An Examination of English Teachers', English Resource Teachers', and Principals' Perceptions of Leadership Capacity in the 7th and 8th Grades of Middle School
Epps, Gail Alice
Parham, Carol S
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School improvement no longer rests solely on the shoulders of the principal, but rather takes the collaborative effort of the entire school community to increase achievement levels of all students. Vital parts of that community are the teachers that teach content areas, including resource and regular classroom teachers. Leadership is critical for organizational improvement: more specifically, it is the driving force for instituting agreed-upon and worthwhile directions for the organization in question, and doing whatever it takes to inspire people to move in those directions (DeFlaminis, 2011). This study was designed to investigate the perceptions of leadership capacity among teachers, resource teachers, and principals in middle schools and the role these perceptions play in supporting organizational improvement. This mixed-methods study, examined the perceptions of leadership capacity using the conceptual framework of Lambert's (2003a) Leadership Capacity School Survey (LCSS) and its six clustered domains. Data for this study were collected by way of survey responses and interview probes with focus groups of English teachers, English resource teachers, and principals. In the quantitative phase of the study, 36 middle schools from a single school district in the mid-Atlantic United States were identified. The results from the quantitative phase of the study found that there was more agreement about the principal's leadership capacity among the three professional groups in the schools meeting state standards. Whereas, this was not observed in schools not meeting state standards. Examination of the focus group responses revealed that the staff in both categories of schools looked at data to make informed decisions regarding reading curriculum and instruction for those students who did not do well on standardized tests. However, the schools that did not meet state standards had to provide more interventions, motivate more students, and expend additional time and energy to support their students. Leadership capacity is essential for promoting successful school improvement. It plays a pivotal part in school reform. Further research is recommended with larger samples of participants in rural and urban settings. In addition, future research should examine the ongoing professional development in coaching communication and reflection practices.