The purpose of this study was to identify elementary school teachers' perceptions of principal support from low and high-performing schools and determine if there is a relationship between principal support and school performance.
The literature review of this study discussed the historical position of the principal, the jobs of principals and teachers, and the different types of support as defined by Balfour (2001) (emotional support, environmental support, instructional support, and technical support). According to Barth (2006), having the support of one's principal can improve the relationships in schools. Finally the study addressed the impact of principal support on school performance. According to Barth, if relationships in schools are healthy, school performance will be high.
This study incorporated the principles of quantitative research to test the null hypotheses. A total of 76 surveys were originally sent to the schools. Of these, 50 were returned to the researcher. The teacher survey return rate was 65.8% (50 of 76). Data used in this study were examined using the following statistical procedures: descriptive statistics, Cronbach's Alpha reliability for the survey data, and t- tests. In order to examine the hypothesis, a t-test was performed to determine the mean differences of the dependent variables (emotional support, environmental support, instructional support, and technical support) with the performance group (low-performing vs. high-performing) as the independent variable. Cronbach's Alpha reliability was used to measure the consistency of the response of third grade teachers.
Fifty 3rd grade teachers, representing 17 elementary schools in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, were participants in this study. From a descriptive viewpoint, the principals from high-performing schools had item-level and subscale-level averages greater than those for the low-performing schools. However, the statistical tests did not show that the teachers perceived principals from high-performing schools as exhibiting significantly more support behavior (emotional support, environmental support, instructional support, and technical support) when compared to teacher perceptions of principals from low-performing schools. All item-level averages for the high-performing schools were greater than or equal to those for the low-performing schools.
The results did not reveal that the four types of support behaviors were significantly related to the performance group (low-performing vs. high-performing schools). The lack of statistical significance is inconsistent with the research literature that showed the principal's support behavior has an impact on student achievement. Research shows that the presence of support from principals is critical for teachers, considering they are responsible for raising student achievement (Macroff, 1988). Also, teachers' perceptions of support from principals have been found to be an important component of organizational support.
KEY WORDS Palmetto Assessment of State Standards, Performance Levels, Principal Support, School Performance