Dissertation

California superintendents: leading district-wide change to advance student success

This study on skills for leading change in California’s public school system can serve to validate current literature on leadership and the change process. The purpose of this study was to examine the leadership training gaps of California Superintendents and the skills for district-wide change that more consistently advance student success. Subsequently, recommendations were made to inform policy leaders of changes that must be made to better prepare California school leaders in order to engage the change process and advance student success. This study utilized a mixed-method approach in order to examine the quantitative and qualitative data. Quantitative data were collected and analyzed using a Likert scale from superintendent surveys and a Pearson correlation. Qualitative data were collected from three open-ended written responses on a superintendent survey, in addition to follow-up interviews with eight superintendents. Qualitative data was analyzed using a coding process and a constant comparative method was used in order to explore any theme that emerged from or that was grounded in the data. The analysis of both the quantitative and qualitative data examined the leadership training gaps of California Superintendents and the necessary skills for district-wide change that advances student success. The researcher found that there were significant correlations between leadership, the nature of the superintendency, and the change process. More specifically, quantitative analysis indicated that there were significant correlations between creating strategic plans, holding individuals accountable, building coalitions, effective communication, increasing effectiveness, embracing conflict, encouraging collaboration and shared decision making process. Additionally, there were significant correlations between creating strategic plans, communicating a shared vision, holding individuals accountable, building coalitions, recognizing the necessity of fostering change, monitoring the change process, developing strategic plans, determining which changes are critical and assessing each stage of the change process. Qualitative analysis of written responses and transcribed interviews indicated a lack of training in the following areas: budgeting and school finance, board relationships, mentoring and networking, educational training and professional development, curriculum and instruction, and technology. Additional themes that emerged regarding the leadership nature of the superintendency when advancing student success were: collaboration, vision, communication, building positive relationships, acquiring knowledge and experience, navigating politics, and listening and reflecting.

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