849 Chapters
Medium 9781475811896

“Successful” Principals: A Contested Notion for Superintendents and Principals

JOURNAL OF SCHOOL LEADERSHIP Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

SAMANTHA M. PAREDES SCRIBNER
GARY M. CROW
GERARDO R. LÓPEZ
KHAULA MURTADHA

ABSTRACT: The notion of “success” is narrowly defined and appropriated within an educational context. Typically limited to objective measures of organizational productivity, effectiveness, and efficiency, “successful” principal practices, we argue, engender action and attention to a broader array of issues and interrelationships. In this study, we conducted an exploratory case study drawing from interviews with five superintendents and three principals to probe broader definitions of successful school leadership. Data analysis revealed three themes to guide further research on successful leadership practice: capillarity of leadership actions, principals’ positionality in relation to members of the school community, and principals’ actions as moral ends.

In this era of accountability, the notion of “success” has been narrowly defined and appropriated within an educational context. Test scores, grades, attendance rates, and other markers of productivity have become proxies for success and school achievement. These objective markers of success not only emerge from and reproduce a problematic positivist discourse (English & Papa, 2009) but also reduce our understanding of success to finite variables that are mechanistically determined by a discrete set of inputs (English, 2008; Greenfield & Ribbins, 1993). We believe that success is more than a catchphrase for organizational productivity or school effectiveness or efficiency (Forbes, 1991)—for leaders can be remarkably successful at attaining a desired outcome without taking any action, mobilizing any resources, or doing anything whatsoever. In other words, success engenders more than the simple attainment of a particular goal or objective; it also encompasses the process of realizing that objective as well as the objective itself (Bennis & Nanus, 1985). Yet, this definition is equally problematic; it is quite possible to disarticulate process from outcome.

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Medium 9781475811520

The Leadership of Heritage: Searching for a Meaningful Theory in Official-Language Minority Settings

JOURNAL OF SCHOOL LEADERSHIP Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

CLAIRE LAPOINTE
LYSE LANGLOIS
JEANNE GODIN

ABSTRACT: This article has two purposes: the first is to give a voice to school leaders in official-language minority schools; the second is to present an empirically based critical analysis of some of the main current models in the field of educational leadership in order to verify whether they are relevant in official-language minority settings. This original perspective is gleaned from a research project that is currently being conducted in official French-language minority schools across Canada. The article presents a brief explanation of the Canadian context with regard to the constitutional rights of official-language minorities to education in their language, describes the method used to conduct the first phase of the research project, and presents some of the main findings.

Since the early nineties, the concept of educational leadership has been the central topic in several major English-language publications in the field of school administration (among others, see Begley, 1999; Greenfield, 1995; Hodgkinson, 1991; Macmillan, 2003; Maxcy, 1991; Owens, 1998; Reynolds & Young, 1995; Sergiovanni, 1996, 2000; Sergiovanni, Burlingame, Coombs, & Thurston, 1999; Starratt, 1991, 1997, 2002) as well as, to a lesser extent, in the French-language literature (see Baudoux, 1994; Deblois & Corriveau, 1994; Girard & Daouda, 1999; Langlois & Lapointe, 2002; St-Germain, 1999). These studies have allowed researchers to identify the crucial role played by educational administrators as leaders, and their influence on the degree of success in educational projects. A number of theoretical models have emerged that attempt to explain what educational leadership is and what it ought to be, such as transformational leadership, socio-constructivist leadership, critical leadership, and moral and ethical leadership. Because most of these models have been developed from research conducted in either homogenous linguistic settings or urban, multicultural milieus, their relevance to educational leadership in official-language minority settings is uncertain.

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Medium 9781475811476

A School District’s Search for a New Superintendent

JOURNAL OF SCHOOL LEADERSHIP Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

MARY P. KINSELLA

ABSTRACT : This study explores the process one school district employed in its search for, and selection of, a new superintendent. The research design is a single site case study using qualitative methods. Data collection techniques include observation in the form of “shadowing” a search consultant, document analysis, and open-ended interviews of key informants. The study found that, while professional credentials are important in the initial stages of the search, personal attributes prove critical in the eventual “match” of candidate to school district. The “human connection” is a strong determinant of a candidate’s success or failure in advancing in the search process. The search consultant, employed by the school district, acts as gatekeeper of the process, its people, and all pertinent information. The struggle between a candidate’s privacy and the public’s right to know is a central focus in this case. In effect, both candidate and board circumvent the laws protecting personal privacy in employment practices. The search for a new superintendent is people-centered in every convoluted layer of the process.

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Medium 9781475811957

Addressing the Problems of Homeless Adolescents

JOURNAL OF SCHOOL LEADERSHIP R&L Education ePub

JOSEPH F. MURPHY
KERRI TOBIN

ABSTRACT: Homeless adolescents, known as “unaccompanied youth,” constitute a small but important portion of the overall homeless population, one that needs particular attention at school. In this article, we review existing literature to provide a background for educational leaders, researchers, and policymakers hoping to understand the phenomenon of adolescent homelessness, how it affects students at school, and the various strategies used to address it, including a broad consideration of the effects of adolescent homelessness in and beyond the school context. We also review methods that educators can use to address the problem of homeless youth, including advocating for the needs of this population in a larger policy context.

Homeless adolescents, known as “unaccompanied youth,” constitute a small but important portion of the overall homeless population, one that needs particular attention at school. The phrase “unaccompanied youth” is a “generic term to refer to minors who are outside a family or an institutional setting and who are unaccompanied by a parent or legal guardian” (J. Robertson, 1992, p. 288). It includes youngsters living on the street, in shelters, in group homes, or doubled up with friends or relatives. Among researchers, there is consensus that youth homelessness is both significant and increasing in scope (Reganick, 1997; Ringwalt, Greene, Robertson, & McPheeters, 1998; Rotheram-Borus, Parra, Cantwell, Gwadz, & Murphy, 1996; Russell, 1998). Unfortunately, this group “remains the most under-studied segment of the homeless population” (Whitbeck, Hoyt, & Ackley, 1997, p. 375). In this article, we review existing literature to provide a background for educational leaders, researchers, and policymakers hoping to understand the phenomenon of adolescent homelessness, how it affects students at school, and the various strategies used to address it. We begin with a few words of introduction, then describe the method we used to review the data. We offer a broad consideration of the effects of adolescent homelessness in and beyond the school context. Finally, we review methods that educators can use to address the problem of homeless youth, including advocating for the needs of this population in a larger policy context.

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Medium 9781475811735

Student Achievement and Principal Quality: Explaining the Relationship

JOURNAL OF SCHOOL LEADERSHIP Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

Robert C. Knoeppel

James S. Rinehart

Student Achievement and Principal Quality: Explaining the Relationship

ABSTRACT: This study considered the question, how do principals influence student achievement? We adopted a direct-effects model with antecedent effects to measure the relationship between principal characteristics and student achievement. Using such a model, we postulated that preservice principal characteristics, such as training and experience, enable one to predict principals’ actions in the school setting that influence student learning. Findings reveal that principal characteristics were significant predictors of student achievement and so explained 3.9% of the variance in achievement. Findings also reveal that principals, as currently distributed, may not have the necessary training to implement change in an era of standards-based reform.

What qualities of principals contribute to student learning? The answer to this research question assumes additional significance as educators face impending deadlines for student achievement, as standards for educational leaders are revised, and as states rethink the content of leadership preparation programs. According to Fullan (2003), “what standards were to the 1990s, ‘leadership’ is to the 2000s” (p. 16). A consistent finding from two decades of effective schools research is that successful schools are led by dynamic, knowledgeable, and focused leaders (Kaplan, Owings, & Nunnery, 2005). Other findings indicate that principals set the direction for successful schools and influence student learning (Davis, Darling-Hammond, LaPointe, & Meyerson, 2005; Hallinger & Heck, 2000; Leithwood, Seashore Louis, Anderson, & Wahlstrom, 2004; Waters, Marzano, & McNulty, 2003). Still other findings suggest that principals not only contribute directly to learning, by keeping a focus on student achievement and by providing a school culture conducive to learning and teaching (Davis et al., 2005; Waters et al., 2003), but also directly influence learning by attracting, selecting, and retaining high-quality teachers (Kaplan et al., 2005). Although principals are expected to fulfill myriad roles in their schools, their primary responsibility is to facilitate effective instruction to maximize student achievement (Darling-Hammond, 2007; DeVita, 2007; Haycock, 2007; O’Donnell & White, 2005).

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