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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.

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Date Created
  • 2012

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Tagged: Arizona principals working under a label

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ABSTRACT External accountability is embedded in every school system across the United States. This dissertation study focuses on how ten principals negotiate the accountability system placed upon their school by

ABSTRACT External accountability is embedded in every school system across the United States. This dissertation study focuses on how ten principals negotiate the accountability system placed upon their school by the state of Arizona. The federal accountability policy, No Child Left Behind (NCLB), requires that states use a standardized assessment to document student achievement. Arizona's policy to meet the federal requirements of NCLB is Arizona Learns (AZLearns). AZLearns outlines the formulas for determining which schools are achieving and which schools need to improve. Each school is tagged with a label annually. The labels are Excelling, Highly Performing, Performing Plus, Performing, Underperforming and Failing. The foundation of this study lies in the interpretation, application and negotiation of a school's label by its principal. To investigate the relationship between external accountability and the daily life of a principal, I interviewed ten Arizona elementary school principals. The research questions of this study are: (R1) What effects do external accountability measures have on the development of the organizational capacity of a school? (R2) How do Arizona principals negotiate their school's assigned label in their everyday professional practice? (R3) What are Arizona principals' views of the state accountability process? A qualitative, phenomenological research methodology was used to interview the participants and analyze their stories for common themes. The commonalities that surfaced across the experiences of the principals in response to the labels placed on their school are Accountability, Achievement and Attitude. This study found that Accountability was based on multiple interpretations of policies enforced by the federal government, state or district guidelines and parent or school expectations. Achievement was a result of multiple factors including data collected from test scores, the quality of teachers or instruction and the personal goals of the principals. Attitude was a process embedded in the high stakes testing era, boundaries or conflicts within the location of the school and the personal experiences of the principals. This research is an attempt to share the multiple voices of principals that may lead to alternative meanings or even provoke questions about the labeling system in Arizona schools.

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Date Created
  • 2011