An analysis of teachers' and principals' perceptions of leadership in selected North Carolina middle schools and their impact on student achievement

Jonathan Williams, Fayetteville State University


The purpose of this study was to analyze teachers' and principals' perceptions of school and educator leadership and to what extent those perceptions might impact student achievement in 51 Region Four middle schools located in Southeastern North Carolina, USA. The sample in this study included 1,935 participants (1,896 teachers and 39 principals). Data for the teachers' and principals' perceptions of leadership were extracted from responses to the 2008 North Carolina Teaching Conditions Survey and triangulated with student achievement composite scores published on 2008 North Carolina School Report Card website. The survey was administered in April 2008 and the data were released for research in June 2009. Thirty-six survey questions in the school leadership and educator leadership domains were used. A comparison of mean responses using an analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to determine if there was a significant difference between teachers' and principals' perception of leadership and student achievement. Student achievement was reported in composite scores and divided into six categories: <30%, 31%–40%, 41%–50%, 51%–60%, 61%–70% and >70%. This study supported popular thought that the quality of leadership does have a positive impact on student achievement. Student achievement levels where higher in schools where school leaders were able to communicate effectively throughout the school and where visionary leadership was evident. Students were more academically productive in schools where the school leader was attentive to teachers' concerns about facilities and resources, time, and new teacher support. This study did not reveal a significant difference between school leaders' attention to teachers' concerns about professional development and student achievement. There were higher student achievement composite scores in schools where principals perceived a high degree of support for teachers in the enforcement of student discipline. The analysis revealed that principals recognized teacher empowerment as a key issue to student achievement. As a result, students scored higher in schools where principals reported a high degree of teacher empowerment. Another finding was that students were more successful in schools where principals perceived that an effective plan was in place to solve problems in the school. Students performed higher in middle schools where teachers were trusted to make sound educational decisions, one of these being decision making about student grading and assessment practices. Also, higher academic productivity was found in middle schools where there was a perception that the school staff worked together to solve problems. In this study, students performed lower in schools where teachers reported a higher level of involvement in decision making about professional development. Teachers must realize that increasing their leadership roles will positively impact student achievement. Principals are catalysts for expanding the culture of leadership in schools. They must be aware of, not only how their leadership affects the school, but how tapping into the leadership potential of teachers might increase student academic performance.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Middle School education|School administration

Recommended Citation

Williams, Jonathan, "An analysis of teachers' and principals' perceptions of leadership in selected North Carolina middle schools and their impact on student achievement" (2010). ETD Collection for Fayetteville State University. AAI3464550.