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ERIC Number: ED561681
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 128
Abstractor: As Provided
ISBN: 978-1-3034-3386-3
School Choice & Competition: What Is the Impact on School Leadership?
Richardson, Lisa
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, The Florida State University
School choice reform rests on the notion that competition amongst schools will produce more efficient schools and improve the educational system as a whole. This study focused on the impact of school choice competition on school principals in both magnet schools and traditional public schools in a midsized district in Florida. This study examined how principals in both magnet and traditional schools are making sense of school choice competition. It also examined how school choice competition impacts the leadership responsibilities of principals in both settings. The research questions for this study are: (1) Given an environment of school choice, how do traditional and magnet middle school principals make sense of the competition generated by choice options?; and (2) How do traditional and magnet school principals see this competition stemming from school choice impacting their leadership responsibilities? All of the principals in this study were very open about the competition they have experienced, particularly for the students with high achievement levels on the state standardized tests. The majority of the competition experienced by the eight case study principals came from schools within the district. All of the case study principals cited the incoming sixth grade class of students as a key source of competition between the interdistrict schools. The interdistrict competition was the strongest between the four magnet schools, followed by competition between magnet and traditional schools and lastly there was nominal competition between the four traditional schools. The reassignment policy in this district was the major source of competition between magnet school principals and traditional school principals. While all four of the traditional school principals suspect the magnet school principals use the reassignment process to acquire the academically talented students to their magnet programs, at least one magnet middle school principal suspects the traditional school principals are using the reassignment policy to gain academically talented students zoned for the magnet schools. The minimal competition between the traditional school principals was fun-loving competition. When interviewing the principals, the perception of all eight principals was that the competition within the district was the fiercest competition they have to contend with as a school leader. Surprisingly, just two of the eight middle school principals in this study considered charter or private schools as a source of competition. This district offers several private and charter school options for middle school families so this finding was unexpected. Whether the competition is interdistrict or from outside of the district, it is certainly considered a strong factor in the school choice environment for the principals in this case study. Marketing and school leadership has been neglected by researchers and needed to be addressed in this increasingly competitive education system. All eight of the principals interviewed for this study acknowledged the competition from the school choice environment has impacted their leadership responsibilities. The impact of school choice competition on the leadership responsibilities of the principals in this study have been concentrated in one area--marketing. Although there was variation amongst the magnet and traditional middle school principals in the reasoning to market their schools, all eight principals were forced to market their schools to prospective parents. The four magnet school principals spent time marketing their schools in order to attract students to their magnet programs. Conversely, the four traditional school principals focused their marketing efforts on retaining their zoned students. In order to market their schools, the eight middle school principals relied on quasi marketing committees. While all of the principals in this case study designed a marketing plan, none of the principals have received formal training on how to create a marketing plan or how to market a school. The principals expressed concern over the amount of time they spent on the added leadership responsibility of marketing. Both traditional and magnet school principals allotted a significant amount of time marketing their schools which takes time away from their other principal responsibilities. Overall, the eight principals in this study understood the added leadership responsibility of marketing as a natural consequence of the competition from school choice. This study contributes to the research on leadership in school choice reform as well as to how competition shapes principals' way of work in the environment of school choice. This study provides implications for policy and practice. I also make suggestions for future research pertaining to this topic. This study contributes to the understanding of school leadership in a choice environment. [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: Middle Schools; Secondary Education; Junior High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Florida