Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Investigating Leadership Distribution in Three Elementary Schools: A Case Study
by Kahlouch, Mustapha Badis, Ed.D., The George Washington University, 2016, 211; 10076389
Abstract (Summary)

The Delta School System (DSS) developed a platform to shift their school educational leadership from a traditional one to a 21st century school leadership relying on a more collaborative setting and a distributed leadership model. This research focuses on part of that initiative by exploring the implementation of the distributed leadership model in three of their elementary schools. This exploratory case study examined the strategies used by three active elementary principals to distribute the school leadership functions and tasks related to instructional coordination and improvement, building management, and boundary spanning-functions among the members of their respective school leadership teams. It was important to uncover how and to whom specific leadership functions are being distributed and whether any distribution pattern emerges. This study also provided evidence of the challenges experienced by the principals when faced with leadership distribution in schools and illustrated the factors that enabled or hindered the implementation of the distributed leadership theory in schools.

The findings of the study highlighted the pivotal role that the principal plays in setting up the stage for the implementation of the distributed leadership model. This includes the development of a shared vision for the school as well as the implementation of a set of practices that value the professional expertise of the school staff and foster their interest and collaboration in the school improvement process. Much of the evidence indicated that the distributed leadership model can be implemented within the traditional design of the school but require a shift in thinking about the roles, responsibilities, and power structure in the school in order to create an environment conducive to collaboration with a flatter structure. This model appears to flourish under a culture of trust where collaboration, consensus, and mutual respect exist.

The research findings suggested that the most common leadership distribution form was a distribution by design (Spillane, 2004). This form is accomplished with formally designed positions through which the school leader strategically influences the assignment of responsibilities. It is goal-oriented with a distribution around the contours of expertise. It has a professional development orientation as principals monitor and coach leadership team members to become independent (Harris, 2008; Leithwood et al, 2007; MacBeath, 2004).

The distributed leadership model did not result in less work for the school leaders but shifted their roles to linking tasks and coordinating leadership functions while maintaining sole responsibility for some functions. Professional developments in the area of interpersonal skills as well as the management of the challenges associated with collaborative settings seem to be a precondition for the implementation of this leadership model.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Lemasters, Linda K.
Commitee: Emerson, Joseph T., Hellman, Victor
School: The George Washington University
Department: Educational Administration and Policy Studies
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 77/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, School administration, Elementary education
Keywords: Elementary schools, Investigating, Leadership distribution
Publication Number: 10076389
ISBN: 978-1-339-58690-8
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