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A comparison of distributed leadership readiness in elementary and middle schools

Dissertation
Author: Karyn M. J. Christy
Abstract:
This quantitative study determined the order of leadership dimensions most utilized in elementary and middle school settings compared the most and least prevalent characteristics of distributed leadership exhibited in elementary and middle schools. The study asked the question: Are middle school settings more conducive to distributed leadership than elementary school settings? Data were collected utilizing the Distributed Leadership Readiness Scale, a 51 item instrument to measure preparedness to distribute leadership. The data analysis was conducted from 302 educational practitioners, including 181 elementary educators and 121 middle school educators from elementary and middle schools in a Missouri public school district. With a probability of alpha=.05, the data results of the independent samples t -test were analyzed. It was found the average responses for each distributed leadership readiness dimension of the elementary schools were significantly higher than the middle school average responses for each distributed leadership readiness dimension. The results of the data analysis did not support the research hypothesis. The researcher found this school district's elementary school certified participants scored their schools significantly higher in all four dimensions of distributed leadership readiness than those participants from this district's middle schools.

TABLE OF CONTENTS ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS……………………………………………………………….ii LIST OF TABLES……………………………………………………………..................vi ABSTRACT……………………………………………………………………………..vii CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY……………………………………………….1 Background………………………………………………………………………..1 Conceptual Underpinnings for the Study………………………………………….3 Statement of the Problem………………………………………………………….4 Purpose of the Study………………………………………………………………7 Limitations and Assumptions…………………………………………………....10 Definition of Key Terms…………………………………………………………12 Summary…………………………………………………………………………14 2. REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE…………………………………………16 Introduction………………………………………………………………………16 Definition of Distributed Leadership…………………………………………….17 Theoretical Approaches to Leadership…………………………………………..20 Distributed Leadership Practices………………………………………………...43 Summary…………………………………………………………………………57 3. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY…………………………………58 Introduction………………………………………………………………………58 Population and Sample…………………………………………………………..66 Data Collection and Instrumentation…………………………………………….67

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Data Analysis…………………………………………………………………….71 Summary…………………………………………………………………………73 4. RESULTS AND FINDINGS………………………………………………………75 Introduction………………………………………………………………………75 Overview of Study……………………………………………………………….78 First Research Question………………………………………………………….82 Second Research Question……………………………………………………….84 Third Research Question…………………………………………………………87 Research Hypothesis……………………………………………………………..92 Summary…………...…………………………………………………………….93 5. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS……………………………………………...96 Introduction………………………………………………………………………96 Research Questions………………………………………………………………98 Research Hypothesis……………………………………………………………..99 Limitations and Assumptions…………………………………………………..101 Implications for Practice………………………………………………………..103 Recommendations for Future Research………………………………………...106 REFERENCES…………………………………………………………………………104 APPENDIX A. Informed Consent Statement………………………………………………...126 B. Survey with Distributed Leadership Readiness Scale……………………….127 C. Number of Items in Each Leadership Dimension…………………………...131 D. Item Statements Associated with the Leadership Dimensions……………...132

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E. Permission to Conduct Research…………………………………………….136 VITA……………………………………………………………………………………137

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LIST OF TABLES Table Page 1. Ethnicity of Respondents……………………………………………………………...79 2. Average Responses for Elementary and Middle School Leadership Dimension……..83 3. Independent Samples t-test Comparing Elementary and Middle School……………..85 4. Elementary School Average Responses of the Five Most Prevalent Statement Items……………………………………………………………………...88 5. Elementary School Average Responses of the Five Least Prevalent Statement Items……………………………………………………………………...89 6. Middle School Average Responses of the Five Most Prevalent Statement Items……………………………………………………………………...90 7. Middle School Average Responses of the Five Least Prevalent Statement Items……………………………………………………………………...91

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ABSTRACT This quantitative study determined the order of leadership dimensions most utilized in elementary and middle school settings compared the most and least prevalent characteristics of distributed leadership exhibited in elementary and middle schools. The study asked the question: Are middle school settings more conducive to distributed leadership than elementary school settings? Data were collected utilizing the Distributed Leadership Readiness Scale, a 51 item instrument to measure preparedness to distribute leadership. The data analysis was conducted from 302 educational practitioners, including 181 elementary educators and 121 middle school educators from elementary and middle schools in a Missouri public school district. With a probability of alpha=.05, the data results of the independent samples t-test were analyzed. It was found the average responses for each distributed leadership readiness dimension of the elementary schools were significantly higher than the middle school average responses for each distributed leadership readiness dimension. The results of the data analysis did not support the research hypothesis. The researcher found this school district’s elementary school certified participants scored their schools significantly higher in all four dimensions of distributed leadership readiness than those participants from this district’s middle schools.

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CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY Background Principals in PK-12 school settings are being asked to take on more and more responsibilities in order to effectively manage their schools and attempt to increase student achievement. The emergence of standards-based accountability has increased the demands placed upon school administrators. Their tasks include, but are not limited to, managing the school, supervising and evaluating instruction, building community-school relationships, and acting as change agents. Principals are also required to serve as leaders for student learning. They ought to be experts in curriculum content and classroom best practices, enabling them to assist teachers in improving teaching skills. Principals are responsible for collecting, analyzing, and utilizing data to reach for continuous improvement. It is essential they communicate and seek support for the school’s common goal of student achievement from all the school stakeholders including, students, staff, parents, and community members. Therefore, it is necessary for principals to have the leadership skills to implement each of the afore mentioned strategies (Institute for Educational Leadership, 2000). Diapolo and Tschannen-Moran (2003) suggested the job is impossible for most principals as they feel torn between their responsibilities as instructional leaders and school managers (Cooley & Shen; Goodwin, Cunningham, & Childress, 2003). Additionally, Pounder and Merrill (2001) noted, qualified candidates for educational administrative positions may diminish due to the perceived workload.

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In addition to increased demand for meeting standards, principals are also being asked to work collaboratively in an attempt to develop leadership in others. This request is based upon research revealing school improvement takes place through collaborative learning communities (Lashway, 2003). Murphy and Datnow (2002) found successful principals met the increased demands by building dense leadership organizations, or distributed leadership, which is a social phenomenon “woven into the threads of the organization” (p. 7). This dense leadership was built through improvement of their own collaboration skills, encouragement of teacher leadership, provision of resources for professional development, and utilization of leadership practices to manage the school systematically. Research results from Leithwood and Reihl (2003) and Phillips (2003) buttressed this notion of collaborative communities having a vital part in school improvement. To meet increasing demands on their time and to effectively implement change within their buildings, principals need to consider utilizing distributed leadership, where various staff members take part in decision making, planning, problem solving, professional development, implementation, and assessment (Burke, 2003; Gronn, 2002; Lashway, 2002; Spillane, 2005). Distributed leadership practices organize staff to be most productive. Additionally, research has also shown the collaboration necessary for distributed leadership is an effective learning tool when desiring to increase student achievement (Harris, 2003; Lashway, 2003; Sebring, Hallman, & Smylie, 2003). Therefore, distributed leadership is being considered as an answer to the principals’ need for assistance in completing their duties and the need for increased collaboration in efforts to increase student achievement.

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Conceptual Underpinnings for the Study Distributed leadership is a change in the organizational thinking that redefines leadership as the responsibility of everyone in the school. Elmore (2000) explained through the components of Leadership practices; Mission, vision, and goals; School culture; and Shared responsibility, leadership can be distributed. Although the majority of researchers agree distributive leadership means leadership should be distributed throughout the whole school, there are various ways this can be attained (Lashway, 2003b). There are many venues in which the principal’s responsibilities can be distributed throughout the school. Examples of distributive leadership can run the spectrum from a principal simply encouraging the faculty to take on leadership responsibilities to an entire district implementing a new decision making structure for all its schools. It may mean the assistant principal takes over some of the principal’s responsibilities. It could also mean giving some decision making responsibilities to a team of teachers or assigning teacher leaders to various grade levels. Teacher teams have been utilized for years as the main component of the middle- school paradigm (Clark & Clark, 1994). Interest in teacher teams increased as a means for school improvement when research on professional learning communities indicated change was more effective when decision making was shared by the stakeholders (Louis, Marks, & Kruse, 1996; Preskill & Torres, 1999). This encouraged schools to experiment with “distributed leadership by organizing teachers into teams” that identify and solve defined or undefined problems (Scribner, Sawyer, Watson, & Myers, 2007, p. 71). Studies by Bryk and Driscoll (1988); DuFour and Eaker (1998); and Scribner, Cockrell,

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Cockrell, and Valentine (1999), indicated student achievement is higher in schools where teachers work in self-managing teams to develop goals, curricula, instructional strategies, budgets, and staff development programs. Self-managing teams are effective at innovation because they permit internal networking to encourage creativity. Unlike middle schools that operate with grade-level instructional teams with scheduled common planning times to collaborate, most elementary schools have self- contained classrooms and no interdisciplinary teams. At the middle level, the interdisciplinary teaming structure provides an effective mechanism for discussion and decision making. A common planning time, flexible scheduling, common adjacent classrooms, and team autonomy encourages collaboration and growth (Valentine, Clark, Hackmann, & Petzko, 2004). Furthermore, Scribner et al. (2007) explained the use of teacher teams is an illustration of distributed leadership. Due to these differing structures and climates, there may be a difference in the readiness of the elementary and middle schools to distribute leadership. When researching distributed leadership preparedness in elementary and middle school settings, it is important to note whether leadership is held by one administrator or if leadership activities, roles, and decision making is distributed among other staff members. Due to the differing structure of elementary and middle school programs, it is vital for administrators to be aware of various leadership techniques available for operating effective elementary and middle schools. Statement of the Problem Up to the present time, research on distributed leadership has mainly focused on elementary schools (Heller & Firestone, 1995; Sebring et al., 2003; Spillane, Diamond,

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Walker, Halverson, & Jita, 2001). Yet, one distributed leadership qualitative study was found involving three elementary schools (Sebring et al., 2003), and the results were compared to a study done in one middle school (Burke, 2003). The results from the various schools revealed some differences in how all the schools distributed leadership and how long they were able to sustain it. The research included a longitudinal study of Chicago elementary schools and a case study of shared and distributed leadership in Amherst Regional Middle School in Massachusetts. The purpose of the elementary school study was to identify the factors that facilitated or inhibited distributed leadership. Only one of the three schools that were found to utilize distributed leadership was able to sustain it over a period of time. The largest factor that inhibited the use of distributed leadership in the elementary schools was the principals’ responses to the high stakes system testing program. The principals became increasingly concerned over the lack of progress their school was making and took back the leadership they had distributed. The one elementary school that sustained distributed leadership had a principal who responded differently to her school’s lack of progress. She promoted distributed leadership by supporting her staff in their collaboration through an establishment of common preparation times for teachers at each grade level and by increasing the frequency of faculty meetings (Sebring et al., 2003). The middle school case study revealed, after three years, the leadership was still strongly distributed “at the individual level for students and teachers, at the team level, in study groups, and at the whole school level in the leadership team [and it] created a learning organization” (Burke, 2003, p. 14). This was attributed to effective collaboration and organized structures within the school utilizing the teachers’ knowledge and skills to

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promote a common goal. Based upon the research, there were some differences in the way distributed leadership was utilized at the various schools, and the middle school was the only one that utilized a leadership team to distribute leadership. The results of this qualitative research revealed the one middle school studied and one out of the three elementary schools were able to sustain distributed leadership. Both schools that sustained distributed leadership revealed strong teacher teams and effective collaboration. Another study was conducted that included a variety of settings. A quantitative study by Gordon (2005) provided data based upon the level of readiness of distributed leadership in elementary, middle, and high school settings. The data was used to examine the effect of distributed leadership on student achievement. The results of the study were based upon data collected using the Distributed Leadership Readiness Scale (DLRS) instrument. The survey data were then analyzed utilizing the achievement results of 36 high performing and low performing schools in Connecticut. The DLRS instrument measured distributed leadership readiness in the four areas of Leadership practices; Mission, vision, and goals; School culture; and Shared responsibility. The results of the surveys revealed both high and low performing schools differed significantly with respect to the school culture variable pertaining to distributed leadership readiness. Yet, Gordon’s study did not separate the results of elementary, middle, or high schools. Although the results were significant in the area of School Culture between high and low performing schools, the results did not differentiate between the three different grade configurations. A third, and more recent example, was a study conducted by Scribner et al. (2007) focusing on how teacher teams in high schools support distributed leadership. This study

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described how leadership emerges from teacher collaboration through work and conversations. The results of the study revealed how the interplay between structures and social processes contributes to the interactional process of distributed leadership (Spillane, Halverson, & Diamond, 2004). Although many schools utilize teacher teams to hold leadership functions with the goal of organizational success, this research revealed the success of sharing leadership is dependent on the purpose, autonomy, and patterns of discourse within the teacher teams and the organization. These outcomes are buttressed by Spillane et al.’s (2004) explanation of distributed leadership as situationally distributed through “formal structures and activities such as teacher teams and socially distributed via interactions between organizational members” (p. 93). Although the focus was on teacher teams, this study was done only in high school settings. Therefore, the middle school concept of interdisciplinary teaming was not addressed. It is evident from the examples identified, various distributed leadership research exists within the elementary, middle school, and high school settings, with some of it including teacher teams. Yet, no quantitative studies were found comparing readiness to distribute leadership between elementary and middle schools within the same school district. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study is to determine if middle schools are more ready to distribute leadership than elementary schools. Quantitative methods will allow the researcher to collect data focusing on which setting is more conducive to sharing leadership, distribute and collect sufficient surveys concerning each setting, and analyze the data in order to come to a conclusion on the stated hypothesis. Therefore, a

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quantitative study was necessary to adequately collect enough significant data to determine if middle school settings are more conducive to distribute leadership than elementary school settings. Quantitative data was collected and analyzed based upon the Distributed Leadership Readiness Scale (DLRS). The DLRS is a self-evaluation scale intended to provide a profile of a school’s willingness to engage in shared leadership practices. The DLRS was developed by the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) to measure school’s readiness to share leadership. It was based on current research on school leadership designed to improve public schools’ ability to increase student academic achievement (Gordon, 2005). The DLRS focuses on four key elements of distributed leadership: Leadership practices; Mission, vision, and goals; School culture; and Shared responsibility. Preparedness for distributed leadership will be measured through questions asking the degree to which characteristics of the four distributed leadership dimensions are present in the school community, Research Questions This quantitative study asked the question: Are middle school settings more conducive to distributed leadership than elementary school settings? Aligning with Elmore’s (2000) assertions educational leadership, which involves improving instruction, focuses on four key dimensions: Leadership practices; Mission, vision, and goals; School culture; and Shared responsibility, this study focused on these categories when determining school readiness for distributing leadership. To compare the readiness to share leadership in both settings the following questions were considered: 1. To what extent are the four dimensions of leadership distributed?

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a. To what extent are the four dimensions of leadership ready to be distributed in the elementary schools? b. To what extent are the four dimensions of leadership ready to be distributed in the middle schools? c. To what extent do elementary and middle schools differ in their readiness to distribute the four dimensions of leadership? 2. Is there a significant difference between the extent to which each of the leadership dimensions is ready to be distributed in the elementary setting versus the middle school setting? a. Is there a significant difference between the extent to which the Leadership practices dimension is ready to be distributed in each setting? b. Is there a significant difference between the extent to which the Mission, vision, and goals dimension is ready to be distributed in each setting? c. Is there a significant difference between the extent to which the School culture dimension is ready to be distributed in each setting? d. Is there a significant difference between the extent to which the Shared responsibility dimension is ready to be distributed in each setting? 3. To what extent is each specific characteristic (survey item) within the different dimensions of leadership ready to be distributed? a. To what extent is each specific characteristic (survey item) within the

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different dimensions of leadership ready to be distributed in the elementary schools? b. To what extent is each specific characteristic (survey item) within the Different dimensions of leadership ready to be distributed in the middle schools? c. To what extent do elementary and middle schools differ in their readiness to distribute each specific characteristic (survey item) of leadership? Research Hypothesis Given the need for distributed leadership and that elementary and middle school settings are quite different, this research seeks to determine if there is a difference between the two settings when comparing the four dimensions of leadership. Since quantitative research aspires to utilize deductive reasoning to predict the results of the study (Merriam, 1998), the researcher hypothesizes middle school settings will be more conducive to distributing leadership than elementary school settings. Unlike many elementary self-contained classrooms having one teacher instructing all subjects, middle school operates with grade-level instructional teams delivering different core subjects facilitated by various teachers. At the middle level, the interdisciplinary teaming structure provides an effective mechanism for discussion and decision making. The common planning time, flexible scheduling, common adjacent team autonomy encourage collaboration and growth (Valentine et al., 2004). Furthermore, Scribner et al. (2007) explained the use of teacher teams is an illustration of distributed leadership.

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Limitations and Assumptions When considering the many areas in which biases could enter into the implementation and interpretation of this study, it was necessary to consider the limitations and assumptions of the research. Since the researcher was a part of the district being studied the researcher was close to the data. Additionally, an instrument called the DLRS was utilized to collect data. Consequently, the following limitations and assumptions were considered: Limitations The following were limitations of this study. 1. The researcher of this study was a principal within the district being studied. The researcher chose the literature to review that guided this study and also was a part of the population benefiting from the results of the study. Therefore, the researcher was close to the data. 2. Although the surveys were distributed in an effort to have a similar amount of data from elementary and middle schools, the staff who chose to return completed surveys could not be determined. Assumptions The following were assumptions of this study. 1. The Distributed Leadership Readiness Scale (DLRS) is a reliable and valid instrument to assess four key dimensions of distributed leadership: Leadership practices; Mission, vision, and goals; School culture; and Shared responsibility. These four leadership dimensions are the basis of the 51 survey questions.

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2. The questions on the survey encouraged the participants to reveal their beliefs of how leadership is shared within their school setting through the constant analysis of pre-conceived notions or self-reflexivity. This self-reflexivity encouraged a focus on the awareness of their assumptions and beliefs (Coghlan & Brannick, 2005). 3. The elementary school settings are composed mainly of self-contained classrooms with no interdisciplinary teaming and do not have a full- time assistant principal. 4. The middle school settings surveyed have an environment based upon the middle school concept including interdisciplinary teaming and a full-time assistant principal. Definition of Key Terms The following terms were clarified for the purpose of this research. Content validity. Content validity is when an expert determines the degree to which a test measures an intended content area (Gay & Airasian, 2000). Construct validity. Construct validity reveals “the appropriateness of the intended test interpretations and the justification of the test being used” (Gay and Airasian, 2000, p. 168). Distributed leadership. Distributed leadership is “multiple sources of guidance and direction, following the contours of expertise in an organization, made coherent through a common culture.” (Harris, 2005, p. 165). Distributed leadership readiness. Distributed leadership readiness is defined by the degree to which an organization is ready to distribute leadership across the leadership

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dimensions of Leadership practices, Mission, vision, and goals; School culture; and Shared responsibility. Distributed Leadership Readiness Scale Instrument (DLRS). The DLRS is a self- evaluation scale intended to provide a profile of a school’s willingness to engage in shared leadership practices. The DLRS was developed by the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) to measure school’s readiness to share leadership. It was based on current research on school leadership designed to improve public schools’ ability to increase student academic achievement (Gordon, 2005). The DLRS instrument measures distributed leadership readiness in the four areas of Mission, vision, and goal; School culture; Shared responsibility; and Leadership practices. The survey is comprised of four separate sections addressing all four leadership dimension. Elementary school. Elementary schools in this study are public schools varying in size and in grade configurations. Elementary schools educate the primary grades beginning at kindergarten or pre-kindergarten and then continue through to various grades up to and including grade 5. Leadership practices. Leadership practices facilitate the distribution of leadership by enabling, supporting, coordinating, and guiding the work of the other leaders while also establishing a wholesome emotional climate. Middle school. Middle schools are middle level public schools educating students in grades 6-8. Mission, Vision, and goals. Mission establishes an organization’s purpose, while vision and goals creates a sense of direction (DuFour & Eaker, 1998).

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Interdisciplinary teaming. This teacher teaming consists of two or more teachers who share a group of students and a common schedule permitting collaboration (George & Alexander, 1993). Middle school concept. The focus on meeting the unique developmental needs of young adolescents who are undergoing tremendous cognitive, emotional, physical, and social change describes the middle school concept (Valentine et al., 2004). Non-Title I schools. Those schools not receiving additionally funding through the Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Reliability. Reliability is “the degree to which a test consistently measures whatever it is measuring” (Gay & Airasian, 2000, p. 169). School culture. School culture is based upon “the assumptions, beliefs, values, and habits that constitute the norm of the organization – norms that shape how people think, feel, and act” (DuFour & Eaker, 1998, p. 131). Shared responsibility. Shared responsibility refers to the utilization of highly skilled and competent educators in various leadership positions within the school (Spillane et al., 1999). Title I schools. These are schools receiving additional funding based upon the Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). This program is “the largest compensatory federal education program…aimed at improving the educational opportunities of disadvantaged students” (Kirby, McCombs, Naftel, & Murray, 2003, p. 1). “The primary goal of Title I is to eradicate, or to significantly narrow, the achievement gap separating educationally and economically disadvantaged children and their more advantaged peers” (Borman, 2000, p. 32).

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Summary This study consists of five chapters. Chapter One introduced the background and conceptual underpinnings of the study. The statement of the problem, purpose of the study, and research questions were also addressed. The limitations and assumptions of the study were cited and definitions of key terms were listed. Chapter Two presents a review of related literature for the study. Key concepts, research, and history connected with the study are identified. Chapter Three contains information on the research design and methodology including research questions, quantitative hypothesis, design of the study, population and sample, data collection and instrumentation, and data analysis. In Chapter Four, the data collection and analysis results are presented for each research question and hypothesis. Chapter Five provides a summary of the study, findings, and recommendations and implications for future research.

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CHAPTER TWO REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE Introduction Effective school leaders have an indirect, but powerful influence on student achievement and the effectiveness of the school (Leithwood & Jantzi, 2000). Leadership has been shown to have a potent impact in securing school development and change (Hopkins, 2000; West, Harris, & Hopkins, 2000). Therefore, the concept of leadership has produced a vast amount of interest among researchers and practitioners exemplified by the enormous quantity of literature existing on school leadership and leadership theory. One of the major problems with the present leadership literature is the excessive number of leadership theories, styles and approaches presented (Harris, 2003). While the majority of past theories on school leadership have focused upon the capabilities of one individual, this accepted belief of a solitary leader is now being challenged as traditional models of leadership and organizational change are being analyzed (Foster, 2001). Hallinger and Heck (1996) supported this notion by suggesting that it is unrealistic to think only principals provide leadership for school improvement. Therefore, instead of viewing leadership as a role for one individual, leadership is now being re-defined as a practice distributed among many individuals (Harris, 2003). Consequently, the concept of distributed leadership is receiving much attention and growing empirical support (Gronn, 2002; Spillane, 2006). Distributed leadership is an emerging theory of leadership that is less concerned with individual capabilities, skills, and talents and more involved with creating joint

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responsibility for leadership activities. The focus is less upon the characteristics of the leader and more upon creating environments for shared learning and developing leadership capabilities (Harris, 2003). Spillane & Diamond (2007) stated part of the appeal of the distributed perspective has to do with the ease with which it can be many things to many people. Frequently it is used as a synonym for democratic leadership, shared leadership, and collaborative leadership. Some use it to create effective school leadership, others use it for improving schools, and some use it as an analytical lens to study school leadership. Harris (2005) claimed some commentators expressed skepticism as to whether distributed leadership is just a new label for old familiar constructs or ideas. Because of the many uses and terms to describe distributed leadership, Harris feared it will become a generic term for any attempt to share leadership or delegate leadership to others. Definition of Leadership Researchers tend to define leadership according to their individual perspectives and the aspects of the phenomenon of most interest to them. After a comprehensive review of the leadership literature, Stogdill (1974) concluded “there are almost as many definitions of leadership as there are persons who have attempted to define the concept” (p. 259). Some theorists are skeptical as to whether leadership is even useful as a scientific concept because it has so many different meanings (Alvesson & Sveningsson, 2003). Yet, Leithwood and Duke (1999) explained leadership does not have one specific definition due to the complexity of its concept. They claimed simple concepts are typically open to clear definition while more complex concepts are usually defined vaguely. As an example of comparing simple concepts to more complex, Thomas and

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Pruett (1993) stated it is easier for economists to define the simpler concept of innovation than it is for psychologist to define the more complex concept of intelligence. Therefore, one single description of leadership may have many dimensions due to its complexity. Yukl (2006) explained perception of leader effectiveness also differ among researchers based upon the researcher’s definition of leadership. Leadership effectiveness is usually measured “by the consequences of the leader’s actions for followers and other organization stakeholders” (p. 9). Davis (2003) agreed there are many differing views of effective leadership yet, when considering effective leadership for schools, Davis contended school leadership is distinguished by its correlation with change. Effective school leadership moves the school and its stakeholders “forward in some positive way” (p. 6). In an attempt to understand the many definitions of leadership in organizations, Yukl (2006) categorized them in terms of traits, behaviors, influence, interaction patterns, role relationships, and occupation of administrative position. Yukl also agreed with Bass (1981) when stating although there were differences in the definitions of leadership, the majority of researchers believe leadership “involves a process whereby intentional influence is exerted by one person over other people to guide, structure, and facilitate activities and relationships in a group or organization” (p. 3). While Leithwood and Duke (1999) agreed with the belief influence seems to be a necessary part of most leadership definitions, Yukl pointed out concepts of leadership differ concerning the processes of leadership and identification of the type of leadership. Therefore, various leadership variables, such as traits and behaviors, and various types of leadership structures, such as one leader or many leaders, are considered.

Full document contains 147 pages
Abstract: This quantitative study determined the order of leadership dimensions most utilized in elementary and middle school settings compared the most and least prevalent characteristics of distributed leadership exhibited in elementary and middle schools. The study asked the question: Are middle school settings more conducive to distributed leadership than elementary school settings? Data were collected utilizing the Distributed Leadership Readiness Scale, a 51 item instrument to measure preparedness to distribute leadership. The data analysis was conducted from 302 educational practitioners, including 181 elementary educators and 121 middle school educators from elementary and middle schools in a Missouri public school district. With a probability of alpha=.05, the data results of the independent samples t -test were analyzed. It was found the average responses for each distributed leadership readiness dimension of the elementary schools were significantly higher than the middle school average responses for each distributed leadership readiness dimension. The results of the data analysis did not support the research hypothesis. The researcher found this school district's elementary school certified participants scored their schools significantly higher in all four dimensions of distributed leadership readiness than those participants from this district's middle schools.