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National board certification : a reservoir of reflective principals


This multiple case study is a description and analysis of the self-perceived leadership strengths of five K-12 school site principals who earned National Board Certification as classroom teachers. Individuals in this group have all been assessed against nationally set norms of performance and knowledge relative to curriculum, instruction, and assessment which is crucial to successful leadership at the school site (Marzano, Waters, & McNulty, 2005). The idea that site principals who earned National Board Certification as classroom teachers may bring a greater focus on curriculum, instruction, and assessment to the principalship and therefore be a resource for administrator recruitment is the impetus for this study. The theoretical framework supporting this study is research on effective school leadership, National Board Certification, leadership self-perception, and transformational learning theory. Using a mixed-methods approach, data collected from a survey based on leadership responsibilities as defined in the literature was augmented with interviews and document analysis for each case. The researcher analyzed data for patterns, evidence of alignment between the National Board Certification process and leadership strengths, and commonalities across cases in self-perceived leadership strengths. Findings of the study indicate common self-perceptions of leadership strengths within three aspects of leadership (philosophical, relational, and technical) with most alignment occurring within the relational aspect. All study participants reported self-perceived strengths in six of 21 leadership responsibilities identified in the literature: ideals and beliefs; input; knowledge of curriculum, instruction, and assessment; monitoring and evaluating; outreach; and visibility. All study participants cite the National Board Certification process as a valuable professional development activity that encourages reflective leadership practice. All study participants also believe their confidence in the area of curriculum, instruction, and assessment stems from the validation they received when certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Further study is indicated to determine the correlation of NBCT- principals' leadership self-perceptions with the perceptions of their staff members, the impact of NBCT- principals on student achievement, and the impact of formalized self-reflection on successful transformational leadership practices.

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