Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Theory, Policy, and Practice

Document Type



Explaining the complex nature of how leadership works within the school has proven difficult; consequently, many studies have shown little or no effects of leadership on student outcomes and school performance (Leithwood & Jantzi, 1999; Leithwood, Louis, Anderson, & Wahlstrom, 2004). Furthermore, researchers acknowledge that a gap exists in the literature between explaining models of leadership and describing the effective actions of leadership (Grissom & Loeb, 2011; Kruger et al, 2007; Robinson, 2006; Robinson et al 2008; Waters, Marzano, & McNulty, 2004). Of the research that does link leadership practices to student outcomes and school performance, the assumed indicators of leadership effectiveness, in most cases the relationship was studied through indirect effects (Leithwood, Patten, & Jantzi, 2010). On the school front, restructuring options are being implemented for schools that fail to raise their test scores. Each of these options includes the opportunity for replacing the leadership and a number of the teachers in those schools. Specifically for Louisiana, the state in which this study was conducted, as of 2012, the state is seeing some gains, but thirty-six percent (36%) of Louisiana’s schools have received D or F (LDOE, 2012a). In addition, for 2012, forty-two additional schools received the grade F, an increase from 115 to 157 schools (LDOE, 2012a). As a result, Louisiana continues to implement sanctions in an attempt to improve school performance. The purpose of this study was to use case study methodology to explore the perceptions and practices of leadership in a Southern, urban middle school. Results supported the implementation of Distributed and Instructional Leadership practices. A major implication of this study is that it challenges the sanctions enforced by NCLB, by representing effective leadership in a struggling school, thereby raising questions of the appropriateness of holding principals responsible for school performance.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Egea-Kuehne, Denise



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Education Commons