K-12 school reform movements over the past twenty-five years have grown in urgency as numerous schools in South Carolina and across the nation have failed to meet student needs. The urgency for reform was spurred by, A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform, a report released by the National Commission on Excellence in Education (NCEE) in 1983. It first called attention to the state of education in America (U.S. Department of Education [USDE], 2008). The USDE also noted that the report suggested that K-12 schools were academically inferior. Following that report, educators became more accountable due to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. It became law of the land and mandated that the academic performance of students in K-12 schools improve. As a result, the National Commission on Excellence in Education recommended the establishment of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), which lead to the creation of national board certification for teachers.
The NBPTS (2002) issued a policy statement that emphasized five core propositions that highlighted what teachers should know and be able to do. While each proposition describes what National Board Certified Teachers should know and be able to do, these five core propositions underscore teachers as teacher leaders who go beyond classroom obligations. Through certification areas, these teachers are expected to be used in schools to directly impact student achievement. NBPTS contends that their expertise in teaching and leadership involvements can make a difference in outcomes.
The purpose of this study was to investigate National Board Certified Teachers' (NBCTs) perception of teacher leadership dimensions on school support for teacher leadership involvement. Second it was to determine differences in school support for teacher leadership in high- and low-performing elementary schools in South Carolina. One hundred twenty-seven NBCTs were surveyed to determine their perceptions on school support for teacher leadership in schools across the state on seven dimensions identified by Katzenmeyer and Moller (2001). The dimensions included developmental focus, recognition, autonomy, collegiality, participation, open communication, and positive environment.
The study revealed that NBCTs in South Carolina believe they have school support for teacher leadership involvement. When the responses of NBCTs in high- and low-performing schools were compared, there was no difference on 6 of 7 dimensions that included developmental focus, recognition, autonomy, collegiality, participation, and open communication. On dimension seven (positive environment), there was a significant difference in the responses of the NBCTs in high- and low-performing elementary schools. Even though high-performing schools scored higher on this dimension, both high and low-performing schools received high levels of support. The conclusions and recommendations may assist school leaders in seeking ways to better engage in school reform.
KEY TERMS National Board Certified Teachers; Teacher Leadership; School Support; High-Performing Elementary Schools; Low-Performing Elementary Schools