Mirror, Mirror…Perceptions of Principal Leadership Behavior and the Effect on Student Achievement

Secondary Education    Principals/Superintendents

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TITLE: Mirror, Mirror…Perceptions of Principal Leadership Behavior and the Effect on Student Achievement
RESEARCHER: Jennifer C. Etheridge
College of Education
University of South Carolina
Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation: May 2009

The purpose of this study was to determine if principal leadership behavior is perceived similarly by principals and members of their faculties and whether congruence of perception is correlated to academic success.

Fifty-two public middle school principals in South Carolina participated (40% response rate). While 10 of each of their teachers were randomly selected from the school website by the researcher to represent at least three teachers per grade level, a total of 243 teachers actually responded. School success as defined by student achievement was measured by each school’s state report card absolute rating. A school with an excellent, good, or average academic rating was defined as a successful school. An academically unsuccessful school was defined as a school with a rating of below average or unsatisfactory (at-risk). Twenty-four principals (46%) were from academically successful schools and 28 were from schools rated academically unsuccessful. One hundred ten teachers (45%) were from academically successful schools and 133 were from schools that were academically unsuccessful. Principals completed the Leadership Practices Inventory Self and the LPI-Observer was completed by the teachers.

South Carolina middle school principals perceived their leadership behaviors to be very high in all areas, with Model and Enable being the most frequently used followed by Encourage, Inspire and Challenge. No significant differences were found between any of the five leadership practices reported by principals and their teachers/constituents. Analyses failed to find any significant relationship between the degree of congruence of principals’ and teachers’ perceptions of principal leadership behavior and the relationship to the academic success in the school.