Study of the Attributes and Behaviors of Middle School Principals in Successful Title I Schools
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School leadership is being urged to change in order to meet the needs of societal and school demographics. By increasing our efforts to bridge the gap for our youth in transition between elementary and high school, we are modeling a unified system that sends the message that all youth matter (Balfanz, 2007; Ogbu, 1987). Middle school principals are now responsible for providing effective leadership in a wide variety of specific subjects. Principals today are encouraged to restructure a school by possessing and providing idealized attributes, idealized behaviors, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation and individualized consideration, all while creating a school climate that will yield successful academic improvement. The purpose of the study was to study the attributes and behaviors of middle school principals in successful Title I schools. This study explored the leadership styles and best practices reportedly used by the principals in order to meet the diverse needs of all students and increase academic achievement. The study examined the attributes and behaviors of Middle School Principals in Title I Schools. The role of the leader in shaping and directing the school towards academic success was also examined. The leadership style and practices of a principal play an important part in student achievement. Grasping the leadership practices and the effect of the practices on middle school achievement provides a wealth of knowledge that will advance our understanding of middle school students and improve student achievement. The Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) was used to determine strengths and areas of improvement and a face-to-face interview was conducted to explore principals’ perceptions of their leadership practices. The MLQ measures a broad range of leadership types. In this study, principal leadership seemed to play a significant role in the success of the campus. All of the principals in the study exhibited attributes and behaviors that coincide with Transformational Leaders. Idealized Influence was included in the Top 3 for all of the Title I principals. The researcher searched for commonalities and differences. The findings from this study revealed that each of the four Title I middle school participants engaged in various initiatives and actions that contributed to their campus success. The first common initiative that all of the principals implemented was the alignment of curriculum to state standards. Secondly, all of the participants were highly visible in the classrooms. The principals believed they needed to be visible to parents, teachers, and students, and consistently communicate the vision for student success. Thirdly, the principals felt strongly about creating ways to empower teachers and staff to build leadership capacity and positive relationships. Finally, principals consistently communicated their vision to all stakeholders. These common behaviors were (a) ongoing monitoring and evaluation of programs, (b) visibility, (c) building relationships, (d) building leadership capacity, and (e) shared vision. Recognizing the attributes and behaviors shared by leaders who are successful in Title I schools will help school districts to identify those who would be effective in creating a climate of success within such a challenging environment.