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IES Grant

Title: Improving Principal Leadership Through Feedback and Coaching
Center: NCER Year: 2007
Principal Investigator: Bickman, Leonard Awardee: Vanderbilt University
Program: Education Leadership      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years Award Amount: $1,995,709
Goal: Development and Innovation Award Number: R305A070298
Description:

Purpose: Education leaders and researchers posit that principals have an indirect, but important influence on student achievement. Despite the recognition that what principals do may be critical to the development of strong instructional environments for students, little rigorous research has been conducted to evaluate the effects of professional development training for principals. The purpose of this project is to develop a feedback system that provides principals with feedback from teachers on their performance, and a coaching intervention that helps principals process this feedback and identify strategies for improving their performance. An initial evaluation will be conducted on these two interventions to determine if the feedback system alone or in conjunction with the coaching intervention can affect the quality of principals' leadership and improve student outcomes.

Project Activities: The initial research activity will develop and refine the feedback system and coaching model. The second research activity will conduct an initial evaluation of the intervention to test the effect of the leadership feedback system with and without the coaching intervention. Sixty elementary school principals will be randomly assigned to the experimental or control condition. In the first year of the experiment, the researchers will test the effect of implementing the leadership feedback system. Principals in the intervention group will receive a feedback report every two months based on teacher ratings of their leadership; principals in the control condition engage in business as usual. In the second year of the experiment, the researchers will compare the effect of receiving regular feedback along with coaching compared to receiving feedback alone. The key measures of outcome are changes in principal leadership and student achievement. The experiment will be implemented in Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, a large urban school district in Tennessee.

Products: The expected outcomes of this project include a fully developed principal feedback system and coaching model, as well as published research reports describing the evaluations of the feedback and coaching interventions.

Structured Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to develop a feedback system that provides principals with feedback from teachers on their performance, and a coaching intervention that helps principals process this feedback and identify strategies for improving their performance. In addition, the researchers will evaluate the ability of these interventions to affect the quality of principals' leadership and student achievement.

Setting: This study will take place in Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, a large urban school district in Tennessee.

Population: The subjects include 60 elementary school principals and approximately 1,200 elementary school teachers.

Intervention: A theoretical model for feedback and coaching interventions to principals will be developed, tested and modified based on participant responses and reactions, and research findings in order to optimize the impact of the interventions. The feedback intervention will ask teachers to provide ratings of their principal's instructional and transformational leadership every two months. That feedback will then be provided to the principal. The coaching intervention will provide individual coaching to the principals on an ongoing basis, and will use the feedback reports as the foundation for providing the coaching.

Research Design and Methods: The study consists of four phases spanning four years with development activities running throughout. In Phase 1, the researchers will select, develop and refine the measures that will be used to collect data from teachers to provide feedback to the school leaders (the feedback intervention). The feedback intervention will be piloted and the feedback format developed. The full development of the coaching intervention will be conducted during Phase 2, along with implementation of the feedback experiment. Schools will be randomly assigned to the experimental or control condition. The experimental group principal will receive a feedback report every two months based on the teacher ratings of their principal's instructional and transformational leadership. The researchers will conduct interviews and observations. In Phase 3, principal coaching, will be added to the model. The experimental group will continue receiving bi-monthly feedback while also receiving coaching specific to the feedback report. The control group, which did not get feedback in the previous year, will begin to receive bi-monthly feedback but will not receive coaching. Phase 4 will be devoted to analysis and dissemination. Both qualitative and quantitative data will be collected and analyzed to gain a deeper understanding of the processes being studied, as well as to improve upon the design of the interventions and to increase the ability to generalize the results. This design will allow the researchers to compare within groups as well as between groups.

Control Condition: In the control group (n=30), the data will be collected the same way but the principals will receive no feedback. Beginning in the second year, the control group from the first year will receive feedback but no coaching.

Key Measures: Researchers will incorporate two different measures of leadership behavior: instructional and transformational (change-oriented) leadership. Researchers will use a previously validated teacher survey to assess instructional leadership and will develop and validate the transformational leadership measure. Both measures of leadership behavior will be used to provide feedback and will also be used to measure the effects of the interventions on changes in principals' leadership. Researchers will also assess several measures they believe serve as mediators of the effects of feedback and coaching on leadership, including academic press, which is a measure of the extent to which teachers focus on academic excellence and the professional and academic standards in the school that support learning. Also assessed will be principal self-efficacy and principals' attitudes towards feedback.

Data Analytic Strategy: The primary analysis will be conducted using longitudinal analytic models of two types: Longitudinal Mixed Models (LMM) and Longitudinal Structural Equation Modeling (LSEM)). Qualitative data (teacher surveys) will be analyzed using the NuDIST Qualitative Data Analysis Software.

Publications

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Goldring, E., Mavrogordato, M., and Hayes, K. T. (2015). Multisource Principal Evaluation Data: Principals' Orientations and Reactions to Teacher Feedback Regarding Their Leadership Effectiveness. Educational Administration Quarterly, 51(4): 572–599.

Huff, J., Preston, C., and Goldring, E. (2013). Implementation of a Coaching Program for School Principals: Evaluating Coaches' Strategies and the Results. Educational Management, Administration and Leadership, 41(4): 504–526.


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