Superintendents as Instructional Leaders and Its Influence on Student Academic Achievement



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Background: "The intersection of what needs to be done … varies from school to school but … the superintendency is the only job title with the positional authority to orchestrate the intentional meshing of actors and script toward future improvement” (Bird, Dunaway, Hancock, & Wang, 2013, pp. 77-78). Superintendents each year were held accountable for their students’ academic achievement that led to a district’s accreditation status. The students’ results on state assessments were scored, disaggregated, and categorized to assign school districts a state accountability rating. The commissioner of education used schools’ accountability ratings as one indicator to assign districts an accreditation status. Purpose: The purpose of this qualitative case study was to examine what influence superintendents’ instructional leadership decisions had on student academic achievement that led to an accredited district. Methods: The research method for this qualitative case study was in-depth interviews with three superintendents who were purposefully selected. These superintendents, each named superintendent of the year by an organization, were interviewed face-to-face and one-on-one in their district offices. The data from their interviews were transcribed and analyzed using the constant comparative method to construct themes. Results: Five themes emerged from the analyzed data of these superintendents’ interview transcripts: 1) they established a vision for their students, 2) they collaborated with individuals, 3) they continuously evaluated student data, (4) they focused on hiring the right people, and (5) they led with a care for others. Conclusion: The findings of this study indicate the possible key to instructional leadership decisions that influenced student academic achievement and aided in district accreditation was an ethic of care.