.
Therefore, the schedule for survey mailing was as follows:
Midwest, Coastal, North: February 2003
Southeast, Northeast: March 2003
South: May 2003
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Survey Dissemination Process
A color was assigned to each district: Coastal was light blue, Midwest was
yellow, North was light green, Northeast was tan, South was lime green, and
Southeast was white. According to the number of schools identified for each district
in the top and bottom 5%, a total of 729 surveys were slated for distribution. This
number represented the following surveys for each school: one principal survey, four
teacher surveys (one survey for each of the two most veteran teachers and one survey
for each of the two least veteran teachers), and four parent surveys (one each for the
PTA/PTO president and vice-president and one each for the accountability committee
chair and vice-chair). A total of 81 schools were selected to participate in the study.
Of the study schools, 41 were high-performing urban schools and 40 were low-
performing urban schools.
To simplify data analysis, each individual survey was coded on the back of the
last page (Balnaves & Caputi, 2001). Coding identified which school was actually
aligned with each survey and the grade levels represented. A small note was attached
to each individual survey telling the survey participant that these codes were used
only for the purpose of data collection and did not in anyway identify the survey
participant. This assured participants of anonymity (Fink & Kosecoff, 1985).
A letter of introduction accompanied each survey (Appendix E, p. 168) along
with a self-addressed, stamped return envelope. In addition, a letter of consent
(Appendix E, p. 173) with a separate self-addressed, stamped return envelope was
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attached. Thus, each participant received a small packet that contained a letter of
introduction, the survey, a consent letter, and two self-addressed return envelopes.
The principal at each study school served as the main distribution point for all
participant surveys. The decision to have the principal distribute surveys was made
as a result of the pilot study. I learned, as a result of the pilot study, that due to the
privacy act, no parent or teacher participant names could be released.
Each principal received a packet. The packet contained an introductory letter
explaining the study and requesting the principal disseminate the appropriate surveys
to teacher and parent participants. Also included in the principals packet was a copy
of the approval letter from the districts IRB and a letter of consent with a stamped,
self-addressed return envelope.
The principals packet was simplified for distribution. Surveys for teachers
were grouped together and clearly labeled Please distribute to the two least and the
two most veteran teachers. This grouping was intended to allow principal
participants to easily identify the teacher surveys for distribution. The packets were
clearly labeled so that, conceivably, the principal could pass it on to a secretary who
could easily identify the two newest and two most veteran teachers and simply drop it
in their mailbox. The surveys for parents were labeled Please distribute to the
PTA/PTO president and vice-president and accountability committee chair and vice-
chair. Once again the intent of clearly labeling and grouping the parent surveys was
to simplify distribution for principals or a secretary who might be asked to complete
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the task. All principal packets were mailed priority mail service to enhance
delivery and to ensure surveys did not get lost in the regular mail received at the
school.
Due to the exorbitant cost of initial survey reproduction and mailings, a
decision was made to not do a second survey mailing to survey participants. Instead,
a reminder letter was sent to the principals, after the initial mailing, reminding them
to distribute surveys. Survey research affirms the need to do a follow-up contact after
the initial survey is mailed out (Fink, 1905; Fowler, 1988).
Two weeks after the reminder letter was sent to the principal, survey response
was still very low. In an attempt to encourage response, I mailed an incentive to all
study participants, hoping to increase survey responses. Each principal received an
additional reminder requesting completion and return of surveys. A $1 McDonalds
food certificate was attached to the principals letter. A reminder letter with a $1
McDonalds food certificate was also sent for each teacher and parent participant, to
be dispersed through the principal (Appendix G, p. 198-201). The decision to attach
a McDonalds certificate was student based. If participant principals chose not to
distribute the certificates, perhaps they would be given to students.
An exception was made to the aforementioned survey protocol for surveys
sent to South. Because South surveys could not be sent until the second week in May
(to avoid state testing), the McDonalds $1 certificate incentive accompanied each
initial survey.
83