THE ROLE OF ASSISTANT PRINCIPALS IN AN ACCOUNTABILITY-ORIENTED ENVIRONMENT IN U.S. PUBLIC SCHOOLS
State University of New York at Buffalo (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Conference name: 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
Abstract:With the advent of comprehensive accountability-driven reform mandates, a view has arisen in the literature of educational administration that the task of transforming a school is so complex that there exists a need for an environment where leadership can be perceived as a product of interactions in which leaders and followers collaborate under certain situations (Spillane, 2006, 2005). Leadership is increasingly viewed as a quality of organization, rather than as “the province of a few people in certain parts of organization” (Ogawa & Bossert, 1995, p. 39). With such a belief in mind, Spillane (2005) characterizes the school leadership “as a product of the interactions of school leaders, followers, and their situations…rather than as a function of one or more leaders’ actions” (p. 144, 147). By contrast, Gronn (2002) conceptualizes distributed leadership as a form of “concertive action in which a key defining criterion is conjoint agency” (p. 423). He believes that leadership is “an emergent property of a group or network of individuals in which group members pool their expertise” (p. 256).
Findings from the literature imply that the traditional roles and responsibilities of Assistant Principals were largely custodial in nature, but lacked the instructional leadership role (Glanz, 2004). With three waves of educational reforms movement, researchers in the U.S. started expressing their concerns in respect to the limited roles and responsibilities of Assistant Principals—in particular that of filling an instructional leadership role. For example, Marshall and Greenfield (1985), argue that “[d]espite the apparent importance of the assistant principalship, it has received little attention in the literature on school administration and instructional improvement” (p. 3).
By contrast, a study focusing on the high school principalship completed by Pellicer, et al, (1990) showed that “assistant principals…were identified as major sources of instructional leadership in particular schools” (p. 31). The Assistant Principals in their study expressed great interest in taking on a stronger instructional leadership role (Pellicer, et al., 1990). The way to turn around the lack of an instructional leadership role for Assistant Principals is “to restructure the focus and scope of responsibilities of assistant principals” (Greenfield, 1985b, p. 87). Kaplan and Owings (1999) suggested that school principals should practice the distributive leadership approach to be more effective.
It is understandable, therefore, that the latest leadership development in leadership theory in education calls for school leaders to take a distributive approach by creating a collaborative leadership team (Pounder, & Crow, 2005). In this approach, Assistant Principals should have more responsibilities for “supervising and evaluating teachers,…monitoring and supporting teaching processes and learning outcomes, … analyzing student test scores or other student outcomes or for conducting professional development sessions for teachers” (Pounder, & Crow, 2005, p. 59). The new conceptualization of distributed leadership implies “a much stronger leadership role” for Assistant Principals and a redefinition of their responsibilities (Harris, Muijs, & Crawford, 2003, Summary Report, p. 7).
Keywords: assistant principals, distributive leadership, schools.