Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Liberation through preparation: Building capacity to lead America's urban schools
by Hert, Christopher J., Ed.D., University of Southern California, 2010, 274; 3418256
Abstract (Summary)

Achieving higher levels of learning for all children has become the 21st century educational challenge across the nation. Substantial evidence exists that principals can have a profound effect on the learning climate, educational programs, and professional norms of practice in schools; however, controversy still reigns over the effects of principal practice on student learning. Scant attention has been paid to evaluating the efficacy of programs and practices for the professional development and retention of school principals and validation of existing assessments of principal leadership practice against measures of student achievement. This study was designed to explore these gaps in the empirical literature by investigating the impact of the Dunkin (Pseudonym) ISD Principal Coaching Initiative (DPCI) on leadership practice. The DPCI is a district-wide executive leadership capacity-building program that combines the district’s standards-based leadership curriculum with a leadership coaching support structure for principals. This study was designed to address the following research questions: (1) How does participation in the Dunkin ISD Principal Coaching Initiative (DPCI) prepare principals to become effective instructional leaders? (2) How does the DPCI influence the knowledge, beliefs, and leadership practices of urban school principals? (3) How does an urban school principal create and sustain organizational structures and processes that promote effective teacher practice and improve student outcomes? (4) What leadership support structures enable leader practice? (5) How can the VAL-ED Instrument serve as a coaching tool to assist principals to become effective instructional leaders? The focus for these two case studies was on assessing how participation in the DPCI influenced leader practice and on investigating how, in turn, leader practice influenced teacher professional practice.

Data were collected from pre/post VAL-ED leadership surveys, interviews with principals, teachers, school documents/artifacts, and principal and classroom observations. The VAL-ED 360 degree survey measured core components that support the learning of students and enhance the ability of teachers to teach and key processes leaders use to create and manage core components.

The findings showed that both case study principals felt the DPCI was a valuable experience that, in fact, aided them in their journey toward becoming more effective school leaders. The findings from this study support the use of a leadership capacity building program as a tool to develop and support urban school principals; however, further research is needed to determine the effectiveness of the initiative over a sustained length of time.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Reed, Margaret C.
Commitee: Escalante, Michael, Marsh, David
School: University of Southern California
Department: Education(Leadership)
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 71/09, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Educational leadership, School administration
Keywords: Capacity building, Leadership, Leadership development, Principal, Support, Urban, Urban education
Publication Number: 3418256
ISBN: 9781124163963
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