Academic achievement -- Florida, Educational leadership -- Florida, High school principals -- Florida, High school students -- Florida, High schools -- Florida -- Administration


The primary purpose of this study was to examine the leadership practices of high school principals in the state of Florida who improved student achievement in schools with a 30% or greater economically disadvantaged student rate. The secondary purpose of this study was to examine principal and student demographics of the identified schools and determine what relationship existed between student demographics, principal demographics, and principal practices. The results of this study offered guidance for principals across the state of Florida who struggled to close the achievement gap between economically advantaged and disadvantaged students. To achieve the purpose of the study, a 53 item survey instrument was distributed to principals in high schools that met the characteristics of a 30% economically disadvantaged student population that had shown growth on the 10th grade FCAT Reading test over three years from 2007 – 2009. 50 principals in 10 school districts were contacted. 18 of those principals responded to the online survey, and 5 principals participated in a follow-up phone interview. The survey instrument gathered quantitative data in four subdomains of principal practices: Implementing a Standards Based Coherent Instructional Program; Providing Teacher Support and Encouraging Teacher Collaboration; Engaging Families; and Using Assessment to Improve Student Achievement and Instruction. Quantitative data regarding principal demographics was also collected through the survey instrument. Qualitative data concerning principal practices was gathered through three open-ended response questions on the survey instrument as well as through follow-up phone interviews. iv The descriptive statistics gathered from responses to the survey instrument showed the highest mean averages for principal practices associated with the following items: Clear vision on student learning outcomes; Set high standards for student learning; Expect teachers to take responsibility for student achievement; and Expect staff to adjust instruction based on various data. The lowest mean averages for principal practices were associated with the following practices: Model exemplary instructional practices; Remove teachers not committed to improving student achievement; Ensure families are engaged in subject-area events; and Use assessment data to determine professional development. In addition to the survey responses, research question one was addressed through the open-ended survey responses and the follow-up phone interviews. The qualitative data collected found the most self-reported best practices under the subdomain of Providing Teacher Support and Encouraging Teacher Collaboration. The most prevalent practices that emerged as a result of the interviews were fostering personal relationships with students and celebrating student success; conducting classroom walkthroughs in a meaningful and purposeful manner; implementing Professional Learning Communities; and reviewing assessment data with teachers to inform instruction. The results of the Mann-Whitney statistical procedure found a significant difference between male and female respondents in the subdomain of Providing Teacher Support and Encouraging Teacher Collaboration. Males scored significantly lower than females. The Spearman correlations found a significant negative correlation between practices in the Teacher Support subdomain and the percentage of disadvantaged students v at a school. In other words, the lower the percentage of disadvantaged students in a school, the higher the principal rated Teacher Support as an important practice. The low number of respondents in this study (N = 18) limited the findings as well as the generalizability to schools with similar populations inside and outside of Florida. However, the results may provide guidance for principals in Florida high schools with high economically disadvantaged student populations. The results of this study placed emphasis on the need for principals to have a clear vision for their school and communicate high expectations for their students. According to the results of this study, principals should also find ways to connect with students and celebrate their successes, create avenues for teacher collaboration, and use assessment data to work with teachers in order to inform instructional decisions.


If this is your thesis or dissertation, and want to learn how to access it or for more information about readership statistics, contact us at

Graduation Date





Taylor, Rosemarye


Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


College of Education


Educational Research, Technology, and Leadership








Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Education, Education -- Dissertations, Academic

Included in

Education Commons