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Jspr Vol 35-N2

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The Journal of School Public Relations is a quarterly publication providing research, analysis, case studies and descriptions of best practices in six critical areas of school administration: public relations, school and community relations, community education, communication, conflict management/resolution, and human resources management. Practitioners, policymakers, consultants and professors rely on the Journal for cutting-edge ideas and current knowledge. Articles are a blend of research and practice addressing contemporary issues ranging from passing bond referenda to building support for school programs to integrating modern information.

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Introduction to the Special Issue: What Role Do Principals Play in Implementing Policy?

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What Role Do Principals Play in Implementing Policy?

SUSAN M. PRINTY, GUEST EDITOR

E ducation leaders at the school level experience policy demands coming at them from every direction. They are faced with decisions about how to respond to a particular demand and how to integrate the resulting actions or initiatives with other practices already in place within the school. Taking the central position between policy mandates and the instructional staff, principals need to craft an organizational response that will replace, modify, adapt, or augment existing routines without constraining those that have proven highly productive.

For this issue, I invited a number of junior scholars to consider the question What is the principal’s role in implementing policy? The authors of the articles included in this special issue drew on their recent dissertation research to explore that question. A central focus of each policy addressed is improvement of teachers’ knowledge and skills. This concern for strengthening schools’ human capital is important for readers of the Journal of School Public Relations, and the set of studies provides a lens for how teachers experience investments in their skill sets after they are employed.

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How Principals Facilitate Teachers’ Learning Under Accountability Systems

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HYEMI LEE

ABSTRACT : Under the different states’ accountability contexts, it may be meaningful to find the relationship among the strength of their accountability policies, principals’ facilitation of teachers’ learning, and teachers’ participation in professional development programs. The analysis of twolevel hierarchical linear modeling found that high school graduation exit exams negatively affected principals’ support of professional days before and during the school year, although the annual measurable objective strength and the proficiency performance standards may not have had any relationship with principals’ facilitating teacher learning. The findings of three-level hierarchical linear modeling showed that principals were an essential factor for teachers’ participation in professional development. The proficiency performance standards increased teachers’ spending time for content professional development programs, although annual measurable objectives strength decreased them. However, professional development programs related to instruction and classroom management were not influenced by states’ accountability systems.

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Coaching the School Principal’s Capacity to Lead Underperforming Schools

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NANCY K. MEDDAUGH

ABSTRACT : No Child Left Behind legislation places educators under pressure to increase the achievement of all students and to narrow the achievement gap that exists between economically advantaged students and students who are from different economic, racial, and ethnic backgrounds, as well as students with disabilities. Failing to improve student achievement can lead to corrective actions that include school restructuring, reassignment or dismissal of the school principal, conversion to a charter school, or a state takeover of the school. Yet, even with the possibility of losing their jobs, many principals still appear to be struggling to transform underperforming schools into high-performing schools, as evidenced by their schools’ continued underperformance. One widespread solution suggested for improving underperforming schools is to assign leadership coaches to school principals to help them learn to maximize the strength of the educational staff and lead the improvement of student performance. This study is based on a state system of support that requires underperforming schools to participate in the Midwest Coaching Institute or face more extensive consequences. Coaches influenced principals’ thinking to focus on the instructional core and program coherence, but coaching realized classroom changes only when a common vision of student excellence existed between the principal and the staff and when teachers were actively part of the instructional change movement. Most changes put into place within the school, however, evaporated with changes in the principal or the superintendent.

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The High School Principal’s Influence on Novice Teacher Induction Within a Distributed Leadership Framework

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STEVEN C. DELP

ABSTRACT : A novice teacher’s first few years of teaching are a time of transition from preservice preparation to a time of practice. It is during this time that he or she will form a professional identity, much of which will derive from his or her induction opportunities and experiences. However, that same beginning teacher has a nearly 50% chance of leaving his or her current teaching position within the first 5 years of teaching. Teachers often point to disappointment with their school administrator as a reason for leaving. This study sought to understand the role that principals play during a novice’s early years of teaching, recognizing that much leadership for induction is distributed among a range of other school personnel. In the two suburban high schools studied, principals did not take an active role in establishing satisfying and supportive conditions for novices. In large part, leadership responsibility was left to the subject area department chair and departmental colleagues, one of whom was the assigned mentor. For most of the novice teachers in the study, the induction experience was unimpressive.

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The Common Core State Standards: School Reform at Three Suburban Middle Schools

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School Reform at Three Suburban Middle Schools

SANDRA MORANTE-BROCK

ABSTRACT : The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) present public education with perhaps the largest shift in educational paradigm since No Child Left Behind in 2001. This study investigated the importance of principal leadership and how information regarding the CCSS reform flowed to the principal and from the principal to the teachers. Furthermore, this study assessed the assertion that principals are key to reform interpretation and implementation. The research reported here is a multicase study developed through qualitative methods over a period of 7 months. Primary data collection was accomplished through a series of three interviews with three public suburban middle school principals in a Midwestern state. The first stage of this study examined each principal’s background and educational experience. It aimed to create a profile of the principal and to identify any relationship between principal experience and perception of the CCSS reform. The second stage investigated how these three principals received information and built professional knowledge about the CCSS. The last stage sought to identify how these principals organized and disseminated CCSS information for teachers within their buildings and how they prepared their staff for adaptive change. This study also included a review of the documents that these principals used to garner information about the CCSS and to disseminate information to staff members. Additionally, this study yields secondary data for the analysis and triangulation with primary data. Transcriptions of interview data and field notes, along with interpretive comments of the researcher, were checked for validity with each participant. This study was completed as part of the dissertation requirements for Michigan State University. It is important to state that the study in its entirety was modified to a journal format to be concise and direct.

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Who Holds the Power? Teachers’ Perceptions of Principals in School Reform

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Teachers’ Perceptions of Principals in School Reform

HONEY GHODS
BRIAN BOGGS

ABSTRACT : In the school reform process, much research has been conducted on the role of the principal. Almost all the leadership research concludes that the principal is an important policy actor in setting the tone for reform and in providing support. Many authors argue that, without such strong leadership, there can be no lasting reforms. The results presented in this article look at the role of principals, although the study is situated in a broader context of making sense of how teachers prioritize reform using the new Common Core State Standards in mathematics. Such reform, according to Coburn (2001) and other researchers, requires a collective sense-making process, and most of that process occurs among teachers. Building on this, we explore how the teacher perceives or makes sense of the principal in the school reform process. Using a mixed methods approach that encompasses three Midwestern states that are current implementers of the Common Core State Standards movement, we conclude that teachers do not perceive the principal as playing a major role in this curricular policy implementation and reform—a view contrary to that presented in the literature.

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Brokering Instructional Improvement Through Response to Intervention

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SEAN M. WILLIAMS

ABSTRACT : The reauthorization of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 spurred sweeping changes for how special education students are identified in the United States. The act encourages schools to use response to intervention (RTI) as a new method for identifying special education students. As schools implement RTI, the principal becomes a key figure in determining its success. Based on the competing values framework (Cameron, Quinn, Degraff, & Thakor, 2006) as an analysis tool, this study examines how principals brokered organizational changes through the implementation of RTI.

A s principals grapple with the increased demands on instruction exerted by increasing accountability standards, response to intervention (RTI)—a comprehensive student remediation policy—may be a vehicle of change that principals can use to broker significant instructional and organizational improvements with teachers within schools. When new polices are implemented in schools, principals act as a “policy brokers” to bring teachers, administrators, and support staff together to build understanding and support (Sabatier, 1997). In this study, principals used RTI as leverage for change that led to transforming organization structures and instructional methods with the intention of increasing student learning. In this article, I demonstrate how principals were able to create instructional change, build momentum, and define RTI within their schools through a series of transactions with various stakeholders via the implementation of RTI.

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Insights for an Integrated Leadership School

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SUSAN M. PRINTY

ABSTRACT : This concluding chapter examines the findings of the other special issue articles through the lens of full-range leadership by Avolio (2011). Evidence suggests that transactional leadership by principals is underdeveloped in many of the schools described by researchers, leaving school personnel without clear direction or an understanding of expectations. Transformational leadership is also difficult to see, but principals have opportunities to enact it by participating with school teams in professional development activities. The integrated leadership model (Marks & Printy, 2003) is extended to an integrated leadership school, drawing on evidence of the studies in this issue.

I n organizing this special issue, I put one question to the set of junior researchers who agreed to participate: What is the principal’s role in implementing policy? They have taken up the challenge admirably, drawing on their dissertation research to shape their responses to that question. The policy issues that they take up range widely from national policies to state policies to district policies, yet each researcher is able to provide us with evidence and insight as to the kinds of decisions and organizational arrangements that principals make in regard to policy implementation. A key assumption underlying each study—and policy—is that what educators do as a result of the policy will improve teachers’ knowledge and skills, thus enhancing what teachers do in their classrooms and subsequently increasing what students learn.

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