Date of Graduation

12-2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Advisor

John Pijanowski

Committee Member

Ed Bengtson

Second Committee Member

Beverly Elliott

Keywords

Education; Achievement; Arkansas Leadership Academy; Master Principal Program; Principal; Professional development; School culture; School leadership

Abstract

A qualitative dissertation study was conducted to examine the impact of the Arkansas Leadership Academy's Master Principal Program through the perspective of those who have completed the entire program and attained designation as a Master Principal. A logic model for the Master Principal Program offered a context for the study. A review of relevant literature provided the identification of gaps in the research which included limited findings for a program comparable to the Master Principal Program. Research methods for this phenomenological study were explained. The research sample included Master Principals, as of 2011. Interviews and a focus group using collaborative tools for reflection were the primary data collection methods.

Five major findings emerged from this study as areas of impact of the MPP grounded both by the individuals' strong convictions and practice, and from the collection of information from all participants:

1. The universal and almost immediate reaction from principals when asked about their reaction to the MPP was, "It was the best professional development I have ever had!"

2. Significant changes in the performance of Master Principals' leadership practices occurred as a result of the knowledge and skills they acquired from Institute experiences.

3. A strong element in each principal's story was the culture change within their school toward one of collaborative stakeholder involvement, a commitment to continuous improvement and high expectations, and an increased sense of efficacy and respect.

4. Though never satisfied, all principals noted positive changes in student achievement results both during their participation in the MPP and since Designation as a Master Principal.

5. Though all principals expressed a humble attitude about their success and influence, increases in Master Principals' influence beyond the school was found at the local, state, and national levels.

Acquiring the knowledge and skills of effective leadership in all five performance areas of the MPP, with the support of work assignments to help them implement the learning, and a network for collegial reflection, summarizes the participant described take-away from the Master Principal Program. Synthesis of the findings indicated that it was the principals' implementation of their new knowledge and skills that, over time, changed school culture which subsequently had a positive impact on student learning.

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