Relationship between teachers' perceptions of principal leadership behaviors and instructional choices of reading interventions for at risk students
Reform is a way of professional life for principals and teachers in our school systems. The magnitude of the changes brought about by No Child Left Behind in 2001 has resulted in a significant paradigm shift in the educational system. The nationwide call to increase student achievement is a challenge for principals leading their school to adapt to these fundamental changes. Principals must be equipped with strong leadership behaviors to provide the supports necessary to staff and students to effectuate change. Principal leadership adds value to the impact teachers have on student achievement, and it provides a covenant that fundamental and sustained change can happen. The challenge for principals responsible for facilitating, supporting and changing their school system to adapt to these changes is to establish the infrastructures necessary to support these fundamental transformations. High-quality teachers as well as strong principal leadership are essential to achieve educational reform.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between teachers' perceptions of the principal's leadership behaviors and teachers' instructional choices of reading interventions for at-risk students. The principal leadership behaviors included (1) provides vision, (2) models appropriate behavior, (3) fosters commitment to goals, (4) provides individualized support, (5) provides intellectual stimulation, and (6) holds high expectations. Instructional interventions were defined as instructional choices by teachers for at-risk students in reading that included one-to-one instruction, small group instruction, adapted core reading curriculum materials, and instructional technology. Students defined as at risk did not meet a specified reading benchmark score, the lowest score that predicts reading success as determined on the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS, Institute for the Development of Educational Achievement [Institute], 2002) assessment.
The Principal Leadership Questionnaire (PLQ, Valentine & Lucas, 2000) was administered to kindergarten through second grade teachers in six elementary schools who had students identified as at risk for learning to read. Focus groups were conducted with teachers in four of the six elementary schools to add breadth and depth to some responses from the leadership questionnaire.
The data revealed themes of effective principal leadership in schools undergoing reform. These themes include (1) teachers who had a higher level of education had higher expectations of themselves and their students, and principals had a higher expectation of the teachers; (2) ongoing professional development opportunities for teachers are critical for schools undergoing reform. Therefore, teachers who were supported by their principal through professional development opportunities and adequate resources in their classrooms revealed strong support for their principal's vision for the school; (3) principals who were strong in one principal leadership behavior were also strong in the other principal leadership behaviors; and finally, (4) teachers who perceived their principals as strong in principal leadership behaviors were able to articulate the school vision, worked toward group goals, and promoted school-wide efforts to raise student achievement.
0524: Elementary education