Perceptions of school leadership capacity and student achievement

Joe Allen Keith, University of Texas at El Paso

Abstract

The purpose of this research was to examine leadership capacity perceptions in high schools and their relationship to student achievement. The study explored perceptions of leadership capacity of principals, assistant principals and teachers on high school campuses in a border county. Correlation statistics were employed to investigate the existence of relational patterns between Lambert’s (2003) Leadership Capacity Survey and student academic achievement. Results from the math, English-language arts and “all tests taken” portions of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) tests were analyzed and compared with survey results using Pearson r correlations. ^ Extant literature related to the purpose of this study was presented. It offered foundational information helpful to the understanding of results and conclusions, which will follow in chapters 4 and 5. With this in mind, a number of topics were addressed, including leadership capacity, historical backgrounds, the concepts of human and social capital and teacher and principal leadership. Equally important to this area of study is a discussion of leadership style, professional learning communities, professional accountability and the varying roles and responsibilities associated with the principal. ^ In an evaluation of the data reported, the partial correlations between principals, assistant principals and teacher perceptions of seven high school campuses suggests that each campus is individual and unique in its approach to constructivist leadership strategies and approaches, and that collective leadership capacity may not exhibit uniform coherence. Despite some of the correlations being relatively small, considering the context of accountability underpinning mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) , data suggests constructivist leadership fosters positive and calculable influence upon academic performance and achievement. Additional deliberation is required to address the extent perceptions of leadership capacity may be identified through other factors not considered in the survey. ^ Recommendations were made for future research in this area and suggestions for practitioners were offered based on the findings. These include the use of Lambert’s (2003) Leadership Capacity Survey as a resource to identify areas of strength and weakness with those strategies employed at the campus level which aim to support specific characteristics or strategies listed within each quadrant of the survey. Efforts in school improvement can be supported when these characteristics are better defined, accepted and acknowledged daily by school personnel. Mechanisms to provide leadership opportunity to all staff members through a collegial approach are critical to enhancing constructivist leadership at the campus level. ^ Campus leadership, when shared across members, allows for increased constructive analyses and decision making which promote collegial awareness and responsibility for academic success. This study suggests that beyond the individual traits and behaviors of leaders, the perceptions of leadership capacity by principals, assistant principals and teachers can effectively be used to work toward increasing academic achievement. The salient approaches used by members in leadership reflect upon the strategies implemented to secure sustained academic improvement. These efforts aim to promote the development of shared visions that foster broad-based leadership practice and program coherence. These strategies stimulate opportunities for effective decision making capacities, reflective practice and professional innovation (Lambert, 2003).^

Subject Area

Education, Administration

Recommended Citation

Keith, Joe Allen, "Perceptions of school leadership capacity and student achievement" (2009). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI3371746.
http://digitalcommons.utep.edu/dissertations/AAI3371746

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