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ERIC Number: ED532202
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 210
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1094-8914-9
Challenges Confronting a First-Year Elementary School Principal: Distributed Leadership, Social Capital, and Supported Change
Cruz, Luis Felipe
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California, Riverside
Leadership expectations for school principals have dramatically changed since the 1983 report to Congress, "A Nation at Risk", inspired a renewed focus on the persistent educational underachievement of minority students in the United States. Today, school leaders must get out from behind the desk and actively empower an increasingly professionalized teaching force to work cooperatively to meet stringent school-wide accountability standards as dictated by the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2002. In this study, I employ field research techniques to explore a first-year elementary school principal's strategic leadership and relationship development efforts, both within the school and in concert with the broader community. Whether a school principal's use of distributed leadership practices facilitates social capital development and whether links between distributed leadership and social capital improve the principal's capacity to lead emerged as the central foci of this investigation. Results suggest that the distribution of authority in the development of trusting and reciprocal relationships between the school principal and faculty, students, staff, and the broader community facilitates a unified commitment from stakeholders that serves to bolster the principal's effectiveness at getting things done. When a principal consciously--even strategically--shares institutional authority, collaborators can gain a personal interest in achieving agreed upon goals and hold one another accountable for doing so. Although instances of disconfirming evidence emerged from the field, the frequency and intensity of the corroborative evidence suggest that distributed leadership techniques can be used to harness the collective support of a critical mass of stakeholders who not only buy into but work collectively to fulfill principal goals which, in effect, become stakeholders' goals as well. The data also suggest collaborative participation in school reform is not impervious to the dynamics of culture and race (although the relative importance of distributed leadership and social capital versus the cultural sensitivities that in certain cases undergirded links between the two remains subject to further investigation). In spite of changing expectations and ever-increasing demands on school leaders, neither organized professional development programs nor formal academic preparation programs based in higher-education institutions fully recognize how to teach leaders to be proficient not only in standards/accountability, but also in designing school-based social paradigms by which such educational standards can more readily be fulfilled. The results of this study serve to encourage professional development to take seriously the following: All stakeholders in schools are resourceful agents who can be managed most effectively by leaders who know how to distribute authority in ways that foster shared trust, tap into "encapsulated interests," and facilitate school reform that is collectively endorsed. [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: Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: No Child Left Behind Act 2001