High school principals in beating the odds schools: using successful leadership practices to increase student achievement Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Carmon, Warnele Renee
    • Affiliation: School of Education
  • A review of the Educational Resource Information Center (ERIC) database uncovered approximately 4,319 documents connected to the role of a school principal, most of which focused on elementary school, with only about 765 focused on high school. Within these 765 documents, only 13 discussed the principal’s influence on achievement. According to this information, not enough research exists on high school principals and student achievement in order to make reform efforts more effective and long-lasting. The scarce research that does exist suggests that leadership practices do influence academic growth (Beck & Murphy, 1994; Bennis & Nanus, 1985; Crawford, 1998; Marzano, Waters, & McNulty, 2005). Three main types of research are utilized to discuss the important effects of school leadership styles on student learning (Leithwood, 2005): (qualitative casestudy evidence, large-scale quantitative evidence, and case studies). In a quantitative study by Gaziel (2007), the relationship between a secondary principal’s instructional leadership and student achievement was scrutinized. Gaziel (2007) found that, although studies showed that a principal’s behavior played a “pivotal role” in students’ academic achievement, there was “vagueness” surrounding the specific behaviors (Gaziel, 2007, p. 17). Gaziel emphasized the importance of looking “for the indirect effect of the principal’s instructional leadership behaviors on student achievement and the contextual variables such as students’ SES background and school size on student achievement” (p. 17). In response to Gaziel and the discoveries of other researchers, this study will utilize interview data with principals in two different sets of high schools to investigate the role that principal leadership “practices” may play in student achievement. The purpose of this study was to examine the key leadership “practices” of principals in two different high school contexts: (a) Beating the Odds (BTO) High Schools and (b) Low-Performing (LP) High Schools. This research study was framed within the 21 leadership responsibilities that Marzano et al. (2005) revealed in their meta-analysis focused on school leadership that works. In their study, Marzano et al. (2005) found that “in broad terms . . . principals can have a profound effect on the achievement of students in their schools” (p. 38). Interestingly, the researchers reported a “.25 correlation between principals’ leadership behavior and student achievement” (Marzano et al., 2005, p. 32). The study revealed that BTO High Schools did a much better job than the LP High Schools at recruiting and maintaining the best teachers by building supportive yet collaborative environments and programs that increase student learning through the best instructional practices. The common themes of this study assisting in increased student achievement include: (a) teachers as academic achievement resources; (b) principals as change agents; (c) school environment as instructional centers; and (d) prep courses and second chance opportunities as ways to monitor and evaluate achievement.
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  • Brown, Kathleen
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