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Transforming a school culture : examining the leadership behaviors of successful principals

  • Author(s): Ibarra, Luis Angel
  • et al.

High-stakes accountability reform has mandated that schools ensure that all of their students meet minimum proficiency standards or risk being identified as program improvement (PI) schools under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). School leaders are required to transform the existing cultures of their schools in order to meet the minimum criteria set forth by this new mandate. Transformational leadership behaviors may be the key to transforming school culture. This study explores the change initiatives and behaviors of principals whose schools have been designated PI schools and those of principals whose schools have recently exited PI designation. Schools that educate underserved populations and need increased support are more likely to be sanctioned under NCLB and be at risk of losing resources. NCLB mandates require that school leaders transform school systems of failure to systems of support, which requires a transformational approach based on the appropriate social processes, skills, affect, and intellect. This study proposes that leaders who have successfully exited PI designation have engaged in more transformational leadership practices. Using a mixed method approach that obtained data through the administration of the Multi- factor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) and open-ended survey prompts and the conduction of principal interviews, the researcher found that leaders whose schools had exited PI designation engaged in more transformational initiatives and consistently backed those initiatives with transformational action

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