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The relationship between principal personality type and elementary school student achievement

Dissertation
Author: Tamara Suzanne Roberson
Abstract:
  Providing effective administrative leadership that has a positive impact on student achievement often is problematic for school principals. Research suggests that collaboration and shared decision making are functions of effective leadership, and according to the premises of effective school instructional leadership, leadership should change with respect to a given situation. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between principals' perceptions of the temperament component of their leadership style and student achievement in adequate and high performing schools. All students in this district are required as part of the No Child Left Behind Act to score proficient in reading and math by the year 2014. The theoretical foundation of this study is effective school instructional leadership theory, which suggests that leadership should change with respect to a given situation, and that factors such as temperament influence the ability to assume a context specific leadership approach. Temperament dimensions of principals were measured by the Majors Personality Type Indicator (Majors PTI). Student achievement was measured by the Academic Performance Index (API) score according to the state curriculum tests in a large suburban school district. A group of 17 schools were classified as either adequate achieving schools or high achieving schools based on API scores. Spearman correlation analyses indicated a statistically significant association linking only the Majors PTI classification of ESTJ with the high achieving school classification (rho = .528, p = .029). The findings linking principals' individual temperament and student achievement have the potential to influence social change by better informing internal career coaching and succession planning within schools as well as selection processes for leadership positions.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

List of Table s …………………………………………………………………………….. v i

SECTION

1: INTRODUCTIO N ................................ ................................ ......................... 1

Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 1

Problem Statement ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 9

Purpose of the Study ................................ ................................ .............................. 11

Nature of the Study ................................ ................................ ................................ 12

Research Questions and Hypotheses ................................ ................................ ..... 13

Theoretical Framework ................................ ................................ .......................... 15

Definition of terms ................................ ................................ ................................ . 17

Assumptions ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 21

Scop e and Limitations ................................ ................................ ............................ 22

Significance of the Study ................................ ................................ ....................... 22

Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 24

SECTION 2: LITERATURE REVIEW ................................ ................................ ............ 26

Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 26

The Principals Leadership Role in the Early Twentieth Century .......................... 27

Principal’s Leadership Moving from the Twentieth Century to the ..........................

Twenty - Firs t Century ................................ ................................ ............................. 2 8

Effective Leadership in Achieving Schools and Accountability ........................... 32

Positive School Culture ................................ ................................ ......................... 38

Instructional Leadership on Morale and Teacher Efficiency ................................ . 44

Theories of Contingency Leadership ................................ ................................ ..... 48

Situational Leadership ................................ ................................ ........................... 52

Studies on Leadership and Effective Schools ................................ ........................ 56

Studies Conducted Using Personality Type Surveys ................................ ............. 58

Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 60

SECTION 3: RESEARCH METHOD ................................ ................................ ............... 63

Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 63

Research Questions ................................ ................................ ................................ 64

Research Design and Approach ................................ ................................ ............. 65

Setting and Population ................................ ................................ ........................... 66

Instrumentation and Materials ................................ ................................ ............... 67

Relia bility of the Data Collection Instrument ................................ ........................ 70

Validity of the Data Collection Instrument ................................ ............................ 71

Data Collection and Analysis ................................ ................................ ................. 73

Protection of the Participants ................................ ................................ ................. 74

iv

Role of the Researcher ................................ ................................ ........................... 75

Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 76

SECTION 4: DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS ................................ ................. 77

Intro duction ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 77

Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 78

Findings ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 82

Research Question 1

................................ ................................ ....................... 82

Research Question 2

................................ ................................ ....................... 86

Research Question 3 ................................ ................................ ........................ 90

Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 92

SECTION 5: SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS ............... 95

Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 95

Summary of Research Purpose and Design ................................ .......................... 95

Relationsh ip of Findings to the Empirical Literature ................................ ............ 96

Implications for Social Change ................................ ................................ ............ 103

Recommendations for Future Study ................................ ................................ .... 105

Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 107

REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 109

APPENDIX A: LETTER TO SUPEINTENDENT ................................ ......................... 120

APPENDIX B: LETTER OF PERMISSION ................................ ................................ . 121

APPENDIX C: INSTITUTIONAL RE SEARCH BOARD APPROAVAL .................... 122

APPENDIX D: PERMISSION TO USE MAJORS PTI ................................ ................ 123

APPENDIX E: PRINCIPAL’S COVER LETTER ................................ .......................... 124

APPENDIX F: INFORMED CONSENT PRINCIPALS ................................ ................ 125

APPENDIX G: DEMOGRAPHIC QUESTIONNAIRE ................................ ................. 127

APPENDIX H: EMAIL REMIDER FOR COMPLETION OF SURVEY ..................... 128

A PPENDIX I: SURVEY CODES ................................ ................................ .................. 129

CURRICULUM VITAE ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 133

v

LIST OF TABLES

Table 1 . Five Personality Traits Associated With Leadership …………………………...45

Table 2 . Majors PTI Sixteen Types ……………………………………………………… 68

Table 3. Strengths of the Preferences as Pair ed Opposites………………………………68

Table 4. Frequency Data for Principal Demographic Variables ………………………...81

Table 5.

Correlation of Adequate Performing Schools and Personality Type of

Principals

…………………………………………………………………………….......83

Table 6.

Correlation of High Performing Schools and Personality Type of Principals….87

Table 7. Correlation of the Demographics of Principal’s in High Performing Schools…91

vi

SECTION 1: INTRODUC TION TO THE STUDY

Introdu ction

Evidence suggests that school principals indirectly impact teaching and learning when they hire qualified and effective teachers, provide appropriate resources, provide appropriate instructional support, communicate effectively, and have a visible, affirming presence in the school (Hallinger & Heck, 1996).

As a result of the No Child Left Behind Act (2001 ) school administrators have heightened accountability for the academic performance of all students. Strong school administrators are essential in o rder for school reform to be effective and sustainable; they must have a deep understanding of curriculum development, the ability to interpret data, and a passion for their work.

The administrative leadership of the 21st century must be visionary. It is essential to focus on both student learning and adult learning while recognizing the importance of valuable professional development. In order for schools to meet the challenge of increasing student achievement annually, as reflected by Adequate Yearly Pro gress (AYP), the administrative leadership in schools must provide conditions and support that schools need to succeed and teachers need to be successful (Marzano, 2000).

Increasing the achievement of all students requires instructional leadership that en courages opportunities to build highly effective collaborative teams and engages all stakeholders. Principals need to focus their leadership on developing skills that influence teachers and students to ensure learning is equitable among all students. Speci fically, principals need to obligate themselves to improving as an instructional leader.

2

Across the United States, public schools continue to deal with accountability for meeting the many and various needs of students , specifically

academic achievement in

the twenty - first century. Student achievement and performance on state and local standardized tests have become high - stakes for schools, principals, and students as a result of NCLB (Kelly, Thornton, & Daughtery, 2005).

In a recent report by the U.S. Depa rtment of Education (USDOE), the deficiency among students possessing the skills necessary to be proficient was reflect ed both in the academic performance of students in the classroom and in their performance on standardized tests (Braun, Sum, & Yamamoto 2 007).

The curriculum and instruction in traditional schools prior to 1970 was led in an authoritative manner consisting of drills, lectures, and standardized measures of achievement (Glickman, 1993). Students were not recognized for having the ability to construct knowledge for themselves; rather, learning was perceived to be externally motivated and teachers were held accountable for the success of students (Glickman, 1993). Therefore, while the job of the principal was viewed as managerial and operationa l, principals were not held accountable for the success of students.

Educational researchers began to study the role of the principal in school success in the early 1980s (Edmonds, 197 82) . Edmonds reported that successful principals were found in schools where the principal provided strong instructional leadership and set high expectations for all students . Characteristics such as safe school climates, frequent monitoring of student progress and a clear focus on instruction were observed in schools with hi gh student’s achievement (Edmonds , 1979 ). The p rincipals’ effect on student

3

learning emphasized the role of leadership in the formula of successful schools (Wharton - McDonald, Pressley, & Hampston , 1997).

First of a kind leadership types were studied by B arth (2001) in schools across the United States. Principal’s noted as dedicated supporters and leaders of school reform were found to be successful in school improvement initiatives (Barth 2001). Barth’s study indicated that the high performing schools wer e noted to have higher levels of student achievement and few discipline issues. Further data from schools in the study revealed that the leadership of the principal had a direct correlation to the academic performance level of students and decreased studen t discipline problems . These schools also shared the characteristic of being led in a democratic style where teachers and administrators were involved in setting discipline standards, deciding on textbooks, developing curriculum, and hiring of new teachers . This allow ed for schools to foster collaboration in decision making between administration and faculty.

In schools with high teacher morale and safe and autonomous environments, the results indicated there was administrative support from the principals. Teachers in these schools felt appreciated and w ere recognized for their work.

This was due in part to the fact that they were encouraged to participate in the decision making process, thus providing validation for te achers on important issues such as cur r iculum and instruction needs.

Additional studies reported similar results where the principal provided shared decision

makin g opportunities among the staff, resulting in higher levels of cooperation and teacher morale.

These studies also found a direct co rrelation between higher levels

4

of cooperation and teacher morale and increased student success (Perie & Baker, 1997; Protheroe, 2006). Ultimately, principals can support both teacher morale and high levels of student achievement by providing a nurturing e nvironment focused on learning (Protheroe).

Studies have examined the changes in administrative roles of administrators resulting from the increased accountability on leaders. A study conducted by Ewing (2001) found it to be beneficial for principal’s whe n they increased their levels of effectiveness and flexibility as they toiled with various situations to increase student achievement . Every year p rincipals encounter, and must embrace evaluation methods that measure student achievement , the increasing lev els of student achievement and the responsibility of continuous improvement (Edigar, 2002).

School districts across the nation are faced with the challenge of meeting the requirements of NCLB. The challenge also affects the large suburban school district in southwestern Oklahoma that is the subject of this study . The added increase of accountability of NCLB has placed additional pressure on today’s principals. As a requirement of NCLB, schools are required to make AYP until 2014, when all students will be mandated to be proficient in both reading and math. This accountability system has led to many principals struggling with their leadership strategies in an effort to increase student achievement. Research indicates that specific personality traits of the p rincipal may have a direct impact on student achievement (Marzano, 2005).

Today’s schools and principals will continue to face increasing levels of accountability as a result of NCLB. The expectations for principals to become more

5

effective instructional leaders , to promote successful school reform , and to raise the academic achievement for all students are continually increasing.

Principals who have a better understanding of their personality types and willingness to study the effectiveness of their prese nt leadership practices may become more effective in promoting teacher productivity, positive teacher morale, and higher student a chievement. School districts across the nation were encouraged by a 2003 report, Beyond Islands of Excellence

that

outlined ho w

to improve educational quality (Togneri & Anderson, 2003). This study emphasized that effective leadership was crucial and encouraged principals to seek guidance about the policies and practices that impact student achievement and instruction (Togneri & Anderson, 2003). In time of NCLB, a possible answer to the challenges weighing heavily on principals may be to begin looking at their leadership style in various situations. These responses are evidenced by the principals’ leadership practices.

Prior to N CLB, the traditional principal did not encourage teacher collaboration and shared decision making (Goldman, 2006). Since the implementation of NCLB, teacher collaboration and shared decision making has become an essential responsibility of the principal. G oldman (2006) supported these findings and further stated that it is detrimental to the school climate when teacher collaboration and shared decision making is not encouraged. This type of the principal personality ultimately resulted in a

loss of contentm ent among teachers.

Educational researchers began to investigate the importance of the role of the principal as an instructional leader and correlate the principal’s ability to perform effectively as an instructional leader, while setting high expectation s for all students

6

(Cornman, 2005). The

majority of research has focused on collaboration of stakeholders in the decision - making process as an addi tional, yet essential component for school improvement. Initiatives , such as school improvement plans , that i n the past were solely created by administrators are now becoming collaborative process es, prioritizing

common goal s to increase academic achievement for all students.

Lezotte’s (1992) effective schools research concluded that

effective schools researcher s and practitioners were firm in their convictions that the primary mission of the public schools should be learning for all. This conviction was predicated on three beliefs: (1) all students can learn, (2) the individual school has control over enough of the critical variables to assure such learning, and (3) schools should be accountable to do so. (p. 1)

These perceptions emerged from firsthand observations in urban schools, and can be affirmed today “because of the spreading awareness of the effective s chools research and an increased demand for school improvement by the general public ” (Lezotte & Bancroft, 1985, p. 23).

As a n

outcome of two significant studies, the need for school leadership reform surfaced. The National Commission of Excel lence in 1984 launched the first study, A Nation at Risk,

which

revealed the importance of the principals’ role in school improvement. In 1985, the Task Force of the Carnegie

Forum on Education and the Economy also studied the need for teacher participatio n in principal leadership. In order for principals to establish and prioritize school improvement decisions that have profound effects on student achievement, they must be willing to see others points of view. Principals must be able to adapt and to displa y a willingness to listen to stakeholders as they work hard to reform schools across the nation (Ewing, 2001).

7

The job of the principal in the twenty - first century continues to become more complex and challenging than ever before. Such challenges bring abo ut concerns in regard to the large population of principal’s reaching retirement age, and how best to train new principal’s effectively (Gordon, 2003). Recent studies indicate that with the increasing demands on today’s principal and the increased account ability associated with

NCLB, there are an al arming number of principals who are leaving their administrative positions and teachers who have obtained a dministrative certification and are choosing to stay in the classroom (Adams, 1999).

Many school distr icts are in search of educators who have shown characteristics of effective leaders hip skills and may serve as potential principals. In Oklahoma, as in many states, principal academies have been designed to help and encourage prospective principals. Searc hing for people who demonstrate characteristics of specific personality types to

become effective principals is one key to having a successful principal s’ academy. Educational researchers have begun to study the specific personality types of principals who have made a genuine difference in school effectiveness and student achievement (Gordon, 2003). Many personality

types have been studied to answer this question and to help improve schools across the country .

This study examine d the effective schools ins tructional leadership model of Smith and Andrews (1989). The authors examined four categories of leadership that research indicated both to be effective and to promote student achievement. The ir research findings according indicated that principals in effe ctive schools were resource providers , instructional resource s , communicator s , and served as a visible presence . According to

8

Smith and Andrews (1989), in order to begin increasing student achievement in schools, the daily activities of the principal must first be considered. By focusing on such work, additional methods and alternatives through which student achievement would rise (Smith & Andrews, 1989).

Effective school leadership was investigated by Kelly (2005), who found that the most important facto r involved in successful school environment was the school leader.

F urther findings indicated that effective leaders must have foresight and empower teachers to be part of the schools v ision.

According to the rigorous meta - analysis research conducted by Wa ters, Marzano, and McNulty (200 4 ) which revealed that leadership give s school administrators the guidance they need to provide strong leadership for better schools. They also researched specific administrative behaviors that correlate significantly with st udent achievement; these behaviors are identified as the 21 leadership responsibilities (Marzano, 2005).

1.

Affirmation – Celebrates accomplishments within the school;

2.

Change Agent – Challenges the status quo;

3.

Contingent Rewards – Individual accomplishments are recognized;

4.

Communication – Strong lines of communication among teachers and students;

5.

Culture – Fosters shared beliefs, sense of communication, and cooperation;

6.

Discipline - Protects teachers form influences that distracts their teaching;

7.

Flexibility

– Ability to adapt leadership type to various situations;

8.

Focus – A bility to have clear goals and keeping them in the forefront of the schools attention ;

9.

Ideas/Beliefs - Operates from ideals and beliefs concerning education;

10.

Input - Allows teachers to b e involved in the decision making process;

11.

Intellectual Stimulation – Keeping staff aware of current practices and information in regard to school culture;

12.

Involvement in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment

– Direct involvement with teachers in designi ng and addressing curriculum;

9

13.

Knowledge of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment – Knowledgeable in the areas of instruction, curricular, assessment, and classroom practices;

14.

Monitoring/Evaluation – Continual awareness of curricular, instructional, and

assessment practices.

15.

Optimizer – Driving force that inspires teachers to take risk;

16.

Order – Establishes routines and operating procedures to ensure the school runs smoothly;

17.

Outreach – Advocate to stakeholders for the school;

18.

Relationships – Awareness of the personal needs of teachers;

19.

Resources – Ensuring teachers have the materials they need to be successful;

20.

Situational Awareness – Ability to accurately predict the happenings in the school;

21.

Visibility – Frequently visible among teachers and students .

Since the 1970s, the role of the principal has changed to incorporate instructional leadership that stresses the importance of teacher and community collaboration . The principal’s role has incorporated an increased accountability raising student achie vement and school improvement. Providing teachers the opportunity to grow and improve professionally and to work with an improved curriculum could increase student achievement.

Section 2 of this study discusses the components of personality types and how

they relate to effective educational leadership and student achievement. The 21 responsibilities of effective school leaders is discussed, as well as how these responsibilities provide insight into the nature of effective school leadership reform. The nee d for local reform is examined as well the problems of schools failing to meet NCLB.

Problem Statement

Schools need to provide effective administrative leadership that will have a profound impact on student achievement. Presently , the administrative lead ership must

10

be strong enough to affect the entire school and therefore student achievement. However, many administrative leaders are not comfortable providing leadership on a one - to - one basis with their teachers.

More traditional principals have not alway s included collaboration and shared decision making in their leadership practice. Research describes this type of leadership as harmful to the school climate, promoting little satisfaction and cooperation (Goleman, 2006). According to Glickman (1993) leade rs ’ schools

are less effective when they fail to allow collaboration among teachers.

This problem impacts all students because they may not be receiving the best intellectual stimulation for their learning style or environment. There are many possible fac tors contributing to this problem, including leaders who are not fully aware of the situations in their schools and those who are not familiar with best practices. This study will contribute to the body of knowledge needed to address this problem by focusi ng on

personality types

that are effective and have a profound impact on student achievement. There is a need to investigate effective leadership styles and student achievement, according to Cornman (2005).

The purpose of this quantitative correlational study was to determine if a relationship existed between principals’ leadership type as identified by the Majors Personality Type Inventory (Majors TPI) Self - Scoreable (independent variable) and the Academic Performance Index total school score (dependent variable). The independent variable is defined as the “variable that causes, influence or affected outcomes, while dependent variables are defined as variables that depend on the independent variables;

11

they are the outcomes or results of the influence of i ndependent variables” (Creswell, 2003, p. 94).

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study wa s to investigate the possible relationshi p between principals’ personality types and student achievement . Specifically, this study investigated the relationshi p between principal s ’ percept ions of their personality types, as measured by the Majors PTI, and student achievement , as measured by the API total school score on the Oklahoma Core Curriculum Test. Attention has been given to research involving relationshi ps between the personality types of principals and student achievement. If such a relationship exists between the two variables, superintendents could place principals with certain personality competencies in schools that need the majority of improvement.

The Majors PTI four letter code method provides four possible combinations of dichotomous results. The psy chological dimensions for the four leadership types ca tegorized by the Majors PTI are attitude, perception, judgment, and orientation. T he participati ng principals should gain a better understanding of how they direct their energy, take in information, mak e decisions, and orient themselves to their environment.

This instrument is described in greater detail in Chapters 2 and 3.

Student

achievement w as measured by the total API school score on the 2007 - 2008 OCCT. The findings from this study may increase awareness of the impact of effect ive administrative leadership types on student achievement in small rural public school districts that are he ld more a ccountable for school improvement and student

12

achievement. As the Oklahoma Department of Education continues to seek ways to improve public schools, these findings will aid in their efforts. This information could guide the direction of professional develo pment for school leaders in order to improve the schools as well as student achievement.

Nature of the Study

This research study is a quantitative, no nexperimental case study utilizing the Majors Personality Type Inventory S urvey. Surveys allow researche rs to generalize from a sample (Creswell, 2003). Data from this research can benefit adjacent metropolitan counties.

The Majors PTI survey was member - checked by consultants’ clients and by organizations throughout the United States for content validity. Th e survey was field tested for reliability by the test - retest method and found to be reliable. Elementary principals from a large metropolitan school system in Oklahoma were surveyed. Data was collected by the researcher at the completion of a principals’ meeting. The Majors PTI Survey, a cover le tter, and a release form were handed out to each of the 17

elementary pr incipals. For principals who were not in attendance at the appointed principals ’ meeting , the Majors PTI Survey, cov er letter, and release for m were hand delivered . A follow - up e - mail was sent to the survey participants as a reminder to complete the survey . A second follow up e - mail was sent to survey participants at the end of the second week to encourage more participation . All 17 elementary s chool principals in the school sys tem were

Full document contains 144 pages
Abstract:   Providing effective administrative leadership that has a positive impact on student achievement often is problematic for school principals. Research suggests that collaboration and shared decision making are functions of effective leadership, and according to the premises of effective school instructional leadership, leadership should change with respect to a given situation. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between principals' perceptions of the temperament component of their leadership style and student achievement in adequate and high performing schools. All students in this district are required as part of the No Child Left Behind Act to score proficient in reading and math by the year 2014. The theoretical foundation of this study is effective school instructional leadership theory, which suggests that leadership should change with respect to a given situation, and that factors such as temperament influence the ability to assume a context specific leadership approach. Temperament dimensions of principals were measured by the Majors Personality Type Indicator (Majors PTI). Student achievement was measured by the Academic Performance Index (API) score according to the state curriculum tests in a large suburban school district. A group of 17 schools were classified as either adequate achieving schools or high achieving schools based on API scores. Spearman correlation analyses indicated a statistically significant association linking only the Majors PTI classification of ESTJ with the high achieving school classification (rho = .528, p = .029). The findings linking principals' individual temperament and student achievement have the potential to influence social change by better informing internal career coaching and succession planning within schools as well as selection processes for leadership positions.