Developing Principals as Instructional Leaders: Closing the Gap Between Principals' Perceived Needs and District Support




Doyle, Kendra

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School principals are responsible for balancing the logistical demands of running a school while simultaneously supervising instruction. Additionally, in the Texas school system, they must contend with rising academic standards for students and an increasingly complex accountability system that focuses on traditionally underserved student subgroups. There is rich literature to support the assertion that principals who are instructionally focused experience increased academic outcomes for students, although it is less clear on the specific actions and how they might receive ongoing support for enacting the role of instructional leader. One source of support could be the central office where district academic leaders are in a position to partner and provide requisite knowledge, skills, and pedagogical expertise to principals as they work to effectively lead and monitor campus instructional programs. In large urban school districts, principals and district academic leaders may exist in separate divisions of the organization, which can impose barriers to internal communication, a misalignment of initiatives, and a lack of common direction. This multiple case study examined the perceptions of principals and district academic leaders in their efforts to build instructional leadership capacity at the campus level through interviews and review of artifacts. Interviews were conducted with four district academic leaders and six principals from two large urban school districts in Texas. Data from the interviews were coded and analyzed, artifacts were collected and reviewed, and findings were reported with conclusions drawn about perceptions of needs and actual supports provided and received. This study is intended to provide large districts with bifurcated organizational structures a deeper understanding of how district academic leaders can support principals as instructional leaders.



instructional leadership, district academic leaders, district support, support, urban school district, school improvement, instruction, academics, principal, Counseling, Leadership, Adult Education and School Psychology


Doyle, K. (2023). Developing principals as instructional leaders: Closing the gap between principals' perceived Needs and district support (Unpublished dissertation). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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