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  • Commonplace and common language: Kentucky's district mission statements

    Purpose: We sought to identify codes and themes in the mission statements of Kentucky's school districts and examine the relationship between district characteristics and the mission statements. Design/methodology/approach: We undertook a mixed methods design, specifically, a sequential transformative strategy with a theoretical lens overlaying the sequential procedures and guiding the analysis. Findings: Analysis revealed a range of 1–7 codes per mission statement and a mean of 3.05. Generic student success and individual attention represented the most frequently occurring codes in the mission statements. Chi-square tests of bivariate association yielded no significant differences between districts by locale. Logistic regression analysis revealed that the percentage of students in the district scoring proficient or distinguished in both reading and mathematics was associated significantly (p 

  • Surviving the reform: management usage of the garbage can model during implementation of reform

    Purpose: This paper aims to apply the garbage can model to identify factors that affect managerial decision-making processes in educational systems undergoing reforms. Design/methodology/approach: This paper used a qualitative approach using semi-structured interviews with 39 teachers and managers in schools undergoing a system-wide reform. Findings: The paper presents examples for a typology of decision outcomes found in the model and provides explanations for their emergence. It shows that there are many challenges that are associated with reform implementation and suggests factors that need to be taken into account when planning and implementing a reform. Originality/value: School management and policy makers can learn about the risks that are associated with garbage can decision-making and the various risk factors. Practical suggestions are given to reduce the probability of suboptimal decision-making.

  • Building the capacity for student leadership in high school: a review of organizational mechanisms from the field of student voice

    Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to understand the organizational mechanisms by which schools can increase opportunities for student leadership. Design/methodology/approach: A review of the student voice literature conducted in high schools was used to identify organizational mechanisms for enhancing student leadership. Findings: Five leadership-fostering organizational mechanisms were identified: consistency, research, group makeup, governance structure and recognition. Originality/value: This paper examines the existing body of student voice research to identify organizational mechanisms for fostering student leadership in schools. Researchers can use this to operationalize student leadership mechanisms and study their impact. Practitioners can implement these mechanisms in schools to support youth leadership development.

  • Ideological leadership in public schools

    Purpose: This study aims to explore the conception and construct of ideological leadership (IL) as it relates to public organizations, such as public schools, and to validate a tool for its measurement in this setting. Design/methodology/approach: Data was collected from 633 teachers working at 69 randomly-sampled Israeli public schools. In each school, an average of nine (SD = 2) randomly-sampled teachers completed questionnaires that measure IL, transformational leadership, organizational commitment, leader-member exchange and motivational factors. The data underwent validity and hypotheses tests. Findings: The hypothesized presence of the personalized and socialized IL orientations among public-school principals has been confirmed. Only personalized IL predicted teachers' outcomes above and beyond transformational leadership, affecting measures of organizational commitment, leader-member exchange and controlled motivation. Originality/value: New evidence supports the validity of this proposed measurement tool. New evidence also suggests that although ideology has been known to be a factor of charismatic leadership, IL in close public-school settings accentuates practices of control, rather than proselytizing coherent worldviews to teachers. This, in turn, may have a deleterious influence on work outcomes and outweigh the possible benefits of IL. Accordingly, it is suggested that school leaders should critically consider the desirability of embracing ideological zeal as part of their leadership tools.

  • Why is everything old new again? Revisiting debates about the form and function of research in educational administration

    Purpose: This paper has a twofold purpose: (1) to demonstrate, largely with historical evidence, that, contrary to what some have argued, thinking about educational research articulated at the start of the twenty-first century was not really “new wine in new bottles” but, rather, a continuation of the so-called paradigm wars about, ultimately, unresolvable methodological and epistemological issues that occurred during the twentieth century; (2) to suggest a way members of the educational administration field might transcend, or at least circumvent, time-consuming and distracting battles about unresolvable methodological and epistemological issues in the future while keeping their focus on issues of practice. Design/methodology/approach: This is a quasi-historical essay that uses influential literature during the historical periods focused on as evidence to support the essay's arguments. Findings: The paper demonstrates that twentieth century philosophical disagreements about research methods and the role that educational research can play in policy and practice decision making were not resolved but, rather, were largely reenacted during the first decade of the twenty-first century, again without a resolution. The paper proposes a way that administrators, policymakers and researchers can manage this situation and still use research to make policy and practice decisions. Practical implications: The paper suggests a new role for both school administrators and policymakers to play. If administrators/policymakers play this role successfully, all types of research can inform decision making about policy and practice, and researchers can concentrate on doing their research rather than engaging in unresolvable philosophical disputes. Originality/value: Although a great deal has been written about the twentieth century's theory movement and paradigm wars and the twenty-first century's so-called science wars, the link between these phenomena has not been discussed in the literature. In addition, there have been few attempts to articulate an operational strategy for managing unresolvable philosophical disputes about research methods and the role that research can play in decision making. This paper tackles both matters.

  • Fully online principal preparation: prevalence, institutional characteristics, geography

    Purpose: Principal preparation program pedagogy and course delivery are critical to principal candidates' preparedness to lead. Research around online program delivery, however, is relatively sparse. This study examined the extent to which university-based educational leadership programs offered fully online (FOL) pathways to the principalship, as well as program geographic locations and institutional characteristics most associated with FOL offerings. Design/methodology/approach: Data were collected through website reviews and coding checks, and then merged with national postsecondary data. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, classification tree analysis, and geographic information system (GIS) mapping. Findings: Roughly 43 percent of all reviewed programs offered an FOL pathway to licensure, which suggests substantial growth in FOL offerings over the last 10 years. While a number of factors were deemed important, geographic characteristics were most associated with FOL status. GIS mapping further illustrated findings with a visual landscape of program FOL offerings. Research limitations/implications: This study considered only programs for which degrees or certificates could be earned without ever visiting campus in-person for classes. Hybrid programs were excluded from the analysis. Practical implications: Findings make a clear call for more research into online principal preparation program design and course delivery. Originality/value: This study provides the first overview of fully online university-based principal preparation programs in the United States while also offering a previously unavailable landscape of all programs specifically leading to licensure. It is also the only higher education study to map or investigate factors associated with FOL offerings and raises questions about prior FOL higher education research.

  • Relationships between the middle school concept and student demographics

    Purpose: This study explored implementation of the middle school concept (MSC) in Illinois middle-level schools, examining relationships between MSC implementation and schools' relative wealth, racial/ethnic composition, and achievement levels. Design/methodology/approach: This quantitative study utilized a sample of 137 Illinois middle-level schools, defined as containing any combination of grades 5–9, including at least two consecutive grade levels and grade 7. Principals completed an online survey, identifying levels of implementation of advisory, teaming with common planning time (CPT), and a composite of both advisory and teaming with CPT. Findings: Schools with high advisory implementation had significantly higher rates of Latinx enrollments. Schools with lower operating expenditures per pupil were significantly less likely to implement advisory or advisory and teaming. Teaming had a significant relationship with composite PARCC test scores, but there was no significant effect for advisory and no significant interaction of advisory and teaming together. Practical implications: MSC is more expensive to implement, and affluent districts may have the financial means to absorb these costs. Although teaming facilitated improved state test scores, advisory programming did not result in significantly improved scores. Social implications: Lack of access to MSC programming in less affluent communities presents an equity issue for low-income students and students of color. Originality/value: This study contributes to research examining underlying issues of race and poverty and their effects on academic achievement and the effectiveness of the MSC.

  • Predicting school innovation. The role of collective efficacy and academic press mediated by faculty trust

    Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of collective teacher efficacy, academic press and faculty trust, all of which are components of academic optimism (AO), in predicting school innovation. In addition, the authors explored the extent to which faculty trust mediates the association between collective teacher efficacy and academic press with school innovation. Design/methodology/approach: In all, 1,009 teachers from 79 schools in Northern Israel completed anonymous questionnaires about AO and innovation. Aggregation, descriptive statistics, bivariate correlation analyses and mediation analysis were performed to analyze the data. Findings: Results showed that the components of AO, i.e., collective teacher efficacy, academic press and trust, were positively correlated to school innovation, and that trust mediated the relationship between collective teacher efficacy and school innovation. The study results confirmed that AO holds a significant predictive value in school innovation and highlights the importance of trust in supporting innovation. Practical implications: As school leaders are challenged to foster innovative new practices in their schools, the findings suggest that they will need to know how to cultivate collective teacher efficacy, academic press and faculty trust. Originality/value: This is the first study to examine the role of the components of AO in predicting innovation. By using a robust sample, the authors were able to examine the proposed school-level model with respect to the factors that affect school innovation. Originality also lies in the organizational approach to educational innovation in relation to faculty’s beliefs and behaviors.

  • Promoting collaboration in a competitive context: school improvement networks in Chile

    Purpose: Chile has developed the school improvement networks (SINs) strategy to support the work of school leaders. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the functioning and effect of the SINs strategy as perceived by principals and curriculum coordinators across the country. Design/methodology/approach: An adapted version of the Educational Collaborative Network Questionnaire was applied to a sample of 1,723 participants from 1,375 schools distributed in 398 networks. Descriptive, factor and sub-group statistical analyses by school performance categories and by different roles within these schools and networks are presented. Findings: Results indicate that school leaders perceive SINs as an opportunity to work effectively in shared projects that can later be implemented in their own schools. Participants indicate that they can share knowledge in their networks and use it to solve problems in their own schools, which is especially relevant for secondary school leaders who work in difficult circumstances. Results suggest that it is important to facilitate greater autonomy for school leaders in their networks, especially regarding decision making about network goals and activities that are more significant to their contexts. Originality/value: This is a national study of a recent school improvement strategy, which provides evidence, from the perspective of school leaders, of its strengths and improvement areas. This study shows that despite being in a competitive context, principals and curriculum coordinators value the opportunities to learn from and with others. These results can be of value for other contexts attempting to promote school networks as a means for school and system improvement.

  • From principal cognitive complexity to teacher intent to leave. Exploring the mediating role of school absorptive capacity and teacher commitment

    Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to test an innovative model for exploring the direct and indirect relationships between principals’ cognitive complexity (CC), schools’ absorptive capacity (ACAP), a teacher’s affective commitment and a teacher’s intent to leave. Design/methodology/approach: Data were collected from a survey of 1,664 teachers at 107 Arab elementary schools, randomly selected from the database of the Israeli educational system. To test the proposed model, multilevel structural equation modeling was conducted. Findings: The analysis confirmed that schools’ ACAP and a teacher’s affective commitment are prominent mediators between principals’ CC and a teacher’s intent to leave. Practical implications: Understanding the factors that contribute to a teacher’s intent to leave could help school principals and policy makers retain effective teachers in today’s schools. Originality/value: This study adds to the body of research directed at identifying school principals’ characteristics, as well as work-related factors, which may decrease a teacher’s intent to leave and are amenable to leadership intervention.

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