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ERIC Number: EJ782284
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0271-6062
Confronting the Autonomy Gap
Adamowski, Steven; Petrilli, Michael J.
Principal, v87 n2 p46-49 Nov-Dec 2007
"The Autonomy Gap," a recent study by the American Institute for Research and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, found that many public elementary school principals feel constrained by a bureaucracy that impedes their ability to raise student achievement. Unfortunately, those principals are still held accountable for their school's results--even though they don't have the tools to make the changes they need. They are caught in the autonomy gap. In this study, the authors asked elementary school principals in urban districts in three states about barriers they face--including procedures, regulations, laws, conventions, court orders, and union contracts. For comparison purposes, the same questions were asked of a small number of charter school principals in the same locales. All principals were assured that answers would be treated confidentially and that pseudo-nyms would be used in reporting the findings by district and state. The findings are in line with previous research, and the authors report gleaned some new insights that may be a cause for even greater concern. The authors conclude that it's genuinely hard for school districts to transition from command-and-control to autonomy-in-return-for-accountability--but they must. Such a shift means doing battle with meddlesome states, powerful unions, and central-office fiefdoms. It means paying principals more and micromanaging them less. If leadership is as important a factor in school success as research indicates, and if great leaders demand (and need) true authority, taking this difficult step is worth the effort. It's the best way to close the autonomy gap. (Contains 3 online resources.)
National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). 1615 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. Tel: 800-386-2377; Tel: 703-684-3345; Fax: 800-396-2377; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A