The purpose of this study was to determine the monitoring role of the principal in ensuring student achievement, predominantly of minority students who have characteristically underperformed on standardized assessments at the middle school level. Standardized test data continues to show achievement gaps for Hispanic and African American students widening when compared to their White and Asian counterparts. The nation looks to site level leadership to ensure equitable educational opportunities, aimed to narrow this gap with one such standard for measurement being the use of formative assessments and ongoing monitoring of student performance. In this study the researcher examined the impact of operational demands at the district and school site level focusing on student achievement in history, mathematics, science and English language arts and how these juxtaposed systems of demands and expectations impacted the principal's ability to monitor student academic improvements.
Interviews with teachers and principals from two middle school sites within separate large urban districts formulated insight into the complexities of ongoing monitoring with the goal to improve student achievement. The interview data illuminated the challenge that principals face as they juggle site demands, district initiatives, and operational expectations. Using a multiple case study approach, classroom observations, interview transcripts, and artifacts triangulated the data. The nature of the qualitative data collected allowed for description of the fluidity and rich context of the participants' responses, resulting in the identification of six leadership practices that served as the lens to anchor the study's findings.
Outcomes revealed that while principals and teachers were intent on the ongoing use of formative assessments to improve student achievement, a more skillful understanding of systems and how they are related, significantly determined the level of the schools' success. In this study, the principal most effective at navigating educational systems experienced better results in sustaining staff motivation and maintaining growth goals. Recommendations to assist middle schools serving predominantly minority students include providing opportunities for collaboration between principals and teachers of successful schools and less successful schools, as well as ongoing monitoring of site principals responsibilities to purposefully evaluate initiatives that support sensible blending of their work as they strive to promote student achievement.
|School||SAN DIEGO STATE UNIVERSITY|
|Subjects||Educational leadership; Middle school education; Educational administration; Elementary education|
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