What Are the Different Types of Principals Across the United States? A Latent Class Analysis of Principal Perception of Leadership

Urick, Angela; Bowers, Alex J.

Purpose: Effective styles of principal leadership can help address multiple issues in struggling schools, such as low student achievement and high rates of teacher attrition. Although the literature has nominated certain “idealized” leadership styles as being more or less effective, such as transformational, instructional, and shared instructional leadership, we have little evidence about how principals may or may not choose to practice these styles across U.S. schools.
Research Design: Latent class analysis was used to identify different types of principals across the United States. We analyzed the 1999-2000 Schools and Staffing Survey as it presents a unique opportunity to study the different types of U.S. principals since it contains leadership measures not found in other national surveys. A final sample of 7,650 public schools and principals was included in the analysis.
Findings: Instead of idealized leadership styles signifying variations in practice, the differences between types of principals were defined by the degree of principal and teacher leadership. Further, the school and principal context, such as school size, urbanicity, accountability performance, and principal background, predicted the three significantly different principal types: controlling, frequent principal leadership; balkanizing, high degree of leadership shared with teachers; or integrating, frequent principal leadership as well as a high degree of leadership shared with teachers.
Conclusions: These types suggest that principals simultaneously practice leadership behaviors associated with multiple leadership styles in accordance with their background and school context. These findings provide support for the use of more complex models to assess school leader effectiveness.


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Also Published In

Educational Administration Quarterly

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Academic Units
Education Leadership
Published Here
June 9, 2015