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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Wayne Russell Stitt
Doctor of Philosophy
Department: Educational Leadership, Research, and Technology
Title: Superintendents Use of Research-Based Responsibilities/Practices in High-Performing School Districts
Dr. Van Cooley, Chair
Dr. Jianping Shen
Dr. Mark Rainey
Date: Tuesday, March 2, 2010 10:00 a.m. - Noon
3208 Sangren Hall
The purpose of this research study is to identify how effective superintendents use the research-based leadership responsibilities/practices outlined in Marzano and Waters meta-analysis, which significantly and positively impact student achievement. A second purpose of this research is to find challenges that superintendents face in their attempts to be successful within their school districts.
The study employs a qualitative multi-site case study using elite purposeful sampling. Five superintendents in southwest Michigan were targeted and agreed to participate in this study. They are the only superintendents in this region who met the criteria, which includes school districts that have a total student population from 2,500 to 3,700 students and have demonstrated excellence in leading their respective school districts towards high achievement on the Ed Yes Report Card for at least five years.
For this study, the researcher utilizes multiple sources of evidence to analyze information gleaned from semi-structured interviews, a review of support documentation, and observation notes from meetings. This triangulation of data is used to complete a within-case and cross-case analysis to analyze and interpret the data to find common themes that are shared among those superintendents in the study. The themes identified are found to correspond to the research-based superintendent responsibilities. While most of the best practices identified in Marzano and Waters meta-analysis are found to be themes in this study, it is apparent that each superintendent carries out those practices in different ways.
In particular, the findings show that of the 51 research-based practices found to aid superintendents in leading their district to high student achievement, 41 of them are found to be themes in this study, with an additional three themes emerging. Additional findings are found in three prominent challenges. These challenges are money, time, and buy-in from stakeholders. Superintendents voiced their concerns over these specific problems in their attempts to carry out all of specific research-based responsibilities/practices. The study identifies specific ways the superintendents addressed these obstacles. It is found in this study that the superintendents implemented all of the research-based best practices to combat these obstacles.