A study of principals' perceptions of competencies in school law necessary in Texas

Date

1976

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

Abstract

Problem. The purpose of the study was to determine what principals' perceptions were as to the knowledge and skills necessary in school law. A review of the literature indicated that the position of the school principalship has come to demand far more of the person, especially in the area of school law. Because of this continuing increase in the importance of school law in the role of the principalship, the study sought to determine the perceived needs of school principals as to the knowledge of school law and the mastery of skill in complying with school laws which are critical to the operations of schools within the bounds of legislation, court decisions, and local school board policy. Further, the study sought to investigate the differences in the perceptions of principals as to the degree of their need for knowledge and skill necessary in complying with school laws as related to three factors: type of school, locale of the school, and the size of the student enrollment of the school. Instrumentation. An original Instrument, the Inventory of Principal's Perceptions (IPP) was developed to measure the perceptions of principals concerning their needs for knowledge of school law and for mastery of skill in complying with school laws. Also, the IPP served as a basis for discriminating between the need perceptions of the principals in the groups designated by the three independent variables. This sixty-one item inventory measured the principals' perceptions on the eight dependent variables, that is, the eight areas encompassing the range of situations faced by the principal. The eight dependent variables were perceived need for knowledge of school law and for mastery of skill in complying with school laws in: pupil personnel administration, pupil supervision, instructional personnel administration, non-instructional personnel administration, school finance, plant maintenance and safety, relations with the community, and the position of the principalship. Procedures and Sample. In the design of the study, there were eight cells resulting from the pairing of the three independent variables. A sample of 268 principals, representing a stratified random sample of all the public school principals employed in the state of Texas, was selected as designated by the cells in the design. In an effort to insure the anonymity of the participating principals, a mailing procedure was used for administration of the IPP. All data were collected in a five week period in 1976. Hypotheses and Treatment of Data. Four major hypotheses were subjected to appropriate statistical treatments including a multivariate analysis of variance and a multiple discriminant function analysis. The hypotheses were tested for acceptance or rejection at the .01 level of significance. This treatment of the data determined the perceived needs of the principals for knowledge and skill in complying with school law. This treatment also determined the differences in the perceived needs of principals in the groups delineated by the three independent variables. Findings and Recommendations. Principals did perceive a need for knowledge of school law and for mastery of the skills necessary in complying with school laws. This perception of the need for knowledge and skill in school law was registered in all eight of the areas encompassing the range of situations faced by principals. In the comparison of the perceived needs of principals of secondary and elementary schools, a significant overall difference was found to exist. In the multiple discriminant function analysis, it was noted that the secondary school principals perceived their needs as being significantly greater in seven of the eight dependent areas. Similarly, an overall significant difference was found to exist in the need perceptions of principals of urban schools and of principals of rural schools. The principals of urban schools perceived their needs to be significantly greater in five of the eight areas as demonstrated by the multiple discriminant function analysis. Further, the need perceptions of principals of schools with large student enrollments and of principals of schools with small student enrollments were found to be significantly different overall. However, in further testing these need perceptions, the principals of schools with large student enrollments perceived their needs to be significantly greater in only two of the eight areas. Thus, the following conclusions were drawn: 1. Because of the needs perceived by principals surveyed in this study, there seems to be a need for courses in school law for prospective administrators for the public schools. 2. Likewise, there seems to be a need for professional growth courses in school law for administrators already practicing in the public schools. 3. The curriculum for school law courses needs to be differentiated to meet the needs of principals based on the kinds of positions they will seek or that they hold. 4. In particular, principals of secondary schools in urban areas which have large student enrollments need a firm foundation in school law. 5. No group of administrators can afford not to have a sufficient knowledge of school law and sufficient skill in complying with school laws. In light of the preceding conclusions, certificating institutions need to become more alert to the differences in the needs of principals in developing and structuring the school law courses. Also, school districts should provide professional growth courses to practicing principals to strengthen their knowledge and skill in the area of school law.

Description

Keywords

Educational law and legislation, School principals

Citation