Principal leadership behaviors in Massachusetts in the era of education reform
This dissertation is a study of school administrators' perspectives on leadership behaviors associated with the role of the school principal. It is guided by five research questions: What behaviors do the participants, as a group, find most/least characteristic of effective principals given contemporary demands of the role; (2) How can the attitudes or perspectives of the participants, as a group, toward effective principal's behaviors be described; (3) Are there any clusters of persons within the group who ranked the descriptors of effective principal behavior similarly; (4) How can the attitudes or perspectives of these clusters of individuals who ranked the descriptors of principal behavior similarly be described; and (5) How are the rankings related to demographic and district characteristics? Thirty principals and other school administrators from eleven (11) Massachusetts school districts and one (1) educational collaborative participated in a q-sort involving 21statements that had been validated in a previous study and completed a follow-up questionnaire that provided an opportunity to comment upon individual statements and to explain why they prioritized the statements as they did. The sorts were subjected to factor analysis to identify any similarities among the sorts. A single factor was carried forward for analysis. Based upon the rankings of statements by the individuals whose sorts loaded on this factor and the qualitative data they provided to explain how they completed the q-sort, the labels "goal-oriented" and "schoolhouse-bound" were applied to this factor. This study then investigates the interaction of education policy and leadership models to connect the findings of this study to the work several prominent researchers and theorists in the field of educational leadership including Blase and Blasé, Sergiovanni, Leithwood, Spillane, and others. Based upon the principal's perspectives it seems likely that this group will continue to refine the teaching and learning processes at their schools to attain higher levels of student achievement, but they are not likely to initiate radical transformations of their schools' cultures. The current policy context of education reform, and for the foreseeable future, reinforces a notion that school leadership is based upon formal authority and technical decision-making.