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A principal's sense of self-efficacy in an age of accountability


Since its inception in 2001, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has created a high stakes accountability climate by setting federal mandates for increasing levels of student achievement in the Kindergarten through twelfth grade (K - 12) public education arena. Consequently, schools and their Local Education Agencies (LEAs) failing to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) guidelines are subject to progressive levels of corrective action. Given this high stakes accountability climate, the role of school leadership takes on an even greater importance. As a result, educational leadership scholars continue to conduct numerous studies on the impact of leadership practices on school success. While these studies have been critical in identifying effective, research-based leadership practices, they have largely ignored the importance of the principal's sense of self-efficacy, which research suggests is fundamental for successfully implementing these practices. Utilizing Bandura's (1977) triadic reciprocal causation model rooted in social cognitive theory, this study explored the relationship between principals' perceptions of their levels of self- efficacy and environmental influences, such as Program Improvement. Within this quantitative study, I hypothesized that federal sanctions under NCLB would have an inverse relationship with a principal's own leadership beliefs. This central hypothesis was tested on a statewide sample of California Title I K - 12 public school principals. Results of statistical analysis indicated there to be a significant difference between the means of efficacy for principals of schools in Program Improvement (M=7.0, SD=1.07, effect size=.025) and those not in Program Improvement (M=7.3, SD=.89, effect size=.025). Two other hypotheses related to Program Improvement and other personal and school-level demographic variables were also tested and yielded significant findings. Furthermore, implications are offered for future research, policy, and practice

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