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Evans, Daniel James.
Secondary principals at the center of school reform :
h [electronic resource] /
b portraits of leadership
by Daniel James Evans.
[Tampa, Fla] :
University of South Florida,
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 208 pages.
(Ed.D.)--University of South Florida, 2011.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic dissertation) in PDF format.
ABSTRACT: The number of studies related to school reform and principal leadership styles confirms both the interest in how the two might be related and the enigma that schools and principals present as research topics. The art and science of school reform is hard to figure. While many studies attempt to make sense of an overlapping and competing set of variables that are found in good schools, nearly all studies have confirmed some support for principals as a key ingredient to school improvement. This study seeks to add to the increasing amount of research related to principal leadership styles in an era of increasing levels of accountability. The focus for this study was on four high school principals who were identified as "successful" by their central office superintendents. Each of the principals was a veteran administrator in three of the six largest school districts in Florida. This study's initial focus was on site-based management and the amount and degree of control afforded the principal, teachers and parents in secondary schools. The literature review found that site-based management by itself could not be confirmed as a reliable, research-supported school reform protocol. In each case where site-based management or distributed leadership was found to be successful, the principal was the key antecedent to the school improvement. This study sought to add to the research on principal leadership styles by providing a qualitative view on the lives and efforts of the principals in these four schools. The study employed a phenomenological approach and used a technique called portraiture to paint the narratives of the four participants. The interviews and site visits provided a great deal of data and produced four key themes or tendencies found in all four principals: They tended to be I-focused, We-focused, Servant-focused, and Learning-focused. These four styles of leadership were found to be both overlapping and paradoxical. Though each of the participants had slightly different leanings, all of them shared aspects of the four tendencies. The study adds to the growing research on school reform and principal leadership styles and provides a deeper understanding of each through its use of phenomenological methods.
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Janesick, Valerie J..
x Educational leadership Educational Administration
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
Secondary Pr incipals at the Center of School Reform: Portraits of Leadership b y Daniel J. Evans A d issertation submitt ed in partial fulfillment o f the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education Department of Educ ational Leadership and Policy Studies College of Education University of South Florida Major Professor: Valerie J. Janesick, Ph.D. Sherman Dorn, Ph.D. Zorka Karanxha, Ed.D. William Young Ed.D. Date of Approval: February 23, 2011 Keywords: Distribu ted Leadership, Site Based Management, Transformational Leadership, Phenomenological Copyright 2011, Daniel J. Evans
Acknowledgements I would like to take this time to recognize the care, support and guidance provided to me by the members of my doct oral committee and especially the invaluable contributions of my committee chair: Dr. Valerie Janesick. Without her constant prodding and vigilance to the integrity of this document I would never have completed this study in the time and manner in which it was constructed. Her attention to detail and appreciation for good scholarship c ontributed much to this paper and to my personal growth. For that I am grateful. I would also like to pay tribute to the four principals who boldly shared their stories and w ork lives with me. I endeavored to present their cases in fairness to them and in honor of their daily sacrifice. In this way, I want to acknowledge the work of all principals. For all principals in all schools I am grateful. Finally, I want to offer my h eartfelt thanks to my family and friends for their unaltered belief in me and in the uncertain certainty that this dissertation would someday somehow be completed. To the fellow members of my doctoral cohort, I say thank you for your courage of convict ions and for the odyssey of intellectualism and emotionality that we shared. To my wife Judy and son Connor, I thank you for giving me time and for your unwavering understanding of my purpose Y ou continually believed in me even when I stopped believing in myself. need s a hero and y ou two are the heroes of my life epic.
i Table of Contents List of Tables i v List of Figures v Abstract v i Chapter One: Introduction 1 Statement of the Problem 3 Purpose of the Study 5 Importance of the Study 5 Exploratory Questions 6 Definitions 6 Literature Review 8 Research Design 10 Theoretical Perspective 10 Boundaries of the Study 13 Conclusion 1 3 Chapter Two: Literature Review 15 Introduction 15 Research Summary 17 Decision Making Theory 26 A Review of Leadership Theory 27 Decentralization and Site Base d Management 32 Research Studies 35 Teacher Participation / Influence / Empowerment 41 Parent Participation / Influence / Empowerment 46 Organizational Conditions for Quality School Reform 49 The Struggle for Power and Control 54 Re alizations / Ponderings / Provocations 58 Conclusion 61 Chapter Three: Methodology 63 Introduction / Rationale 63 Phenomenology: A Theoretical Framework 64 Portraiture : A Technique 67
ii The Role of the Researcher 72 Data Collection Met hods 74 Pilot Study 76 77 Site Based Documents 77 Interview Format 78 Interview Protocol 79 Data Analysis / Interpretation 81 Participant Selection / Criterion Sampl ing 82 Dissertation Timeline 83 Ethical Considerations 84 Conclusion 85 Chapter Four: Presentation of Data 87 Introduction 87 Settings and Context 88 Data Collection and Analysis 89 The Participants 91 The First Case: Mr. Jack Ruddy 93 Prologue Principal Ruddy 93 Principal Ruddy -School Setting / Context 94 Principal Ruddy -View s on Le adership 98 Principal R uddy -Views on School Reform 101 Principal Ruddy -Views on School Culture / Decision Making 10 3 Epilogue Principal Ruddy 10 6 The Second Case: Mr. Sean Rust 107 Prologue Principal Rust 107 Principal Rust -School Setting / Context 108 Principal Rust -View s on Leadership 111 Principal Rust -Views on School Reform 11 4 Principal Rust -Views on School Culture / Decision Making 115 Epilogue Principal Rust 119 The Third Case: Mrs. Sheila Stone 12 1 Prologue Principal Stone 12 1 Principal Stone -School Setting / Context 122 Principal Stone -View s on Leadership 12 6 Principal Stone -Views on School Reform 128 Pr incipal Stone -Views on School Culture / Decision Making 130 Epilogue Principal Stone 134 The Fourth Case: Mr. Gabe Brightly 13 6 Prologue Principal Brightly 13 6 Principal Brightly -School Setting / Context 13 7 Principal Brightly -View s on Leadership 13 9
iii Principal Brightly -Views on School Reform 14 3 Principal Brightly -Views on School Culture / Decision Making 14 5 Epilogue Principal Brightly 149 Chapter Five: Research Findings 151 Intr oduction 151 Key Themes / Findings 153 I Focused Leadership 155 We Focused Leadership 15 8 Servant Focused Leadership 161 Learning F ocused Leadership 164 Implications of the Stud y 167 Research Terms / Complexities and Criticisms 168 Impact on Future Studies 170 Response to the Current Literature 172 Implications for Professional Practice 174 Impact of the Study on the Researcher 175 Conclusion 176 References 178 Appendices Appendix A: Interview Protocol 189 Appendix B: Letter to Interviewees 190 Appendix C: Consent Form for Interviewees 192 Appendix D: Second Reviewer Form 19 4 Appendix E: Member Check Form f or Interviewees 195 Appendix F: Samp le Reflective Journal 196 About the Author End Page
iv List of Tables Table 1: Five Common Leadership Theories 30 Table 2: The Five Essential Elements of Portraiture 70 Tab le 3: Dissertation Timeline 84 Table 4: Participant Summary 9 2 Table 5: Data Findings for Mr. Ruddy 106 Table 6: Data Findings for Mr. Rust 1 20 Table 7: Data Findings for Mrs. Stone 13 5 Table 8: D ata Findings for Mr. Brightly 1 50 Table 9: Data Findings / Four Key Tendencie s 154 Table 10: Qualities of I Fo cused Leaders 156 Table 11: Qualities of We Focused Leaders 160 Table 12: Qualities of Servant F ocused Leaders 162 Table 13: Qualities of Learning F ocused Leaders 166
v List of Figures Figure 1: Summary of Data Collection and Analysis 89 Figure 2 : Overla pping and Paradoxical Aspects of Key Leadership Tendencies 169
v i ABSTRACT The number of studies related to school reform and pri ncipal leadership styles confirms both the interest in how the two might be related and the enigma that schools and principals present as research topics. The art and science of school reform is hard to figure. While many studies attempt to make sense of a n overlapping and competing set of variables that are found in good schools, nearly all studies have confirmed some support for principals as a key ingredient to school improvement. This study seeks to add to the increasing amount of research related to pr incipal leadership styles in an era of increasing levels of accountability. The focus for this study office superintendents. Each of the principals was a veteran admini strator in three of the based management and the amount and degree of control afforded the principal, teachers and parents in secondary schools. The literature review found tha t site based management by itself could not be confirmed as a reliable, research supported school reform protocol. In each case where site based management or distributed leadership was found to be successful, the principal was the key antecedent to the sc hool improvement. This study sought to add to the research on principal leadership styles by providing a qualitative view on the lives and efforts of the principals in these four
vii schools. The study employed a phenomenological approach and used a technique called portraiture to paint the narratives of the four participants. The interviews and site visits provided a great deal of data and produced four key themes or tendencies found in all four principals: They tended to be I focused, We focused, Servant focu sed, and Learning focused These four styles of leadership were found to be both overlapping and paradoxical. Though each of the participants had slightly different leanings, all of them shared aspects of the four tendencies. The study adds to the growing research on school reform and principal leadership styles and provides a deeper understanding of each through its use of phenomenological methods.
1 Chapter One INTRODUCTION The entire notion of changing a school from bad to good is as daring as it is dire. It is daring in its sc ope, in its breadth, and in its import It is dire in that many of have tried and failed, undone by the weight of their task Those daring few are often left uncertain and uninspired, bereft of their spiri t Improving schools, especially public schools, has been the inspiration of educators, parents and policy makers for much of the past half century. It is a fanciful notion that is wrought with s pirited debate from the resilient teacher to the resolute adm inistrator. After thousands of research studies we know everything about ensuring We know that there is no wise old man w ho has all the answers. We know the re is neither a seminal text to read nor a market on the one best way. There is no program. There is no formula. There is only salad. Many mixtures are tried and some of them even taste good at first Still the right blend is hard to find and much of what we try in schools quickly becom es familiar and soggy T here is one idea though, that is rarely debated and never d ebunked. There is one ingr edient to all good schools: hiring a good principal In the research conducted during
2 the past half century about successful school reform, the principal was always at the center ( Lewis & Murphy, 2008; Gurr, Drysdale & Mulford, 2006; Ouchi, 2003; Hallinger & Murphy, 1987 ). Interes tingly, the vision we have of a successful school leader varies widely from principled autocrat to caring matriarc h, from the stern, h a llway general to th e nurturing mentor. The research on school reform also supported principals having control to make the changes necessary in their own buildings, and often the best principals chose to share that control with others (such as teacher s and parents) ( Leithwood & Ri ehl, 2003 ; Lewis & Murphy, 2008, Ouchi, 2003; Earley et al., 2002; Fullan, 1999; Beck & Murphy, 1998 ) The movement toward great er jurisdiction for schools fell under the headin g of sc hool based management site based management or decentralization For purposes of this study, all three terms were consider ed initially under the heading of site based management (or SBM). Still, not all principals in the research use d site based authority in the same manner. Some share d their decision maki ng with others and some did not. The more modern term distributed leadership came into currency to describe a decision making style that was collaborative and inclusive. In reviewing the research distri buted leadership was found to be a nother common antecedent to most successful school improvement initiatives Many studies show ed that teachers and principals, when operating as collabo rative, collegial professionals, could make gre at strides in improving student achievement ( Earley et al., 2002; Fullan & Watson, 2000; Newman & Wehlage, 1995; Louis & Marks, 1998) This was typically made easier in schools that employ ed site based management and in schools where
3 principal s had the self confidence to make dar ing decisions and to involve others in making those decisions. Statement of the Proble m In most school districts across the United States, principals still lack control over many of the things that happen in their buildings. In fact, o nly one third of all school districts employ some version of site based management (Kedro, 2004). Moreover, the majority of principals still have no budgetary control, many are not permitted to interview and hire the teachers they want, and some don rs in their own schools (Kedro, 2004; Ingersoll, 2003). The lack of power given to principals (and, in turn, teachers) is in line with the limited training provided to principals on issues related to finances, curri culum and policy ( Ouchi, 2003). This come s at a time when principals are at the center of school improvement and accountability demands. Most principals in most schools are trained and selected to be what the usually are -middle managers who follow school district policy and who make few decisi ons that are not handed down by central office superintendents Even when school districts claim ed to implement site based management, many decisions remain ed at the regional and central offices ( Fullan & Watson, 2000). The slow movement toward full scale decentralization may be due to political hindrances in light of the power play between central office leaders and school leaders (Malen, 1994). At the very least, some re search on decentralization called into question the motives behind central office supe rintendents and their willingness to share their power and control with others (Malen, 1994).
4 School d istricts that gave control over to their principals have not found it to be an easy fix. Moreover, the notion that site based management alone will impro ve student achievement was found to be flawed and not supported by the research (Fullan & Watson, 2000; Fullan 1991, 1999 ; Murphy & Beck, 1995; Odden & Archibald, 2001; Ouchi, 2003 ) In review ing the literature on school districts that employ site based ma nag ement, there were mixed results a round student achievement. It was clear that some schools found great succes s in raising student performance while others did not. Most studies show ed no clear connection between site based management as a way of wo rk an d i mproved student metrics ( Fullan & Watson, 2000; Fullan, 1991, 1999; Murphy & Beck, 1995) Put another way, site based management practices did because they exist ed. Instead, the research showed that the effectiveness of site based managem ent teacher growth and school reform was tied to the effectiveness of the as with most intervention s (Fullan & Watson, 2000; Kose, 2009). More recent interpretations of site based management focused on schools that employ ed distributed forms of leadership that involve d principals, teachers, parents (and even community leaders) j oi ning forces to improve student learning The principals in those schools often pursue d a tra nsformational style of leadership that sought to raise the expectat ions of the school empl oyees and parents toward a higher cause or vision ( Cambron McCabe & McCarthy, 2005 ). Furt her, some principals called on those around them to take on school improvement through a social justice / advocacy lens (Anderson, 2009). In tho se schools, principals challenge d their teachers (and parents) to become more entrepreneurial in helping students overcome their diff iculties and to be less cookie
5 cutter in their solutions (Anderson, 2009). In light of this movement toward greater empower ment of school principals and their staffs this study focused on principal leadership styles and empowerment efforts in an effort to extract data that would inform leadership practice and improve schools Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study was to describe and expl ain the per spectives of secondary school principals regarding their leadership styles and empowerment efforts in the era of accountability The study attempt ed to siphon and pool the critical actions that those pri ncipals took in ma king decisions, fashioning consensus and build ing community in their schools. The study focus ed on how principals built collaborative culture s because the research showed that princip als and teachers who work ed closely together wer e more likely to make las ting change in student achievement ( Earley et al., 2002; Full an, 1999). This typically began with a principal who worked to develop a climate of trust and respect (Blase & Blase, 2001 ; Short & Greer, 2002 and Wall & Rinehart, 1998) Certainly, the research showed that n ot all principals who had site based authority share d their power genuinely and equally with teachers and parents (Malen, 199 9). This study look ed at data sources that spoke to the decision making and power structures within the schools in li ght of this research. Importance of the Study This study was conducted to add to the current body of research on p rincipal
6 leadership styles and shared decision making In particular, the significance of this study was as follows: 1.) To info rm leadership preparation and practice for current and aspiring school principals; 2.) To provide a clearer road map for success for new school principals, especially thos e who are attempting to use a shared decision making style ; 3.) To build on the curre nt research surrounding site based management and distributed leadership in hopes of adding con text and practical steps to existing research that is largely the oretically ; 4.) To capture and preserve the voices of the principals who are impl ementing school reform in the current age of accountability ; 5.) To contribute to the conversation. Exploratory Questions The following expl oratory questions were used to guide this study: 1.) What elements constitute the perspectives about school reform and sh ared decision making ? 2.) Wha perspectives about school reform and shared decision making ? Definitions Th e following definition s of terms wer e derived from the review of the literature (see Chapter Two ) and are provided as a matter of clarity to the reader. Site based management : The aut hority provided to school principals and staff members
7 to make decisions related to all (or nearly all) finan cial, curricular and personnel matters at the school. Decentralization: The idea of shifting decision making authority from a large central location to a smaller, local or regional site In school systems, it is providing schools with broader powers and greater control and lessening the number decisions that are made by the School Boa rd or central offices. Collaborative Culture / Collegial Culture: These terms are synonymous and describe a school setting in which decisions are made with a great amount of input from the teachers and parents, where teachers are given time to work in pr ofessional teams, and where professional growth comes from sh ared experiences and professional conversations that Distributed Leadership: This term describes a leadership style that engages many people in making school based decisions, including school administrators, teachers, parents and community members. The term is presented in this study to describe collaboration around substantive decisions and not simply process and structural concerns. Transf ormational Leaders hip: A theory of leadership that involves shaping and sharing a vision, inspiring those in an organization to perform at the highest levels by appealing to their sense of morality, passion and enthusiasm for a common cause.
8 Social Just ice Leadership: transforming the culture, curriculum, atmosphere and school wide priorities to benefit students who struggle (and those who are often marginalized in a large system) students of co lor, low socio economic levels, etc. Related term: Advocacy Leadership. Literature Review This stud y reviewed more than 100 articles and books on the topic s of site based management, decentralization and shared decision making Of the studies reviewed, n early all of them showed positive benefits to site based management and shared decision making (though not always the benefits that the resear chers expected to see). There we re four key findings from this literature review. 1.) Site based management, no matter what for m is takes, is not directly linked to student achievement (ie. learning gains ) (Fullan & Watson, 2000 ). 2.) Site based management is a process that supports better collaboration (but it does not work as a solution in and of itself). Though s ite based management done well (with an instructional focus) does support many aspects of student learning, site Ouchi, 2003; Odden & Archibald, 2001; Fullan & Watson, 2000; Fullan, 1991 ). 3.) Learning gain s are typically found in schools that have colla borative culture s in place and where true (Newman & Wehlage, 1995; Louis & Marks, 1 998). 4.) Even in schools that employ site based management practices, not al l principals empower other stakeholders in making decisions. Schools tend of improve only when the
9 principal engenders collaboration and a common purpose among the stakeholders (Leithwood & Riehl, 2009; Lewis & Murphy, 2008, Ouchi, 2003; Earley et al., 200 2; Beck & Murphy, 1998 ). Not all the research studies, though, were easy to quantify, many reported findings that were not statistically significant and most were impossible to generalize. On e obvious flaw in the research was a lack of true comparison data as one school (or school district ) wa s much different than the next. It is just too difficult to say that what works in Edmonton, Alberta will work in Macon, Georgia Other shortcoming s with the current research were with the methodologies that tried to find correlations between site based management and student learning gains. In most studies, there we re too many variables in play to credit site based management with having any true affect on learning. With so many variables contribu ting to student succe ss, there wa s just too much showed that most studies were limited to one or two schools (or school d istricts) and that, again, made the data hard to generalize. It i s fair t o say that most studies show ed that site based management did nvironment) for positive change to occur. The research clearly showed a connection between effective principals and student achievemen t, especially in schools where principals a nd teachers we re coll aborative partners in learning, where di stributed leadership practices we re in place, and where principals, teachers and parents share d a common vision ( Leithwood & Riehl, 2009; Lewis & Murphy, 2008, Ouchi, 2003; Earley et al., 2002; Fullan & Watson, 2000; Beck & Murphy, 1998).
10 Research Design Th e design of previous studies produced gaps in the literature that this study begins to address. The research to date on effective principals and their efforts around capacity building had been mostly quantitative in nature, drawing much information from survey data (including the Leadership Practices Inventory and the Shared Educational Decisions Survey Revised). The literature rarely provided context a nd scarcely captured the words and actions of the principals themselves. Additional issues surrounding the previous research are discussed above and in Chapter Two. It is my hope that t he litera ture will be enriched through this qualitative st udy that sought to capture the insights from the principals in their real world environments The study focus e d on high school s that we re in the middle of ongoing reform efforts and attempt ed to captur e key themes that emerge d from those schools Theoret ical Perspective The theoretica l framework for this study falls under the research paradigm of phenomenology. This qualitative research arena focuses on the lived expe riences of the identified participants or phenomena ( Moustakas 1994 ) in hopes of better understanding the social reality of the participants themselves (Leedy & Ormrod, 2001). Phenomenology is seen as the ecause it focuses the research on the participant and requires the researcher to arrive with n o preconceived notions about what might be uncovered through the data collection process (Moustakas 1994). Phenomenology, step by step, attempts to eliminate everything that represents a
11 prejudgment, setting aside presuppositions, and reaching a transcen dental state of freshness and openness, a readiness to see in an unfettered way, not threatened by the customs, beliefs, and prejudices of normal science, by the habits of the natural world or This theoretical framework best fit this study because my focus wa s on individual principals and their lived experiences with school reform efforts The dat a collected came from the principals and repre sent ed their perceptions of what wa s real, as well a s my perceptions of reality based on what I saw and hear d in the moment. Moustakas (1994 ) outlines three core processes of transcendental phenomenology Epoche The idea of approaching the research without judgment, to see what is before you without all the biases th at typically come with the typical world view. revisited, freshly, naively, in a wide Transcendental Phenom enological Reduction The idea that each experience i s considered in its singularity and recorded with great detail. Moustakas calls for the researcher to gather a complete description of the phenomenon with all its colors, sights, sounds, etc. Imagina tive Variation The idea that the researcher must also get at the structural essences of the experience. Moustakas calls for the researcher to use the senses, imaginations, as well as intuition and intellect to correctly complete the picture. This Imagin ative Variation c ombines with the more textural aspects of the
12 Reduction (see above) to synthesize the data. Phenomenology is an appropriate framework for qualitative methods because it recognizes that no greater reality exists beyond what the participan t experiences. The data gathered by the researcher is first hand and in real time, adding to its authenticity. Denzin settings, attempting to make sense of, or interpret, phenomena in terms of the means tempt to use a number of techniques to capture this reality. I used empirical m ethods (recorded inte rviews, the analysis of school based documen ts and reflective journaling ) to accurately present the principal s and their settings : to paint their realities as they and I saw them. Specifically, I used the qualitative technique of portraiture to capture and authenticate the lived experiences of the p rincipals. Portraiture is a narrative technique that integrates the compelling stories of the participants themselves with the exacting measure s of a social scientist (Lawrence Lightfoot & Hoffman Davis, 1997 ). I conduct ed two interviews with the principal s and developed protocol s that sought t o uncover each ghts regarding school reform, teacher and parent empowerment, and culture building (see Appendix A ). I fully embraced the subjective nature of this approach and was true to the task by e ndeavoring
13 Boundaries of the Study Identifying principals who had similar expe riences with school reform efforts was certainly difficult. Though there we re many high schools to choose from the experience of the pri ncipals in each school varied greatly. The prox imity of the principals also posed a bit of a problem as, for three of the four participants, I had to travel more than two hours to visit the schools. There were also regional differences in each school and t hat was an unexpected finding that certainly impacted the participant perceptions and their responses. I chose to co nduct the interviews in person and, while that was certainly preferable, it made it difficult to schedule time that was convenient for both me and the participants. I trusted that the p rincipals were forthcoming with their answers and I believe that they were Still, this was a concern throughout the study. Of course, I am also a limitation of this study. As a researcher, I recognize my own f aults and biases that could provide stumbling blocks to my data collection and interpr etation. I hope to build of level of trust with the reader of this study as well. I can do this through the practice of transparency (Rubin & Rubin, 2005) in discussing m y study, my methodology, and my experiences. All researchers accomplish a level of credibility by keeping careful records and by being conscientious and sensitive to the task (Rubin & Rubin, 2005). I will use meticulous practices to ensure that my data is accurate and authentically presented. Conclusion Chapter One introduce d the pu rpose of this study and provided a brief review of
14 the research design. The next chapter will present and synthesize the relevant literature related to principal leadership sty les, site based management and shared decision making in schools. The literature was considered in light of my re search interest in studying principals and their perceptions of school leadership and site based reform The literature review further ed my und erstandings of the current research on school leadership and inform ed my methodology so that the design of the study and the findings could add to the current body of research and contribute to the professional conversation.
15 Chapter T wo L ITERATURE REVIEW a renegade, an outlaw, and a troublemaker William C. Ouchi (2003) Introduction To know the story of Edmonton, Alberta, is to know the story of modern school reform. The fables of struggle and success in that Canadian province are similar to those told in Chicago and Los Angeles and Seattle and Houston. They are tales of educational reform and renewal, of reinvented theories and recyc led philosophies, all intended to create schools that are shining models of success. Finding the formula for turning bad schools into good ones has consumed practitioners and theoreticians for as long as schools have existed. The pressure has been even gre ater and the failures more frustrating since the modern school reform began in 1983 with the release of A Nation at Risk In that document, the National Commission on Excellence in Education outlined the sad state of American schools and touched off a tide of reform measures that co ntinues today with the wave of federal mandates from the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation While school reform has intensified during the past 30 years, it is certainly not
16 new. Educational theorists and researchers h ave been searching out better ways of work that are both reliable and replicable for more than a century. Still, one could argue that our schools are no better now then they ever have been. While there are many great schools in operation, there are just as many that struggle each day to educate their students adequately and safely. Those realities br eed new reform measures and those beget new hopes and new criticisms. Teachers, parents, politicians, academicians and theoreticians have all offered better ways of teaching our kids and running our schools. Researchers have done their parts as well. School reform has been the impetus for thousands of studies that are intended to coordinate and pinpoint the variables found in good schools. Smaller class sizes. Merit pay for teachers. Same sex classrooms. Top down accountability measures. Parent involvement schemes. Schools within schools. Cooperative learning initiatives. School choice. Neighborhood schools and more. These are just some of the measures that hav e been attempted, sampled, tweaked and tried again. Most of the research has been because it costs t oo much or it i s too hard to replicate. Still, t here is one research supported measure that seems to be the critical antecedent to all successf ul reform initiatives -t he school principal. The principal is the key ingredient in every school reform measur e that ever been tried and successfully wrought ( Lewis & Murphy, 2008; Gurr, Drysdale & Mulford, 2006; Ouchi, 2003; Hallinger & Murphy, 1987 ). Whatever people think of principals,
17 they have the most impact in all successful reform projects. Of course, sch ool improvement is also about the teachers. No one would ever suggest that a principal can raise student achievement without skilled and caring teachers, and nothing can be accomplished without a focus on learning ( Leithwood & Riehl, 2003; Ouchi, 2003; Bec k & Murphy, 1998 ). The body of research on school reform is clear on this point: Schools are best served when they have strong leaders (starting with the principal), a collaborative work culture, and a focus on student learning ( Leithwood & Riehl, 2003; O uchi, 2003; Beck & Murphy, 1998 ). Beck and Murphy (1998) put it this way: They say schools must have imperative 3.) A capacity building imperative a nd 4.) A leadership im perative. Leithwood and Riehl (2003) add that, for lasting and profound cha nge to occur, leadership ought to be distributed to others in the school and in the community. Research Summary The integrative literature review presented in this chapter present s the key research related to school leadership and school culture (which typically go hand in hand). It takes a critical look at the methodologies and key research findings around principal leadership styles and decision making theory in an attempt to fin d common variables for success that can be replicated in all schools. Particu lar attention was paid to distributed leadership and its role in recent school improvement initiatives, as well as related research terms like
18 In doing s o, this review focused more on things that schools and school districts could control (such as hiring good principals and empowering teachers and parents ) and less on va riables that were typically unchangeable (such as funding amounts or student abili ty levels). The findings of the literature review were sometimes surprising, though always logical. The initial review was around site based management alone and its role in school improvement, culture building and teacher and parent empowerment. The research, tho ugh, on site based management was found to be mixed and the methodology questionable. No one can say for sure that site based management leads to student learning gai ns ( Fullan & Watson, 2000; B eck & Murphy, 1998; Fullan, 1991 ). An initial review of those studies led to other, more research supported methods to improve student achievement such as collaborative work cultures, professional learning communities and dist ributed leadership The literature review also unveiled the importance of quality school leadership, starting with the principal. No matter the amount of control provided the principal through decentralized decision making (or site based management), schoo ls tend ed to imp rove o nly when the principal engendered co llaboration and a common purpose among the stakeholders (Leithwood & Riehl, 200 9 ; Lewis & Murphy, 2008, Ouchi, 2003; Earley et al., 2002; Fullan & Watson, 2000; Beck & Murphy, 1998 ). In Dis tributed Leadership According to the Evidence (2009), Leithwood and Riehl cull ed together the recent research in support of shared decision making. In schools with true dist ributed leadership, the focus was less and sometimes messy
19 collaboration of the parties that wer e most connected with the school (teachers, parents, administrators, etc.). Th is type of leadership required the principal to be effective in shaping a shared vision and supporting the wo rk of many hands in the fulfilling that vision. The principal again was the key actor, setting the tone for teacher and parent empowerment, shared decision making, and learning centered schools ( Leithwood & Riehl, 2009 ; Ouchi, 2003; Beck & Murphy, 1998 ). In their studies on school reform in England, Earley et al. (2002) concluded that the best school leaders collaborated with their staffs in shaping a mutual vision and purpose. The ir research pointed to the transformational nature of effe ctive school leade rs, noting that the most successful principals were those who effectively articulated their personal and educationa l values to those around them. Moreover, in a multi case study involving more than 40 interviews with principals, Kose (2009) found that teac her growth and student learning was positively correlated to the transformative nature of principals who serve as visionaries, learning leaders and cultural advocates. Teacher and parent empowerment and collaborative cultures we re made more likely when p rincipals we r e given full con trol (even budgetary control) over the direction of their sc hools and were held accountable for student achievement gains (Beck & Murphy, 1998; Ouchi, 2003). In Making Scho ols Work: A Revolutionary Plan t o Get Your Children the Education They Need (2003), Ouchi presented his results from a study of 223 schools in nine different school systems (including Edmonton, Seattle and Houston ). He concluded that the pr incipal and the school culture we re the most important
20 aspects of schoo l improvement. As a professor of management ( and not education), Ouchi pointed out that when a business fails front about the pr incipal. He outlines Seven Keys to Success for any school reform effort. Number one on the list is: Every principal is an entrepreneur especially good ones, know the rules backwards and forwards and always follow them. In routine, though, bureaucrats cannot act until a higher up gives them a new rule that they can follow. In schools, where each day brings new and previously unknown situ ations, Ouchi called for principals to be more independent in their thinking and to be empowered to carry out their ideas through greater decentralization. The contention that principals need ed d take control of their schools was supported by many of the studies that were reviewed (Anderson, 2009: Leithwood & Riehl, 2009; Ouchi, 2003; Earley et al., 2002; Beck & Murphy, 1998). In Advocacy leadership: Toward a post reform agenda in education Ande rson (2009) went even further in suggesting that principals must become politically and socially aware in support of the unique needs of their students especially those students who struggle the most. He called on school leaders to become culturally comp etent, social advocates who challenge teachers, parents and community members to be entrepreneurial in finding solutions for their schools.
21 Anderson was critical of the NCLB mandates and other aspects of the accountab ility movement that he described as t o p harbors a deficit view of education and school leaders. At the end of the day, principals have been teaching to the test (p. 2). To get closer to an advo cacy form of leadership, principals have to be trai ned and encouraged to take on more creative and activist role s than they do now (Cambron McCabe & McCarthy, 2005). Traditional principal preparation programs give only token consideration to the ideas of s ocial justice and transformational leadership. Too often, The literature review showed that the most successful princip als we re more than just middle managers and bureaucrats (Kedro, 2004; Ouchi, 2003). Successful prin cipals had a vision and spirit an entrepr eneurial spirit -that filtered into all parts of a school. In short, entrepreneurial principals create d ent repre neurial schools. This lead to other research supported solutions: creative pedagogy, staff and student buy in, staff and student empowerment, parent involvement, mutual accountability and professional growth (Fullan & Watson, 2000; Newman and Wehlage, 1995 ). In some of the largest studies to date on school reform, Newman and Wehlage (1995) concluded that site based management in name alone was not enough. Instead, the most successful schools showed trusting, working relationships between teachers and admini strators, professional learning communities, a focus on student work and assessment and an evolving instructional practice that changed with the times. One immediate train and mentor their
22 future principals (teachers and a ssistant principals) to be collaborative or transformational ( Cambron McCabe & McCarthy, 2005; Ouchi, 2003). Most principals we re trained and sel ected to serve in a role in which they typically served, as middle managers who we re expected to blindly follow policy and then call on central office superintendents when things go t messy. The review showed that most school districts in America empower principals to run their schools as they saw fit. Only one third of all school districts employ ed som e version of site based management (Kedro, 2004). Moreover, the ma have budgetary control, many were not permitted to interview and hire the teachers they w ant ed, and some didn evaluate the teachers at their own schools (Kedro, 2004; Ingersoll, 2003). In the absence of true authority, some principals daringly moved forward anyway. The research shows that many have chartered their own courses, challenged the status quo and wrested power away from the central office by rallying t heir communities in support of new reform measures. In some extreme cases, movies ( like Lean O n M e with Morgan Freeman) have been made about these maverick principals. In less dramatic ways, some principals have been granted charge of their schools as the result of full scale, site based management initiatives in their school districts. Two of the most researched examples of site based management and distributed leadership in the United States were found in Seattle and Houston, two districts that gave their principals and teachers almost total control over their schoo ls (Ouchi, 2003). While they have been among the most successful and progressive school districts in America, 95
23 and Houston until 2001, their stories bega n 30 years earlier in another country, in another city: Edmonton. The Edmonton school district (like most others across the globe) was very much a top down, centralized organization for most of its history. The change to a fully decentralized, site based approach began in the early 1970s with the hiring of a maverick superintendent whose story has reached legendary status in Canada : Michael A. Strembitsky, the outlaw superintendent. In short order, Strembitsky tu rned the district over to its principals and teachers and Edmonton remains the most mature form of site based management in operation controlled by the schools. The scho ols there pick their own programs, books and training. They decide how many people to hire and who to hire. They can reject district money and services (for example, lunch services) and contract on their own (Archer, 2005; Ouchi, 2003). Edmonton has also h ad full school choice, which has increased competition among schools. It is a district that has empowered its principals and teachers to be creative and to solve their own problems. It has engendered an entrepreneurial culture that has inculcated most scho ol operations (Archer, 2005; Ouchi, 2003). Still, the more we know about site based management, the more the research reveals a concept that Though some successes were found in Edmonton, Seattle Houston and other places, two problems were found in the research around site based management. First, ce ntral office superintendents were still found to be angling to retain many of the key decisions that could be handed down to schools. Second, many sc hoo l districts only provide d principals with structural or
24 operational fr eedoms to make decisions with no true authority to make changes in pers onnel, curriculum and other factors related to school success (Fullan & Watson, 2000). The full scale decentral ization measures that have worked in Edmonton were considered in many school districts across America, including those in Chicago, Los Angeles and Oakland, California. Most recently, the Pinellas County School District in Florida (comprising the cities of St. Petersburg and Clearwater ) was challenged by its influential business partners to follow suit and decentralize. The dist rict was considering in 2010 giving its principals full scale empowerment to make all financial and curricular decisions for their s chools (and to be held accountable if things go awry). P inellas County Schools was prodded to make such a move by a controversial white paper that was submitted to the School Board in June of 2008 (Pinellas Education Foundation, 2008). The paper was writte n anonymously by members of the Pinellas Education Foundation a collection of civic and business leaders who serve as a fundraising arm for the district. ry demands we re as follows: Give principals full authority by giving them control over the financial and curricular aspects of their schools (in cooperation with some form of site based council). Take control away from the central office administrators. Stop telling principals how to run their schools. Encourage schools to think out of the box. In turn, hold principals fully accountable as the CEOs of their buildings. authored two books on school finance and site based decision making : Reallocating
25 Resources (Odden & Archibald, 2001) and Financing Schools for High Performance (Odden & Busch, 1998). The Okaloosa County School District in Florida has already followed growth in Okaloosa C indicators is impressive and was used as evidence in the white paper. Though some progress was m ade in Pinellas County during 2009 and 2010 to move closer to full decentral ization, the school district was implementing th e change slowly and was not yet providing the full scale authority around personnel, te xtbook allocations, etc. that was found in other districts. This gives credence to the arguments made by Malen (1994) in her critical look at decentralization. In her re search, Malen posits that site superintendents gain a great deal of legitimacy for favoring school base d decision prone to delegate tasks, but they are not inclined to redistribute power (p. 250). The literature review presented in this chapter examined more than 100 sources (articles and books) related to leadership styles, school reform effo rts, decentralization and teacher and parent empowerment in Ameri to provide a b rief history of these efforts reviewed the relevant literature s ynthesized the findings in sea rch of key themes, and generated some provocative conclus ions for school districts that continue to seek out new ways to improve their school s and empower their principals teachers and parents to play a role in these changes
26 will be fully effective only when there are go od social conditions and, among individuals, good beliefs and feelings; but social conditions, and the beliefs and feelings of individuals will not be altogether satisfactory until there is a good education. The problem of reform is the problem of breaking out of a vicious circle and from Aldous Huxley (End of Means, 1937 ) Decision Making Theory Decision making theory involves the type content and process of decisions and the who, what and why of those decisions. Wohlstetter, Van Kirk, Rober tson, and Mohrman (1997) are among the lead scholars in creating a theoretical discussi on of leadership theory related to decision making and participation. One clear finding was that i n schools w here decisions we re typically made only by the district or by the principal, moving toward a more automatically create a more democratic system or even better solutions ( Beck and Murphy, 1998; Beach, 1993 ). When decisions suddenly shifted from one to many people, the pr ocess was i nfluenced by factors such as personality styles group pressures, group think, individual status, and competition (Reitz, 1987). School districts and principal s we re sometimes criticized for carrying out shared decision maki a hard time relinquishing their control ( Miller, 1995 ). Bauer ( 2001) collected data on site based councils from 12 schools as part of an evaluation of si te based decision making in a major Midwestern city. The surveys asked about the scope, structure, process and amount of administrative support for the site
27 based councils as well as the newness of the council and related descriptive statistics. One key finding w as that the councils that achieved some consensus on goals and that had a sense of true authority shared a stronger sense of confidence among council members who then believed that they had real influence on decision making. Partic ipatory decision making was often hindered by sc hools and school leaders who were re no more creative or innovative than when the central office was making them (Beach, 1993). Research on decision making theory showed that, unle ss an organization was in crisis, most decisions we re focused on keeping things as they were (Beach, 1993). In essence, too many times the participants themselves (follo wing the patterns of the past) were hesitant to change what had been done before. thousand students, a building often amounting to 10 or 15 million dollars from Norman Drechler, former Detroi t school superintendent A Review of Leadership Theory There was general a greement among researchers that the principal wa s the one person who could impact school reform the most and that he or she wa s the key change agent for impac ting schools change and success (Hallinger & Murphy, 1987; Ouchi, 2003). Yet despite this belief, school principals steadily lost power and control since the 1960s (Wooster, 1994; Pellicer, et al. 1988). Until the 1960s, principals had a great deal
28 of free which ensur ed that many decisions were made by union contract, not by the principal. Principals also had to deal with the rise of federally funded positions and the strings t hat were attached (such as special education positions) and that left them with even less power and influence. In his book Angry c l s chools ? Wooster (1994) referenced a key study of principals conducted in 1980 by Van Cleve Morris from the University of Illinois (Chicago). Morris and his associates profile, paper shuffling, keep the lid on and the boss happy style of caretaker mana 4, p. 55). Chubb and Moe (1990) reached similar conclusions with a collection of surveys from 1987 that were conducted by Pellicer and his colleagues at the National Association of Secondary School Principals. In those surveys, 33 percent of principals sai d they had little or no authority to hire teachers, 42 percent had little control over staffing practices, and 39 percent had no say over the budget. In 1977, only 8 percent of the principals were rs how to teach, and 33 percent were blocked from budget decisions (Pellicer, et. al., 1988). Findings such as these fueled the movement toward site based management in the Public and Private High Schools (1987) and C Politics, Markets, and American Schools (1990) show ed that public hi gh schools where principals had more freedom to students who achieve d more than schools where principals we re left in their roles as
29 middle ma nagers. Ouchi (2003) made similar claims from his research on 223 schools in nine d ifferent school systems. He said that without full authority provide d to the principal, schools would never be free to be creative and entrepreneurial in solving their own p roblems. Wooster (1994) makes this point : either via school based management, charter schools, or school choice, principals are not St udies conducted on the affective dimensions of school leaders (as well as ed that this new er type of principal must be multi dimensional: a n initiator, a researcher, a learner and a communicator (Clarke, 2000) and many saw & Spillane, 2005). From the 1900s to the 1950s, researchers focused on the characteristics of leaders and followers in hopes of finding the single trait (or combination of traits) that could explain why some leaders wer e successful (see: Traits Model in Table 1 ). That research was met with much frustration because of the combination of factors and situations associated wit h leaders. Subsequent leadership studies attempted to distinguish effective leaders from non effective ones.
30 Table 1 : Five Common Leadership Theories Traits Model personality, intel ligence, self confidence. Some traits are suited to leadership. Related theories: The Great Man theory Leaders are born, not made. Leaders will rise to the forefront as needed. Behavioral Model Focus is on what leaders do and attempts to define and describe the actions of successful leaders. Leaders can be made, rather than born. Leadership is learnable, teachable. Contingency Model Focus is on the situation, the task at hand, the abilities of the rs may be effective in one place and time and less so at other times. Related theory: Situational leadership There is no one best way to lead. Effective leaders do not have a preferred leadership style. Transactional Model Focus in on external rewards and punishment to motivate others. A clear chain of command is paramount. People are motivated by their own self interests. Transformational Model Focus is internal motivation of others. Leader works to inspire followers toward a common vision. Collab oration and empowerment are key. Related theories: Advocacy leadership leading others to a common cause by raising their levels of morality and motivation; focus is on social justice and supporting marginalized subgroups. Though no one style of leader ship has proved sound in all cases and for all persons, the most modern interpretations support more collaborative (transformational) and activist (social justice) models. Smith and Piele (1997) defined five dimensions of leadership that shape the style an d role of the leader in any organization : (a) decision making, (b) perceptions of employees, (c) tasks and human relations, (d) innovation and risk taking, and (e) psychological types. The researchers drew characterization of leaders as leaning more heavily toward Theory X or Theory Y. Those who believe d in Theory X view ed employees as needing close monitoring, consequences and extrinsic rewards. Those who support ed Theory Y saw employees as self motivated,
31 collaborative, and seeking i ntrinsic rewards. Much of the research around school leadership grew out of the flap caused by the release of A Nation at Risk in 1983, a document that painted a disturbing portrait of American schools and called on school superintendents (and principals) to be saviors reformers, visionaries and chief executive officers. In the earliest days of school leadership (beginning in about 1800), superintendents and principals performed functions that were largely clerical in nature and sometimes operational. The onset of the Industrial Revolution in the 1900s brought about a greater need for school leaders to increase efficiency and become more expert in the areas of budgeting and facilities. Sparked by new research in the 1970s and 1980s, schools and school dist ricts began to differentiate between leaders and managers and pushed for leaders who could articulate a vision and lead others to a higher calling. Though leadership is clearly a complex enterp rise, vision and collaboration we re seen as key pieces of succe ssful leadership practice (Fullan & Watson, 2000). This was manifested in the current research around distributed leadership, transformational leadership and social justice theory. inistration mad. An classrooms where all the educational work is done and produces there the inefficiency of irresponsibility and routine. from John Dewey (1928)
32 Decentralization and Site Based Management States afforded schools more control as part of decentralization efforts to improve student achievem ent. Brown (1991) de scribed site based management as the structure s and operational process es in which the princ ipal collaborativel y works with all school stakeholders Among his findings were : 1. A collaborative approach to principal leadership i s most favored. 2. A school based management cou ncil can result in more organized and higher quality parental involvement 3. School personnel must be given the authority and resources necessary for student success to be fully realized. 4 School pri ncipals in site based management schools were no more likely to be using best practices than those in other schools. We see t he beginnings of c en tralized control in the 1800s with the Industrial R evolution ( Wooster, 1994 ) Up until that point (around 1900) genuinely decentralized. For example, the average state education department had only two employees (Wooster, 1994). In rural schools, time was set aside every Friday for parents to be involved and guaranteed them a say in how schools were run (Wooster, 1994). Sti ll, the Industrial R evolution brought increased demands upon rural education and tested the limits of school resources (Murphy and Beck, 199 5). Those demands led to the consolidation of many small districts into fewer, larger districts as school reformers were demanding modernization, centralization, and professionalism of the system (Fuller, 1982 ; Ravitch, 1974) The reformers crusaded to eliminate local lay boards and to replace
33 them with a strong centralized bureaucracy. Centralization was initially con strued as a means of reforming schools by getting the politicians out of education and putting educational experts in charge (Ravitch, 1974). School districts in the urban United States were organized around neighborhoods and wards. This system satisfied a wide range of constituents from community groups to minority parents and from teacher unions to local, state, and federal levels of the executive, judicial, and legislative branches of government (Murphy & Beck, 1995) Still, this led to obvious abuses by the ward bosses related to school business and hiring practices (Ravitch, 1974; Mirel, 1990). label two distinct educational reform movements. The first las ted from 1890 until 1910 and it changed the way schools were organized and controlled. The second was between 1915 and 1955 and it radically shifted the curricular focus of schools (Wooster, 1994). The Progressives believed that a small school board and a strong superintendent would be a step toward improving school functions and ending the power (and abuses) of the decentralized ward boards (Wooster, 1994). Another step in the centralization movement of the early 1900s was the growing emphasis on business experiments conducted by Frederick Winslow Taylor and was helped a saving, money saving plan that had been praised by John Dewey and other
34 reformers (Ravitch, 1974). Efficiency was cemented in the schools after a dissertation (Wooster, 1994). In his dissertation, Hutchinson found school systems to be terribly inefficient and he recommended that districts adopt 22 new forms (including purchase orders and time sheets). School superintendents, already gaining power as CEOs of massive school systems, jumped on the idea of tighter controls on schools and a more hierarchical school system (Wooster, 1994). Prior to their rise to power, superintendents served simply as master teachers who helped to set standards and lead by example. Prior to 1900, only few superintendents had gone through any training at all for the job (Wooster, 1994). The decentralization movement was fast forwarded by John Dewey through his support of teacher councils and greater community control (Mu rphy & Beck, 1995). The community control movement gained momentum during the 1960s and was f ed, in large part, by black families who wanted to control their own schools (Ravitch, 1974). The decentralization efforts were aided at this time by the Ford Foun dation, which supported social programs for the ghettos and supported local control of funding in an effort to get control into the hands of the people who most needed the help ( Wooster, 1994). Additionally, decentralization garnered criticism from the pub lic who saw the ward boards as personnel heavy and wrought with procedu res that did not change the distribution of power and were ultimately more divisive (Tyack, 1993). The modern reform measures that took root in the 1980s after the release of A Nation a t Risk galvanized educators and reformers alike to push for new structures that would improve
35 school performance (Ogawa, 1994). That push continues today with calls for real, lasting systematic improvements that are more revolution and less evolution (Ouch i, 2003 ; Stone, Henig, Jo nes, and Pierannunzi, 2001 ; and Murphy and Beck, 1995 ). based management, then, is another way of controlling the schools within an essentially bureaucratic system. Unless all goes well, then, there is a built in tendency for decentralized systems to gravitate toward greater centralization. from John Chubb a nd Terry Moe (1990) Research Studies The code that schools live by under a site based management app roach is that school administrators and professional educators, parents, community members, and the students should School based managemen t also subscribes to a belief that decisio ns should be made at the lowest possible level in organizations. The problem is this: No research has been able to confirm that the benefits of school based decision making are positively correlated with student achievement ( Fullan & Watson, 2000; B eck & M urphy, 1998; Fullan, 1991 ). The research to date on site based management (and related search terms like to quantify in part because of the various definitions of site based management and because of the limitations of the methodology.
36 The de finition itself, or what one might based management appears to be different from school district to school district. In one place, site based management is defined as full control of decisions and finances made at the school site. This include s decisions about the hiring and firing of teachers, curriculum and textbooks, funding fo r the facilities, lunchroom, etc. and other related operational endeavors. In this full scale view of site based management, the school is probably run by the principal in chorus with a school council in a true collaborative sense. Still, other districts u se a narrow er definition of site based management meaning only that principals have greater control to hire and evaluate their teachers and make some decisions about new programs and books. In short, an obvious criti cism of the research to date has bee n a lack of true comparison data as one district is so different from the next. Another shortco ming with the current research was the methodology that tried to find correlations between site based management and student learning gains. In most studies, the re we re too many variables in play to credit site based management with having any true affect on learning. With so many things contribut ing to student success, there was just too much statistical t studies. The research review for this study also showed that most studies were limited to one or two schools (or school districts) and that any positive data on site based management was hard to generalize. Of the sources reviewed for this chapter nearly all of them showed positive benefits to s ite based management and shared decision making (though not always the benefits that the researchers expected to see). There we re four key findings from the
37 literature review on site based management 1.) Site based management, no matter what for m is take s, is not directly linked to student achievement (ie. learning gains ). There wa s a sense that teachers and parents like d it more as a way of work but kids we r e not necessarily learning more as a direct result of site based implementat ion (Fullan & Watson, 2000, 1999 ). 2. ) Site based management wa s simply a process that supported better collaboration (but it wa s not a solution in and of itself). Though site based management done well (w ith an instructional focus) did support many aspects of student learning, site Ouchi, 2003; Odden & Archibald, 2001; Fullan & Watson, 2000; Fullan, 1991 ). 3.) Site based management wa s only connected to learning g ains when it resulted in a colla borative culture with true sional Marks, 1998). 4.) One clear benefit of site based management (especially when it was done well) was that it allowed schools to chang e quickly as needed. It empowered the schoo l to impro ve itself and that had some benefit (Fullan & Watson, 2000 ). The continued research on site based schools can certainly help provide perspective around the processes and role s that leaders play in growing p articipation among teach ers, parents, and the co mmunity. W hile the notion of site based leadership distributed leadership -at the school level wa s valued by most practitioners as being more inclusive, more democratic and more effici ent, the research simply did not f ind a direct link between the declaration of site based authority and student learning gains ( Fullan & Watson, 2000; B eck & Murphy, 1998; Fullan, 1991 ). Beck and Murphy (1998) spent one year observing site based practices at an
38 urban elementary school. Th eir case study revealed that site based decision making empowered the teachers, administrators, etc. to act on their ideas (many of which p romoted learning) but it did not influence the quality of their decisions per se. In other words, researchers could n ot prove that the decisions and ideas being shared were better than they would have been if the principal or central office acted alone in making them. Beck and Murphy (1998) conclu ded that site based management wa reform, especially when it came to having a direct impact on student learning. Stil l, site based management appeared to have value as a decis ion making structure and it did help to breed a sense of community and school collegiality. Through their studies, the school successful: 1.) A learning imperative 2.) A community imperative 3.) A capacity building imperative and 4.) A leadership imperative. Many of the benef its of the r e tied to site based management. Fullan and Watson (2000 ) agreed that site based management wa s not a sure fire fix for student achievement but it opened the doors of governance in a way where true restructuring could occur and improvement could take plac e. Fullan own studies reported that good schools had in place a notion of continuous capacity building defined as the development of the skills and knowledge of teachers and the examinati on of information. In his own work as well as his review of case stu dies from England, Fullan show ed that increasing the teach mean that they, themselves, collaborate d more. Fullan (2005) suggested that teachers need ed to be part of d them to assume direct responsibility for
39 changing the schools. The only way to ch ange schools in the long term was from the inside out, not the other way around. Punitive accountability measures might improve test scores in the s hort term but the improvements were only o n the surface and would not last (Fullan, 2005). For this sort of collaboration to occur, principals must be able to build a to be enough confidence to allow the vul nerability and exposure that involves sharing and 138). The research review supported the idea of a leadership t eam that carried out this task while taking some of the focu s (and pressure) off of the principal. In O schools, he rejected three common to learn; and more money is needed to improve schools. He offers seven keys to successful schools: 1.) Every principal is an entrepreneur (the opposite of a bureaucrat); 2.) Every school controls its own budget; 3.) Everyone is accountable for student pe rformance and for budgets; 4.) Everyone delegates authority to those below; 5.) There is a burning focus on student achievement; 6.) Every school is a community of learners and 7.) Families have real choices among a variety of unique schools. He argued tha t all large organizations must decentralize to be effective ith accountability to sub units (Ouchi, 2003). I f not, a large bureaucracy would defer to standardized procedures in every situation, creating an inflexible system and ignoring the local conditions at each site. Schools districts that we re attempting a site based approach wer e categorized into
40 that control things from the top, including a formulaic way of determining what type o f teachers each sch ool needs and districts where the principal received an allocation and got to decide how to spend it ie. the princip al as CEO. Ouchi (2003) reported that school districts that empowered their principals (including fu l l budgetary control) saw great strides in collaboration and innovation. Collaboration and inn ovation are two variables that we re tied to student learning gains ( Fullan & Watson, 2000; Beck & Murphy, 1998; Fullan, 1991). The research showed that si te based management alone did not improve learning. Angus McBeath, the ith low student achievement. Site based management, when fully realized in a school, can have distinct benefits, including empowering the principal an d staff (though that also meant adding to their workloads) (Dempster, 1999). Research also shows that site based management did not lead to greater decision the central office and they typically spout the corporate line) and it did not improve student learning (though it can affect improved planning and communication and improve the conditions for better tea ching) (Dempster, 1999). There wa s also no direct nexus between site based practices and increased innovation. But (again) conditions may be riper for innovation and creativity when site based management is in play (Dempster, 1999).
41 room country school must have a different social structure from the city high school with five thousand students, but the basic fact o f authority, from Willard Waller (1932) Teacher Part icipation / Influence / Empowerment The role of teachers as decision makers in most schools has been marginalized for most of the history of scho ols (Wooster, 1994). Though teachers sometimes serve d on committees or attend parent events, they we re rarely put in positions to make (or even contribute to) substantive decisions that affect ed hiring, scheduling, facilities, textbooks or curriculum. Teac hers have been thought of in most schools as independent contractors who we re hired to teach a particular skill or subject and then go home. One of the early adv ocates for greater teacher input was Ella Flagg Young, a district superintendent for the Chicag o schools. In 1898, she created teacher councils in her district so teachers could gather and offer advice on district problems (Wooster, 1994). Still, her efforts did not gain widespread support throughout the country. As highly inefficient bureaucracies, schools are typically run by central office d their teachers to set and carry out policy and procedures, dialogue about new ideas to improve the school or contribute to the hiring and evaluation of fellow teachers (or administrators) (Ingersoll, 2003). As schools we re viewed by the public and policy
42 control of schools and to ho ld teachers more accountable. Their (policy makers) objective training and retraining requirements; standardized curricula and instructional programs; teacher licensing exam inations; performance standards; more school and teacher evaluation; merit pay programs; and, more recently, state and national education goals, In his book Ingersoll (2003) de scribed s chools they unduly deprofessionalize teachers. This, in turn, de critics, a close look at the job of teaching reveals that teachers are pushed to accept a remarkable degree of personal accountability, in the face of a remarkable lack of might be said for principals and how they are treated by their bos ses in the central office. In a review of survey data from the National Center for Education Statistics, Shen the school and that, conversely, principals felt teachers h ad more ownership of decisions than teachers perceived themselves to have. T he survey that Shen reviewed is conducted every three years and is asked of 9,000 principals and 50,000 public school teachers. teachers and principals we re asked to rate a number of school and classroom policies. Researchers reviewed data from the mid 80s to the mid 90s, right when the site based movement was taking off.
43 As teachers gain ed mor e control over their school environments several benefits we re realized, including improved staff morale, more lasting professional growth, and less teacher turnover (Smith & Rowley, 2005). In their review of the Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) data, Sm ith and Rowley (2005) used a hierarchical linear model to predict classrooms, instruction, policy, etc. The researchers found a positive correlation. After reviewing ac tion research projects related to the professional identity of individual teachers and learning communities, Farrell & Weitman ( 2007 ) advocate d for teachers to control their own professional development (and professional practices) through their involvemen t in the design and implementation of classroom based research endeavors. The authors point ed to teacher empowerment as comprising three interrelated components: increased teacher access to decision making, increased teacher knowledge, and increased teache r st atus. In essence, teachers were viewed as passive participants in school improvement. Instead, they must be viewed as school improvement itself than serve as passive players and consumers of best practices, teachers actively engage in the entr epreneurship of best practices through familiar, trusting, and comfortable learning Teachers participate d more when they trust ed their school leaders (Verdugo, Greenburg, Henderson Uribe, Jr. & Schneider, 1997) and increasing pa rticipation among teachers increase d their feelings of self worth (Salisbury, 1980) Cherniss (1997) reaffirmed these findings as a result of his interviews with 25 school professionals (mostly teachers and counselors) during their first year of their careers and a gain 12 years
44 later. He made a distinction between political empowerment the power to run committees (like we sometimes have with site based management) and work on school policy -and psychological empowerment, which is motivati onal and behavioral (leading people to really seek change and improvement). His data showed that teachers we re more willing to work on issues (or with a program) tha t they feel connected to or on something that they helped to develop. After a review of ac tion research projects related to the professional identity of individual teachers and learning co mmunities, Galen (2005) suggested that schools were at a new point in their history where teachers we re in need of true empowerment an d part of that was a pri ncipal who cared about them on a more personal level The more s he increased the like she opened the door for greater change. In contrast to instructional / classroom decisions, teachers had little input over decisions about their schedule, their class sizes, the office and classroom spa ce they use d and the use of school funds for classro om materials Teachers also had little input into hiring, firing, and budgetary decisions (Ingersoll, 2003). The SASS data (a large sampling of school principals) revealed dramatic differences in the de cision making power of school districts, principals and teachers. The lack of control held by teachers over their work stood out in contrast to the control exercised by others At the top of this hierarchy we re principals, who had influence over six of the eight important decisions
45 made at a school site (including hiring teachers, setting teacher schedules, and establishing the discipline policy). A t the bottom of the hierarchy wer e teachers, with some influence over only five of eight issues (such as decid ing on the faculty inservice and determining student tracking) (Ingersoll, 2003). While researchers and practitioners continue to weigh the value of site based decision making as it relates to student achievement, others see value in this way of work as a n ingredient for greater collaboration, collegiality and staff morale (even if outcomes of schools and the social goals and outcomes of schools are not the same thing. Positi ve social relations in schools can themselves be viewed as an important indicator of successful educational performance. Indeed, as numerous polls have shown, from the suc cessful school is not simply a school with high achievement scores but is also a school theorists have long held that organizational climate is intimately connected to organizational productivity. While asking teachers to participate may have it s benefits, not all teachers were comfortable serving in decision making roles (Smylie, 1992). In his study, Smylie found that teachers were most interested in instructional an d staff development decisions and less so in personnel and other administrative de cisions. In later research, Smylie et al. (2007) found that trust placed a key role in true distributed leadership and that teachers were more willing to take on larger roles when a reciprocal trust relationship had been
46 built with the principal. Ultimately, involvi ng teachers in decision making was seen as a way of improving collaboration and, in turn, innovation. Dee, Henkin & Pell ( 2002 ) surveyed full time teachers in 11 e lementary schools using site based management. They were attempting to creativity. The teachers completed the Siegel Scale of Support for innovation ( SSSI) instrument a 61 item, self rep ort document using a Likert scale from 1 (disagree strongly) to 6 (agree strongly). Teachers also completed communications and work autonomy scales. Positive associations were found between support for innovation and communication openness, formalization, and teacher autonomy. especially for the most disadvantaged, is to give all parents from Milton and Rose Friedman (Fre e to Choose) Parent Partic ipation / Influence / Empowerment If parents are truly going to have some say in what schools are doing, principals and teachers have to make them part of the solution (and not part of the problem) (Marzano et. al 2005). In his meta analysis of effective school reforms, Marzano found one of the factors related to school improvement was parent and community involvement. He says that it involves three related elements: communication, participation, and
47 governance. Communication wa s defined as newsletters, phone call, home visits, etc. even email and chat rooms. Participation is the extent to which parents and community members are involved in the day to day running of the school (ie. classroom aides, hallway and lunchroom duty, c lerical assistants, etc.). Governance includes parent involved in decision making and policy and is closely analogous to citizen involvement in their government. Research on whether parents we re more involved in site based managed schools wa s mixed. Some findings show ed that lip service was paid to par involvement wa s present. Also, un educated, low income parents were also left with little say (much like they we re typically treated in non site based managed schools) (Beck & Murphy, 1999) In their c ase study of parental involvement in one low income, urban school, Beck and Murphy observed classrooms and parent meetings and conducted interviews with parents to determine what kind of involvement (and impact) parents had. They reported that attempts to improve academic performance and parent and comm unity empowerment sometimes found the two goals working in opposing directions. While the professional educators were tying to incorporate a laser like focus on student achievement it sometimes excluded parents from the process (Beck & Murphy, 1999). The case study revealed a truth that other schools have reported -that decisions, curriculum, etc. This led th em to make a distinction between parental In Dade County, Florida (Miami), schools began to decentralize in the late 1980s
48 by giving control over to their principals and teachers. Three years later, teachers report ed that they were fairly happy with the change, but parents reported that they saw no difference. When parent s were treated with respect, 62 percent said yes the same percentage as those whose chil Much of the research on par ent involvement in schools showed that parents we re not always welcome in the schools and that some parents report ed a hostile tension between themselves and the s chool professionals (Bredeson, 1985). Bredeson found that in only one out of five schools studied were parents highly involved and that most parents were likely to have a tangential relationship with their schools and not a true partnership The extent o f participation by parents and communi ty members in decision making was found to be dependent upon the perspectives they bri ng to the table, economic status. Visits to many schools found parents talking hers or attending a sporting event to watch their son s or daughter s Whereas, attendance and interest in school council meeting tended to be a l ess (Fullan, 1991). Like other aspects of site based management, parental en gagement and empowerment did not sho w a direct link to school wide student achievement but it did impact individual student success in areas such as motivation and attendance (C omer, 1984; Jackson & Cooper, 1989). While most educators were ves, most principals and teache rs we re unwilling to share their power over decisions equally with parents (Van Galen, 1997).
49 Most likely, a school is an admixture of positive and negative influences searching for a working equilibrium. To find proper ba lance and meet the needs of a changing society, f rom M. James Kedro (2004) Organizational Co nditions for Quality School Reform Some of the research on site based reform attempted to frame the strategies or c onditions needed for this collaborative way of work to take hold and be effective (Grauwe, 2005; Bauer & Bogotch, 2006) Research had already been cited that points out the wide variety of site based implementation plans and the varied definitions of what it looks like in schools. Grauwe (2005) reviewed the literature on leadership and school reform from several different countries and attempted to synthesize the key findings. He found several strategies that were in place to ensu re quality site based refor m 1.) Guaranteeing that all schools have certain basic resources. 2.) Developing an effective school support system. 3.) Providing schools with regular information on their performance and advice on how they might improve and 4.) Emphasizing the motivatio nal element in the management work of the school principal. In trying to inform the variety of site based practices already in play, Leithwood and Menzies (1998) identify four models of school based management: Administrative control where the principal i s dominant; Professional control in which the teachers have the authority; Community control where a local group or board (usually involving parents) is in charge; and Balanced control in which the parents and the professionals
50 share equal authority. De ciding what type of site based management a school wants is one of the first steps in implementation. In Reallocating resources: How to boost student achievement without asking for m ore (2001), Odden and Archibald presented an aggressive plan for schools to take charge of their own soluti ons and their own funds. Several authors on site based management warn ed that any plan that does not provide schools with control of the based management at all (Ouchi, 2003; Odden & Archibald, 2001 ; Fullan, 1991). Some said based management was not really in operation if t he central office still controls the money; the central office still controls the staffing and/or hiring; and the central office has to approve decisions made by t he principal or school council. If p rincipals did not control the budget, they wer e not really practicing site 2003, p. 15). Before schools could move to site b ased manageme nt, conditions had to be ripe (Odden & Archibald, 2001). Researchers who have studied large school organizational change identify three key steps in this process (Mohrman & Cum mings, 1989). The first step was called laying the foundation (determining the v alues, determining the needs, etc). For this step, principals should first educate the faculty (and other stakeholders) picture of their schools, staff members felt well equi pped to investigate curricular programs that had proven effective elsewhere and that fit their needs and their school 13). The second step required analysis of the o rganizational elements
51 that produce s performance improvements in the desir ed areas (designing the changes that need to occur). The third step in a large scale organizational change process, which certainly describes both school restruct uring and resource allocation, wa s implementation, monitoring, and continuous improvement. Wi open ed avenu es of input and involvement develop ed empowerment To be sure, some principals have moved forward without an official decree from the cent ral office (David, 1996, Murphy & Beck, 1995). Murphy and Beck (1995) and Wohlstetter, Van Kirk, Robertson, and Mohrman (1997) stated that while increasing student achievement is a goal of site based management, the notion by itself will not foster improve ment without a sustained interaction among stakeholders and a direction for those conversations that is tied to curriculum and instructional reform s No matter what, schools were most successful when they focus ed on instruction first no matter how they reorganize d themselves. Both Elmore and Peterson (1996) and Murphy and Beck (1995) found that schools that attempted site based management without focusing on instruction were not successful Fullan and Watson (2000 ) were critical of much of the research a round site based management because i mportant conditions we re rarely in place, starting with full control and authority. In most ca ses, key aspects of authority wer e still retained at the district or regional level. Secondly, decentralization usually refe rred based councils) and that missed the day to day capacities and activities that make a sc hool work (Fullan & Watson, 2000 ).
52 Site based management wa s not presented by most researchers as a solution, per se. Instea d, it was s een as a way of work that bred better solutions. Put another way, it was not viewed as an end, but as a means to an end ( Fullan & Watson, 2000; Fullan, based management we re more import ant in the end: professional learning communities and a col laborative culture (Fullan & Watson, 2000 ). culture and environment, when all stakeholders take a personal stake in the scho ol because they see themselves as owning the improvements and impacting their own environment (David, 1996). Wohlstetter, Van Kirk, Robertson, and Mohrman (1997) found seven conditions that exist ed in schools that restructured successfully. Those condition s include d the knowledge and skills around decision making and problem solving; a sense of power to make or influence decisions; a leadership style that provides focus and direction during the time of change ; a guiding sc hool vision or mission ; district o r state gui delines that are focused on instruction; and the resources needed to make change a reality. Radford (2000) suggested that collaborative, critical inquiry takes lots of time (and that makes shared decision making a hard sell when school staff mem bers are already pressed f or time). Making matters worse is that a collaborative culture presupposes that all staff members are familiar with the aims of the school. In fact, Radford argued that much is supposed like whether teachers want to be involved in the first place and whether they even share the values and mission of th e school. If
53 appropriate steps we then the site based transition fail ed (Bauer & Bogotch, 2006) Many of the past site based management attempts failed solely on the basis of imp lementation and were replaced by pre packaged programs with a mandate to principals and teachers that says: Here it is, implement it (Bauer & Bogotch, 2006). In 1998, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the state had provided finance controversies. In essence, the Court told the schools to figure out something different if they wanted to stretch their c urrent funding and reform their schools (Odden & Archibald, 2001). Even with this mandate, schools in New Jersey (like those elsewhere) had to begin with some deep introspection before they could jump right into site ional strategy or vision schools would Archib ald, 2001, p. 7). Research showed that many schools we re being forced to manage their own decisions and resources without any real sense of how to pull it off. In studies that were designed to show whether site based management had any real effect on student learning, researchers found that there was a significant implementation gap among site based schools (Ringwalt, et. al. 2004) and that made it hard to measure variables with any certainty or to generalize the results with any confidence.
54 from Richard Ingersoll (2003) T h e Struggle for Power and Control School districts tend ed to function as bureaucracie s. Using definitions founded by Max Weber (1946), bureaucracy is viewed as the modern embodiment of formal rationality the methodical creation of systems of impersonal rules, routines, regulations, and procedures as the means to accomplish predetermined ends with maximum efficiency (Ingersoll, 2003). The bureaucratic model of organizational administration is characterized by a hierarchical chain of command, a specialized division of labor, guiding image is that of the smooth Bureaucracy is certainly highly efficient and functional as a m odel but it is also, as Weber system of rationalization (Ingersoll, 2003). Organizational theorists, beginning in the 1970s, offered a new way to descri be work and o rganizations that we re difficult to bureaucratize (like schools). They called Schools are the archetypal loosely coupled system (Ingersoll, 2003). Ironically, school dis tricts we re not found to be this way. Most school districts in America had large central offices that operate d more like insurance firms and less like schools. Many of the
55 professionals working in central office jobs work ed out of cubicles or large offices had no contact with children, and rarely visit ed schools or classrooms. While central office s continue to exist to serve schools, they are certainly not schools. The appear quite large in most school districts because they house the operation and mainten ance functions, the transportation and food systems, and the business office, and also provide instructional support Together these functions were found to comprise 25% of the overall operating budget of a district (Odden & Arhibald, 2001). Knowing this gives one a sense of how hard it is to decentralize with so much money (and so many central office personnel) at stake. Handing over the money and authority to schools means taking it away from the people who have it in the central offices. This means a t ransfer of power and it may help explain why some school districts Some districts are deciding that because schools may be better able to maximize budget efficiencies than the central of fice, they should receive lump sum budgets and discretion to reallocate their budgets for different strategies. Still other districts are beginning to implement school based management in a more general sense, where the district or state sets core goals an d Archibald, p. 4). In this way, power and control may be viewed on a sliding scale. While some districts are providing only monetary control (see Orange County / Orlando, Florid a), others are providing schools no money but total curricular and operational control. Controlling people and things wa s the idea behind centralization (and t he
56 bureaucracy it creates). It is a way or ordering things, of controlling (Ingersoll, 2003 ). The problem is that schools a re typically not that way. They are each different and dynamic. This is why critics suggest that centralized power runs counter to innovation and stifles individual creativity on the part of the school and t he teacher One critical study on decentralization and power/authority was the International Survey of the Locus of Decision Making in Education Systems, conducted by the Organization for Economic Co operation and Development in 1990 1991 and 1997 1998. Its objective was to determine the level of centralization or decentralization at the elementary and s econdary education systems in different nations. The survey focused on 35 key decisions that could conceivably be made at a local school district or individual school level. It then determined whether these decisions were indeed made by school districts or schools themselves, or whether they were decided at the state/regional or national/federal levels of governance. The decisions concerned key administrative and educational issues. The survey asked, for example, who determines such things as the design of the overall school curriculum; the objectives and content for particular courses; the selection of course textbooks; the methods used to track or group students; the admission, promotion, and dismissal of students; the creation and staffing of new schools, etc. (Ingersoll, 2003). The OECD studies distinguished between decision making control exercised at the school district level and at the school level, and the data show that in the United
57 States a relatively large proportion of decisions (50 percent) are either strongly influenced continued to be held (for the most part) at the district level. Even if all resources we r e given to the schools, there was nothing to sugg est that other power struggles would not ensue (Tannenbaum, 1968). The entire notion of site based collaborative decisions posited that human beings from different roles will give and take u ntil a sound decision is made, b ut Tannenbaum argued that effecti ve participation does not mean power equal ization. An other way to look at it was this: Personalities and power struggles play a unique role in schools where leadership is ke Principals were also found to be caught up in power struggle s at the school site s and blinded by input provided by others. People with power we re often expected to identify problems for the group (Hosking & Morley, 1988). Leaders exercise d influence in other ways as well, including their effo rts to shape how the decisions were made and how information was distributed (Razik & Swanson, 1995). The assumption then that schools that are empo wered to make their own decisio ns will make better ones was not always the case. The research also suggested that not all schools (and principals) will do right by site based management either because they lack ed the skills to pull it off or because they cho se to manipulate the system (Razik & Swanson, 1995; Bradley & Miller, 1991). True restructuring and shared decision making increased the knowledge and skill sets of all stakeholders and lessened the likelihood of
58 al and/or feigning collaboration (Ingersoll, 2003). This disempowerment perspective sought to expand the scope of legitimate employee input and influence to include organization wide policies and conditions. In this view, treated as professionals; schools are (and ought not to be) top 57 ). Of course, I will f Anonymous Realizations / Ponderings / Provocations In his book The New Meaning of Educational Change F ullan ( 1991 ) looks at the through the mess and attempts to distill the key lessons learned about how educators are to cope with and influence that change. He argues that only teachers, principals and parents can affect true change and that any mandate from above is sure to fail. To comple te the metaphor, Fulla n (and other reformers) suggested that it was time for educators and parents to get off the Ferris wheel and try a new ride. This new vision of sc hools was presented as much more collaborative an d collegial than anything seen in the p ast. It involves schools with nearly full autonomy and financial wherewithal to create their own futures. It sees teachers (and principals) as
59 not isolated ones ( Fullan & Watson, 2000; see teachers and others working in small groups interacting frequently in the course of planning, testing new ideas, attempting to solve different problems, assessing effectiveness, etc. It is interactive in the sense that giving and receiving advice and help would be the natura l order of things. Teachers would be continuous learners in a In this new vision of co llaborative schooling, parents we re to b e key contributors in how kids learn and where the money is spent. Defining par easy in a system that has typically shut parents out (Beck & Murphy, 1999; Paddock, 1979). This new way of work would mean parents would do more than serve on boards (which if one form of site based management). In 1979, Paddock wr ote his controversial relevance 30 years later. In that paper, he claimed that the idea of parents participa ting as true decision makers was a myth because principals dominat e d information flow and decisions. If collaboration is going to work, the key to this new way of doing things is the principal (Ouchi, 2003; Fullan, 1991). Because the personalities and skill sets of pri ncipals varies so much, schools may succeed or fail based upon the types of principals a lead learner who was bent on creating collaborative and professional wor k cultures. Whatever they are, p rincipals cannot be left as middle
60 This was viewed by researchers as more difficult by the very nature of schools themselves. As loosely coupled systems, they ar e dynamic and messy. One of the fund amental challenges this created wa s the problem of control and consent: how does one harness the skill and expertise of employees and still ensure the simultaneous need for both organiz they are to succeed, organizations must coordinate, control, and hold accountable their individual members, but organizations are also dependent on the cooperation, motivation, and expe Schools improve d only when restructuring combined accountability and capacity building stra tegies (Fullan, 2005). With most accou ntability structures, mandates we re typically imposed from above with a great empha sis on punitive measures for schools meet the standard. Fullan reviewed studies that show ed top down accountability improve d s cores in the short run but provide d no lasting change within the school building (ie. no increased capacity). Similar studies in England led policy makers in that country to de emphasize punitive measures around accountability standards and re emphasize capacity building, leadership development, and self review. Capacity building in schools begins with the principal but i ncludes teacher leaders and parents (Kedro, 2004). touched by the school, all those who comprise it students, parents, teachers, administrators, and members of the community (Kedro, p. ix). When that occurred, schools began to believe in their ability to solve their own problem s. School
61 districts found that this did not happen quick ly, especially when schools spent years relying on others to decide for them (Bradley & Miller, 1991). Tea chers and p arents (and even principals) were not be always ready to take on this challenge, either from a lack of confidence in themselves (or in the system) or from a lack of understanding. Bradley and Miller (1991) p rovide d in a site based managed school but they also point ed out that most principals have never been called on to employ the se skill sets and that many we re not ready for this change. The principals who have garnered the most success in shaping a vision for their schools and seeing significant achievement gains were those who dared to take charge of their school reform in spite of the suffocating nature of district and state bureaucracy (Kedro, 2004; Ouchi, 2003; Ingersoll, 20 03). Leech and Fulton (1994) found that the their input in policy decisions ( p. 638). Wooster (1994), asked principals are barred from exercising their independent initiative, how can schools be that the most effective principals we re those who engender ed an entrepreneurial spirit and that kind of ethic wa s often made easier in schools that h ad a philosophy of site based manag ement. Conclusion The literature review showed that t here we re many success stories to draw upon afte r 30 years of aggressive school reform and management efforts in school districts around the world The research also r evealed th at site based management alone wa
62 enough as each school and school district carried out the mandates of site based control in different ways and in varying degrees. The most compelling research supp orted decision making in its most distributi ve and transformative manner, even with a social justice / advocacy bent. Nearly all of the successful school reform efforts found through this literature review began with a leap of faith that schools could run themselves better than the central office c ould. They also began with principals who were willing take ownership of their buildings and share that responsibility with their teachers, parents and students: an uneasy trinity at best. This literature review confirmed the critical role that the princi pal plays in carrying out changes in school culture and teacher and parent empowerment The research findings support ed the need for furth er data collection that included direct feedback from the principals themselves. Chapter Three will outline the key me thodological steps that were used in this study to find additional data that is needed to add depth and context to the current research. The research design methodology data collection methods and participant selection procedures will be further explicate d in the following chapter.
63 Chapter Three M ET HODOLOGY This chapter outline s and explicate s the research methods that were used to capture and do cument the experiences of seco ndary school principals at the center of site based reform eff orts A rationale for the methodology, the selection of the participants, the data collection techniques and the rese archers own biases are also addressed in this chapter. A discussion of phenomenology as a theoretical framework is discussed as well as det ailed research structure. The quali tati ve paradigm and methods are explained and supported in light of the gaps in the liter ature described in Chapter Two Introduction / Rationale For this study, t he most fitting techniques for data collection and revie w came fr om qualitative methods that sought to capture the research subjects (in this ca se, principals) as they really we re. It was obvious from the literature review that a number of quantitative studies related to site based management and principal lead ership styles we re in place and most of the methods used to date involved the review of survey data and, to a lesser deg ree, observational data. I attempt ed to add context and complexity to that data by utilizing a number of qualitative methods, including multiple interviews with the
64 principals. This study endeavor ed to capture the actions and viewpoints of the principals as they attempt ed to build effective schools and collegial cultures. Denzin and Lincoln (1994) state d dy things in their natural settings, attempting to make sense of, or interpret, phenomena in terms of In his revised definition, Cr eswell (2007) suggested ng sensitive to the people and places under study (p. 37). He adds that, in recent years, qu alitative research designs study within the political, social, and cultural cont ext of the researchers, the participants, Submitting to the idea that o bjective reality can never be realized, the qualitative researcher sets out to get a fix on the subject at hand, using whatever means necessary. A s an alternative to the quantitative mission of validation, the qualitative researcher uses a number of methods to triangulate and hone in on the sub ject to best capture its nature The subjective reality of that process is recognized and even embraced by the r esearcher, with full disclosure ( Creswell, 2007 ). As a qualitative researcher, I use d empirical materials ( recorded interviews field notes, and observation ) and took a phenomenological approach. This approach requires the researcher to focus on the p henomena themselves the principals and their lived exper iences. Phenomenology: A theoretical framework Much of the research that is linked to phen omenology began with the
65 philosophical elucidations of Edmund Husserl (19 13) and Martin Heidegger (1962) a nd was later shaped for social scientists by Alfred Schutz (1964). Phenomenology as a research focus endeavors to describe a phenomenon as it is, the subjective reality of an event. The researcher is tasked to capture the here and now as the only real trut h, the only reality. In Ideas: General introduction to pure phenomenology (1931), Husserl makes clear the dist inction between the science s of fact (like psychology) and the science s of (like phenomenology) (p. 40). Husserl reject s the not ion that phenomenology, a science of phenomena is simply a sub domain of empir ical sciences that view s things as factual. Instead, he argues that everything is relative existing in a spatio temporal existence. quite generally, Husserl, Heidegger and later Maurice Merleau Ponty broadened the n most would include in the more common, narrow sense of the se words. In a posits a distinction between what is known and know ledge In a complex array of examples, Heidegger unfolds his philo sophy of the now that any attempts to place experiences in a larger context are flawed at conception Heidegger puts it this way: Mediation is in turn transmitted into the means by which the me diation knows what is known Stated a bit clearer, to the situation of the experiencing subject. It is built on sedimentations of form erly
66 actually present experiences that were bound to situations. Inversely, every actually 99). As a qual itative researcher, I attempted to captur e those lived exper iences that shaped the real time biographies of the participants sitting in front of me. In his rambling take on individualism and experience, Moustakas (1967) warns that there is no certainty beyond the moment and that any researcher / historian / biogra pher who attempts to quantify the experiences of others is doomed to misinterpretation. Moustakas claims that every individual and every experience is uniqu e and that it is futile to talk about it or de fine it sees, This is one of the reasons why I pursu ed a qualitative study that viewed my interpretations as my own, as subjective rendering s of the truth (and yet a truer reality than I might find thr ough quantitative methods). that it exists. No why I suff The existential moments of life do not contain a why, but only the reality t hat man is constructed as he i The complexities of man are what make the social sciences unique field s for study and unlike the physical sciences. While experiments and findings in the physical sciences can be quantified, disaggregated and even replicated, the s ocial sciences are rarely afforded such assurances. In this way, phenomenology rejects reality as defined by the physical sciences henomenology in its purest form rejects the dualism of mind and body as esp oused by Descartes and others (Hammond, Howarth & Keat, 1991). Researchers pursuing a phenomenological
6 7 study see no such dichotomy. They do not attempt to separate the mind and body of man because the two co exist and cannot be separated. At p aim is to describe the meaning of an experience from the view of person who is experiencin g it. Heidegger offers a wider view of experience in his interpretation of phenomenology, called hermeneutic. It takes into consideration the context that surrounds the experience, leading to a more telling, interpretive description. A third school of thou ght combines the first two and is often referred to as the Dutch or Utrecht school. Schutz (1964) argued that social scientists should focus on the ways that the life world is produced and experienced by its members That kind of thinking runs counter to the idea that the life world is just out there like an impulse item in the grocery story. To put it another way, social scientists who pursue phenonmenological approaches recognize that nothing can exist and nothing has context or complexity w ithout the messiness of lived experience. For this reason, I studied pr incipals in their school settings. T he study was intended to lead to a greater understanding of the principals and of myself as a researcher (and current principal). These are some of t he reasons that I pursued qualitative approach es as more adaptable, more mutable and better fitting this research exercise. Portraiture : A Technique The notion of capturing the true essence of the research subject is a harrowing
68 task, wrought with a nu mber of vipers that could be harmful ( i f not deadly). The first problem at hand is crafting a profile of each principal th at accurately depicts the true nature, both t he physicality and spirituality of their work. Social sc ientists who use qu antitative methods are hard pressed to capture this sense about people. Instead, t hey are focused on hard data that can be tested, validated and generalized. Wit h a large sample size, some sense work in schools can be de termi ned. Still, what remains is an inexact variable (the practit ioner himself) and the untidiness of daily life next -panging for context This reality is what drove me to a qu alitative endeavor. I believe that profiling the principals wa s better accomplished with a smaller sample size and more aptly fitted to qualitative techniques. I cons idered several methods and decided to use the technique of portraiture as most fitting thi s study This technique was popularized by Sara Lawrence Lig htfoot (1983), whose best high schools ( The Good High School ) was written in a narrative style (unique at that time) that combined the story telling techniques of t he fiction writer w ith the research standards of the social scientis t. Portraiture, a kind of is related to action research, case study and apprec iative inquiry. It is a type of storyt ell ing that is meant to reveal a true picture o f a subject, a more complete picture than the subject might write about himself. According to Lawrence Lightfoot (1997) the f ocus of any good portrait is the way it reveals the nuance and complexity of the whole resisting the reductionism that comes wit h other techniques (especially those in the quantitative
69 realm). Creating a portrait in this way involves the blending of art and science, shaped by a dialogue between the creative scientist (in this case, me) and the dedicated practitioner (in this case, the principals). I had made a couple of early (and sometimes crude) attempts at using portraiture as part of my doctoral coursework. I also read a number of examples of portraiture in an effort to comprehend the key elements of this technique. One that I f ound most useful and relevan t was by three doctoral candidates who used portraiture to capture their experiences as students. In the ir article, Murakami Ramalho, Piert and Militello (2008) use extended metaphors to tie their narratives into one unified tal e. were collaboratively crafting images of each other, each sharing the paintbrush (p. 812). In the end, each writer helped the other craft a more complete telling of their story. Another helpful exampl e was by a Yale researcher who used portraiture a s part of her critical feminist research on African women (Ngunjiri, 2007) After several unsuccessful attempts to characterize African women leaders, Ngunjiri cho se portraiture because she felt that the other techniques she considered provided a greater l ikelihood of bias and misinterpretation. She argues that portraiture provided a canvas for her studies that would followed the same path in light of my exploratory questions and of my search for a critical approach to the research In the t radition of portraiture, I endeavor ed to combine the five essential elements as outlined in The Art and Science of Portraiture (Lawrence Lightfoot & Hoffman Davis, 1997). The table below d epicts the integration of the five features, which work together to
70 complete a scientific and artistic sense of the study participants. A goodly amount of data collection, reflection an d relationship building was required to complete each of the features: context, voice, relationship, emergent themes and aesthetic w hole. This endeavor brought me closer to answering the research questions that I posed about how site based management works best in schools and how these principals have travailed to build commu nity in their buildings. Table 2 : The Five Essential Elements of Portraiture The Five Essential Elements of Portraiture Context Voice Relationship Emergent Themes Aesthetic Whole The setting: The physical, temporal, historical, cultural, and aesthetic context. Used to place people and action in time and space so as to help us understand them. Recognizes that all settings are contextual. Even a laboratory is not context free. and embedded metaphors and symbols. The voice of the researcher: The inclusion and exclusion of data, the questions that are posed, and the language of the narrative. Runs counter to the neutral stance taken by the quantitative researcher. Includes the in terpretive role of the researcher, his or her interpretations of the data, transparent to his or her search for meaning Includes dialogue, autobiographical voice and group voice. The connections between the portraitist and the actor. They are dynamic, evo lving and fluid. Recognizes that a certain level of intimacy is required for the key data to be revealed. Creates depth and reciprocity in the project through mutual investment in each other. Includes empathy and a genuine search for goodness. The resear data. Provides shape and form to the data, refrains and patterns that shape the narrative. Supports that notion that this type of qualitative research is fluid and needs to be adapte d as ideas emerge and new paths are discovered. Includes resonant metaphors, rituals and triangulation. The structure, the larger whole; the grand composition. Provides the blending of art and science, analysis and na rrative, structure and context. Requir es that the study has a st rong beginning, middle and end, like any good narrative. Includes structure, form, and coherence. Adapted from The Art and Science of Portraiture (1997) by Sara Lawrence Lightfoot and Jessica Hoffman Davis
71 In the light of ful l disclosure, I recognize that telling the stori es of these principals was a subjective enterprise There was no way that I could submit to the expectations (and limitations) of complete objecti vity. To be sure, these were stories of four principals as I s aw them (and as they saw themselves). This posits that another researcher would interview and observe these principals and see something else In this way, all research tied to the social sciences is bound by time and context and that makes promising relia bility nearly impossible. I can only promise that what I present ed in this study was what I saw and that the themes that emerge d we re presented accurately. The research standard t hen for this qualitative study wa validity (Lawrence Lightfoot & Hoffman Davis, 1997). Moustakas (1994) d escribes this level of reporting as intersubjective validity, a sort of back and forth between the researcher and researched that refines the information to a high level of accuracy and confirmability Janesick (2004) describes this social constructivist approach to research as more fluid and transformative like the movements of a dancer. y qualitative researchers see research as participatory, dialogic, tran sformative, and educative his constructivist model rejects the post positivist practice of interviewing as unidirectional. I view ed the conversations with the principals as i nduc tive, starting with broad questions and slowly searching out patterns of meaning. The constructivist worldview often manifests itself in phenomenological studies because it provides for individuals to offer up their experiences in an unfiltered fashion (Creswell,
72 2007). I use d this approach as a basis for lea rning more about how the principals manage d their school environments. The Role of the Researcher The idea that the researcher and participant have a dynamic relationship is a key understanding in qualitative research (Janesick, 2004 ; Kvale, 1996). The data then is interpreted and in hopes of finding meaning and understanding. All research then i s value laden (Berg, 2004). As I qualitative researcher, I analyze d and interpret ed the multiple realit ies that appear ed before me (Creswell, 2007). I pursue d this research from an ontological position tha t reality is subjective, as defined by the participants themselves. As a doctoral student and former journalist, I understood that thrusting myself in to t he role of interviewer would provide me a unique opportunity to be the primary research instrument for this study. This is common in a qualitative phenom enological study ( Janesick, 2004 ; Moustakas, 1994 ). My work as a newspaper reporter has provided me wit h valuable experience in interviewing and listening, two skills that are key to good qualitative research and story telling I also have worked for seven years as a school level and district level administrator and I know that these experiences shape d my q uestions, my data collection and my sense making through out this study. With an exacting approach, I a ttempt ed to report on these multiple realities in making a case for more complete pictu res of the participants. I carried with me a phenomenological lens taki ng a subjective stance that did p t to make sense of
73 everyt hing I have some limited experience in this regard, having taken a class on qualitative case methods at the University of South Florida. For the course, I conducted a pilot study that honed my research skills and helped me to appreciate qualitative inquiry as a research model I learned in that class to conduct myself like a social scientist in the way I listen, take careful notes and review the transcripts of the interview for critica l themes and symbols. I was drawn to study the work of principals because I have come to view them as key agents for school reform. As a high school English teacher for 10 years, I worked for several principals and was struck by their variety of visions a nd work ethics. I also had the unique opportunity work with all middle and high school principals in Pinellas visiting all secondary schools in the district and serving as a lead trainer of principals in the area of literacy). Again, I came to view the principals as the key components to school improvement and culture building in their schools. I have been clear in this study about my previous and current work experience and the biases that I bring to this study. Though I have a fair amount of experience as a school administrator I attempt ed to s views of his or her surroundings with few (if any) preconceived notions on my part. To do otherwise wo uld have impugn ed the research process. In their text on portraiture, Lawrence Lightfoot and Hoffman Davis speak to the balance that a qualitative researcher must find between cra fting a good story and crafting good scholarship. vestigator is counterbalanced by the skepticism and scrutiny that is the signature of good research
74 (p. 13). The process of good scholarship begins with exhaustive data collection, using m ultiple forms of data Th is course of action is a laborious one for the qualitative working through multiple levels of abstraction, starting with the raw data and forming My data collection steps are outlined below. Data Collection Methods The primary data source s for this study were in depth, individual interviews (with field notes), documents from the school sites, and a T he qualitative interview s provide d a wea lth of information on the study participants (Rubin and Rubin, 2005). A good qualitative interviewer is able to delve into the souls of the participants and present their realities with great depth and credibility. Working from an interpretive constructivi st paradigm, the interviews that I conduct ed reveal ed much about the participants both the expected and unexpec ted. I also found that the interviews reveal ed a good deal about me The taped interviews were conducted in person, followed by a transcriptio n of the interviews and a n analysis of the data I identified and code d variables using Rubin and radition of portraiture, I attempt ed to bring interpretive sight and analytic scrutiny to the data by sea rching out th e themes that emerge d before me ( Lawrence Lightfoot & Hoffman Davis, 1997). Using a responsive interviewing model developed by Rubin and Rubin (2005), I attempt ed to balance critical
75 inquiry with scientific ethics (even empathy). H aving multip le interviewees as well as the data from the site based documents and reflective jo urnal allow ed me to triangulate the findings and provide greater confirmability for the study (Denzin & Lincoln, 2003, Janesick, 2004). Triangulation is a research procedure t (Creswell, 1988, p. 202). Below are the characteristics of the model b y Rubin and Rubin that I employ ed to provide a fair and consistent research standard during my data collection. experiences and their understanding of the world s in which they liv e and work 2.) The personality, style, and beliefs of the intervi ewer matter. Interviewing is an exchange, not a one way street; the relationship between interviewer and interviewee is meaningful, even if temporary. Because the interviewer contributes actively to the conversation, he or she must be aware of his or her o wn opinions, experiences, cultural definitions, and even prejudices. 3.) Because responsive interviews depend on a personal relationship between interviewer and interviewee and because that relationship may result in the exchange of private information or information dangerous to the interviewee, the interviewer incurs serious ethical obligations to protect the interviewee. Moreover, the interviewer is imposing on the time, energy, emotion, and creativity of the interviewee and therefore owes loyalty and pr otection in return. 4.) Interviewers should not impose their views on interviewees. They should ask
76 broad enough questions to avoid limiting what interviewees can answer, listen to what interviewees tell them, and modify their question to explore what they are hearing, not what they thought before they began the interview. 5.) Responsive interviewing design is flexible and adaptive. Because the interviewer must listen intently and follow up insights and new points during the interview, the interviewer must be able to change course based on what he or she learns. Interviewers may need to change whom they plan to talk to or where they plan to conduct an interview as they find out more about their research questions. I created an interview protocol to guide m y efforts at the school sites (see Appendix A) Still, I found it necessary to adapt my intellectual agenda in a qualitative fashion to match the people and settings that I found. As I went, I kept reflective journal a sort of reflective a ccounting of what I had seen, key interpretations, emerging hypotheses, a nd possible methodological and ethical problem s. This record ensure d the highest level of empirical and aesthetic resonance. Pilot Study A pilot study was conducted with a school ad ministrator to test the interview protocol in an effort to clarify or modify the questions. I was especially mindful of bi as, timing and the reactions from the interviewee. The questions were reviewed and adjusted per this process. A similar pilot protocol was created and tested in the fall of 2008 as part of a doctoral course in qualitative methods. As a result of those studies, I believe that the questions used were open ended and general e n ough that the respondents wer e free to
77 articulate as they saw fit As I undertook this study I kept a journal of what I saw and how I felt in an effort to capture the real sense of the participants and their settings. The reflective journal is a key instrument in qualitative research be cause it captures the key observations and insights of the researcher and recognizes that the researcher is a primary instrument of the study (Janesick, 2004). The journal helped me to resolve cognitive dissonance and provide d a level of precision about wh at wa s happening in the study, a record of problems that ca me about, and a record of perso nal beliefs and biases that might have impact ed the study narrative. Janesick (2004) provides five ways in which reflective journaling can support the researcher (and the research): 1.) Helps to focus the study 2.) Helps set the groundwork for analysis and interpretation 3.) Serves as a tool for revisiting notes and transcripts 4.) Serves as a tool to awaken the imagination 5.) Helps to keep the written record of thoughts, feelings, and f acts (p. 149) I also found that the journaling beg a n t o shape the narrative that form ed much of my work in Chapters Four and Five Site Based Documents For this study, it was critical to get a sense of the organizational structures of the
78 schools, the s chool budgets and key correspondences between the principals and their teachers and staffs A number of the interview questions were designed to probe these to form a more complete narrative. A verbatim transcript of the taped interviews was also kept in hard copy form and reviewed for key themes and metaphors. Interview Format The interview should be a two directional exercise that has reciprocal benefits for both the interviewer and the interviewee (Janesick, 2004; Lawrence Lightfoot & Hoffman Davis, 1997). More specific to qualitative research, Janesick contends that the T o create an environment for social discourse between myself and the principals, I constructed open ended questions that wer e meant to lead to greater understanding of the principals themselves (and a larger sense of effective leadership practices). Lawrenc e recognized and celebrated by novelists, poets, playwrights is that as one moves closer to the unique & Rubin, 2005) and characterizes their work as communal leading toward a greater understanding of each other and the universal. My approach mirror ed 998) long interview format that is intended to paint a complete portrait of each participant. Though some images may be less than
79 flattering, the search for goodness and triumph undergird the research questions and the research process. Lawrence Lightfoot and Hoffman Davis (1997) make the case for social science to focus its research on finding what works some good can come from focusing on pathology, that approach can also magnify the problems and present them as more prominent t tradition Interview Protocol The developed protocol include d open ended questions t hat wer e designed to provide the interviewee with free reign to do what Rubin and Rubin says is opportunity to answer as they se re also designed to be free from editorializing on my part To put it another way, I qu 157). I conduct ed two interviews with each participant Since I secured four particip ant s for this study there were eight interviews total. The following questions wer e included in my protocol (see Appendix A). I have presented each question below and a rationale for each. 1. Describe your views on school leadership This question is mean t to get to the participant picture bel iefs about school leadership and reform Rubin and Rubin (2005) call s
80 2. Describe your views regarding student achievement and what factors contribute to student growth. How does your leadership style impact student achievement ? This question is designed to speak to the heart of my rese arch questions around principal leadership styles and school reform. The question is meant to be open end ed and does not suggest that any one leade rship style is or is not an ingredient to student achievement. 3. How do you impact change in your school in light of the mandates from the state and federal governments? This sort of insight and context is missing in the current research on principal leader ship and school accountability I also added this question because a good qualitative research study begins with broad questions and then moves into more focused questions ( Rubin & Rubin, 2005). ended to get the 4. Describe your relationship with teachers, parents and the local community. How do teachers, parents and community members impact decisions in your school? Certain ly, the entire notion of distributed leadership is about empowerment ( starting with the empowerment of the principals themselves). This question gets to the issue of how much control and power the pr incipals wield and how much they feel that they share wit h others The literature review addresses the idea that principals, teachers and parents who perceive they have more control are more contented in their jobs and feel more empowered (Smith & Rowley, 2005). 5. Describe the level and degree of collaboration and collegiality at your school.
81 This question is structured similar to the one above. Still, it is critical to get closer to teachers and parents in decision making. As I bega n to collect data, my research questions were further shaped and refined and I alter ed my forms of data collection to improve my chanc es of nabbing the morsels that we re left aft er each visit. In this way, this study was not about me. I intend ed to remain humble to the task, knowing that I might need to alter my a pproach if I had any hope of capturing the universal essence. I know that if I were to be successful as a qualitativ e researcher, I must be able t o reduce each individual experiences to some conclusion s the very n 1990). Data Analysis / Interpretation As each interview and site visit was comp leted, I carefully began the process of data anal ysis an d interpretation. I review ed the interview transcripts, site documents and reflective journal entries in search of direct references, narrative vignettes, and exact quotations that support ed any em pirical assertions that I had uncovered Using the checklis t from Janesick (2004), I highlight ed themes that present ed themselves across the data sets, reveal ed any conclusions or limitations based on my role as the researcher, and relay ed any ethical considerations that need ed to be shared in light of my conclus i ons. More specifically, follow ed the steps for narrative analysis outlined by Moustakas (1994) and simplified later by Creswell (2007). Those steps are as follows:
82 1. Write a full description of my experience with the phenomenon (the principals). 2. Compile a l ist of the significant statements from the data sources. 3. 4. Write a description of what the participants have experienced in their schools, 5. Write a description of the setting and context for the phenomenon. This is 6. Write a composite description incorporating both the textural and structural descriptions that captures the essence of the phenomenon (with full context) (p. 159). I attempted to present an exhaustive description of the principals, the settings, the common unde rstandings and the themes that were founded by the data. Participant Selection / Criterion Sampling I chose to use crit erion sampling because it allowed me to have greater quality as surance that all participants m et the same standard (or criteria). In th is case, all participants were experienced principals (minimum of five years) who work ed in high schools in large school distri cts in Florida All candidates were drawn from among the five largest school districts in Florida and were selected in part with input from the central office superintendents and associate superintendents in those districts. Because the sample size was so sma ll ( just four partici pants), the interviewees had to be
83 knowledgeable and had to have first hand experience so as to increase th credibility and likelihood tha t the results would be convincing (Rubin & Rubin, 2005). The interviews were designed to create an environment for social discourse between Partici pants for this study me t the following criteria : 1.) High school p rincipals who have se rved in th eir roles for a minimum of five year s and work in large schoo l districts. The principals were chosen from among the six largest school districts in Florida Dade County (Miami), Broward County (Fort Lauderdale), Palm Beach County (West Palm Beac h), Orange County (Orlando), Hillsborough County (Tampa ) and Duval County (Jacksonville). 2.) Principals who have been named as successful and innovative by the central office superintendents and associate superintendents in those districts. 3.) Princi pals who ar e willing to be interviewed at least twice during the fall of 2009 and spring/summer of 2010. Dissertation Timeline Once the research proposal was complete, t h e amo unt of time that this study took to complete depended on the nature and complexities of the data collection and analyses steps. Though I want ed to move forward quickly enough to maintain en ergy and momentum, I understood that problems would continue to arise and that timelines may
84 need to be adjusted accordingly. The tab le below is provided as a n est imation of the study deadlines that were followed. Table 3 : Dissertation Timeline Concept Paper Approval by Committee Chair November 2008 Concept Paper Completed, Acc epted by Committee January 2009 Completion of Qualifying Exam June 2009 Completio n of Proposal D raft, Reviewed by Committee Chair August 2009 Proposal Completed (Chapters 1,2 and 3), Accepted by Committee September 2009 Proposal Pre Defense Meeting October 2009 Proposal Hearing and Approval November 2009 IRB Approval December 2009 Invitation to Principals to Participate in the Study December 2009 First Round of Interviews / Transcription / Analysis December 2009 January 2010 Second Round of Interviews / Transcription / Analysis April May 2010 Chapter 4 Completed November 20 10 Chapter 5 Completed December 2010 First Draft of Dissertation Completed, Reviewed by Committee January 2011 Pre Defense Committee Hearing February 201 1 Dissertation Defense February 201 1 Final Copy of Dissertation Completed March 201 1 Graduation M ay 201 1 Ethical Considerations I undertook this study with great purpose and with full knowledge of the ethical
85 protocols that have been crafted to guide research studies I recognize d throughout the study that a ll efforts must be made to protect the i ntegrity of the participant s and authenticity of the data. At a minimum, the processes of informed consent a nd institutional review were utilized to ensure that no one wa s harmed by this study. All due dilig ence was given to present a study that wa s accura te and ethical In search of a set of guidelines, I reviewed the ethical procedures outlined by the American Educational Research Association (AERA). They include d an understanding that no data should be falsified or misrepresented, that no data should be held in secret, that all research processes, problems and interpretations be fully explained, and that analyses and conclusions be presented in straightforward, readable manners. I certainly understood that, as a re searcher and portraitist, I had to build a bond of trust with all study partic ipants in that conversations would sometimes stray into shadowy places that need not be revealed Lawrence Lightfoot and Hoffman Davis (1997) offer ed ransformation, we create opportunities for dialogue, we pursue the silences, and in the process, we face ethical I endeavored to create narratives that were complex and provocative but also one s that were scientifically rigorous and morally upstanding. This was my charge. Conclusion I attempted in this chapter to present the methodological underpinning s of a study that explored the understandings and processes of secondary principals in the era of
86 accou ntability I end eavored to adequately present the theoretical and procedura l aspects of this study. I explained the theoretical framework for the study, provided the processes for data collection and ana lyse s and explained my role as a researcher within th e accepted research practices for a qualitative study. I anticipate that this study will faithfully add to the current literatu re on principal leadership and school reform and be viewed as true to the highest standards of qualitative research design. In th e following chapters, I will provide the results of the study and suggest some next steps for further research on the topics presented herein.
87 Chapter Four PRESENTATION OF THE DATA Introduction The purpose of this st udy was to describe and explain the perspectives of secondary school principals regarding their leadership styles and empowerment efforts in this era of accountability. The study attempted to siphon and cull the critical actions that principals take in mak ing decisions, fashioning consensus and building community in their schools. This study focused on how principals build collaborative cultures because the research shows that principals and teachers who work closely together are more likely to make lasting change in student achievement The following exploratory questions were used to guide this study: 3.) shared decision making ? 4.) out school reform and shared decision making? Th e protocols and research methods were designed to garner the insights of high school principals regarding some of the reform methods that were uncovered through the literature review, including site based man agement and shared decision making,
88 collaborative school cultures, transformational leadership, and social justice actions. Setting / Context The study centered on four high school principals who were recommended by their district level administrators a s being successful in leading school reform. As per the recommendations of my doctoral committee, I did not attempt to qualify what was meant superintendents of the six largest school districts in Florida and ask them to provide me with the names of two high school principals who they saw as successful. It is important to note that the school district in which I work is not among those six large districts and, therefore, was not considered as part of this study. district level administrator who dealt more directly with high school principals: directors of curriculum, area superintendents or as sociate superintendents. Each of them was cordial and helpful, though only three of the six districts supplied me with names. Two the six principals who I contacted agreed to take part in the study. In communicating with the district level administrators, I tried to be clear in our conversations that I did not want to limit the choices of principals to only those whose schools performed the highest on state and natio nal assessments. Again, this was advice received from my doctoral committee and agreed upon by myself and my chair. In school with a letter grade: A to F. In light of thi
89 schools. To put it another way, I asked that any high school principal be considered who the type of school he or she oversaw. I sought out principals from school districts of similar size so that their experiences might be more similar than not. The four principals w ho agreed to take part in the study were interviewed during the fall of 2009 and spring of 2010 Data Collection and Analysis As a qualitative researcher, I attempted to stay true to the empirical methods of face to face interviews, field notes, and observation in an attempt to triangulate the data. In light of my phenomenologist viewpoint, I tried to capture the participants as they really were both textually and structurally. The figure below is provided as an o utline of the research timeline and verification methods that were used. Figure 1. Summary of Data Collection and Analysis Contacted Participants Obta ined Consent Nov. 2009 First Interviews Conducted Dec. 2009 Jan. 2010 Completed Transcript Verification, Data Review May 2010 Completed Reflective Journal, Transcripts April 2010 Second Interviews Conducted May 2010 June 2010 Completed Transcript Verification, Data Review July 201 0 Cross Case Analysis and Peer Review Oct 2010 Completed Textual and Structural Descriptions Sept 2010
90 In light of my use of portraiture as a story telling technique, I have presented the data by first crafting profiles of the principals and the schools and districts in which they work. In light of privacy concerns, pseudonyms were used in providing names of the principals, the schools and the school districts. The pseudonyms were chosen as a color that most closely matc personalities. The settings and context for each principal and school are provided as they are critical in presenting an authentic account of the participants in both a physical and spiritual sense ( Lawrence Lightfoot & Hoffman Davis, 1997). More specifically, I attempted to follow the steps for narrative analysis outlined by Moustakas (1994) and simplified later by Creswell (2007). Using the checklist from Janesick (2004), I highlighted themes that presented themselves across the data sets, revealed any conclusions or limitations based on my role as the researcher, and attempted to relay any ethical considerations that needed to be shared in light of my conclusions. I recorded each interview using an Olympus 4100 digital recorder and then reflective journal. Most of those notes related to my impressions of the schools and the participants themselves. The notes I took also helped me to revise my protocol for the second interview and to crystallize my thinking and conclusions regarding the data. At three of the eight interviews, the digital recorder was not set properly and I missed 5 10 minutes of data at each of those three. In each case, I used my field notes to review and reconstruct the key points that were not included in the transcripts. I do not feel that any valuable data was lost per those mishaps.
91 The Participants Each of the four participants was quite supportive of the study and open to spending the time necessary to answer my questions. The principals all served mid to large high schools (1,800 3,200 students) in three of the six largest school districts in Florida. In Florida, the size of the school districts is aligned to the size of each county. school landscape and it has created enormous and sometimes unwieldy school districts where 120,000 plus students is no t uncommon. Dade, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville) are all part of large school districts that rank among the top 20 largest districts in the United States. Only princi pals from the six largest school districts were considered for this study so as to include only those persons who knew of the unique needs and considerations of large districts and because the participants would be more alike in their experiences than diff erent. The table below is provided as a quick summary of the similarities and differences among the principals and their schools.
92 Table 4: Participant Summary Name: Principal Ruddy Principal Rust Principal Stone Principal Brightly School data Public h igh school 3,200 students School Grade In 2010: A Public high school 1,800 students School Grade in 2010: A Public high school 2,800 students School Grade in 2010: A Public high school 2,200 students School Grade in 2010: B District data 23 high schoo ls 157,000 students 25 high schools 162,000 students 19 high schools 123,000 students 19 high schools 123,000 students Gender Male Male Female Male Race Caucasian Caucasian Caucasian Caucasian Age 48 years old 39 years old 40 years old 57 years old Yea rs of Exp. 13 years as a principal 6 years as a principal 9 years as a principal 15 years as a principal Though four principals agreed to participate, two others who were contacted decided not to take part. My doctoral committee was in agreement that four participants was sufficient, but I was personally disappointed that the study did not include at least one of the other two participants as one was African American (including another female principal) and he or she might have provided some unique per spectives. As a result, three of the four participants were male and all were Caucasian. I believe that the study was successful in involving principals who all ran medium to large, comprehensive high schools in large school districts in an era of strong s tate and federal accountability. Of the four principals, two of them -Mr. Jack Ruddy and Mr. Sean Rust -were from different districts and two of them Mrs. Sheila Stone and Mr. Gabe Brightly were from the same district. Mrs. Stone and Mr. Brightly were colleagues and told me
93 other participants in the study. I did not know any of the participants before the study began. All of the interviews two per participant were conducted at the school sites in supportive of the research. I found each participant to be friendly and accommodating, though Mrs. Stone provided a sense that she was rushed and the most interested in having the interviews over with so she could get onto other things. For this reason, the interviews with her were shorter than the rest. Though I told each participant to plan for an hour for each interview, nearly all of the interviews lasted between 40 and 50 minutes. One of the interviews with Mrs. Stone lasted only 20 minutes. The data i s presented below on a case by c ase basis and in a narrative voice. section attempts to capture the principal as he or she really was and results from both views on leadership, school reform and shared decision making. The First Case Jack Ruddy / Orange City High School Prologue Principal Ruddy Principal Ruddy was one of two principals from the Central County School District who was suggested by the Central Office administrators as befitting this study.
94 As previously stated, one of the principals from the same district decided not to take part after my initial contact. In contrast, Mr. Ruddy was accommodating from the start and appeared eager to take part and honored to be asked. We communicated at first through email in the fall of 2009 and then had one s hort phone conversation before we agreed on a date and time for our first interview in December of 2009. My sense was that he had no apprehensions about me or the study. It was as if he had seen it all and done it all as a veteran principal and that he was no longer apprehensive about much. He appeared during our early communications to be confident and cheerful, with that he had a charisma that drew me in, the alluring manner of a larger than life leader. His interviews with me only served to confirm my early impressions. We agreed on two in person interviews with follow up phone or email communications as needed. I interviewed Mr. Ruddy in December of 2009 and again in May of 2010 both times in his office at school. I noted in my reflective journal that Mr. Ruddy wanted to be seen as a nice guy, friendly to visitors (like myself) and to his staff. I also noted that he wanted to be in control and that his decision makin g style was more top down that he would probably admit to others. He spoke several times about getting input from those around him so he could make the decisions that he felt were best. Principal Ruddy Setting / Context Orange City High School sits amo ng the dotted landscape of look alike homes
95 and same old stores in a new money enclave of Central Florida. There are many communities like this one in and around Central County, built around their cookie cutter there before. There is a Starbucks near by and other restaurants with familiar names and menus. Orange City High sits there, safely platted among sizable homes many of them with two stories, three car garages and screened in pools. The houses are all bei ge. Orange City High looks a lot like the planned community that it serves. The school is on the outskirts of the Central County School District, a sprawling district of more than 150,000 students and more than 20 high schools. While larger than most scho and penchant for large, county wide districts that offer a variety of schools and a phalanx of problems. Orange City High opened in 2002 just as the housing boom in Florid a was money white families on new money white streets. The streets are clean here and the lawns are well tended. There is an order to things. Orange City High was built next to Orange City Middle School, which i s next to Orange City Elementary. The high school has a student population of 3,200 larger than most around the country but pretty typical for the suburban centers of Florida. It is a school that one year grew to 4,500 kids and it has the feel of a small college. There is a full Principal Jake Ruddy is both the mayor and the sheriff.
96 wo especially handsome or aged. It is not near downtown or any major thoroughfare. It is just there, conveniently dropped alongside a community road that looks as i f it were constructed only to serve the school and surrounding businesses. I found that I underestimated just how long it would take to find the school, as most of my experiences are with city schools that are close to each other and close to major roads. a sizeable man with a hardy handshake. In my two visits to the school he greeted me each time with a kindly tone and sporting a coat and tie. He is just over six foot tall in his mid 40s and carries a rounded belly that has me wondering if he would play a good Santa. I find him to be a good natured man with white hair and a ruddy face, a jolly old fellow. My first visit to the school was in December of 2009 and the schoo l day was over when I arrived. Still, the parking lot was nearly a quarter full as students were staying after school to take part in sports and club activities. It seemed to be a busy school. I found Mr. Ruddy to be friendly and ready for my arrival. He w as finishing up a meeting with his assistant principals in a messy conference room that had data charts on the wall and stacks of paper on the corners of the sturdy, rectangular table. I noted that the conference room was befitting a school on the move -a school with something to do and somewhere to go. Mr. Ruddy wore a charcoal gray suit coat that softened his pear shape. He wore khaki pants, a brown belt and a simple white dress shirt. I thought that he could have
97 been an accountant or a banker if not f or his apple red tie with yellow school buses sketched on the front. It was his tie that I noticed first. He was also a bit sloppy for an accountant, his shirt tucked in but bunched near his belt and his pants wrinkled and over sized like he had slept in As he spoke I thought I might been have been talking to Willy Lowman but he was much too confident for all of that. I interviewed him both times in his office which, like the conference room, was filled with stacks of white paper some appeared to be memos, others were clearly data reports or drafts of the master school schedule. His tie for the second interview also had a school theme. This time it had a math focus: E=MC 2 ssing that it was a gift from his wife or maybe a student, though I forgot to ask. On both occasions he offered me a drink from the mini fridge in his office. The fridge was filled with waters and Mountain Dew. On my first visit, he gave me the choice of p lain water or some new version that someone gave him that included extra vitamins and minerals. I took the plain water, the safe choice. He took the other. He is one of those leaders who is willing to try new things. In his own words, he calls himself a r isk taker. He said that he is one to make decisions that he believes are good for the school, even without asking permission from Mandarin Chinese and another in Arabic. H e gave me a tour during my second visit in May of 2010 and he proudly showed off his school and all of the gambles that paid off like partnering with a credit union and allowing students to do their banking during the
98 school day. His office is square, a bout 10 feet in each direction, and his L shaped desk takes up most of the space. There is an outer room for his secretary and he was sure to introduce me to her. In his office, a large executive, wrap around desk is hard to see with all the papers scatter ed about. There are four chairs facing his desk. The chairs are leather, straight back chairs and comfortable to sit in. He sat behind his desk for both interviews and each time treated me with a great deal of respect and dignity. He smiled a lot and rocke d casually in his chair. I surmised that he had a lot of visitors and that he worked hard to make them feel comfortable. During the interviews, he had his computer on and the emails were coming in and at them and kept his focus on me. The walls of his office are covered with pictures of the school mascot and other school memorabilia is stationed about. Like Ruddy himself, his office is a little messy, a bit disheveled. Some of the papers on his desk ar lunches or dinners he never hurried me along. He told me that he was in no rush, that he had cleared his calendar to accommodate our intervi ew and that he often works until after 9 p.m. On this day, a Friday, he said he was expecting to leave much later than that. Principal Ruddy Views on Leadership When it came to questions about leadership, Mr. Ruddy continually sent signals that he was
99 decisions being made there. I noted in my reflective journal that his responses and demeanor led me to see him as daring and confident -not afraid of a challenge. He never made any apologies and he appeared to be clearly in charge, even in charge of the interview itself. Though his school had some levels of collaboration, decisions appeared much to his liking. He was adamant about his belief that good leaders must be hands on and approachable. When he was relaying a recent incident in which a student got in trouble the boy and his mother privately and make his own decision about whether to allow the student back in school. I asked him: How do you think that characterizes the way you lead? I mean, what signal does that send? That I am hands on and that I am on top of that kind of thing But, at that the same tim During another part of the interview, Mr. Ruddy again made the case for a hands on leadership st yle when he pointed out that he personally handles the hiring of teachers and sometimes leads his faculty trainings. I think those are just such important pieces of the running of the high school that a d of principals letting their API (Assistant Principal for Instruction) such a critical area where you really ge t such an input. The other area where I really involve myself is the whole professional development piec e. Not necessarily doing the
100 that they see the principal up and actually doing the presentation on, like this whole AYP thing w and the new way of the state and the DOE is looking at us. That whole training I did myself. I spent like two hours pre planning, did it myself personally, showed all the data and then did that. As the researcher, I attempted to ask open ended questions that a llowed the participant to go in whatever direction he or she decided. For example, I asked: W hat do you think good leadership looks like in a h igh school? Mr. Ruddy suggested that a principal has to be hands on in part so he or she can maintain control and show the faculty and staff that he or she has things in order. I do think, a little bit of what I just said, I think you have to be very hands on, and you know, that you just total your people, and I do. But you some principals that just that you can be that in a big comprehensive high schoo l ; I think you do have to be visible. You have to be, a little bit to everyone, you know. During both interviews, Mr. Ruddy kept bringing the conversation back to children. He made several overtures around keeping a school student centered and student frie part of being a strong leader. Keeping all your groups in a big whole school, understanding you have so many
101 stakeholders, and just, the students, starting with them, eve rything starts with them think our PBS, Positive Behavior Support approach, the fact that we have so many different clubs, student organizations, way s for students to ge t engaged, l istening to students, having a kind of open door with students. Principal Ruddy Views on School Reform School reform eral comments about still being in schools in an era of top down accountability m school grade though the school had dropped to C (down from a B the previous year) at the time of the interview. He said he viewed his school as successful in a broader sense than in the narrow view that the state uses to rate schools (using mostly test data). He seemed to suggest that good principals must be willing to look beyond the state measures and take bold approaches to make t heir schools successful. He used the example of and despite the fact that he had no teacher and no funding. The question I asked was: What I hear in your voice a little
102 principals? Or just a quality of you? He told me: I think that I take risks; I think you do need to take risks. In support of research that seems to align school improvement to strong curriculum leadership, Mr. Ruddy was sure to point out that sees himself as a teacher first and principal second. I think a good principal definitely should have a good curricula background and it ke, at a high school, that you have to know everything about To put a finishing point on his belief that go od school leaders should be strong teachers, he recounted a number of times that either he or one of his assistant principals took over a class when a teacher was out and an adequate substitute could not be found. And just as far as governance and st ructur e goes, one thing I do have a vacancy, like last year we had a couple of vacancies that we were having trouble filling, like our drama teacher kept one day, out two weeks, be here, out two weeks. So with these three Drama I classes, they were starting to have issues, I divided them up. One of the deans and I taught one period. Two of my APs (assistant principa ls) taught another period. And then my other two APs taught another period. I asked: For how long? His response: For about a semester
103 have had my APs teaching things. Principal Ruddy Views on School Culture / Decision Making Building relationships with his staff and students seems to come naturally for Mr. Ruddy. He is one of those nice guys, large in stature and big on charisma. T hough his answers seem to suggest someone who wants to be in control, he provides opportunities for his teachers to collaborate and he appears to be open to their ideas. As a researcher, I making in la rge high schools where it is unlikely that more than 200 teachers will feel equally empowered. While the research suggests that a collaborative culture is one of the keys to a good school, the research on shared decision making is less clear. I asked Mr. R uddy about his willingness to share decisions with his faculty and staff and the following is his response regarding the master schedule. (Assistant Principal for Instruction) and I -an d the other assistant principals -that work and hash it really seen, then, the whole picture and fit it together. Pressing further, I asked: In other words, is there an y level of shared leadership or decision making here? Can you talk about that? first the department chairs give their input, then we all sit just like that and hash
104 through th involved with things. The same with the budget. You know the budget. We are site based. Basically, we are just given a $2 mill ion Just in this school, nothing to do with class size. You know, and so, we just got our October recount (our FTE) and, you know, ours actually came up a little. We increased so I just got $550,000 put in the budget. decisions after input from the faculty. I asked him: So who is on that Leadership Team? Are you talking about just the administrators ? The APs (assistant principals) are really primarily on that team. But, so, like really want to be involved with facilities stuff. The research shows that a key aspect of shared decision making and overall or her has a voice and is being heard. I asked Mr. R uddy if he thought there was collegiality at his school. relationships. And the teachers having a lot of voice through their departments. I followed up with this question: So if y ou have 200 faculty members how do they have input in anything if there are so many of them? How does that work?
105 other little offshoots lot of extra support I asked : Do they fe el like they can be innovative and creative and, I g uess what es, how do you impact whether they feel that way? lace for Communities, bu While Mr. Ruddy felt that his teachers were collaborating, he was less specific make decisions. do is get with my two, I have three art teachers, but one is like a fourth cants, go through and start screening them, talk to some people and then bring me like your top two or three choices, in order. I asked: e going to pick the one ? He said: ion.
106 Epilogue Principal Ruddy While Mr. Ruddy is clearly a likeable guy and forward thinking in his ideas, I wants to be in charge. Like others who ascend to posi tions of authority, I see him as wanting to run things. As with the other participants presented in this chapter, I have found each of the principals in this study t o have some attributes in common, though often the attributes were overlapping and sometimes more pronounced in some participants than others. The four participants tended to be I focused We focused Servant focused and Learning focused These observation s serve as the bases for my findings in Chapter Five. Table 5: Data Findings for Mr. Ruddy Four Key Leadership Tendencies Key Attributes and Indicators Notes from Interviews and Reflective Journal re: Mr. Ruddy focused Controlling Confident, Bold Top down tendencies Not afraid of a challenge. He makes the decisions, wants to have a say. focused Collaborative Collegial Trust building tendencies Relationship builder. Trust builder. Laid back. focused Activist leadership Caring, Hands on Risk taking tendencies Open to ideas from his faculty. leads trainings for staff. focused Curriculum savvy Data savvy / linear Type A tendencies Interested in all kids. Friendly to students.
107 are his bold approaches to curriculum (the Chinese elective as an example) and school governance (starting PLCs years before they were popular) in wanting to stay ahead of the curve. I found him to be someone who is eager to build relationships and steadfast in his promise to be open to good ideas from his student s and faculty. Still, I sense that the community and collegiality more so than in fashioning any true sharing of power and decision making. Not that any of that is good or bad. It just is the way it is. The Second Case Sean Rust / Cityside High School Prologue Principal Rust Principal Rust agreed to take part in the study after I mentioned to him that a Central Office administrator told me that he was one of the more effective principals in the school district. As stated earlier, the other principal from the West County School was quite nice when I rea ched him on his cell phone to ask him to consider two thing that he wanted to do that he was doin g this only out of duty; he was a company man and he was going to take part because that is what his Central Office bosses wanted him to do. He never verbalized
108 Legisl We agreed on a date and time for our first interview in March of 2010. He appeared more confused than the others about the intent of my study and a bit wary of what might be going on. Sti ll, he was more than willing to schedule a time and answer all of my questions rather to get it over with than to embrace it. He came across early on as a busy man with short, direct answers and nary a smile: Nice but not friendly. I later found that he was not unfriendly as much as he was serious, determined and unpretentious. We met twice, both times on Wednesdays because both his school and mine got out early on those days and it was a bit easier for our schedules to align. The first interview was in M arch of 2010 and the second was in May of 2010. is close enough to be along a busy stretch of roads where some of the urban sprawl is present. The West County School Distric 160,000 students and 25 high schools. It is a mix of older schools that pre date the population explosion of the past 20 years and some newer schools that serve the planned middle and the man himself appears to be one of so many principals that worked his way up the ranks quickly and became a young guy principal at a time when new schools (and jobs) were opening quicker than the school district had people to fill them. Principal Rust Setting / Context Cityside High School is hard to miss if you travel anywhere near the malls and
109 s not an especially attractive school, typical of those built in the late 90s to serve families who were escaping the less appealing neighborhoods near downtown. The school is a gaggle of forgettable structures that need a good painting, each joined by a l abyrinth of concrete walkways that need the gum stains bleached and hemmed in by a football stadium, a parking lot and enough chain link fence to circle a couple of city blocks. It is an expansive, open campus that would seem a bit unwieldy for those who w ork and attend school there. The weeds peer up above the hedges and the droppings of broken pencils lead a visitor to and from each classroom. Like his school, Mr. Rust is a principal who is not much for how things look as he is for how things are run. Ju st stop by his office and you will see for yourself. If the school could talk I think it would speak proudly of what it has done (its reading, math and AP scores) and not sound too much worried about how it looks. I know for sure that the principal would say that. Both Cityside High School and its principal would tell you that it has more important things to think about. They would tell you that they are much more concerned about reading scores than whether the grass gets cut. Mr. Rust is a golfer and he l ooks the part thin arms and a skinny waist. Others would describe him as lanky. He is slightly over 6 foot tall, in his late 30s and all arms. His light skin and freckles fit with his red hair that is trimmed close to his head. If you picture an elf in a Polo shirt you have some sense of Principal Rust taller. During my first interview, he let me know that he always has sun screen and a hat nearby because he has battled skin cancer in recent years. We meet for both interviews in
110 his offi ce and both times he has on tan or Khaki trousers and no tie. The first visit finds him wearing a Havana style shirt with short sleeves and an open collar. During the second interview, Mr. Rust is wearing a Polo shirt with the school name stitched on the f that he does. I figure he is just that guy. As he spoke, he leaned back in his chair and nodded his head a lot. He was so casual that I noted in my reflective journa l that I felt I was chatting with one my college buddies. I found him to be straight forward and uncomplicated with a pinpoint focus on fixing his school. He spoke candidly and with a confidence that belied his age. He dropped in just enough about pedagogi cal best practices that I fashioned him an instructional leader of some repute. He is clearly smart yet not someone who has to tell you that. Like him, his office is pale and thin. The walls are white and the one, large window is covered with white vertica l blinds that make the whole room feel like a college apartment. His desk is standard issue school furniture brown and hard to recall even moments after you leave the office. The blue green carpet is tightly woven and nothing seems to match. I think abo ut offering some decorating advice but then I realize my role dollar items in the office are a flat Mr. Rust is no bachelor, though. He is married and has pictures of his wife and family in cheap brown frames under the window. While we chatted, his Blackberry buzzed over and over and he resisted the temptation to glance at it. He had a name plate
111 on his desk and some c ertificates on his walls. There was a picture of the school mascot mounted on one wall and a small, white fan circulating the air in the room. I asked him about the TV and he said he uses it to watch the morning show. I joked about ESPN or the Golf Channel He was direct in his responses and respectful of my time and questions. I never felt rushed during the interviews and he was ready for me both times that I arrived. I noticed sunglasses on the corn er of his desk at the ready. I think of Joe Cool with red hair and freckles. He seemed to be a guy on the move, equally ready to visit classrooms everything and go g sold. Principal Rust Views on Leadership Mr. Rust is clearly on top of things, from his calendar to knowing what he wants for his school. He tells me that he wants to express this feeling of security and vision to his faculty and staff both a confidence in himself and in his plan. Still, he is willing to school forward. To do that, Mr. Rust says he feels the need to be accessible. He talked about that when I asked him if certain leadership styles work better in large, modern high schools. Well, I think the total key is your door has to be open. You still have to set up your structure of where peop le are supposed to go to get the help they need, because you
112 we just gave out schedules, for example. So teachers got their sched ules before the That can c know, as a faculty, I take, your depar tment head gave me a recommendation, my the happiest and most effective, because a happy teacher is more effective These statements from Mr. Rust present a complicated mix of what appears to be mutually exclusive considerations in leading a school staff: getting tea cher input in decisions, being efficient in making those decisions, being willing to make decisions that may be unpopular with the school staff, being open to new ideas, and knowing when to micro manage and when to macro manage. I see Mr. Rust as represent ative of someone who wants to do all of the above things well. This may be a telling sign of successful charge. In recalling a decision he made years ago to focus o n reading improvement, he decided to attend a national training himself and then return and present it to his staff. We went in and did many trainings after school in each department and showed them, with their curriculum, and I sat and that is one of the
113 em speaks to a spirit of servant leadership that seems to fit with his view of school governance. Another story he told was about carrying his Blackberry with him all the time and allowing the teachers to text him anytime with their needs. This principal s eems interested trusting his teachers and empowering them to improve themselves. I asked him this question: W hat are your basic philosophies about how to lead people? people did it to me. Y ou know, sometimes my best day is when one of my assistant pr incipals comes up and says ( and it just happened ) a staf f meeting it done There is certainly a gritty determination to Mr. Rust and a sense that he is not afraid of hard work or of getting his hands dirty. He said he is continually responding to up your this was his response: not held by that, send me an email to remind me.
114 Princip al Ru st Views on School Reform Mr. Rust is a principal who is always learning and he believes that school reform is possible only when teachers continually grow in their craft. In fact, during neither interview did I hear him mention his facilities, athletics or clubs. Instead, we had a conversation focused on teaching and learning, and the data to support it. His recent work with his staff has been around aligning the curriculum and lessons in his school, something he believes is key to school improvement. B ecause I know I had objectives when I taught. I had a couple questions. But aligning as a profession around the country, is somet h, I did But, stuff. When I asked him about how he ensures that his teachers are te aching to the standards, he told me that he takes a critical look at their teaching ability and that he personally oversees their evaluations. Mr. Rust said: A lot of the evaluations that, when I was a teacher, were just put in my mailbox Now, I meet with every single teacher. In a related comment, Mr. Rust talked about modern principals being data savvy and that he uses data to inform his thinking about teachers. The other thing very data driven, as we talked. One of the big things I looked at were my teachers who had really good exam grades, Category 1 exam grades, cause we could compare them to every other school in the county.
115 T hose high expectations for his teachers are part of what Mr. Rust sees as key ingredients for school improvement, startin g with having high expectations for his students and having a structured plan for how things should be run in an orderly and efficient manner. think first, before we get to the learning and that. When they come to school, in a safe feteria; w e want them to start their day in up by having a lot of eyes out there. So, any time we have that opportunity, I encourage teachers to be at thei work for me, because when kids are unattended, they tend to make poor, or worse, decisions. So this campus losing the 26 portables and opening a new school has helped, because we have more eyes in few because the kids are being supervised. So, start with that. I expect them to be l do it in a situation where someone has Affairs office or something like that to show the disgust and almost like an act. I m ean, even in front of parents, b
116 I asked him: And who sets the expec tations, or who sets the tone? D o you think you set that expectation and that tone? His response: Yeah, I think. Principal Rust Vie ws on School Culture / Decision Making staff and students with some teary eyed soliloquy. He is more of a big brother to them, a mentor, an equal partner. The staff appe ars to do things out of respect for his determination and vigor. I get an idea that there is a positive culture at the school, but more of a can do culture and than a close about struggling kids and his plan to have teachers mentor them sounded a bit more like marching orders than a rallying cry. re ally a fun meeting for me and the people there because I was basically saying know if I had the power to do that, but I just said it. In my attempts to understand his inte rest and ability in creating a shared decision making model, I got the sense that he was open to lots of ideas but that he was the key decision maker, communicator and evaluator. In another recent decision about who was going to teach the Advanced Placemen t courses at his school, Mr. Rust talked about his call to place more mid ability students in those classes and offering his teachers an
117 ultimatum around it. So we talked about all those types of kids and said those are the kind of kids you are going to ge That meeti ng went pretty well. There were o bviously some people who were hardliners and said ridiculous, there should only be Level 5 kids. then different people teach AP. Whi le some of M accurate description of him. He is more a straight shooter than a hard liner. He likes to get the data and then relay that to his staff it in a straight forward manner. Still, he appears to hold himself and his administrative team to the same high standards and he believes that the teachers appreciate that level of honesty and integrity. And I, at the end of each evaluation, whether I rip them or you know, praise them, whatever the situation migh anything that we can do as an administrative staff that would make things better ome things. So, I do ask that question and you know, I also ask for their view of how we can solve that, within the confines of the school system. Th ough he is clearly in charge, Mr. Rust said he was purposeful in setting up department meetings, departmen t chair meetings and a steering committee (comprised of various teachers) for the purposes of garnering teacher input. He also meets with students from time to time when large scale changes are forthcoming. One of those decisions involved moving the school from one to two lunches, something that the students were
118 against. It was never calm (at lunch) So, they (the teachers) agreed. And then what I did was, I reached out to the Student Government kids who had just gotten (inaudible) and they were livid. Th So that was a big, like, but I tried to get all those stakeholders involved. The faculty steering committee at his school which typically has fewer than 10 people, is available to provide input and offer school improvement ideas. The following have to have a solution. And it has to have an academic focus, an academic impact, that has an academic making may be more related to keeping open lines of communication with his staff. because I just kind of did my job. But I think if I was a department head or in a minor leadership role, I would want there to be more ope nness, so everyone knew the direction we were going. One of the key understandings from Mr. Rust is his belief that disagreements have
119 always that way but that, in an effort to be a more successful principal, he learned to keep his ego in check and reach out to others. improvement. I have made some relationship mistakes with teachers earl ier on, where th e teacher made mistakes as well. W e both were not doing things the right want them here. Because getting good teachers in front of your kids is one of the most important things. So, in getting your ego out of the way, and working through any issues you might have, is to me, a very effective way to lead. Epilogue Principal Rust Mr. Ru st was both candid and personable in his responses and that seems to match his leadership style, which is direct and determined. He seems to have a plan of attack for form leadership te ndencies in the following table.
120 Table 6: Data Findings for Mr. Rust Four Key Leadership Tendencies Key Attributes and Indicators Notes from Interv iews and Reflective Journal re: Mr. Rust focused Controlling Confident, Bold Top down tendencies Candid. Confident. Direct and determined. Wants to control things. Directly involved. focused Collaborat ive Collegial Trust building tendencies A take charge mindset. Shared decision making is too inefficient. Open door principal. Laid back. Relaxed. focused Activist leadership Caring, Hands on Risk taking tendencies Not pretentious. Straight fo rward and real. Nothing fancy. Just get it done. Ego less. focused Curriculum savvy Data savvy / linear Type A tendencies Data driven. Laser like. Knows his school. Ready to help kids anytime. Focused more on curriculum than operations lot about his own expectations and not those of others. He even suggested that empowering his teachers and parents was unrealistic because the school was too large and there are too many of them to include in any efficient manner. I did not find Mr. Rust to be a complicated person and that also makes him seem approachable. His straight forward, I am who I am persona seems to go a long way in building relationships with his sta ff and a lot to do with why many perceive him as successful in his leadership role.
121 The Third Case Sheila Stone / Southern High School Prologue Principal Stone Principal Stone was one of two principals that I interviewed from an expansive and ever North County School District has grown up fast some would say too fast during the past 30 years of white flight and urban sprawl. The county has see n so many new schools built that different district employees give you different answers when you ask them how many high schools there are. Among the principals interviewed, Stone appeared the least interested in taking part but still agreed right away and was ready for me each time that I arrived at the school. I observed that she was extremely busy and more interested in appeasing me (and the school district) than she was in eagerly supporting the research. We communicated exclusively through email and se t up the first interview for a cold day in January of 2010. There were no kids in school that day a district wide training day for teachers and that seemed to fit her need (and mine) to meet face to face on a day when the pressures of the school day we re not bearing down on us. That was the same thinking that led to our second interview being set for after school in June of 2010. Both interviews were shorter than the ones that I conducted with the other participants. The interviews were well under the h our that we scheduled and seemed to meet her need to get them over with so she could move on to more pressing matters. I found her to be nice enough to meet with me but more interested in getting the interviews over with than in chatting for hours on end.
122 As I reviewed my reflective journal, I noted that Stone appeared during both interviews to be eerily stressed and burdened by her job. The overwhelming impression that I had while interviewing her was that she was taxed to the point of burn out. Her eyes told me so. For the first interview, she had an end of day tiredness about her even though it was mid morning when we met. As she spoke, she ran her fingers through her hair her palms pressing down on her scalp and her fingers spread apart like she were answering questions under oath. Both interviews were in her office and she was always running right on time and respectful of our arrangement. Her school is a sprawling affair that sits hidden down an industrial road, under an overpass and behind acres of gray fencing and black parking lots. The only difference Mart or Best Buy were the lack of shopping carts and cigarette butts. Actually, there may have been cigarette k to look. Southern High School sits in an area of little consequence on the outskirts of the North County School District. The district itself has a similar feel, su per sized, county wide districts that offer a variety of schools including many with large school district challenges and many of little consequence. Principal Stone Setting / Context mpus I flashed back to those early trips I took to the mall as pre teen. It was the 1970s and all of the malls looked alike. There was always a main thoroughfare that was fairly easy to manage
123 but also a number of skinnier arteries where one might find the food court and always an Orange Julius. It was easy to get turned around down those corridors, lost in a mix of same looking store fronts. The same could be said for Southern High. It is a school that you have to experience from the inside out. It was bui lt in the 70s, with so many hallways and byways as to overwhelm the visitor and maybe the principal. Southern High is a one story structure with the gym at one end and cafeteria at the other. There were 2,800 students in attendance in 2010 and it had th e feeling of a large, to the bright, crayon blues and yellows that besmear the walls and lockers on the inside. The paint on the walls and lockers is thick from years of touch ups and hard times. There is a pool on campus and an imposing gray football stadium. Principal Stone has been in charge here for seven years. She says she was brought in to get the place under control first and to build up its academic reputati on second. She has done some of both. She was dressed for the first interview in a silver gray blouse and black pants. A gold watch lay loose around her thin wrist. For the second interview, she wore a suit of pale blue that could be a dull gray if you did rushed as she spoke, sitting forward in her chair and searching for her thoughts. She was different than the other principals that I interviewed. She was more professional in dress and manner, more formal. She reminded me of the modern, professional principal far from the athletic coaches who were asked to run schools during much of the past three decades. She is the power suit principal, the Blackberry principal. Her hair is blonde and just above her shoulders. She wears a lot of make up
124 and I wonder to myself what burdens she is trying to cover up. scheduling the interviews in the first place. I felt for her. I observed that she felt a great de al of pressure juggling her job, her kids and her faith. It appears that she takes a lot of she is seen as successful, probably because she always has been. She was pleasant and cooperative during both interviews but took much longer than the other principals to open up about what she really thinks. During the second interview, I found that she is strong in her Christian faith and that this job has as much to do with mission and ministry as it does with salary and benefits. posters also dominate the landscape. I asked her about them and she said she has always found them to be cute and irresistible. She swears that there is nothing more to it than that. There is a poster sized photo of two penguins behind her desk. On it, one penguin follows behind th Again, she says there is no real meaning to it. I beg to differ. Her office is in the middle of the school and adorned with the school colors and mascot. It has a more decorated interio interviewed. There are potted plants about and pictures of her children. There is a stylish book case in the corner, with hard lines and an asymmetric shape. It is like one of those trendy book cases tha t you find at Ikea and that you have to put together yourself.
125 Principal Stone closes her eyes a lot as she speaks, searching for answers both to my questions and to her problems. If someone were to play her in a movie it would be Jodie Foster, thin and pr etty but always in the middle of a mess (like Clarisse in Silence of the Lambs ). As she told her story, it seemed linear and that matches with her background as a math teacher and policy wonk. She talked openly about her school and the problems that she f ound when she got there. She said her first task was to get policies and procedures written for everything. She proudly showed me her book of procedures. She says she likes to look at data, to make informed decisions and to follow processes rigidly. I not feel comfortable sharing for fear of letting her guard down. During the seco nd interview, she seemed more human even spiritual. She told me that God is in charge of her life and that she lets Him have control. This seems to fit with her modest, Sunday best appearance and her sense of passion about her work. The muted colors of h the she as a gray, concrete woman -not overly flashy and not colorful, but hard as stone and unsh akable. Like her sprawling school, she seems a bit distant and less intimate than Still, I know that they are both expansive and complex with their own demons to c onquer.
126 Principal Stone Views on Leadership The as tough and determined, appearing less concerned with collaboration and collegiality and more worried about getting things d one. I noted in my reflective journal that she appeared to be focused and linear in her thinking, a policy wonk who was more comfortable reviewing data reports than in planning the next staff luncheon. xtremely analytical. Being a math person, I anal yze data more than anybody way that data is I ask ed her about her growth as a principal through the years. Her response again spoke to her growing use of data and her interest in being out in front of the solutions. use data. Mrs. Stone continually stressed her feeling that more and more was expected of principals in the era of accountability. I questioned her about whether the state and national mandates squelched her ability to lead. Yeah, I mean, I have some restricti operating on one foot with an arm tied behind my back. But yeah, I can do it. And
127 yes, the stakes are extremely high. No matter who you are, I need to be able to I pressed further in asking: Do you think you can be creative and innovative as a principal today, in light of the mandates? Or does that restrict your creativity? telling you the standards, but you can teach it in your own fashion. Well, I think the state did the same exact thing to us. You can be as creative as you want, within the easy. As for her leadership style, Mrs. Stone admitted that her quieter, contemplative that a more ani mated, visionary principal might be a better fit in modern schools, as opposed to the organized, operational leader that might have succeeded previously. The older I get, I think the more I find that, as it relates to high school, the role is a little bi t more charismatic and a little bit more political than I originally thought A personality, I felt like, just being on my A game and being very organized, knowing the instruction, coaching teachers and things like that, we re going to make me a strong high school principal. I asked Mrs. Stone to describe her l eadership style and she immediately spoke to principals interviewed for the s tudy.
128 I dive in and help. I think that one thing people can say about me is doing the work; do something, my hands are in there with you, doing it at the same time. There running an ID badge machine to unstopping the toilet. I noted in my reflective journal that this kind of activist, hands on approach is something that is found among many p rincipals and is likely to build credibility with teachers. I also noted that she, like the other principals that I interviewed, saw these qualities as unique to themselves. I think, I mean, I schedule kids. If I tell my administrators and my counselors I and such time, I This kind of work and attent strong will, something that was clearly evident through the study. She appears to be very as part of the success pla n for modern principals. Principal Stone Views on School Reform Mrs. Stone takes a systems approach to school reform. She is clearly not the leader who sees school improvement as the product of an impassioned leader who carries her school into battle I noted in my journal that Mrs. Stone is a quiet technocrat who sees
129 school change as programmed and conditioned through repeatable and reliable processes. She is more of a lead thinker and lead planner. Though she prefers to be in charge, to be the gene ral, she seems content to let others carry out the battle plans. learned or previous bagga And, even more recently, meaning within the past two years, I want to have schools, this one being one of them, where there wasn When I asked her about improving schools, she described her role in putting teachers and students in the best situations to teach and learn. One of my questions was: So, the aspects of good high schools, or good schools, you said instruction, you said rigorous instruction. Anything else? Well, the curriculum that y it. And then, basically just the kids and everything that it takes to make them feel safe, make them feel accepted.
130 Wee Birds with the Jaguars, they ga ve us money to start a full service school Mrs. St one brought up more than once that several of her teachers have gone on to be assistant principals at other schools and that she believes in growing her teachers and building capacity in others. She specifically spoke to her interest in mentoring young lea ders as her way of giving back. It also appears to fit her interest in letting others lead as a way of building capacity and allowing her to stay in the background. I honestly think that they (her staff) would think that I was a thinker. I really stand ba accept accolades. This fits with her servant leadership style and is similar to what I found with the other principals. Though the others appear to be more out front and charismatic, they others as a model for what they want out of their staffs. Principal Stone Vie ws on School Culture / Decision Making The school formal decision making processes include a Leadership Team (mostly administrators) where most decisions are hashed out and a Shared Decision Making Team (mostly teachers) that is designed to give faculty input regarding a wide
131 range of curricular and operational issues. When I pressed Mrs. Stone about the level and degree of true openness and real influence of those teams on school improvement, she suggested that her influence as principal was still the s trongest. First of So if you want to come you More specifically, I asked Mrs. Stone about the amount and degree of teacher collaboration. The following exchange during our second interview speaks to the difficulty of cre ating a true sense of collaboration in a large high school and the organizations. DJE: hard with this large of a faculty, I would imagine. Do you think that the faculty regularly collaborates here? Principal: Not as a whole. They collaborate in small groups. DJE: What about, among those groups, or among the faculty as a whole, a level of collegia lity? How would you describe it here? Principal: Um, clique or each subject area, or each grade level, or each house. Not, you know, schoolwide, not with over 200. DJE: Do you think it needs to b e? Do you think it would be a more effective
132 school if it were like that? Principal: that much time. bably more accurate to describe the decision making at Southern High Stone appears to have open access for teachers and staff to voice their concerns and ideas, she is t he filter for the solutions and changes. More specifically, she is ultimately in control. Our Shared Decision Making T eam meets at least once a month and everybody anonymously puts their ideas out there, they email them to the chairperson who puts everyth ing on the agenda. We sit and we talk about them. And, they allow I So, they see that they can A sense of maintaining contr ol versus their willingness to allow for freedom and autonomy. Mrs. Stone appears to the type of leader who would prefer to be hands off but who feels that some (or much) of her faculty members needs her guidance to see things through. In light of the mand ates and accountability measures that teachers face, I asked Mrs. Stone if she felt that her teachers can still be creative and autonomous.
133 My teachers can, because I will quickly look any of them in the eye and say, if you produce results, I will leave y ou alone. not going to tell you how to do anything. But just produce results and show me those results and I will leave you alone. I pressed further about whether she feels that a principal can impact teaching and instru empowerment, and to the degree that the principal can make the teacher feel empowered. My question was: How do you impact their feeling that t hey can be creative ? Those who are results can do what they want to do. Now, as for being creative, I do ask questions when I go in and visit rooms: W ell why are you doing it this way? And oftentimes, that develops conversation and coaching. Well, could I really do something else? hy do you think you have to do i t this way? gone out of the box in some creativity. I noted in my journal that Mrs. Stone is a str ong willed leader with a great deal of confidence in her skills based on previous experiences as an assistant principal and principal. She gave repeated examples of experiences that she believes have shaped her as a leader. I observed then that leaders lik e Mrs. Stone may be so confident in solving
134 which could work to stifle true collaboration. This, again, gets to the nature of who is in control and who is willing to share in that control. When pressed on this matter, Mrs. DJE: Do yo feel like you have control? Principal: DJE: Or that re in control, maybe I should say? Principal: they know more than me, as it relates to teaching, anyway, especially of their individual subject areas. This paradox of having c ontr ol of the processes that are necessary in running a school while providing autonomy to teachers may be the reason we see Mrs. Stone and the other principals vacillate between owning the decisions and sharing in them. Epilogue Principal Stone Mrs. Stone lightly. She is confident more in a been there, done that sort of way as if nothing colleg centered and self conscious. Quite the opposite, I found Mrs. Stone to be other centered and servant centered but I noted that all of this talk of shared decision making was probably too inefficient for her tastes. As with
135 the following table. Table 7 : Data Findings for Mrs. Stone Four Key Leadership Tendencies Key Attributes and Indicators Notes from Interviews and Reflective Journal re: Mrs. Stone focused Controlling Confident, Bold Top down tendencies Linear in her approach. Rushed, hurried. Pressure to improve now. Creates processes, policies to affect change. focused Collaborative Collegial Trust building tendencies Views real collaboration as unrealistic. focused Activist leadership Caring, Hand s on Risk taking tendencies Not afraid to step in when needed. focused Curriculum savvy Data savvy / linear Type A tendencies Data savvy. Really knows her data. Serious minded. A policy wonk. Focused. To put it another way, I am certain that she would tell you that true teacher administrator collaboration is more research talk than reality. I found her to be quite linear and laser like, more operationally strong than curricular focused, and driven to observations told me that. I could hear it in her voice. I could see it her eyes.
136 The Fourth Case Gabe Brightly / Beachside High School Prologue Principal Brightly Principal Brightly was the other principal that I interviewed from the North County School District and he was eager to take part in the study. He saw it as his way of it comes naturally to him. Though he and Principal Stone work in the same school di strict, their schools are not at all alike. While I found Mrs. Stone to be overwhelmed by the breadth of her mission, Mr. Brightly appeared a great deal more relaxed and in charge at his charming school on the beaches. He is a veteran principal of 15 years and had all the confidence of someone who had seen every problem and considered every solution. We stayed in touch as needed through email and phone and set up our first face to face interview for January of 2010. Our second interview was in June of 2010 both times in his office. Mr. Brightly is in a comfortable job in a comfortable, beach community that has sent all of its children through Beachside High since 1964. It is so far apart from the other schools in the North County School District that you would think you are in another city or on another planet. It sits alone and over a bridge from the rest of the district, far from the rest of the world and from the harangue of downtown. The wind blows sand across the road and onto the campus, the buildi ngs are squat to the ground and the surroundings seem less busy and less noisy than most high school settings.
137 Principal Brightly Setting / Context At Beachside High School, the students mingle after school and blend naturally with the tourists and beac h bums who come to and from the sandy shore across the street. The kids wear shorts and flip flops and I have to wonder if they have every worn anything else. Most of them live around here and most of their parents went to Beachside High as well. The stude nts hang around the school the way they hang around the nearby park or the 7 Eleven. The school itself is a postcard mixture of terra coda and orange brick. Built in the 1960s, the school would have been a good spot for an on location, Elvis movie. The sch ool is not especially historic in an ornate, notice the features way, but it has aged gracefully and come back into fashion like most things from the 60s. It is a tidy and timeless campus, more Ava Gabore than Zsa Zsa Gabore. The colors of the outside remi nd me of the sand, a mix of hues that is hard to pin down. The outside walk ways are tin roofed and painted a blue green shade that mimics the sea. There are a few portables out back and the whole place seems low to the ground the campus and I found him for the first interview to be typing feverishly at his computer, catching up on emails. We met for the first interview on a day when school was closed, a training day for teachers. Mr. Brightly was dressed down, wearing a faded, blue sweatshirt. Two things are immediately obvious: 1.) He wants to be comfortable and he wants to make me feel the same and 2.) The sweatshirt he is wearing has been through the washing machi wears each year to put up his Christmas lights.
138 For both interviews, he was welcoming and in no rush to get started or to end our discussions. His door was left open and both times w e met someone came in and asked a question. It is clear that he is an open door guy and he means it literally. Our first interview was interrupted by a call from a local newspaper reporter who was asking about a possible fight on campus. Mr. Brightly wants to be the nice guy but I see a tougher edge to him in dealing with the reporter than I saw when he was dealing with a teacher. He is a former coach and he looks the part. He is what you would picture if thought of ex coach or a former New York City cop. He has a deep brown tint to his skin and he sounds like someone who could fit in well in Mr. Brightly is thick around the middle, more filled in than pud gy -one too many beers and maybe a dozen too many chicken wings. He reminds me of firm but friendly, strong and in charge, out of coaching but still in the game. He has a baldin g head that is shaved close to the scalp and gray black beard that is trimmed tightly to his face. He wears rimless glasses that give him an aged and sophisticated look. His office is typical of a busy principal, with piles of data reports and master sche dule drafts. He never apologizes for the mess, which makes me think that he no longer sees it. The furniture is a high end, red cherry mix of flat work spaces, hutches and one small table. Dated, slate blinds cover the window that looks out onto a grassy c ourtyard. There is a football in his office, pictures of sports teams and photos of his family. His diploma from the local university hangs on the wall.
139 He rocks back and forth in his chair as he speaks, keeps his arms folded a lot and is clearly in cha rge of the conversation. He is overly friendly and wants me to feel like an old school football or baseball coach. He wants to be nice and he wants to lead, though he is not afraid to chew you out or make you drop down and do 50 push ups. He is clearly a principal who wants to be visible and who wants to know his teachers and students by ids or will shake their hands with a steady grip or will, maybe, just maybe, have them drop down and do some push ups. Principal Brightly Views on Leadership Mr. B for him to be nice but tough, friendly but firm. He has been a coach a long time and I think he is still coaching today, whether he is encouraging a student to get to class or a ip style from his personality. During both interviews, he was purposeful in keeping his door open and he told me that if a parent stopped in he would make time to see them. He seemed eager to talk to people, more so than most principals that I have encount ered. That is likely tied to his belief in relationships as the center point for change. In trying to determine how his personality and leadership style were aligned, I asked him to define his way of work. tent from one person to the next,
140 is. My personality is probably different than (others) mber, you know, to comfortable. I was not comfortable with that, where people said, you need to be tougher, you know, with teachers who were five minutes late, or tougher with this, or tougher with that, or you need to be tougher with the kids or something, and practices, I think, for curriculum, and programs, and how we handle discipline, or there ar e best practices for a leadership style. So I think you have to take what your personality is and work with that. Whe n I pressed him further to narrow his style to a few words, he spoke again about relationships. Consensus building, relationship building You know, I make a mistake, I fall on the sword, I made a mistake and we need to make it right. I had to do that with a mistake And I think honesty. I think everybody tries to do t bluff teachers and everything.
141 If you picture a larger than morning fellow who will look you in the eye and challenge you to speak up. I always make a p oint to tell the secretaries, I tell them, I said when I walk want you to get put out by t hat, I said, but they need to see that other people are interested in their well In chorus with his views on leading by building relationships, Mr. Brightly was I th ink in high school, visibility and accessibility are number one. When you survey kids, they will tell you visibility. They want to know who the principal is. So I am at almost every single class change, morning and afternoon, and I get on the TV. I try to get on the TV about once a week for morning announcements and all just to talk to the kids. The research is there that supports principals who are visible and visionary, unconventional even to the point of recalcitrance. Mr. Brightly spoke often about his maverick style that sometimes puts him into conflict with his bosses. So, I think the willingness to maybe take a risk on some things that may be the kids.
142 I asked: But wh worry about the slap on the hand la ter. And I think downtown, some people would tell you that. During the interviews, Mr. Brightly continually came back to his interest having an open door policy to send the signal that he is open to input from others, open to their criticisms and suggestio ns. close of day yesterday and this morning, emails that came in overnight. I try to take car e of all that before about 6:50, when I run down the halls. Well, a parent shows up this morning, my secretary says, hey, Mr. Herdman only needs two minutes. Well, that was 40 minutes. It was not a lot of anything that was important, but I sat here and lis tened to him and we kind of knew each other. So, say prefer it, it might have been better for me to have my door shut, my secretary call you, make an appointment, or you can Even m ore know him. In an attempt to get him to describe himself more sp ecifically as a leader, I asked him: But you would advocate for a leadership style that was what?
143 Open and accessible, abso lutely. And years ago, there were some surveys out there and some data that they talked to kids, high school kids and the No. 1 thing important to them about the principal was, e want to know who he was. Principal Brightly Views on School Reform Mr. Brightly is certainly not the type of principal who feels the need to impress people with his appearance, intelle ct or resume. He is more comfortable in his own skin. He is not the professional looking, business suit wearing principal, for sure. He is more likely to be buried behind a pile of data reports, with his sleeves rolled up and mustard on his tie. I noted in way of reforming his school. A review of the site based documents at Beachside High shows this his school has not made AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) for several years. That puts his school under state watch called Correct II status. I encouraged him to talk about his interest in keeping a positive school culture and meeting increasingly demanding state mandates. My question was: What about managing the mandates, back to the acc ountabilit y, managing that? You talked a little bit about protecting teachers from some of that. So, how do you, as a principal, affect how they are doing how they get to it all without being overwhelmed ?
144 become compliant with a lot of the directives. Like the other principals, I asked him about whether the mandates inhibit his creativity or ef fectiveness as a leader. Well, I think you have to work within those mandates, but I think you can still do that where, this is our in terpretation of this mandate, okay and while we have to his mandate. And I think to get back to the original question, too, is you certainly have to be able to express and communicate your vision for the school, and make sure that everything you do is pointing toward meeting that vision. Mr. Brightly points out that meeting the vision and improving a school come down to good teachers. So, yeah, I thought that was the most important should be fun. We get more and more difficult, but school should be fun for teachers and fun for the kids. Mr. Brightly spoke more about how teachers (and kids) need to continue to have fun and be creative for schools to improve, resisting the urge to follow lock step in l ine with typical school reform protocols. I asked him: How do you impact that as a leader, to provide them with more of a sense of that? I think I let them know that they can be comfortable with straying from the learning schedule by a week. You know, if y ou think your kids need more on
145 that hit. And as long as I feel that I can justify those d ifferences, and I can justify ook at this data, when I noted in my journal that Mr. Brightly appears to be bold and confident enough to change things as he sees fit, even without the backing of his district bosses or even if it where this is best for our them. Principal Brightly Views on School Culture / Decision Making faculty members is already noted as party to his lea dership style but it is also tied closely to his views on school culture. During one of my visits, I noted that a teacher who walked in appeared to be exceedingly comfortable talking with the principal about some problems he was having, not worrying one bi t that a visitor was present. This gets to a sense of trust and collegiality that is clearly evident at this school, something that Mr. Brightly spoke about often during my visits. One of my questions was: Let me ask it one
146 last way the same conclusion. What are the best ways to lead people to a common vision ? Consensus building, I think is extremely important, especially in education. The teachers are much more expert in their field s their opinion have to follow, so, as far as leadership style, you need to know policy, you need to know state statute, and you need to follow that. Communication with kids, teachers, parents. I think it sometimes we lose sight of that when we get real busy as well. While Mr. Brightly stressed consensus building and community building during the interviews, he also reminded me that he still in control. In fa ct, I found him to have a controlling nature that prevented him from giving complete ownership of decisions over to his faculty and staff. So, we try to build consensus with things, with our different leadership groups and collaboration groups. We try to build consensus. But then, I think a leader The true dilemma for leaders around how much power and control to hand over and how much to r etain is evident at Beachside High. While Mr. Brightly appears comfortable making decisions and running his school, he also seems to recognize that the school will be stronger with others in the mix. The research shows that a level of shared decision makin g begins with a certain trust and collegiality among the staff. I asked Mr.
147 Brightly: Do you think there is any level of collegiality among the teachers? high school because high school teachers are more subject oriented and sometimes even kid e not done a real good job here they have at (others) school s with the smaller learning re attempts next year to do that. We did not have the small learning community grant that a lot of other very well with our professional learning community time. And I think that has helped build collegiality and teachers working together for the best interests of the kids. Like most schools in Northern County, Beachside High has a mandated shared decision making team. The school district contract requires it. The group meets every other week and spends most of its time on non instructional, operational issues like tarrdies and dress code. We actually tried that well. Although they do control some school recogni tion funds and everything that goes toward student achievement and all. We have department chairs that we scheduling and more of the academic end of it. Then we have, every other week we have an early dismissal, and that time is sacred time for collaboration. And we have PLC groups, Professional Learning Community Groups that look at data,
148 look at results and talk about that. As we continued to discuss how close his school comes to s haring in big The decision is pretty much made by me, and the assistant principal that handles the master schedule. And then we go to the shared decision making group, which equired to do by our contract. He paused for a moment and then added: Here, it s kind of, I meet with them, they kind of give me some priorities. Priorities are always teaching positions, but they might say, oh, you know, we think we need a little bit mo re security, and maybe a little bit less clerical. Or, we guide to what we do. I then asked: that. Who comprises that shared decision making team? And that department kind of chooses who that person is. But, besides the infrastructure, the question really is about, who make s the decisions and then, a sense of control. So the question I have for you is, how can you have others share in the decisions at this school and still maintain some control over those decisions? How do you do that? Principal: Well, I think the teachers e xpect me to have control. You know, they
149 decisions. DJE: Principal: Yeah. Sometimes I wish they would manage them more, because then it takes some of th me and administration to manage sometimes what their decisions are. In an effort to involve his teachers more in decisions, Mr. Brightly pointed out that he sometimes is absent from meetin last say on things. The following exchange during one of our interviews is an example of this struggle for control. D JE: Is it important for you, as a principal, to feel professionally -however else you want to characterize it -in control? Principal: freaks DJE: Why is that? Principal: I feel ownersh Epilogue Principal Brightly Mr. Brightly is keenly aware of what is happeni ng in his school and he is comfortable being in charge. He is also aware of the need for others in his school to feel
150 comfortable as well, to feel involved. I found him to have more of an open access to his office than most principals that I encounter. He had a personality style that was inviting and comfortable. This may be a reason why his school has an air of collegiality even if he is clearly in control in a decision making sense. As with the other participants, I have s leadership tendencies in the following table. Table 8 : Data Findings for Mr. Brightly Four Key Leadership Tendencies Key Attributes and Indicators Notes from Interviews and Reflective Journal re: Mr. Brightly focused Controlling C onfident, Bold Top down tendencies Takes charge / sometimes micro manages. focused Collaborative Collegial Trust building tendencies A relaxed, shake your hand style. W ants to be visible. Likes his teachers and staff. Trusts them. focused Activist leadership Caring, Hands on Risk taking tendencies focused Curric ulum savvy Data savvy / linear Type A tendencies Busy. Data reports on his desk. Directly involved in Master Schedule, etc. As a veteran principal, Mr. Brightly also offers a level of confidence that leaves little doubt that he knows where he wants the school to go and how to get there. This is common among the principals in this study and may affect the feelings among parents, students and staff that they have much to offer. Mr. Brightly seems to have a mix of the traditional, take charge principal dem eanor with the more progressive sensibilities of a team ard to quantify bu t clearly visible.
151 Chapter Five RESEARCH FINDINGS Introduction The study was designed to describe and explain the perspectives of high school principals who work in large school distr icts in an era of high accountability. The four principals were selected by the school districts themselv es as among their most The foll owing exploratory questions were used gui de this study: 1.) shared decision making ? 2.) What factors influence th decision making? Principal leadership styles and practices have been at the center of educational research for decades In turn, much of the research during the past 30 years has been specific to th scale change through times of increased teachers, students and parents in sharing in school reform under headings like shared decision ma king and si te based management. Researchers have been unable to tie s ite
152 based management or shared leadership directly to student achievement (ie. learning gains ) (Fullan & Watson, 2000). Instead, the literature has been more compelling in connecting l ear ning gains to schools that have colla borative cultures in place and where true & Marks, 1998). More specifically, the literature shows that school s tend to improve only when pri ncipal themselves engender collaboration and a common purpose among the school stakeholders (Leithwood & Riehl, 2009; Lewis & Murphy, 2008, Ouchi, 2003; Earley et al., 2002; Beck & Murphy, 1998). These findings led to a review of the literature on principa l leadership styles and the impact of principals on school reform, collaboration and empowerment. In most studies to date, t here was too mu the amount and degree of collaboration and empowerment in s chools and increased student achievement The literature review also showed that most studies were quantitative in nature and rarely spoke to the unique qualities and actions of the principals themselves. Using qualitative methods, this study was intended to address a gap in the literature in providing the insights of four principals who were in the midst of school reform efforts. The focus was on the principals as people and as leaders because nearly all of the studies reviewed in Chapter Two show ed a con nection between effective principals and student achievement ( Leithwood & Riehl, 2009; Lewis & Murphy, 2008). This was especially true in schools wh ere principals and teachers were collaborative partners in learning, where distr ibuted leadership practices were in place, and where
153 principals, teachers and parents share d a common vision ( Leithwood & Riehl, 2009; Lewis & Murphy, 2008, Ouchi, 2003; Earley et al., 2002; Fullan & Watson, 2000; Beck & Murphy, 1998). The focus of the interviews with the principals was on their leadership styles and their perspectives around school reform, collaboration and shared decision making In light of my phenomenologist viewpoint, I attempted to understand the participants as they existed both textually and structurally It i s important to note here that I only spoke with the principals themselves (and no other school employees) so as to own perceptions of themselves, their schools, and their reform efforts As explained in Chapter Three, I sought out h igh school principals from among the six largest school districts in Florida and then conducted two interviews with each of them as part of site visits to their schools. Extensive field notes were also taken and recorded as part of my reflective journal. T he f our cases presented in Chapter Four included narrative portraits and direct quotations that were int e nded to provide context in contrast to the large amount of survey data that exists in the current literature. The interview transcripts and reflective journal notes were reviewed carefully and relevant themes were noted across the data sets. Those conclusions are presented in this chapter. Key Themes / Findings E ach of the principals relayed a great dea l about their leadership styles, their tendencies r egarding collaborative decision making and their viewpoints regarding school change in an era of increased state and n ational accountability A review of the
154 data collected during the interviews and recorded in my journal show ed four key themes or tendenci es that emerged. In summary, the principals tended to be I focused, We focused, Servant focused, and Learning focused These four styles of leadership were found to be bot h overlapping and paradoxical. They are a complex set of notions that are hard to def ine and that are, at times, in conflict with one another Though each of the participants had slightly different leanings all of them shared aspects of the four tendencies. W orking definition s of each are presented in the table below and then explic ated i n more detail so the reader has a better understanding of each. Afterwards, a discussion is presented related to the four tendencies as both mutually related and mutually exclusive. Table 9 : Data Findings / Four Key Tendencies Four Key Leadership Tendencies Key Attributes And Indicators SAMPLE Notes from Interviews and Reflective Journal focused Controlling Confident Bold Top down tendencies Principal sets the vision Teachers as advisers not decision makers focused Collaborative Collegial Trust building tendencies Shared mission / vision Principal as coach / mentor focused Activist leadership Caring Hands on Risk taking tendencies focused Curriculum savvy Data savvy / linear Type A tendencies Putting the needs of students first Kid focused moreso than teacher focused
155 I F ocused Leadership Though much of the literature review for this study was arou nd shared decision making and collaborative work structures, I found these four principals to have tendencies that were more top down and controlling than I expected. The data shows that the principals in these four schools are clearly in charge and wanti ng to control many of the decisions in their schools. In contrast to a more collaborative work culture where f aculty, staff, parents and students have buy in and input to decisions, these four principals tended to see that as admirable but unrealistic. Thi s excerpt from one of the Well, I think the teachers expect to co Sometimes I wis h they would manage them more, want me and administration to manage sometimes what their decisions are. The data from the interviews were striking in the frequen were noted. To be clear, each principal had some appreciation for collaboration and collegiality and, in many ways, the schools were highly collegial or conversational. Still, all four participants appeared most comfortable in mak ing the key decisions that they felt would m ove their schools forward. That is not be confused with a closed door, top down approach. On the contrary, the four princ ipals seemed sincere in having open door policies and in stakeholders. Still, none of the four appeared willing to give key decision making power over to others. To put this another wa y, the participants seemed willing to allow for shared
156 but less so in Though t he data shows that the principals sometimes ask ed for the input of others, there is no data to show that the principals were intent on giving others final approval over anything substantive. Interestingly, all four schools had some form of si te based, dec ision making team s in place. These were in place, for the most part, as part of a district or state mandates. For example, each school had active professional learning communities (PLCs), department meeting s Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) and School A dvisory Councils (SACs). Still, these committees appeared to be acting much more in advisory roles than as d ecision making bodies. A review of the data showed a number of common factors or qualities that can be categorize d as I focused Below is a table t hat outlines some of the prominent attributes of I focused leaders as found through this study. Each of the principals, to some degree, showed moderate to strong I focused tendencies. Table 10 : Qualities of I Focused Leaders Five Qualities of I Focused L eaders Mr. Ruddy Mr. Rust Mrs. Stone Mr. Brightly Prefer to be in control, take charge x x x x Averse to sharing leadership, decisions x x x Prefer managing projects to ensure quality x x Highly self aware and self critical x x x Confident, bold entrepreneurial x x x Note: As a point of clarification, it is impossible to fully quantify the degree to which each of the principals possesses the qualities or attributes listed in the chart. Though all of the principals showed all of the
157 attributes to some degree, each attribute was marked only if the data suggested a strong connection existed. The data review shows that each participant wants to retain a great d egree of power and control. Each of the participants had a strong personality, clear con victions and a vision for change. Though some principals might be seen as caretaker principals or as bureaucrats who simply manage their schools each day, these principals clearly do not fit those descriptions. Inste ad, these principals are leading the cha nge in their schools, taking bold steps along the way. One example of this is from Mr. Ruddy from Orange City High School. Since he has been principal, the school has moved forward with ideas that others were skeptical of, including opening a bank branch o n the campus and building a new football stadium. might also be a reason why the school district administrators viewed these principals as successful. It is interesting to n ote that all four schools show ed different levels and degrees of learning gains per the state accountability metrics. Still, the principals themselves are considered effective in their districts and all four of them are clearly tied to everything that thei r schools are doing t o affect change. One observation from this study is that these princ ipals are not disconnected from the change s happening in their schools They are not distant They are not figureheads. On the contrary, they are the key agents for th e change happening in their schools. They are driving all of the change, good or bad. I would describe all four principals as strong in their own ways and as principals who are active and on the move. The se observations support current resea rch that finds the principal to be the key ingredient the key mover and shaker, in most school
158 improvement initiatives (Anderson, 2009: Leithwood & Riehl, 2009; Ouchi, 2003; Earley et al., 2002; Beck & Murphy, 1998) We F ocused Leadership A review of the data showed t hat each principal valued, to some degree, a measure of collaboration with faculty, staff, students and parents. This is not to say that the principals shared in making decisions with those stakeholders as much as they shared in some sort of dialogue with them The principals also appeared to be open to the ideas of others and in providing open access for discussion and debate. This is one of the many paradoxes in play in this study. While it is obvious that each of the participant s was interested in mainta ining power and control, they also seemed genuinely interested in creating buy in and trust among stakeholder groups. Two of the four principals (Mr. Ruddy and Mr. Brightly) were observed as being charismatic and highly access ible, equally comfortable hi gh fiving their teachers i n the hallways as they are with their students. One of the other principals (Mr. Rust) was a bit more reserved in his demeanor but was also high accessible, even to the degree that he was taking text messages from his teachers dur ing the interviews. The other principal (Mrs. Stone ) seemed more distant and less comfortable in having a direct relationships with he r faculty and staff. Still, that appeared to be more related to her personality type than her lack of interest in collabor ating with others. All four principals agree d for the
159 agreed that it was unrealistic to have all or most team members involving in making the decisions. The literature revie w for this study found that effective principals are those who attempt to empower their te achers and foster collaboration (Leithwood & Riehl, 2009; Lewis & Murphy, 2008, Ouchi, 2003; Earley et al., 2002; Beck & Murphy, 1998). The four participants in this study would all agree with that assessment of good leadership practice. Still, t he data from this study suggests the following paradox: Empowering teachers and fostering collaboration should not be confu sed with shared or collective decision making. Thoug h they are related concepts, they are not the same. I observed that these p rincipa ls still wanted to be in control and preferred that key school based d ecisions remain in their hands. A review of interview data and journal notes provided the attributes of a We focused leadership style that each of the principals employed to some degree. The following table provides five of those key qualities. Three of the four pr incipals appeared to be highly We focused and talked a great deal about building team and trust I found them to be very comfortable and confident, welcoming and approachable. It seemed to me that all three of those principals viewed their collegial style as a prerequisite for accomplishing change in a large organization.
160 Table 11 : Qualities of We Focused Leaders Five Qualities of We Focused Leaders Mr. Ruddy Mr. Rust Mrs. Stone Mr. Brightly Committed to a true open door policy x x x Seek collaborative opportunities with staff x x Highly relational, collegial with others x x x Trustin g, approachable, conversational x x x Process focused, prefer substance over style x x Note: As a point of clarification, it is impossible to fully quantify the degree to which each of the principals possesses the qualities or attributes listed in the chart. Though all of the principals showed all of the attributes to some degree, each attribute was marked only if the data suggested a strong connection existed The other principal (Mr. Stone ) appeared to have fewer of these qu alities. In one of the i nterviews with her, I asked her to describe her interest in build ing a sense of collegiality at her school. DJE: What about, among those groups, or among the faculty as a whole, a level of collegiality? How would you describe it here? Principal: Um, cliqu e or each subject area, or each grade level, or each house. Not, you know, schoolwide, not with over 200. DJE: Do you think it needs to be? Do you think it would be a more effective school if it were like that? Principal:
161 that much time. I found Mrs. Stone to be no less kind, just less interested in usi ng a collegial work environment to move her agenda forward. I observed that the other three principals valued a We focused approach as a way of getting broader change accomplished with more buy in. It is more accurate to describe these four schools as empo wering t eachers to act as decision makers within their departments and less so as actors in school wide decisions. An attribute that is hard to define but should be mentioned is principals believes in being trustworthy and genuine. This is true of all fo ur principals and is why the controlling, I focused qualities in these principals should not be confused with a rigid, untrusting manner. The principals in this study w ere not, in any way, focused only on themselves. They were much more inte rested in focus ing on solutions that worked for kids and teachers. They also had an honesty about them; they were all comfortable with th emselves people and leaders. In their own ways, each told me that they bluff teachers or play games. I observed that to b e accurate. This genuine side of each of the principals is also part of a We focused approach that is evident from the data. Servant F ocused Leadership The principals in this study all displayed aspects of S ervant focused leadership. The data shows that they were not center ed on themselves first. Instead, they most often put the interests of students and teachers first They each described their interests in
162 helping out in any way pos sible to move their schools forward, from teaching class es to unplugging the toilet s This activist, hands o n approach is something that I found among all four of the principals and is certainly related to their increased credibility with the ir teachers and staff s I also noted that each of the principals viewed this quality a s unique to themselves. To put it another way, the four principa ls said that they preferred to work in the tren Th ree of the four principals have been described earlier as being more out front in their leadership styles but all four view ed their school reform efforts as a model for what they want ed out of their staffs. The following table shows some of th e attributes of Servant focused leadership that were emerged from the interviews and my reflective journal. I found all four principals to be interested in improving their schools and, in one way or another, to be willing to take on any role to get that ac complished. Table 12 : Qualities of Servant Focused Leaders Five Qualities of Servant Focused Leaders Mr. Ruddy Mr. Rust Mrs. Stone Mr. Brightly Activist tendencies, looking to change things x x x Willing to do tasks not related to their job x x x x x x Risk taking, creative, willing to jump right in x x
16 3 x x Note: As a point of clarification, it is impossible to fully quantify the degree to which each of the principals possesses the qualities or attributes listed in the chart. Though all of the principals showed all of the attributes to some degree, each attribute was marked only if the data suggested a strong connection existed It was clearly evident that as it related to being a principal. Of course, all four of them had been principals for more than five years and each displayed a confidence that sounded a lot like they wanted to improve their schoo ls at any cost and less like they were trying to impressing people along the way. This sense of activist, Servant focused thinking appears related to We focused tendencies in that the principals viewed themselves as part of a team of people who were worki ng to improve the schools. Still, the Servant focused qualities found in the se principals go beyond being a team player and showing a good work ethic It is more accurate to describe these servant minded tendencies a s more of th ere is a greater good at stake in improving these schools and that the principal needs to step in and help like everyone else. The ultimate extension of this line of thinking is to view the principal as an agent of social justice. Though the tenets of Soci al Justice Theory are only related to this study in ancillary ways, all four of the principals shared in thinking that was linked to social justice in some ways. The following commentary during one of the interviews with Principal Stone is presented as a g ood example of this servant mindset. Principal: I dive in and help. I think that one thing people can say about me i s, out there and do something, my hands are in there w ith you, doing it at the same
164 nd, ls. I think, I mean, I schedule kids. If I tell my administrators and my counselors I want you to and such time, I schedule 10 Though not fully explic ated in this study, the entire notion of servant leadership is related to a risk taking mentality that principals to possess this attitude in one way or another. Learning F ocused Leadership The principals in this study were clearly focused on curriculum and learning. There was no question that the learning improvements in these four schools were coming out of the pr talking about instructional leadership and their interest in improving student performance. As one example of that, none of the four principals even suggested that I speak with anothe r person (such as an assistant principal or department chair ) when I asked questions about instructional best practices, student course offerings, scheduling, performance data, etc. All four principals clearly knew their data and what the deficiencies were. Moreover, the principals cle arly had a plan in their heads for improving performance indicators related to reading, writing math, science and AP
165 course offerings. To be clear, t heir thinking related to improvement in these areas was more linear than not. I observed that the four principals were informed by the school grade data. As explained earlier, Florida schools are graded mostly based on the numbers of students who show proficiency in reading, math and s cience, on those was obvious that the principals lived and died with these numbers almost to a manic degree. While I have described these principals as focused on lea rning, it more accurate to describe them as focused on improving student test data. While I recognize that those are related ideas, there are not mutually exclusive. For instance, I found only one of the three principals (Mr. Ruddy) to be interested in tal king about some of the more creative elective program or how the band was doing). The other principal s were more comfortable talking about the performance indicators that were tracked by the state. In this era of accountability, I observed then that being data driven and school grade driven were common attributes among the four principals. The table below provides some of the common attributes found in the interviews and j ournal notes related to Le arning focused leadership Though secondary princip als are often described as operational ly focused these principals were not much interested in talking about the day to day functions of running a school I could tell from my i nteractions with them that t hey spent most of their days thinking about improving student achievement and classroom factors moreso than discipline issues or extra
166 kind of thinking in many schools but it was certainly common to t hese four. Table 13 : Qualities of Learning Focused Leaders Five Qualities of Learning Focused Leaders Mr. Ruddy Mr. Rust Mrs. Stone Mr. Brightly Curriculum minded / Data centered x x x Linear, a laser focus on school improvement x x x Trusting o f the process and staying the course x x x x More student centered than teacher centered x x x Type A tendencies, interested in fixing things x x Note: As a point of clarification, it is impossible to fully quantify the degree to which each of the p rincipals possesses the qualities or attributes listed in the chart. Though all of the principals showed all of the attributes to some degree, each attribute was marked only if the data suggested a strong connection existed It should also be note d that a ll of the princ ipals were interested in improving things for students in their schools moreso than teacher s. It is also interesting to note that each of the principals felt the need to point that out, as if to suggest that improving student learning was ev erything to them. The answer below from Mr. Rust is an example of this line of thinking. His response is to my question about how his teacher would describe him as a leader: I would hope that they would say I think about the student and the needs of the s tudent first, before I deal with the needs of the teachers, and then I deal with the needs of the parents. If they were asked what order I put those three, I hope they
167 would realize I think I try and hire teachers that want k ids to come first. While not all four principals had strong Type A personalities, each of them had tendencies to control things and fix things. This is related to the Learning focused leadership that I am describing here in that all four principals were w orking on a clearly defined plan and process for improved student performance in their schools. There was a great deal of data from this study to describe the principals as planners and process driven leaders. Implications of the Study This study sou ght to provide qualitative data in support of the growing body of literature related to effective principals and the amount and nature of teacher collaboration, collegiality and shared decision making. The data from this study support the growing researc h that views the principal as the key ingredient to most school improvement initiative s Though all four schools from this study show different levels and degrees of learning gains per the state metrics, all four principals themselves are considered effectiv e in their districts and all four are clearly tied to everything that their schools are doing to affe ct change. This study supports the notion that principals are not di sconnected from school change. On the contrary, I have observed that principals are dri ving all of the change, good and bad. The rest of this chapter will address the results of this study as they relate to several areas, including the complexities of research related to schools and school
168 leaders, th e impact on future studies, response s to the current literature, implications on professional practice and the impact of the study on the researcher. Research Terms / Complexities and Criticisms In light of my interest in gathering data related to distributed leadership and shared dec ision making, I want to reiterate that many of the relat ed terms that are presented in the current literature are overlapping while other seeming ly related terms are mutually exclusive. For instance, I found in these schools that the whole notion of school culture building should not be confused with shared decision making. In the same way, terms such as collaboration, collegiality and empowerment are clearly related but not at exclusive intertwined. An example of these uncertain distinctions comes from thi s study: While these principals were very much interested in school culture and shared relationships, they were not equally devoted to sharing their power and control over key decisions with others in the ir building s These examples are provided to help th e reader understand the difficulties of research around schools and school leaders and to provide fair warning as it relates to generalizing results from the current literature. As it relates to this study, t he figure below is intended to show t he comple xities and similarities of the terms p resented and the overlapping nature of each To help matters, I have grouped the tendencies associated with I focused leaders with similar t endencies found in Learning focused lea ders. Similarly, the We focuse d tendencies found in this study are related to those found under the heading of Servant focused leadership
169 Figure 2 Overlapping and Paradoxical Aspects of Key Leadership Tendencies It has already been explained that the four principa ls in this study expressed a competing set o f variables that made it impossible to place any one principal under any one (or even two) headings. I have thus observed that the difficulty of capturing these principals under any one style of leadership is rel ated to the complexities and messiness of leadership itself. Still, it is safe to say that t he structural and spiritual leanings of the four principals toward a more I focused / Learning focused approach were oftentimes in conflict with their interest in t aking a more We focused / Servant focused approach. While each of the principals attempted to find their own balance, I endeavored to capture the principals as they were and present them as a mixture of each of the styles presented. I resisted t he temptation to quantify them to a narrower degree and I would also caution future researchers in the same way. I Focused Controlling Linear Data Driven Type A Results minded Learning Focused We Focused C ollaborative Activist Hands On Risk taking Trust centered Servant Focused
170 Impact on Future Studies In summary I have concluded that the modern interpretation of an effective school principal may be tied to the collaborative and activist models, which is a notion that is supported by the literature review and by this study. This style is characterized by leaders who are collaborative, hands on, visionary and curricular focused. This is closely tied to tra nsformational leadership, an area of study that may need further investigation While this study is not designed to pr ove anything or provide any true generalizations there are a number of key renderings that I wo uld lik e to share. Each of the f ollowing conclusions is based on a review of the current literature and a review of the data that is present in this study. Each of the conclusions below will need further consideration and closer inspection through future studies. My findings cannot supp ort or deny a tie between effective school principals and the nature and degree of site based authorit y or decentralization present in the school s Still, there are enough data in this study to support further consideration that effective principals might prefer more authority in their hands than less authority. My findings also cannot find a link between effective principals and shared decision making. On the contrary, the principals in this study view the notion of distributed leadership or shared decisio n making as generally undoable or simply disconnected from school success. My observations of the data are that the formal processes of shared decision making (like having a Shared Decision Making team) s eem to be in place more
171 out of mandate than for any true collaboration. All four principals in this study teachers, to grow professionally, and to collaborate with each other around learning but not in empowering them to make school wide decisions. My conclusions also suggest that teacher collaboration and profession alism (through professional learning teams, for instance) may be tied to effective principals and, in turn, to effective schools. This is already supported by a number of studies that are reported in Chapter Two. Still, this is not to be confused with teacher decision making. In all four of these schools, for instance, there is no sense that teachers are making any real decisions outside of their departments There is then no real data present to support the idea that distributed leadership exists in these four schools. My observations from the data also support the notion that effective principals may have qualities related to transformational leadership especially as i t relates to vision building and empowering teachers to work toward a common cause. All four reported that they still felt in control and empowered to make great change in their schools even in this age of accountability. The data suggests that all for p rincipals had a can do attit in charge. Though all four principals were deemed effective by their peers not all four schools were consistently effective by state data measures. This leads me to observe that our definitions of success for principal s may need to be much broader than some might think.
172 Response to the Current Literature The initial literature review for this study was around site based management and its role in school improvement, culture building and teacher and parent empowerment. As previously stated, the literature has not been consistent in connecting site based management to student learning gains (Fullan & Watson, 2000; Beck & Murphy, 1998; Fullan, 1991). The review of those studies led to other, more re search supported methods like collaborative work cultures, professional learning communities and distributed leadership. The literature review also included studies on school principal s as the key player s in these reform efforts. The current literature is clear that no matter the amount of control provided to the principal through decentralized decision making (or site based management), schools tend ed to improve only when the principal was able to create a sense of collaboration and common purpose among th e stakeholders (Leithwood & Riehl, 2009; Lewis & Murphy, 2008, Ouchi, 2003; Earley et al., 2002; Fullan & Watson, 2000; Beck & Murphy, 1998 ). The conclusions from this study support the findings from th e current literature that place the principal at the c enter of reform and as the key player in school change The data from this study also supports the findings from the current literature that sees little connection between the amount of site based authority and an increase in student achievement data. Furt hermore, this study raises questions about whether educators and researchers are clear on common definition s for site based management, distributed leadership and other research terms already mentioned.
173 their schools was supported by many of the studies that were reviewed in Chapter Two (Anderson, 2009: Leithwood & Riehl, 2009; Ouchi, 2003; Earley et al., 2002; Beck & Murphy, 1998). Anderson (2009) calls on school leaders to become culturally competent, social advocates who challenge teachers, parents and community members to be entrepreneurial in finding solutions for their schools. All four principals in this study were found to strong, confident and entr epreneurial in their own ways. The data clearly show that none of the four were caretaker principals. None of the four were simply operational bureaucrats who showed up each day to take care of discipline, parent complaints and other day to day affairs. Though the current li terature has not proved that o ne style of leadership is sound in all cases and for all persons, the most modern interpretations support more collaborative (transformational) and activist (social justice) models. I found all four principals to have some of these tendencies and two of the four (Mr. Ruddy and Mr. Brightly) to have strong collaborative and activist bents. The work of Beck and Murphy may be most closely linked to what I discovered in these four schools. Those researchers found that site based ma nagement appears to have value as a decision making structure only as it fosters a sense of community and school collegiality. Through their studies, Beck and Murphy (1998) successful: 1.) A learning imperative 2.) A community imperative 3.) A capacity building imperative and 4.) A leadership imperative. Many of the benefits to schools that are found in the above based management. The imperatives are also closely tied to the leadership att ributes described in this study as I focus ed, We
174 focus ed, Servant focus ed, and Learning focus ed Implications for Professional Practice Current and future school leaders have much to gain from hearing about these four schools and thei r principals. If nothing else, school leaders will benefit from hearing most from sitting quietly and listening to the principals speak over and over again as I tra nscribed their interviews. They certainly articulate d best what they we re attempting to do in their schools, much better than I could as a researcher. What I intended to provide to practitioners through this study was a level of synthesis related to the fo ur narratives, some offerings of wisdom that might prove helpful and some words of caution that might be prophetic In light of this study, practitioners might be mindful to find a balance when to be more alike than different, I found each school principal and each staff to be quite unique unto themselves. In this way, a principal should be cautioned about applying a to any one school setting without considering the personali t ies of the school and the people in it. Practiti oners should also be considerate of their own tendencies that might push them too far in one direction or another toward a fully trusting, collaborative approach or toward a more cautious, controlling appro ach. The data from this study shows that principals might be more successful when they find a more give and take / flexible style of leadership.
175 Impact of the Study on the Researcher Though the study is complete, the impact of these four principals on thei r schools and on me is not. Those impacts are lasting. What I found through this study was a common set of skills and understandings among the four principals that can a nd should be shared with other principals. While I came into this study interested in l ear ning about how principals reform their schools through a greater sense of collaboration with teachers and parents, I leave this study with a better understanding of the complexities of that task. I also see a greater link between principals and school i separate the two. I now see the principal as the number one agent for change in schools though more like the head coach than the headmaster. It should be noted that I came to this study with some pre conceived notions about the importance of collaboration and shared decision making. For example, I would have told you before the study that the only true school reform can come from teachers who are collaborating and sharing in the key decisions of the school. I would have said the same about parents and their involvement in school change. While I still hold these values as an ideal, I recognize that this level and degree of collaboration is not a pure imperative and is not even possible without a principal in place who has the skills, vision and confidence to create that kind of lasting change. I should note as well that my views of the common definitions related to school reform have shifted somewhat. For instance, I am convinced that the working definition based manag changing as to be completely unreliable from a research standpoint. I simply do not see any real consensus about what site based
176 management should look like and how one interpretation of it trumps another as a school reform protocol. Whil e am I remain a true believer in providing authority to schools and principals, I no longer subscribe to any one view on how it looks in schools. I also have no confidence that simply mandating a site based approach will solve much in schools. I would say Finally, I feel compelled to disclose that during the time of this study I have moved from a position as an assistant pr incipal to my new role as a principal. In fact, the completion of this study was delayed by approximately six months because of my recent promotion. I am now leading the reforms in a high school setting that is quite similar to those presented in this stud y. For this reason, I have reflected on the common themes presented in this chapter and I now have a greater sense of what each of these principals means when he or she talks about leading schools in ways that are I focused, We focused, Servant focused and Learning focused all at the same time. I have thus deconstruct and replicate with any certainty. To put it another way, I have found that leading is much more of an a rt than a science. If nothing else, this study has provided me that insight. Conclusion The end of this study coincides with my first opportunity to be a principal. I find that to be both telling and humorous at the same time. I must admit that there wer e times
177 when I thought that neither would come to pass. The end of this study also marks the end of a four year journey to obtain my doctorate. Though there have been times of struggle and uncertainty I never doubted that I woul d be a better person for ha ving done it. I have many st rengths and weaknesses, but I have never been afraid to take risks. You can call me br ave or ignorant. Either way, I am a bit of a maverick and I like leading my life that way. I can recall when my doctoral cohort group met for the first time and we were all deciding whether or not to start down this path together. A friend of mine who later decided to drop out told me going to be in your mid re d one 40s anyway. I could cry when I think of the number of Saturdays that I spent huddled over my laptop computer. Some would say that those are days that I can never have back again. They are right about that. Still, I would argue that those are da for they are no longer needed. At times, those days left me bereft of my spirit and uncertain of my path. Still, here I a m. At times, those days shaped me in new ways, challenged m y thinking and inspired my soul Still, here I am. I say that those days were not wasted; it is better to say that they are days that are no longer needed Anyway, I prefe r to look upon the days th at lay ahead. For here I am. In my mid 40s. And I will not be afraid.
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189 Appendix A Interview Protocol 1. Describe your views on school leadership. 2. Describe your views on student achievement and what factors contribute to student growth. How does your leadership style impact student achievement? 3. How do you impact change in yo ur school in light of the mandates from the state and federal governments? 4. Describe your relat ionship with teachers, parents and the local community. How do teachers, parents and community members impact decisions in your school? 5. Describe the level and d egree of collaboration and collegiality at your school. 6. Is there anything else you want to tell me at this time?
190 Appendix B Letter to Interviewees I am a doctoral candidate in the Educational Leadership Department at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida. I am pursuing my dissertation topic on school leadership and school reform. Your participation is requested because of your experience as a principal and your school reform efforts. I am requesting that you permit me to visit and conduct this study at your school. Your participation will require two in depth interviews that will last between one and two hours. The interviews will, with your permission be taped and transcribed for accuracy. Each participating principal will not be named in the study and no information will be given that could be used to identify the principal or his/her school. Each participant will be provided a copy of the audio file s and transcription. The participants and I will be the only ones with access to audio files. The master audio file will remain in my possession and will be destroyed three years after the publication of the dissertation. Interviews will be arranged at y our convenience sometime during the fall of 2009 and spring of 2010. The tentative schedule calls for one interview in December of 2009 or January of 2010 and one interview in February or March of 2010. In addition, you may be asked to share relevant artif acts and documents and to complete a limited amount of journaling or free response writing related to your role as principal. Your name and school name will be kept confidential and these items will only be used for educational purposes. The dissertation will be completed in a narrative style called portraiture that seeks to describe you, your thoughts, and your school in a fair, honest and highly readable way. Your thoughts and actions will be depicted in a creative, narrative form that is akin to novel w riting. Every effort will be made to paint an accurate and authentic picture of you
191 and your school. All aspects of this project will be conducted in a respectful, ethical and scientific manner. I appreciate your thoughtful consideration of my request. I look forward to your participation in the study. Respectfully, Daniel J. Evans 719 92 nd Avenue North St. Petersburg, Florida 33702
192 Appendix C Consent Form for Interviewees This study involves interviewing high school pri ncipals about school reform, and is therefore research. 1. The purpose of this study is to describe and explain the perceptions and actions of principals who have implemented school reform. 2. The study is expected to last from December 2009 until November 20 10. 3. The number of people to be interviewed is expected to be five persons. 4. The procedure of the research involves asking participants about their views on leadership, school reform and school culture. 5. The interviews will be one hour each in length and each participant will be interviewed twice. The audiotapes will be protected in my home and will be kept for two years. 6. There are no foreseeable risks to the participants and they may leave the study at any time. 7. Possible benefits are educational, that is to contribute to the body of knowledge about school leadership, school culture and teacher and parent empowerment. 8. Members may choose to be completely anonymous and all names will be changed for reasons of confidentiality. This information will only be know n to me and the chair of my dissertation committee. 9. For questions about the research you may contact me, Dan Evans, at 727 576 1249 or at email@example.com 10. Participation in this study is totally voluntary. Refusal to participate will not result in penalty or loss of benefits. 11. There is no cost to you to participate in the study. 12. The University of South Florida Institutional Review Board, IRB, may be contacted at Please contact: John Arnaldi, Coordinator of Education, at (813) 974 7363 or jarnaldi@r esearch.usf.edu. Division of Research Integrity & Compliance Mail: 12901 Bruce B. Downs Blvd, MDC35, Tampa, FL 33612 4799 Phone:
193 (813) 974 5638 Fax: (813) 974 5618. This IRB may request to see my research records of the study. I _______________________ ___ agree to participate in this study with Dan Evans. I realize this information will be used for educational purposes. I understand I may withdraw at any time. I understand the intent of this study. Signed__________________________________________ Da te________________
194 A ppendix D Second Reviewer Form I, Connie Kolosey a doctoral candidate at the University of South Florida, have served as Secondary Pr incipals the Center of Site Based Reform: Portraits of Leadership throughout his study in capacities such as reviewing the analysis of transcripts and assisting in emerging issues. Signed: _______________________________________ ____________________ Date: _____________________________
195 From: Janesick, 2004 Appendix E Member Check Form for Interviewees November xx, 2010 Dear ______________________________________________________ Thank you for a n enjoyable and insightful interview. Attached please find the draft copy of the verbatim transcripts of the interview. Please review the transcription for accuracy of responses and reporting of information. Please feel free to contact me by phone at 727 5 76 1249 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org should you have any questions. Thanks you again for your willingness to participate in this study. Sincerely, Daniel J. Evans From: Janesick, 2004
196 Appendix F Sample Refl ective Journal Principal Rust June 2010 Observations re: Mr. Rust Young guy (late 30s, early 40s) tall (slightly over 6 ft.) Golfer, athletic, skinny Skinny long arms he is all arms. Opie like in his appearance. Irish looking red / orange hair / hair short curly / cut close to his head Skinny, thin beard elf freckled skin (has had skin cancer problems). Always has sun screen around. There was some on his desk. First interview: Tan trousers. Rust colored, Havana style shirt shor t sleeved. Open collar. No tie. Very casual. Casual, relaxed. Looked like someone who was very relaxed, though he commented that he normally dresses up a bit more but this was an early sure. I t Second interview: Khaki pants. School polo shirt. Leaning back in his chair. Very relaxed style. I thought I was talking to one of my college buddies. Not a complicated guy. Straight forward. Speaks candidly, confidently. Seems smart, with it but not complicated. I am what I am. I am what I appear to be. Not pretentious no aesthetics white walls, blue green school carpet (tightly woven). School standard issue principal d think he could car less about decorating it. Pictures on his desk of his wife and family. Had on a wedding ring. In cheap frames, brown -$1.99 frames. Had a little white, circu lating fan on the table/desk behind him that was blowing. Had a hutch on the opposite wall with a nice, small flat screen TV. He said it His Blackberry kept bu zzing. He glanced at it, was mindful of it but was nice enough not to let it distract our conversation. Respectful of me. Had his sunglasses on his desk at the ready. Joe Cool sunglasses. Seemed like if I asked him to drop everything and go golfing that he would much prefer that over anything else. 1,800 or 1,900 students (check this). School with lots of buildings. Expansive campus.
197 Traditional high school looking. A little dingy. A little dated like his office. Li School has sort of disheveled feel to it like there too much going on unruly, maybe. Gum, gum wrappers and half broken pencils laying on the ground. Hedges are topped by some weeds. Paint peeling a bit. Beige colored school. School is beige not fancy. Seems like an active school after school. Football practice. Teachers hanging around. Conclusions about him about principals: He was candid This principal is very direct, very determined. He is really involved, directly involved wants to control the change a bit really time wo rthy. He seems to believe that there are just too many people (teachers, etc.) to involve a lot of people in the change. He definitely thinks that is unrealistic to involve parents. So, no so real sense of a shared leadership mentality more of a take co ntrol sort of guy A control freak. Data driven. Not teacher focused but kid focused. Student centered. Student focused. Ready to help kids anytime. Principal, though, is a servant leader, really involved. Will step right in, fix problems, attend a train ing and not just send his teachers there (this typically helps gain the respect of teachers). Good principals seem confident Not pretentious. Straight forward. I am what I appear to be. Not a complicated guy. Good principal They take charge. Are direct. Roll up their sleeves (servant leaders). Laser like in their focus. Put curriculum first. Put kids first. Use data. Open door guy roll up your sleeves guys Laid, back. Relaxed Confident In charge seems to be common am ong all the principals Focused more on the classroom than the facilities curriculum focused Not a fancy guy. His office is under somewhat like the other principals. Too busy to worry about all of that.
198 He said a principal has to be ego less and approachable. My sense is that he has an ego but his first concern is the kids, the school He has really clear expectations and he wants thin gs to be a certain way. He expects folks to meet those expectations.
About the Author Daniel J. Evans lives and works in St. Petersburg, Florida. He is the principal at Dixie M. Hollins High School, the schoo l he graduated from in 1986. Previously, he worked for five years as an assistant principal at Osceola High School in Seminole, Florida, and for two years as the Secondary Reading Supervisor for Pinellas County Schools. He continues to serve as a literacy trainer at various schools through out Florida and his work and commentary can be found on his website/blog: immersionliteracy.com. egree in English from Florida Atlantic University. He hold s He has served as an adjunct faculty member at the University of South Florida on the St. Petersburg campus. He wor ked for 10 years as a teacher of English and journalism at Martin County High School in Stuart, Florida and at Pinellas Park High School in Pinellas Park, Florida. He is married to his college sweetheart Jud y and has a sometimes precocious son named Connor