The Effect of Principal Training through the New Leaders for New Schools Program on Third Grade Reading Achievement Open Access
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Performing the duties associated with effective school leadership requires specialized educational training and practice. Historically, traditional/university-based principal preparation programs have been considered the most effective means for principal development. Numerous studies, however, have been conducted causing this assertion to be questioned as researchers have reported that traditional principal preparation programs have numerous deficits. Among the deficiencies cited are a lack of definition for what constitutes good educational leadership, a programmatic format that results in the development of strong instructional leaders, and improperly experienced professors with high turnover rates leading to programmatic inconsistencies The deficiencies cited within these programs, coupled with the growing need for highly effective school leaders, has cause heightened concern about principal preparation. This concern has led to a rise non-traditional preparation programs that emphasize field experiences within the districts and systems where the participants would ultimately serve, and prioritize the development of procedural knowledge consistent with leadership theory. While the questions surrounding the effectiveness of traditional/university-based preparation programs may be valid, the research to gauge such effectiveness is still limited. The purpose of this study was to determine the extent to which leadership preparation impacts differences in student achievement outcomes. This study sought to quantitatively compare these differences by examining third grade reading achievement scores, measuring the extent to which leadership preparation experiences emphasized instructional and transformation leadership practices (potential predictors of effectiveness) and by examining the relationship between the outcomes and potential predictors when controlled for specific variables (i.e., age, years of experience). The research findings were as follows: 1.) The central tendency of scores for instructional and transformational leadership was higher amongst those receiving the NLNS treatment in comparison to the university treatment. When analyses were conducted, these differences were found to be statistically significant; 2.) There was no statistically significant difference in the third grade reading outcomes of students in schools led by university prepared vs. NLNS prepared principals; 3.) There was a statistically significant correlation between third grade reading outcomes and the percentage of minority students in the school and the percentage of students receiving free and reduced lunch.