Perceptions synchronized: Insights from principals and parents into the role of the principalship

Myrna W Gantner, University of Texas at El Paso


Quality principals are the pivotal point upon which effective schooling turns; however, most principals today are overburdened and overworked. Developing principals' abilities to work with parents, a referent group who could serve in a collegial and supportive role with school leaders, can strengthen the principalship. ^ The researcher developed a survey to compare the perspectives of principals and parents regarding the principal's role. The instrument was administered to campus administrators and parents with a 62% and 40% response rate, respectively. Administrator and parent data were separated into calibration (administrator n = 156, parent n = 254) and validation samples (administrator n = 157, parent n = 255). Exploratory factor analysis using the calibration samples revealed a different number of factors for the principals (4) and parents (3). Hypothesized confirmatory factor analysis models developed with calibration data were subsequently confirmed with the validation samples. ^ The four constructs defined by the administrator model were: (1) Promoting Democratic Participation, (2) Creating the Inviting Culture, (3) Ethical Practice, and (4) Flexibility in Professional Practice. The parent model consisted of three factors: (1) Creating the Inviting Culture, (2) Ethical Practice, and (3) Understanding Families' Beliefs. Administrators and parents share some beliefs, and at the same time, view the role of the principalship, quite differently. ^ Six findings emerged from the analysis: (1) parents are a very heterogeneous group compared to school administrators, (2) parents want to participate in school governance, (3) administrators and parents favor strict adherence to disciplinary policy, (4) administrators interpret the “inviting culture” in terms of courtesy and respect, while parents add democratic participation to that interpretation, (5) parents perceive ethical practice in a broader sense than do administrators, and (6) administrators value flexibility in practice, while parents seem to prefer predictability. ^ Six implications for professional practice are suggested: (1) Recruit talented people who operate from an ethical framework into the principalship, (2) Develop meaningful mentoring experiences for talented recruits, (3) Teach principals about power, “legitimate power,” (4) Teach principals how to “build” people, (5) Invite parents to engage as activists in school governance, and (6) Restructure the role of the principalship to provide time for developing relationships. ^

Subject Area

Education, Administration

Recommended Citation

Gantner, Myrna W, "Perceptions synchronized: Insights from principals and parents into the role of the principalship" (2000). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI9970435.