Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A case study of principal leadership in guiding school and classroom instructional practices in an urban school of diversity
by Flamini, Richard V., Ed.D., Arcadia University, 2010, 356; 3470452
Abstract (Summary)

This study seeks to explore the leadership practices of the principal in a high performing urban school of diversity. Generally speaking, instructional leader effectiveness is often dependent upon the school leader's ability to create an environment where strong professional collaboration, frequent dialogue, and shared norms exist for improving classroom instructional practices (Lambert, 2003). A broad review of literature reveals a substantial history of counterproductive practices that have contributed to an achievement gap among students attending "schools of diversity." The literature reveals that—despite the struggle to provide equal educational access and opportunity for students who are considered poor, minority status, or disabled—some schools continue to use ineffective school and classroom practices.

This study adds to that body of literature by offering an example of effective classroom practices. This work stems from a prolonged investigation of an urban elementary school designated by federal and state education officials as a 'Blue Ribbon School," recognition awarded for demonstrating consistently high levels of student achievement. This study uses questionnaires of officials at this site, interviews with the site leader, a focus group, a review of archival data, non-participant observation of meetings, and lengthy exposure to the research site as its research methods. Collectively, these techniques allow the author to derive a thorough understanding of how the leadership practices of a school principal can contribute to the creation of a high-performing elementary school in an urban setting.

The results of this study suggest several implications for practice. First, instructional leadership in schools of diversity must focus on school and classroom teaching practices to advance students toward higher levels of learning. Secondly, the positional school leader must be committed to sharing leadership among teachers, staff, students and parents. Thirdly, to sustain high levels of student achievement, the development and implementation of empirically-supported teaching methods occurs not individually, but rather, as a part of the school's collective actions. Fourth, the site leader's unmistakable goal to ensure success for all students was guided by her pragmatic thinking and transformational leadership practices.

Consequently, the role of the instructional leader becomes paramount in ensuring that equitable and empirically-supported practices are an integral part of the instructional process; this will be explicitly manifested through the leader's ability to serve less as a classical manager and more as an agent of change. If schools of diversity are to eliminate or reduce the achievement gap, the role of school leadership in guiding organizational and classroom instructional practices must take on new meaning. This research was a preliminary investigation devised to explore the relationship between a site leader's instructional leadership and classroom practices. As such, further study is warranted regarding principal leadership and their role in establishing equitable and exemplary instructional settings for students of diversity.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hickman, Margaret
School: Arcadia University
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 71/08, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: School administration, Special education
Keywords: Blue Ribbon Schools, Diversity, Empirical instructional practices, Instructional leadership, Leadership, Principal, Urban education
Publication Number: 3470452
ISBN: 978-1-124-14385-9
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