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ERIC Number: ED526517
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 412
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1245-3376-6
Making Sense of Accountability: A Qualitative Exploration of How Eight New York City High School Principals Negotiate the Complexity of Today's Accountability Landscape
Saltrick, Susan
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Columbia University
Schools and school leaders today contend with a dizzying array of demands, including the need to comply with high-stakes accountability systems. The ability to make sense of these multiple pressures and guide the school to craft an appropriate organizational response is an important but little-understood aspect of school leadership (Firestone & Shipps, 2005; Honig & Hatch, 2004; Spillane, Reiser, & Reimer, 2002; Spillane et al., 2002). Guided by the theoretical frameworks of sensemaking (Weick, 1995, 2001) and internal accountability (Carnoy, Elmore, & Siskin, 2003; Elmore, 2002, 2003, 2005) within the context of educational leadership (Firestone & Riehl, 2005; Fullan, 2001, 2008b; Spillane & Diamond, 2007; Wagner et al., 2006), I employed a multiple case study methodology (Creswell, 1998; Maxwell, 1996) to illuminate the ways in which eight current and former New York City high school principals made sense of and managed the complexity of accountability demands. My qualitative research design encompassed three rounds of 60-minute interviews with each of the eight participants (or about 24 hours total), observation data from a principals' network meeting, and numerous policy documents, and a cross-comparison multi-case approach to analyze the resulting data. The study's findings revealed that these leaders made sense of accountability in three forms--personal, organizational, and external forms--and that their understandings stemmed in large part from their professional experience and beliefs. These understandings also shaped their leadership of internal accountability, that is, their school's collective commitment to meeting accountability demands. Other findings are that school leaders are aided in their sensemaking by habits of mind, professional relationships, and self-renewal strategies. These findings expand our understanding of school leadership and add to the theory of sensemaking. This study includes implications and recommendations for policymakers and practitioners, as well as suggestions for future research. In particular, the findings here have implications for selecting and developing principals, as they show the value of broad experience, trusted professional relationships, ongoing professional learning, and self-renewal in effective school leadership. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New York