In What Ways Do Principals Impact School Climate in 'Turnaround' Successful High-Poverty Middle Schools? Open Access
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This is a correlational study in which the relationships between one dependent variable, student achievement, and two independent variables, school leadership and school climate, as perceived by teachers were examined in an urban southeastern school district. A purposeful sample of 12 middle schools including 165 teachers participated in the study. The average percentage of free and reduced meals for participating schools was 73.99. Schools were synonymous with high-performing, high-poverty.Two survey instruments were implemented in the study. The Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire - 5X (MLQ) (Bass & Avolio, 1995) was utilized to assess transformational, transactional, and laissez-faire leadership styles. The Organizational Climate Descriptor Questionnaire - Revised Middle (OCDQ-RM) (Hoy et al., 1996) was employed to assess "open" or "closed" school climate. Student achievement was established and attained from the state standardized assessment, Criterion Referenced Competency Test, in the area of Reading from the school-year 2009-2010. Three research questions directed this study. Results indicated that six of the twelve schools in this study evinced closed climates. One charter school with a small student population and moderately low percentage in free and reduce meals, revealed an "open" climate. Two schools including a single gender academy evinced "engaged" climates. One school was identified as having a "disengaged" climate. One principal was identified as having a laissez-faire leadership style while the remaining principals manifested a mixture of transformational, transactional, and laissez-faire leadership. Strong positive correlations existed between a conglomerate of the three principal styles and principal openness as well as teacher openness. Furthermore, principal leadership was strongly related to student achievement. Results also found that aspects of both transformational and transactional leadership were strongly related to teachers feeling supported by their principals. No specific leadership behaviors were identified for impacting school climate or student achievement. Findings support theories of situational leadership. Teacher leadership is believed to have accommodated for principals lack in the area of instructional leadership. Finally, closed climates seemed to be more related to schools with large student populations with low socio-economic status.