Instructional leadership characteristics of Montana principals from low achieving and high achieving high schools
Stephens, Tracey Ann Kinney
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The problem addressed in this study was the relationship between teachers’ perceptions of instructional leadership characteristics of Montana principals from high achieving schools and low achieving schools was not known. Design, controls, and data analysis was based on quantitative student achievement data from the Iowa Test of Educational Development as the dependent variable and teacher perceptions of instructional leadership characteristics of their principals as the independent variable. A total of 510 teachers from 24 Montana high schools participated in this study. Teachers completed the Principal as an Instructional Resource Questionnaire, which was based on instructional leadership characteristics of principals in the categories of: (1) resource provider, (2) instructional resource, (3) communicator, and (4) visible presence as defined by Smith and Andrews (1989). Significant differences were found in teachers’ perceptions of instructional leadership characteristics of their principals in several statements that described the principal as communicator and the principal as visible presence. Also, teachers generally did not agree that principals made frequent classroom observations or that improved instructional practices resulted from interactions with their principal. The little time that high school principals spend in classrooms may be due to their uncertainty of what to look for or how to intervene or to their inability to reduce demands and constraints of their everyday work so as to expand the margin of choices that truly enhance the overall effectiveness of a school. The practices associated with the principal as a communicator and as a visible presence, coupled with making frequent classroom observations, are very interrelated and very dependent on the successful practice of the other. The principal must first gain knowledge of the teaching and learning that occurs in their school. From this information, the principal can then develop a vision for student achievement, which must be effectively and continuously communicated.