School principals' perceptions of their roles and responsibilities in the city of Rzeszów and Atlanta area

By comparing the roles and responsibilities of principals from the city of Rzeszow (Poland) and the Atlanta area (Georgia, U.S.A.), this study contributes to a better understanding of school leadership in the two countries. Participating principals

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  School principals’ perceptions of their roles and responsibilities in the city of Rzeszów and Atlanta area 󰁡󰁫 C󰁨󰁥󰁵󰁮󰁧 C󰁨󰁡󰁮 Educational Leadership, Kennesaw State University  B󰁩󰁮󰁢󰁩󰁮 J󰁩󰁡󰁮󰁧 Division of Global Affairs, Kennesaw State University  S󰅂󰁡󰁷󰁯󰁭󰁩󰁲 Rę󰁢󰁩󰁳󰁺 Faculty of Education, University of Rzeszów*By comparing the roles and responsibilities of principals from the city of Rzeszow (Poland) and the Atlanta area (Georgia, U.S.A.), this study contributes to a better understanding of school leadership in the two countries. Participating principals included 148 from the United States of America, and 74 from Poland. A researcher designed a Likert-scale questionnaire on the roles and responsibilities of principals in seven leadership areas: character, professional knowledge, professional skills, administrative style, administrative duties, personnel management, and student affairs management. Tis was supplemented by a survey of three open-ended questions on the principals’ major responsibilities, challenges, and fulfillment. Te mul-tivariate analysis of covariance was used for data analyses with gender and age as control covariates. Te results of the data analysis indicated significant differences between Poland and the United States in overall responses and three leadership areas: principals’ knowledge, styles, and duties.K󰁥󰁹󰁷󰁯󰁲󰁤󰁳: comparative education; Polish education; principalship; school leadership; U.S. education. ©  Instytut Badań EdukacyjnychE󰁤󰁵󰁫󰁡󰁣󰁪󰁡 󰀲󰀰󰀱󰀸, 󰀱(󰀱󰀴󰀴), 󰀷󰀸–󰀹󰀵 󰁤󰁯󰁩: 󰀱󰀰.󰀲󰀴󰀱󰀳󰀱/󰀳󰀷󰀲󰀴.󰀱󰀸󰀰󰀱󰀰󰀶 󰁩󰁳󰁳󰁮: 󰀰󰀲󰀳󰀹-󰀶󰀸󰀵󰀸 *  Adres: ul. Ks. Jałowego 24, 35-010 Rzeszów. E-mail: local situations typical o their communi-ties (Hallinger, 2004; Marzano, Waters and McNulty, 2005; Michalak, 2011). he education arena in Poland has undergone signiicant changes in recent years. Madalińska-Michalak (2016, p. 161) provided a concise and vivid description as ollows:  he Polish community and other ormer so-cialist states which broke with the old regime  he roles and responsibilities o school principals in many countries o the world have a great deal in common irre-spective o cultural and political dierences (House and Javidan, 2004). School princi-pals worldwide have been recognized as an important component contributing to the overall achievement o schools but they are under pressure to deal with many unique  S󰁣󰁨󰁯󰁯󰁬 󰁰󰁲󰁩󰁮󰁣󰁩󰁰󰁡󰁬󰁳’ 󰁰󰁥󰁲󰁣󰁥󰁰󰁴󰁩󰁯󰁮󰁳 󰁯󰁦 󰁴󰁨󰁥󰁩󰁲 󰁲󰁯󰁬󰁥󰁳 󰁡󰁮󰁤 󰁲󰁥󰁳󰁰󰁯󰁮󰁳󰁩󰁢󰁩󰁬󰁩󰁴󰁩󰁥󰁳 󰀷󰀹 and ollowed the path o democratization and decommunization have witnessed massive social, economic and political changes. hese dramatic changes stimulated policy mak-ers and citizens to examine more deeply the goals and purposes o the educational system in Poland. […] Emerging new demands have led to analyses o the governance o schools, principals’ roles and responsibilities. In the United States o America, the responsibility o education alls mainly on the individual state and local governments with limited support rom the ederal gov-ernment. Since the enactment o the Elemen-tary and Secondary Education Act (1965) and the No Child Let Behind Act (2002), there has been increased ederal involvement in education in terms o grants and man-dates. As a result, there have been calls or increased educational accountability placing a great amount o pressure on school prin-cipals to demonstrate evidence o academic improvement. Current literature has shown that school principals in Poland and the United States are working to meet demands rom many directions, namely, strategic planning, pupil instruction, budgeting, laws and regulations, human resource management, parents and communities, and other miscellaneous school business (Leithwood, 2007; Marzano et al., 2005; Michalak, 2011; Szymański, 2001). hey work diligently toward attain-ing their proessional goals and meeting all the challenges rom dierent political, social and cultural situations. his study is aimed at comparing the sel-perceptions o school principals o Poland and the United States to understand how they perceive their roles and responsibilities and how their schools are operated under their leadership. Conceptual framework   School principals’ roles and responsibili-ties in the United States were well developed and speciied in the Educational Leadership Constituent Council Standards. Accord-ing to these standards, principals should have the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to promote the success o all students by: (1) acilitating the development, articula-tion, implementation, and stewardship o a school’s vision o learning; (2) promoting a positive school culture, providing an eec-tive instructional program, applying best practice to student learning, and designing comprehensive proessional growth plans or sta; (3) managing the organization, opera-tions, and resources in a way that promotes a sae, eicient, and eective learning envi-ronment; (4) collaborating with amilies and other community members, responding to diverse community interests and needs, and mobilizing community resources; (5) acting with integrity, airness, and in an ethical manner; and (6) understanding, respond-ing to, and inluencing the larger political, social, economic, legal, and cultural con-text (National Policy Board or Educational Administration, 2002).o become a school principal in the United States, individuals must possess a graduate academic degree in educational leadership or administration, have two to three years o experiences as a licensed teacher, and passed the state qualiying examination o educational leadership in the state they serve. Some school principals even have higher academic degrees, such as Educational Specialist and Doctorate (Fiar-man, 2015; McKay, 2017).In recent years, studies o school prin-cipalship in the U.S. have been ocused on instructional leadership to include leadership in curriculum development, program design, instruction delivery and outcome assessment (Barth, 1990; Blasé and Blasé, 2000; Hal-linger, 2003; Smith and Andrews, 1989). he indings o these studies have provided addi-tional evidence o school principals’ impact on student achievement and overall school  C󰁨󰁡󰁮, J󰁩󰁡󰁮󰁧, Rę󰁢󰁩󰁳󰁺 󰀸󰀰 success. Researchers have also demonstrated a strong connection between high-quality principals and high-perorming schools (Dhuey and Smith, 2014; Spiro, 2013; Yang, 2014). But additional mandates and respon-sibilities also pressure school leaders to ace the increased demands o accountability or student achievement (Barnett, Shoho and Oleszewski, 2012). U.S. school districts are experiencing a shortage o school principals because many educators who have pursued principal cer-tiication have not pursued principal posi-tions (Styron and Styron, 2013). In deciding to assume principalship, applicants must consider the compensation in terms o sal-ary, beneits and the authority o the position beore making a commitment to it (Retelle, 2010). In Poland, a school principal is a rep-resentative o the education administration and is responsible or perorming duties resulting rom national educational policy. “One can say that the principal is responsi-ble or nearly everything” (Michalak, 2011, p. 260). However, according to Więsław (2011), a Polish school principal is only the head o an organization and has very limited power. Many strategic and inancial decisions relat-ing to a school have been assumed by the rel-evant sel-governing boards. A Polish principal’s role in managing a public school was described by Bednarska-Wnuk (2009) as a business manager. She claimed that changes in the Polish education system contribute to changing the principal’s role with eatures that are characteristic o a business organization. Bednarska-Wnuk’s point o view was relecting earlier in a proc-lamation by Żak (2007) that most principals concentrate mainly on current matters that are characteristic o a business manager who cares only about the organization’s survival in a changing environment. A Polish school leadership study by Mazurkiewicz (2012) showed that the school director was a strong person with either the vision and ability to win others over or had a position o authority. he indings o Mazurkiewicz’s study concur with those o Czarnecki (2006), that school principals assumed a signiicant portion o administrative responsibilities while relieving their aculty to do other instruc-tional work.he basic qualiications o Polish school principals are: (a) possession o a M.A. degree with teaching endorsement as well as the qualiication to assume a teaching posi-tion; (b) graduation rom postgraduate stud-ies in management or a qualiying course in the management o education, and at least ive years experience as a licensed teacher or ive years o didactic experience as an aca-demic teacher, with a positive evaluation o his/her work as a licensed teacher (at least grade B) or the last ive years (Jeżowski and Madalińska-Michalak, 2015). An international comparison o school principals’ roles and responsibilities was perormed by McAdams (1998) and included England, Germany, Denmark, Japan, and the United States. Results showed that U.S. principals had a more renetic work day than their international colleagues. In their study o Russia, China, and Ireland, Flanary and ereho (2000) claimed that eective principals must deal with the challenges arising rom global changes in economics, politics, and demography. o understand the successul models o international school leadership, Johnson, Moller, Jacobson and Wong (2008) studied the characteristics and practices o principalship o eight coun-tries (Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, England, Norway, Sweden and the United States). hey ound more similarities than dierences in school leadership practices among these countries. he eaching and Learning International Survey (ALIS) published by the OECD (2013) provided details about the increas-ingly signiicant roles o school principals  S󰁣󰁨󰁯󰁯󰁬 󰁰󰁲󰁩󰁮󰁣󰁩󰁰󰁡󰁬󰁳’ 󰁰󰁥󰁲󰁣󰁥󰁰󰁴󰁩󰁯󰁮󰁳 󰁯󰁦 󰁴󰁨󰁥󰁩󰁲 󰁲󰁯󰁬󰁥󰁳 󰁡󰁮󰁤 󰁲󰁥󰁳󰁰󰁯󰁮󰁳󰁩󰁢󰁩󰁬󰁩󰁴󰁩󰁥󰁳 󰀸󰀱 and their responsibilities in 38 countries. Results o the study indicated that about 60% o principals spent 30–54% o their time on administrative work. In working with teach-ers on instructional improvement, 70% o the principals reported that this took 17–30% o their time. Most o the principals indicated that they used student perormance evalua-tion results to develop school goals and aca-demic programs. Speciically comparing the abilities o school principals between Poland and the United States, Litchka (2015) solicited data on the perceptions o 131 teachers rom Poland and 315 teachers rom the United States. Five leadership practices were exam-ined: model the way; inspire a shared vision; challenge the process; enable others to act, and encourage the heart. Results o the study indicated that teachers rom Poland rated their principals signiicantly higher than teachers in the United States in each o the ive practices. Purpose of the study  Studies on the comparison o school principalship between Poland and the United States are scarce. Litchka’s compar-ative study o school principalship was only perormed using the perceptions o teachers. A more holistic and comprehensive compar-ison o principalship in these two countries is needed. he purpose o this study was to examine i the roles and responsibilities o school principals in Poland signiicantly di-ered rom those o the United States. he roles and responsibilities o school principals were examined in seven leadership areas: character, proessional knowledge, proes-sional skills, administrative style, adminis-trative duties, personnel management, and student aairs management. he results o this study can contribute to a better under-standing o how schools are administered in Poland and the United States. Research questions he our major research questions in this study are: ■How do principals in Poland perceive their roles and responsibilities in schools? ■How do principals in the U.S. perceive their roles and responsibilities in schools? ■How do the roles and responsibilities o school principals in Poland compare to those o school principals in the U.S.? ■Do principals’ gender and age make any dierence in their responses to the sur- vey questions on the   principals’ roles and responsibilities in Poland and the U.S.? Methodology Design his study took a descriptive design with the use o survey questionnaires. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected through soliciting responses by surveying current school principals located in Poland and the United States. A mixed research method uti-lized or this study may be deined as “the collection or analysis o both quantitative and qualitative data in a single study in which the data are collected concurrently or sequen-tially, are given a priority, and involve the integration o the data at one or more stages in the process o research” (Creswell, Plano, Clark, Gutmann and Hanson, 2003, p. 212). Participants One hundred and orty eight out o the two hundred and twenty (67.3%) randomly selected school principals in the Atlanta area o the State o Georgia, U.S.A. participated in this study. Random selection was made by proportion o the number o elementary, middle and high schools in Atlanta area. In Poland, seventy-our (74%) o the one hundred randomly sampled school principals rom the neighborhood o Rzeszow City responded to the invitations to participation in the study.  C󰁨󰁡󰁮, J󰁩󰁡󰁮󰁧, Rę󰁢󰁩󰁳󰁺 󰀸󰀲 Principal participation in this study was vol-untary or both the Polish and U.S. school principals. he authors have no control over the number o principals who were willing to respond to the survey instrument. Instrumentation A 30-item Likert-scale questionnaire was designed by the researchers to survey school principals in Poland and the United States. It was designed to cover principals’ roles and responsibilities in seven leadership areas: character, proessional knowledge, proes-sional skills, administrative style, adminis-trative duties, personnel management, and student aairs management. he 30 items o the survey instrument were derived rom the current literature on school principal-ship (AASA, 2017; Cisler and Bruce, 2013; National Policy Board or Educational Administration, 2002).he instrument was tested or validity through a panel o ten school principals in the United States, who critically reviewed its contents, ormat, and language. he test and retest reliability coeicient was ound to be 0.88 and the internal consistency o the instrument was tested by using the Cronbach alpha test (overall alpha = 0.85). Both the reliability coeicient and the overall alpha indicated acceptable levels o a reliable sur- vey instrument.In addition, a qualitative part with three open-ended questions was also constructed to solicit principals’ perceptions on their major responsibilities, their challenges, and ulillment in their position as school principal. he instrument, both the quantitative and qualitative parts, was irst developed in the English language. It was then trans-lated into Polish by one o the authors. A Polish scholar with extensive English and Polish language experience reviewed the Pol-ish version o the instrument or luency and accuracy. he resulting survey instruments o both the English and Polish versions have the unique properties o a high quality meas-urement scale. Data analysis  Quantitative data collected rom the survey were analyzed in general and by the subsets o character, proessional knowledge, proessional skills, administrative style, administrative duties, personnel manage-ment, and student aairs management to determine the extent o the school princi-pals’ responses in Poland and the United States. Responses rom the school princi-pals o Poland and the United States were compared by using multivariate analyses o covariance (MANCOVA) with gender and age as covariates. he impact o gender and age on school principals’ responses was also examined by using the one-way analysis o  variance. A parallel comparison o quali-tative data collected rom the survey was based on answers to the three open-ended questions. Observations were made o con-sistencies in the themes and patterns that prevailed among the principals’ responses. Because more time was required to respond to the qualitative questions, only one-third o the participants responding to the quantita-tive questions continued with the qualitative questions. Many qualitative responses were simple and concise. hereore, in the quali-tative data analysis, only the most represent-ative responses were quoted to indicate the general tendencies o the responses. FindingsDemographic analyses An analysis o the demographic data o Polish principals showed that a total o 74 principals responded to the survey with 56.8% o them males and 43.2% emales. Most o the principals (59.5%) were aged between 51 and 60. Most o them (83.8%) have been in education or more than twenty
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