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A study of how specific principal behaviors affect teacher and student performance

 


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As Cubberly said in 1919, “. . . as goes the principal so goes the school” (p. 351).
School Culture  Felner et al., (2007) found that the “empowerment of teachers and administrators is important for effective leadership and decision making and creating a climate of high expectations and achievement” (p. 217).
School culture is important to the success of the school and it is the principal’s responsibility to establish procedures that result in a collaborative environment with principal-teacher interactions, supporting teacher-teacher interactions, which will improve the teacher-student interactions (Letihwood, Seashore, Anderson, and Wahlstrom, 2004). 
Teacher-Teacher Interactions Dufour & Marzano (1997) state that “by promoting teacher learning collaborative teams, a principal is far more likely to improve student achievement than by focusing on formal teacher evaluation” (p. 63). 
Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R., & McKee (2002), suggest that every person in every role at some point acts as a leader.
Teacher-Student Interactions High quality teacher-student interactions are imperative for students to feel that teachers care and are interested in their learning (Gurr, Drysdale, & Mulford, 2006; Halawah, (2005); Hirsch, 2008; Liethwood, 2004; Wagner, 2006).
Haycock (1998) found that effective teachers show higher gains with low achieving students then less effective teachers show with average students. 
A large number of studies (e.g. Connors & Streams, 2000; Felner & Angela, 1988; Lezotte,2001; Price et al., 1988; Raudenbush et al., 1992) indicated that students were more motivated and learn more when teaching was relevant to their current or future lives/careers /interest. 
Haycock’s study (1998) also found, that students who have highly effective teacher for consecutive years increase their performance on standardized test dramatically more each year.  
Principal-Teacher Interactions Marshall (2008) and Toch & Rothman (2008) agree that principals spend a large amount of time discussing initiatives and directives, but teachers rarely benefit from these discussions because there is no follow up on the initiatives and no real expectation established. 
The principal needs to interact with teachers in a curricularly meaningful way and be aware of what students are learning (Hirsch, 1999; Leithwood & Mascall, 2008; Marshall, 2006; Reeves, 2004; Wagner & Kegan, 2006; Whitaker, 2003; Zepeda, 2003).
Distributed Leadership (Leadership Alignment) Principals need to envision the culture they want and then enact steps to achieve that vision. The cultural shift will follow (Marshall, 2003).
A study by Liethwood (1987) describes the “popularity of distributed leadership as a desirable approach to leadership practice in schools. Justifications for the optimistic consequences associated with this approach to leadership invoke democratic values, shared expertise and the commitment that arises from participation in decision making…” (p. 65).  
High Quality Principal-Teacher Interactions  Dufour & Marzano (1997) state that “by promoting teacher learning collaborative teams, a principal is far more likely to improve student achievement than by focusing on formal teacher evaluation” (p. 63). 
Marshall (2008) claims that in order to be a change agent in curricular areas in the building, a principal must know what the teachers are teaching, as well as be familiar with the content and the delivery system in order to suggest improvements to the classroom.
Hirsch (1999) found that administrative roles do not inherently improve quality academic teacher-principal interactions on a professional level. The principal must intentionally become involved. 
Collaborating with Teachers (Summer Meetings)  Ginsberg (2001) claims that knowing exactly what is being taught in the classroom will facilitate conversation and self reflection in teachers, adding a new level of professionalism that is often overlooked.
Martinez, Firestone, Mangin, and Polovsky (2005), found that teachers desired feedback on their work.
It isn’t the data themselves that helps change schools, it’s how the data are used that impact instruction and ultimately student achievement (Downey et al., 2004). 
Principals in Classrooms (Origin of snapshots) Frase and Hetzel (1990), believed that “the principal would start to understand the strengths and weaknesses of every teacher because of the frequent classroom visits understanding of how all the parts are interrelated” (p. 18). 
Marshall (2008) states, “it’s important for principals to get into classrooms and observe, and teachers should be evaluated on how much their students learn” (p. 1).
Downey et al. (2004) concluded, “the frequent sampling of a teacher’s actions give greater validity to what you observe and often lower teacher apprehension over time, making formal observations more effective” (p. 6). 
Dufour and Marzano (2009) discuss that for growth in instruction to occur, the principal needs to be in the classroom alongside the teacher in order to validate learning. 
Marzano (2003) claims, “Rather than prowling through classrooms with checklists of ‘correct’ practices, administrators should be looking at interim results with their teachers, identifying the most effective practices” (p. 167). 
Data Based Decisions (Data Reviews)  Marzano (2003) claims, “Rather than prowling through classrooms with checklists of ‘correct’ practices, administrators should be looking at interim results with their teachers, identifying the most effective practices” (p. 167). 
It isn’t the data themselves that helps change schools, it’s how the data are used that impact instruction and ultimately student achievement (Downey et al., 2004). 
According to Doyle (2003) “Only when data become genuinely useful and common place in the classroom will teachers and administrators welcome it. And only when it is useful will data qualities improve” (p. 23). 
Rubric Based Evaluation (QIR) According to Marshall (2003):
A major source of inspiration has been Charlotte Danielson’s 1996 book, Enhancing Professional Practice: A Framework for Teaching (ASCD). . .First, rubrics are more ‘judgmental,’ giving teachers clearer feedback on where they stand, usually on a 4-3-2-1 scale. Second, rubrics explicitly lay out the characteristics of each level, giving mediocre and unsatisfactory teachers a road map for improving their performance. And third, rubrics are much less time-consuming for principals to complete, since lengthy narratives and lesson descriptions are not required. (p.12)
 
Danielson (1996), states that “Educators have learned the value of a common vocabulary to describe teaching” (p. 5). 
The QIR was developed by research supports using a rubric based instrument to assess the quality of instructional practices and establishes the correlation between good teaching, classroom grades, and student discipline (Danielson, 1996; Kelley & Kimball, 2004; Danielson & McGreal, 2000).
Principal Evaluation of Teacher Instructional Practices “When trained in quality evaluation techniques and how to recognize quality teaching, most principals can become effective evaluators of teachers.”  (Jacobs & Lefgren, p. 67, 2006). 
A study by Jacobs and Lefgren (2006), found that principals did evaluate teachers effectively and teachers were comfortable with principals evaluating them, but not for merit pay. 
“Principals and curriculum supervisors have long been recognized as appropriate evaluators of teachers, despite problem of partiality in ratings or infrequent and incomplete observations (Epstein, 1985, p. 4).
Grades and Instructional Practices  According to McMillan (2001) “findings from other studies show that this practice (intertwining grades and behavior) is still pervasive” (p. 30). Gathercoal (2004) noted that “due to the excessive entanglement between achievement and behavior, achievement grades are often misinterpreted” (p. 153). 
According to Guskey (1994), grades are an indicator of how a particular student is learning at that time in that subject area.  
According to Felner et al. (2007) and Rowan et al. (1997), students are motivated and inspired by good teaching. 
Discipline and Instructional Practices “Problem behavior presents another distinct barrier to high school graduation because of school disruption and increased use of exclusionary discipline, such as suspensions and expulsions” (McIntosh, et al., p. 244). 
According to Cotton (1999), for quality instruction to take place, teachers need a supportive principal, standards for student behavior, high expectations of students, student input into discipline policies, consistent application of rules and teachers have the authority to discipline. 
Research exists (e.g. Connors & Streams, 2000; Felner & Angela, 1988; Haycock, 1998; Lezotte, 2001; Price et al., 1988; Raudenbush et al., 1992) that concludes that good teaching does make a difference in student performance,

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 This research project is sponsored by the University of Louisville, The Kenton County School District, & the head research (Kim Banta/Brennon Sapp)
For problems or questions regarding this Web site contact bsapp@bsapp.com or kim.banta@kenton.kyschools.us
Last updated: 07/09/10.