Involving the principal in literacy programs: Relationships between leadership and student achievement in schools of excellence

Mary Negron Rivera, Fordham University


This study examined the daily lives and behaviors of 3 elementary school principals who led schools where the standardized literacy (i.e., reading, listening and writing) scores of students had risen for 3 consecutive academic years, 2001--2002, 2002--2003, and 2003--2004. This study looked at the leadership styles, skills, priorities, and practices of the 3 principals relative to their involvement in the literacy program within their schools, including student literacy achievement. Practices and behaviors are "merely a symptom of the beliefs and perceptions a person holds" (Combs, Miser & Whitaker, 1999, p. 28). Beliefs and perceptions serve as the foundation for the practices and behaviors that define priorities and leadership styles. This qualitative study produced rich data. The data indicated all 3 principals practiced a contingency and situational leadership style. The principals had the ability to function in a collaborative, democratic, or authoritarian leadership mode depending on the situation. All 3 principals were passionate about their students and school and had elements of a transformational, servant, Theory Y, and visionary leadership style. Two of the principals exhibited a strong distributive leadership style along with a strong transformational leadership style. Principals were more similar in styles than different. All 3 principals actively participated in their schools' professional development and literacy programs. In all 3 schools the professional development led to the changes in the literacy program. Two principals initiated the school's professional development program and were instrumental in changing the school's literacy program including the reading materials. All three principals brought in consultants to work with the teachers. All 3 principals engaged the teachers in Book Studies with 2 principals personally selecting the books. Two of the principals participated in weekly data driven meetings. The third principal participated in monthly data grade meetings. All 3 principals set standardized reading goals with the teachers. One principal held individual teacher conferences at the beginning of the academic year and collaboratively developed a class action plan to meet the school's standardized reading goals. One principal held individual or small group conferences with all the 3rd to 6th-grade students, and collaboratively set standardized reading goals for them.

Subject Area

School administration|Literacy|Reading instruction|Elementary education

Recommended Citation

Rivera, Mary Negron, "Involving the principal in literacy programs: Relationships between leadership and student achievement in schools of excellence" (2006). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3213881.