Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Role of the Central Office in Shaping Instructional Leadership: How Does the Central Office Help and Hinder the Work of School Administrators?
by Hutchinson, Leslee Marie, Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2017, 220; 10260981
Abstract (Summary)

Instructional leadership for school leaders is a complex, multifaceted task. Central office leaders can and must support the instructional leadership of school leaders. Yet the central office can sometimes present roadblocks that make it challenging for principals to be effective instructional leaders. Complicating matters is the impact of context, which can influence the ways that the central office supports or hinders the instructional leadership of school administrators.

This exploratory study examined the ways that the central office supported or hindered the instructional leadership of school administrators. It also examined the way that school district size, type and access to resources may have impacted those interactions. Participants included central office staff involved in teaching and learning as well as school principals and assistant principals in six public school districts in Pennsylvania. A qualitative design was employed. Fifty-one participants were interviewed and asked to provide documents related to curriculum, instruction, professional development, and/or assessment.

Central office administrators played a role in managing curriculum, assessment, professional development, and expectations in school districts. Supportive practices included fostering connections between and among school administrators, skill-building/mentoring, and shielding school administrators from community issues and state mandates. Practices that created roadblocks included lack of expertise and quality work products, failure to bring school administrators together around collaborative work, lack of trusting relationships, and failure to shield school administrators from community issues and state mandates. Tension around the balance between school autonomy and coherence to district mandates/needs, the process of change, feedback and accountability, and philosophical differences created additional roadblocks. Context was a relevant factor in the areas of trust and relationships, the amount of autonomy granted to school administrators, and the role of resources.

Four main conclusions were drawn. In the districts studied, there was little work on the part of central office around instructional strategies. The central office played a more direct role as instructional leaders in schools housed in smaller districts. When the central office engaged in supportive practices, fewer tensions were reported by participants within districts. Finally, the central office provided the “glue” that held schools together within a district.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Desimone, Laura
Commitee: DeFlaminis, John, Russell, Barbara
School: University of Pennsylvania
Department: Educational and Organizational Leadership
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 78/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, School administration, Education
Keywords: Central office, District office, Instructional leadership, School administration, School leadership
Publication Number: 10260981
ISBN: 978-1-369-82741-5
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