Dr. William Kritsonis, National FORUM Journals, www.nationalforum.com


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Dr. William Kritsonis, National FORUM Journals, www.nationalforum.com

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Dr. William Kritsonis, National FORUM Journals, www.nationalforum.com

  1. 1. The Relationship between Leadership Effectiveness, Organizational Culture, and Program Focus Larry McNeal, PhD University of Memphis Joris Ray, EdD Memphis City Schools ABSTRACT This study investigated the relationships between leadership effectiveness, culture, program focus, and job satisfaction. A survey was distributed to 850 principals, teachers, and educational support staff in public alternative schools in Tennessee. Of that number, 388 (45.6%) responded. The study yielded several findings. First, staff educational levels were related to perceptions of leadership effectiveness. Second, the ethnicity of some staff corresponded with perceptions about school focus. Third, professional status and experience were related to culture. Fourth, culture and leadership effective culture were related. Finally, a relationship existed between leadership effectiveness, culture, program focus, and job satisfaction. Key words: role of principals; leadership effectiveness; education level; ethnic groups The role of today’s school principal is significantly different from that of the principals of two decades ago (York, Barr, & Duke, 2004). Today, schools contain a myriad of problems, including violence, fewer resources, higher absenteeism, increasing dropout rates, reduction in academic performance, complexity of student needs, influence of gangs and gang behavior, and reduced graduation rates (Kearney, 2008). These issues have influenced the public’s expectations of the principalship. Public expectations of the principalship have increased beyond the professional task of being the instructional leader (Bauer, Haydel, & Cody, 2005; York et al., 2004). Principals must not only possess strong instructional skills but also be capable of managing a variety of responsibilities and duties, such as building schools that promote teaching and learning for all students (McCain & Jukes, 2001). Schools that promote powerful teaching and learning environments develop a culture that supports these efforts and have a clearly articulated program focus. According to Marzano (2003), developing culture involves the creation of cooperative environments among staff within the context of a shared sense of purpose together with the execution of other responsibilities. Deal and Peterson (1994) note that the most effective change 46
  2. 2. in culture happens when principals, teachers, and students model the values and beliefs most important to the institution. Principals who act with care and concern for others are more likely to facilitate the development of a culture that reflects these values and promotes job satisfaction (Srivastava & Pratap, 1984). Such facilitative leadership exercises power through others, not over them (Huffman & Jacobson as cited in Williams, 2006). The issues of leadership effectiveness, culture, program focus, and job satisfaction pose some fundamental questions for educators. For instance these questions emerge: What is the relationship between leadership effectiveness and culture? Are these two variables related to program focus? Is job satisfaction also related to leadership effectiveness, culture, and program focus? This study investigates the relationship between the four variables using a state-wide sample of school staff. Methodology Design The variables in this study were school staff perceptions of the relationships between leadership effectiveness, culture, program focus, and job satisfaction. The study used a correlational research design method. Correlational research is a quantitative method in which two or more variables from the same group of subjects are examined to determine if there is a relationship between them (Creswell, 2009). If a relationship exists, then the significance of the relationship is determined using correlational statistics. Sample The population for this study was members of the Tennessee Alternative Education Association that represented the 119 school systems that operate at least one alternative school. This diverse group includes urban, suburban, and rural school districts in West, Middle, and East Tennessee. The sample was comprised of principals, teachers, and educational support staff. The survey was sent to 850 principals, teachers, and support staff. Almost 46% (388) of staff members responded. The demographics showed that most of the schools (N=16, 44%) came from counties in the western part of the state, followed by the eastern (N=11, 31%), and middle (N=9, 25%) parts of the state. The largest number of schools were rural (N=29, 88%) with suburban (N=4, 11%) and urban (N=3, 8%) schools representing a much smaller portion. The ethnicity of respondents varied with Whites being the largest group (N=155, 50%), respectively followed by African-Americans (N=136, 44%), Asian Americans (N=9, 3%), Multi-Racial and Others (N=5, 2%), and Hispanic/Latino (N=3, 1%). Females were the largest group of respondents (N=182, 59%) followed by males (N=126, 44%). A number of respondents had both a bachelor’s and master’s degree (N=108, 35%), but others had a master’s +45 hours (N=58, 19%), or educational specialist degrees, (N=27, 9%) with a smaller number holding a doctorate degree (N=6, 2%). The overwhelming majority were teachers (N=236, 77%), followed by principals (N=44, 14%), assistant principals (N=7, 2%), and others (N=21, 7%) which consisted of counselors, librarians, program coordinators, and other support personnel. The typical respondent had slightly more than 13 years of experience with 6 years of that in an alternative school setting and almost 5 years at their current school. 47
  3. 3. Data Collection The Tennessee Alternative School Questionnaire (TASQ) survey instrument was used in the study. The TASQ was based on the earlier research of Cameron, Quinn, DeGraff, & Thakor (2006) who developed the Leadership Effectiveness Assessment Device (LEAD). This identifies observable behaviors and maps such behaviors into a comprehensive model of organizational and leadership effectiveness called the Competing Values Framework (CVF). In addition, the Competing Values Culture Instrument (CVCI) presents a set of questions related to a school’s culture (Quinn, 1988). The Competing Values Framework was based on statistical analyses of a comprehensive list of effectiveness indicators which were grouped into two major dimensions (Quinn & Rohrbaugh, 1983). The first dimension is related to organizational focus from an internal emphasis on the well-being and development of people in the organization toward an external focus on the well-being and development of the organization itself. The second dimension differentiates the organizational preference for structure and represents the contrast between stability and control and flexibility and change. Together, the two dimensions form four quadrants. Each quadrant represents one of four major models or organizational and management theories (Quinn, 1988). The Human Relations Model places emphasis on flexibility and internal focus. It stresses cohesion, morale, and human resources development as criteria for effectiveness. The Open Systems Model emphasizes flexibility and external focus and stresses readiness, growth, resources acquisition, and external support. The Rational Goal Model emphasizes control and an external focus. It regards planning, goal setting, productivity, and efficiency as being effective. Finally, the Internal Process Model emphasizes control and internal focus, and it stresses the role of information and management, communication, stability, and control. The Tennessee Alternative School Questionnaire (TASQ) was developed to gather demographic, leadership effectiveness, school culture, program focus (academic or behavior), and job satisfaction data. The initial version of the questionnaire was developed by researchers from the University of Memphis (Allen, Franceschini & Lowther, 2010). Specific behavioral items aligned with the CVF and leadership were identified. To establish content validity, the researchers used principals and professors versed in educational leadership and CVF literature. The items were also tested for structural validity by a panel of teachers who were not versed in leadership or CVF literature. Related items were sorted into eight groups. The panel grouped 75% (six out of eight items per role) of the items. The remaining 25% were incorrectly grouped but were identified with a CVF role and were edited for greater clarity (Allen, Franceshini, & Lowther, 2010). The instrument was first used in a study of school leadership in implementing technology in K-12 school settings in Michigan in 2008. Demographic items (geographical region, school type, ethnicity, educational level, professional status, and experience) were added to the questionnaire. The TASQ was distributed to staff in 119 school systems. The sample was comprised of principals, teachers, and educational support staff of Tennessee alternative schools. The survey was distributed to 850 principals, teachers, and educational support staff. Almost 46% (388) returned a survey. 48
  4. 4. Findings In order to understand how each subgroup category impacts ratings of leadership effectiveness, a multiple regression analysis was performed. The tested model included seven independent variables (ethnicity, gender, education level, professional status, total educational experience, alternative school experience, and experience at present alternative school). The seven variables were put into the model at the same time, using the ENTER method. The table includes beta weights, standard errors, and t-values for the demographic variables. All together, the seven category variables accounted for almost 9% of the variance in perception of leadership effectiveness (R2 = 0.088). Results for the model are in Table 1. The extent to which staff members perceived their schools to be academically or behaviorally focused by gender, professional status, educational level, ethnicity, and experience was also tested using a regression model. Again, the ENTER method was used; however, the seven categories only accounted for approximately 6% of the variance in respondents’ ratings of school orientation (R2 = 0.055). The only category showing a significant impact on ratings of school orientation was ethnicity (t = -3.47, p <.001). Results for this model are in Table 2. Table 1 Regression Analysis Summary of Respondent Demographic Variables Predicting School Orientation (N = 308) Variable B S.E.B. B t Gender 0.07 0.16 0.03 0.47 Professional Status -0.06 0.23 -0.02 -0.26 Educational Level 0.07 0.11 0.04 0.67 Ethnic Group -0.55 0.16 -0.20 -3.47 *** Educational Experience 0.00 0.01 -0.01 -0.20 Total Alternative School Experience 0.01 0.02 0.03 0.27 Experience at Present Alternative School 0.04 0.03 0.12 1.35 Note. R2 = 0.055, (p <.05) *p <.05. **p <.01. ***p <.001 49
  5. 5. Table 2 Regression Analysis Summary of Respondent Demographic Variables Predicting Mean Leadership Effectiveness (N = 308) Variable B S.E.B. B t Gender -0.04 0.10 -0.02 -0.38 Professional Status -0.01 0.15 0.00 -0.05 Educational Level 0.16 0.07 0.14 2.35 * Ethnic Group -0.42 0.10 -0.23 -4.07 *** Educational Experience -0.01 0.01 -0.09 -1.29 Total Alternative School Experience 0.02 0.02 0.12 1.31 Experience at Present Alternative School 0.00 0.02 0.02 0.19 Note. R2 = 0.088, (p <.001) *p <.05. **p <.01. ***p <.001 To ascertain the extent to which staff perceived four different types of organizational cultures to be represented at their schools by gender, professional status, educational level, ethnicity and experience, scores were obtained on multiple measures of culture. Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) was used to determine whether significant group differences were obtained, first, in an overall or multivariate sense, and, second, for four measures of culture individually examined or in a univariate sense. Displayed in Table 3 by gender, professional status, educational level, and median experience are the various means and standard deviations. 50
  6. 6. Table 3 Means and Standard Deviations for Four Measures of Culture by Demographic Variables Variable Human Relations Open Systems Internal Processes Rational Goal n M SD M SD M SD M SD Gender Male 126 135.0 72.4 80.3 40.0 99.6 61.4 90.8 43.1 Female 182 144.8 72.1 80.3 43.3 92.8 64.5 87.9 46.7 Professional Status Teachers/Others 257 136.3 68.2 81.0 42.8 96.9 62.7 90.8 43.7 Principals/Assistants 51 163.4 87.2 76.6 37.2 88.7 65.9 80.5 51.8 Educational Level Bachelor’s 108 130.0 71.4 79.9 43.2 102.5 64.3 93.4 42.8 Master’s 108 144.5 68.9 81.0 44.4 94.3 62.4 88.8 49.6 Above Master’s 92 149.0 76.2 80.0 37.5 89.0 62.8 84.4 42.7 Ethnicity African-American 136 145.0 65.7 82.7 37.9 89.4 49.2 89.8 39.7 Others 172 137.4 77.0 78.4 44.9 100.5 72.1 88.5 49.3 Total Educational Experience Less than Eleven Years 150 129.6 72.3 79.6 45.4 99.4 60.2 94.4 46.2 Eleven or More Years 158 151.4 70.8 80.9 38.4 92.0 65.9 84.0 43.9 Total Alternative School Experience Less than Five Years 148 129.8 65.6 76.2 44.8 103.1 61.0 96.8 44.7 Five or More Years 160 151.0 76.6 84.1 38.8 88.6 64.5 81.9 44.7 Experience at Present Alternative School Less than Three Years 117 129.7 69.0 75.5 42.1 102.8 57.9 96.6 44.8 Three or More Years 191 147.6 73.5 83.2 41.6 91.2 66.0 84.4 45.0 51
  7. 7. Shown in Table 4 are the results for the independent variables having exactly two levels, and in Table 5 are the results for the independent variables having more than two levels. As shown in the tables, neither multivariate nor univariate group differences were observed for the independent variables, gender, ethnicity, and educational level. Although no multivariate group differences were observed for professional status and median experience at present alternative schools, univariate differences were observed for these two variables. Table 4 Multivariate and Univariate Analyses of Variance F Ratios for Four Measures of Culture by Gender, Professional Status, Ethnicity, and Experience ANOVA Human Relations Open Systems Internal Processes Rational GoalVariable MANOVA F(4, 303) F(1, 306) F(1, 306) F(1, 306) F(1, 306) Gender 0.43 1.37 0.00 0.86 0.30 Professional Status 2.06 6.11* 0.46 0.73 2.18 Ethnicity 1.95 0.83 0.78 2.37 0.06 Total Experience 2.80* 7.09** 0.08 1.04 4.16* Total Alternative School Experience 2.44* 6.74* 2.77 4.06* 8.51** Experience at Present Alternative School 1.95 4.52* 2.46 2.47 5.36* *p <.05. **p <.01. ***p <.001 Table 5 Multivariate and Univariate Analyses of Variance F Ratios for Four Measures of Culture by Educational Level ANOVA Human Relations Open Systems Internal Processes Rational GoalVariable MANOVA F(8, 604) F(2, 305) F(2, 305) F(2, 305) F(2, 305) Educational Level 0.88 1.94 0.02 1.17 0.98 52
  8. 8. Discussion Based on the data relative to perceptions of school leadership being effective by gender, professional status, educational level, ethnicity, and experience, there were two categories that showed significant relationships to leadership effectiveness. Both the educational levels and ethnic groups of the respondents showed significant impact. This finding indicates that African- Americans, more than any other ethnic group, rate leadership effectiveness higher. Literature is silent about this kind of relationship. The data also shows that as the educational level of the respondents increased, the higher the ratings were for leadership effectiveness. This revelation is consistent with the literature (IEL, 2000; Leithwood, Harris & Hopkins, 2008; Leithwood & Jantzi, 2005). Staff’s perception of their schools being academically or behaviorally focused by gender, professional status, educational level, ethnicity, and experience showed only one significant finding. The only category showing a significant impact on the ratings of program focus was ethnicity. African-Americans perceived alternative schools to be more academically focused than did other ethnicities. Although research reflects little documentation on alternative schools and program focus, the Tennessee Department of Education (2006) does encourage school districts to provide more academically-based instructional programs for students in alternative education settings, but this does not explain the ethnicity difference. In regard to the staffs’ perceptions by gender, professional status, educational level, ethnicity, and experience of the four different types of cultures being represented at their school, the findings show four significant responses. These were all related to human relations: (1) professional status, which had a significant impact on how respondents rated their schools in terms of a human relations culture; (2) experience, which level had an impact on human relations ratings; (3) experience with alternative schools, which had a significant impact on human relations, and (4) for present alternative school experience, respondents with three or more years had higher human relations ratings than did those with fewer than three years of experience. As indicated by the data, perceptions of a human relations model triumphed over the other three models. This model emphasizes building teamwork and cultivating employee’s skills and competencies (Harris, 2001; Quinn & Rohrbaugh, 1983). The results also show a relationship between culture and leadership effectiveness. The human relations and open systems models were more closely aligned with leadership effectiveness for reasons previously mentioned. In addition, results indicate a relationship among leadership effectiveness, culture, program focus, and satisfaction. Respondents indicate that job satisfaction was significantly related to all three variables. As leadership effectiveness increased, so did reported job satisfaction levels. Human relations and open systems culture also showed positive relationships with satisfaction; when the program focus was more academic, job satisfaction increased. In addition, in schools where the program focus was staff who are more academic, higher levels of job satisfaction were reported. Conclusion This study investigates the relationship between leadership effectiveness, school culture, program focus, and job satisfaction. These relationships underpin efforts to improve teaching and learning for all children. They are also concerns of educators as they ponder the task of 53
  9. 9. continued school reform. Lessons from this study provide some insight into the nature of relationships and the importance of them for building successful schools. These relationships are at the core of an ever changing educational environment where principals are expected to be more than instructional leaders, teachers to do more than teach, and support staff to be more than quiet cheerleaders on the sidelines. The new focus is on developing a professional learning community where responsibility for teaching and learning is shared with all (DuFour & Eaker, 1998; Hord, 1997), and ownership of educational processes belongs to all stakeholders. References Allen, L.E., Franceschini, L., & Lowther, D. (2010). Proceedings from InSITE ‘2010: The role of school leadership in a large-scale student laptop implementation. Bari: Italy. Bauer, S.C., Haydel J., & Cody, C. (2005). Teaching leadership and teaching leaders. Retrieved from http://www.rapidintellect.com/ALQweb/sum2005el.htm Cameron, K.S., Quinn, R.E., DeGraff, J., & Thakor, A.V. (2006). Competing values leadership: Creating value in organizations. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar. Creswell, J. W. (2009). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (3rd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Sage. Deal, T.E., & Peterson, K.D. (1990). The principal’s role in shaping school culture: Research in brief. Retrieved from http://www.eric.ed.gov/ DuFour, R., & Eaker, R. (1998). Professional learning communities at work: Best practices for enhancing student achievement. Bloomington, IN: National Educational Service. Harris, A. (2001). Building the capacity for school improvement. School Leadership & Management, 21(3) 261-270. Hord, S. (1997). Professional learning communities: Communities of continuous inquiry and improvement. Retrieved from http://www.sedl.org/pubs/change34/ Institute for Educational Leadership. (2000). School leadership for the 21st century initiative: A report of the task force on the principal. Retrieved from http://www.iel.org/publications/21st-century-school-leadership.html Kearney, C. A. (2008). An interdisciplinary model of school absenteeism in youth to inform professional practice and public policy. Educational Psychology Review, 257-282. Leithwood, K., Harris, A., & Hopkins, D. (2008). Seven strong claims about successful school leadership. London, England: London Centre for Leadership in Learning, Institute of Education. Leithwood, K., & Jantzi, D. (2005). A review of transformational school leadership research 1995-2005. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 4(3), 177-199. McCain, T., & Jukes, I. (2001). Windows on the future: Education in the age of technology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Marzano, J. (2003). What works in schools: Translating research into practice. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Quinn, R. E. (1988). Beyond rational management. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Quinn, R.E., & Rohrbaugh, J. (1983). Analyzing organizational effectiveness and leadership 54
  10. 10. roles. Retrieved from http://www.12manage.com/methods_quinn_competing_values_framework.html Srivastava, S.K., & Pratap, S. (1984). Perception of job satisfaction and organisational climate. Perspectives of Psychological Research, 7, 41-43. Tennessee State Department of Education. (2006). Alternative education program for self- assessment instrument form: Alternative education program level. Retrieved from http://public.doe.k12.ga.us Williams, R.B (2006). Leadership for school reform: On principal decision-making styles reflect a collaborative approach? Retrieved from http://www.umanitoba.ca/publications/cjeap/articles/williams.html York-Barr, J., Sommerness, J., Duke, K., & Ghere, G. (2004). Special educators in inclusive education programs: Reframing their work as teacher leadership. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 9(2) 193-215. Authors Larry McNeal is Chair of the Department of Leadership at the University of Memphis. Joris Ray is an administrator with the Memphis City Schools in Memphis, Tennessee. 55