TitleProblem solving and principal’s interaction with accountability
NameMayer, Steven J. (author), Firestone, William (chair), Baker, Bruce (internal member), Kempler-Rogat, Toni (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School of Education,
SubjectEducational Administration and Supervision,
Educational accountability--New Jersey,
Middle school principals--New Jersey--Interviews,
Educational accountability--Decision making--New Jersey
DescriptionPROBLEM: Increasing accountability in public schools has created a new set of problems for school leaders. With the prominence of high stakes testing, the pressure to make Adequate Yearly Progress, accountability for closing the achievement gap of every subgroup of students, the demand for a highly qualified faculty and related pressures from school boards and communities, school leaders are faced with an array of unstructured, complex problems. Set within a rich literature on educational leadership and the relatively unexplored literature on problem solving, this study examines the school principal’s interaction with the problems created by accountability to determine how expert leaders perceive, approach, and engage others in addressing complex problems. Three areas of interaction are explored (Leader Capacity, Leader Response and Organizational Response) in order to address the following questions: * Does the mental model of the expert principal differ from a more typical principal as it relates to problem solving? * How do leaders’ beliefs, conceptions of problems, and knowledge influence their response in problem solving? * How does the problem solving capacity of the expert school leader differ from that of the non-expert? * Are there leader responses to problems created by accountability that offer the best possibility of school success? METHOD: A total sample of 24 New Jersey middle school principals were selected using a regression analysis of three years of New Jersey data from within four quadrants of performance: High Socio Economic Status (SES) and higher than predicated performance, low SES and higher than predicted performance, high SES and lower than predicated performance, low SES and lower than predicated performance. These principals must have been leaders in their respective schools for at least two years permitting their school’s performance to serve as a proxy for expertise. Once selected, principals were interviewed by two researchers using an in-depth guide in order to probe areas of interest in the study. The data from the 24 interviews was coded using a qualitative software package and analyzed according to the conceptual framework serving as the basis of discussion and findings. FINDINGS: Differences exist between successful principals and typical principals with respect to approaching and resolving complex problems. This study finds patterns of influence that are significant in capturing attributes of successful school leadership. Specifically, more expert principals tend to operate with an inventive mindset that approaches problems with an open mind toward trying new avenues toward reform. Similarly these principals are more likely to set broad goals for a problem’s resolution and engage others in a substantive fashion. SIGNIFICANCE: Adding to the rich body of literature on school leadership by offering a construct for effective problem solving addresses an important area of study. In an era of increasing accountability, transparency, and complexity, identifying school leaders with the capacity to innovate and set broad goals for addressing the complex problems associated with student achievement is essential.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby Steven J. Mayer
CollectionGraduate School of Education Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.