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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Mark Forner
Doctor of Philosophy
Department: Educational Leadership, Research, and Technology
Title: An Examination of the Leadership Practices of Effective Rural Superintendents: A Multiple Case Study
Dr. Patricia Reeves, Chair
Dr. Dennis McCrumb
Dr. Stephanie Burrage
Date: Thursday, October 21, 2010 10:00 a.m. to Noon
3208 Sangren Hall
The study examined the leadership practices of rural superintendents who have led their districts to significant improvement in student academic achievement. The overall research goal was to examine how Water’s and Marzano’s six correlates of effective superintendent leadership practice have been applied by school leaders who have successfully pursued academic reform in their rural school districts. A multiple case study approach was used to examine the work practices of seven superintendents leading rural school districts in Michigan where student academic performance was on the rise.
A criterion-based selection methodology was used to identify the superintendent subjects and their districts. A total of 27 interviews were conducted with the seven school leaders and with board trustees, teachers and principals from each district. Qualitative coding techniques were used to develop common leadership priorities, practices and philosophies for the purposes of cross-case analysis. This cross-case analysis produced three common leadership priorities, six common leadership philosophies and a total of 57 commonly-cited leadership practices.
The three common leadership priorities are: a) All students can and will achieve academic success, b) A high quality teacher in each classroom, and c) Creating resources. The six common leadership philosophies are: a) Transparency, b) Proximity, c) Autonomy, d) Constructive Confrontation, e) Making Hard Choices, and f) Celebration.
The findings of this study were consistent with Water’s and Marzano’s six correlates of effective leadership practice. The leadership practices exhibited by rural superintendents and cited in this study closely mirrored five of the six correlates. Additionally, seven new findings from this study extend beyond Waters and Marzano and add to the literature base.