Date of Award

May 2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Urban Education

First Advisor

Elise Frattura

Committee Members

Decoteau Irby, Tom Joynt, Leigh Wallace, Latish Reed

Keywords

Changing Demographics, Principal Leadership, Superintendent Leadership

Abstract

Principals and superintendents serving in four suburban school districts in Wisconsin experiencing significant increases in the numbers of students who identify as Hispanic or African American were studied to identify how these leaders were working to meet the needs of all learners in increasingly diverse public school contexts. This study aimed to answer three primary research questions: What resources, supports and strategies are employed by principals in suburban school districts experiencing significant demographic changes related specifically to increases in the number of students who identify as African American or Hispanic that helped them be successful in their roles? What do these school leaders need from their superintendents in order to successfully deliver on the promise of creating school environments within which all students succeed? How are superintendents in these suburban contexts increasing their competencies and supporting principals in proactively leading through racial demographic shifts in a society that has typically marginalized such groups of students? Leadership dispositions, knowledge, skills, and resources identified by building administrators necessary to successfully meet the challenge of actualizing success for all students are discussed and include growth mindset, a deep understanding of change management, a willingness to confront and disrupt, and a reliance upon peer collaboration. The superintendent/principal relationship is analyzed for relevance and impact on principal effectiveness and issues currently faced by district administrators serving in increasingly diverse suburban school districts are outlined. Results of this study illuminate opportunities for future research and implications on current practice in the field of educational administration.

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