HOW DO PRINCIPALS AND ASSISTANT PRINCIPALS DIFFER IN THEIR BELIEFS REGARDING THE CHARACETRISTICS AND CULTURE OF A GOOD SCHOOL
Brooks, Keith Jarrod
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Culture plays a significant role in promoting student achievement in schools, and it has the ability to support or sabotage not only student success but also quality professional learning and is the basis for school improvement (Schein, 1996; Saphier & King, 1985; Landry, 2012). In order to establish and maintain the culture of a school, the principal and assistant principal must share core beliefs of an effective school and healthy school culture. When the principal of the school is absent or unavailable, the assistant principal assumes the leadership role for the campus. Misalignment between their beliefs of the mission and vision of the school can create dissonance, which can lead to a climate and culture of disarray. The perceptions of principals and assistant principals regarding what constitutes a good school and the culture that contributes to a good school are pivotal to sustain a healthy learning environment for teachers and students. This study compared the perceptions of 311 principals and 371 assistant principals regarding the characteristics and culture necessary for a good school to succeed. The administrators that were surveyed are in the Gulf Coast Region of Southeast Texas and the data is archival in nature. The principals and assistant principals were given surveys and participated in interviews to examine their perceptions of the culture and characteristics of a good school. Themes and categories were identified by two different researchers as major indicators of a good school. This study will answer two research questions: 1. Do differences exist in the perceptions of principals and assistant principals regarding the characteristics of a good school?; and 2. Do differences exist in the perceptions of ix principals and assistant principals regarding the culture of a good school?. With the use of archival data, the study examined themes/categories as described in previous studies and was able to answer the research questions. The findings in this study indicate there are differences that exist in the perceptions of principal and assistant principals regarding the characteristics of a good school and the culture of a good school. The differences in the perception concerning the characteristics of a good school were first identified in the categories that were identified from the responses of the principals and assistant principals. Principals’ descriptors included Academic Focus and Student Centered while assistant principals included Student Achievement and Students Discipline. The categories that were similar accounted for at least 50% of the responses given by both administrators. Regarding the perception of the administrators to the culture of a good school, the data reports show at least 65% of the responses of the principals and assistant principals are in agreement. The differences exist within Academic Focus and Student Achievement; only 35% of the responses for principals are in agreement and only 34% for assistant principals are in agreement respectively. These themes were not in the categories of each administrator. The need for assistant principal programs and administrator training to improve is noted. Recommendations include university preparation programs to address the importance of the culture of a school and the importance of fostering a positive climate and culture; leadership skills training for first time administrators; field experience for assistant principals as principals; teaching assistant principals and principals to recognize the autonomy of their followers; transformational leadership; collaboration implementation; and building capacity in assistant principals.