A Critical Evaluation of a School System's Effort to Develop and Implement a "Grow Your Own" Principal Preparation Program

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Morrison, Heath
Parham, Carol
Dudley, James
ABSTRACT Title of Dissertation: A CRITICAL EVALUATION OF A SCHOOL SYSTEM'S EFFORT TO DEVELOP AND IMPLEMENT A "GROW YOUR OWN" PRINCIPAL PREPARATION PROGRAM Heath Morrison, Doctor of Philosophy, 2005 Dissertation directed by: Professor Carol Parham Department of Education Policy and Leadership Professor Emeritus James Dudley Department of Education Policy and Leadership This study is a formative evaluation of one school system's efforts to develop and implement a "grow your own" principal preparation program to address principal candidate quality and quantity. When over half of the school districts across the country have reported a shortage of qualified principal candidates and it is estimated that 40% of the nation's principals will retire in the near future, more school systems can be expected to attempt to implement such programs as a solution to this problem. Six research questions were created for this study, and quantitative and qualitative methods were used to collect and analyze data. The research design was based on Daniel Stufflebeam's conceptual model for program evaluation, CIPP. Data were gathered to address the four components of this model--context, input, process, and product. A survey instrument was e-mailed to the 111 program participants from the school system's Aspiring Leaders Program and design team members. The final sample yielded 95 responses--a return rate of 86%. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used. Data were collected and analyzed through personal interviews with system leaders, and focus group interviews were conducted with the design team and program participants. The data provided insight into the various aspects of the school system's creation of a leadership program. Important elements and resources required in design and implementation included the ISLLC Standards. An emphasis was placed on making the program "hands-on" and practical in nature. The resource investment, both human and fiscal, was considerable. Based on survey results, the program was well received by participants across all cohorts and leadership skill areas. Program participants who have advanced to the principalship reported the training was excellent in assisting their preparation. These findings and conclusions are reported in Chapters IV and V. This study was a formative evaluation of one school system's effort to prepare principals and therefore has limited generalizability. The results do raise significant issues with implications for policy and procedures. It is expected that this research will assist the designated school system's efforts to improve its principal preparation program, and provide insight for other school systems considering developing such programs.