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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A Comparative Study of Leadership and Management in Rural Schools Achieving above Predicted Graduation Outcomes
by Rhode, Brian, Ph.D., State University of New York at Albany, 2020, 166; 27955634
Abstract (Summary)

School systems are expected to demonstrate outcomes that are equitable for all students. Despite an abundance of educational legislation aimed at raising all students’ achievement, gaps persist, especially among critical populations such as economically disadvantaged, English language learners, African-American and Hispanic/Latino students. This study is a comparative study of leadership and management in positive outlier schools and typically performing high schools, the first type has demonstrated a trend of above-predicted graduation outcomes for rural youth.

A review of relevant literature revealed that questions remain about leaders’ instructional leadership and management strategies that influence instructional success. Strategies include rational and symbolic management, tight and loose coupling, alignment and coherence, and educators’ sense-making. Based upon this review, the investigator developed four research questions: 1) What instructional leadership priorities do district central office and school level officials emphasize in their respective positive outlier schools school systems? 2) How do district central office and school level officials align their instructional leadership priorities? 3) How do these officials craft and maintain alignment and coherence around the instructional core? 4) How do frontline professionals make sense of district central office and school level officials’ instructional leadership?

A qualitative multiple case-study analysis was structured to address these research questions. The data comes from a larger set collected as part of a multiple casestudy from NYKids, a research-practice partnership housed at the University at Albany in New York State. Three New York State high schools, two called “positive outlier schools” and one typical performing school, served as the sample.

The several findings lend empirical support to seven conclusions. District office leaders and principals in positive outlier schools employ leadership and management strategies and emphasize discourses which are explicitly student-centered. These leaders also emphasize “agency”, i.e., having voice and choice, in two important populations: students and front-line professionals, especially teachers. Additionally, these district office leaders and principals hold themselves and others accountable for collaboration and timely communication, building trust and improving alignment and coherence in their loosely-coupled organizations. These same district office leaders and principals strategically blend tight and loose coupling mechanisms when they grant teachers and other front-line professionals discretionary authority, i.e., they enjoy choices regarding how they structure and perform their jobs. Finally, these same district central officers and principals emphasize “improvement mindsets” in tandem with adaptive, proactive leadership; serve as skillful resource managers and rely on data in all matters of direction-setting, priority establishment, and resource reallocations.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Lawson, Hal A, Wilcox, Kristen C
Commitee: Lisy-Macan, Lynn
School: State University of New York at Albany
Department: Educational Policy and Leadership
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 81/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership
Keywords: Educational leadership, Educational leadership coherence, Educational leadership priorities
Publication Number: 27955634
ISBN: 9798643179979
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