Principals in two high achieving elementary schools in rural New Mexico: a case study

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Much has been written regarding the dire educational state of most schools in rural America. This case study profiles two elementary school principals (preK-6) in rural New Mexico whose schools

Much has been written regarding the dire educational state of most schools in rural America. This case study profiles two elementary school principals (preK-6) in rural New Mexico whose schools achieved adequate yearly progress (AYP) for the 2009-10 school year. The focus of this study centered on specific characteristics of the school cultures addressed by the principals, and instructional best practices routinely incorporated by teachers into the daily curricular program that have produced successful student outcomes and earned each of their schools AYP standing for the 2009-10 academic year. The methodology used to determine research findings was performed in three parts: Principals of AYP rural New Mexico schools were asked to complete an online survey on educational leadership according to the standards and functions of the Interstate School Leadership Licensure Consortium (ISLLC). The respondents chose either Almost always, To a considerable degree, Occasionally, Seldom, or Never according to the degree they deemed the leadership function necessary to the successful operations of their schools. The survey results were arranged into tables preceded with explanations and statistical analysis. Interviews were conducted with the two rural elementary school principals along with selected teachers and parents from each school. The researcher made on-site visitations and kept notes of the observations and interactions with staffs from each school. The main findings of the study arose from the results of the surveys and interviews conducted with individuals from the two focus schools. The researcher arranged data according to the leadership categories that emerged from the interviews. The survey results were divided into two categories: favorable (Almost always and To a considerable degree) and unfavorable (Occasionally, Seldom, and Never categories). The results for each leadership standard and related function were reported in terms of statistical significance according to frequency counts in the two categories. Finally, there is a review of current literature focused on principles of educational leadership and rural education, demographic information about the profiled schools, and conclusions with further recommendations for future studies.