Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education and International Services


Educational Leadership PhD

First Advisor

James A. Tucker

Second Advisor

Gary Gifford

Third Advisor

Kristin Stehouwer



Effective-schools research has demonstrated that a building level administrator’s leadership practices contribute to the success or failure of change efforts and impact school culture and student achievement. Research in this area has focused primarily on comparing high and low performing schools and the various antecedent/context variables of such schools. This study examined schools with annual achievement gains above and below the state’s average gain in student performance and sought to determine if there were significant differences in school antecedent/context variables, leadership practices, and mediating variables between these schools.


Research participants represented a sample of Connecticut elementary schools with annual student achievement gains above and below that of the state’s average gain. Information on school antecedent/context variables was obtained through available data collected by the Connecticut State Department of Education. Principal leadership practices were measured by the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI) developed by Kouzes and Posner. The LPI assesses leadership practices relating to five dimensions: (a) modeling the way, (b) inspiring a shared vision, (c) challenging the process, (d) enabling others to act, and (e) encouraging the heart. Questionnaires were administered to principals and three staff members of each sample group.


This study revealed that no significant differences exist between schools performing above and below the state’s average gains in student performance among antecedent/context variables, principal leadership practices, mediating variables, and student learning outcomes. Though the null hypotheses were accepted, findings from this study support the premise revealed in the literature review regarding leadership as a complex and dynamic construct and have implications for informing policymakers and recommendations for future research.


This study revealed the complex nature of leadership and studies of leadership in schools. Further, findings support the notion that leadership is not a construct involving a single person or position, but rather a construct involving dynamic relationships and interactions among and between people that is context specific. This study suggests that regardless of schools’ contextual and demographic variables, improvements in student performance are possible.

Subject Area

Elementary school principals; School principals; Educational leadership; Academic achievement--Connecticut; Elementary schools--Connecticut--Research


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