All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Loucrecia Collins

Advisory Committee Members

Keith Gurley

Tonya Perry

Boyd Rogan

Alan Webb

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Education (EdD) School of Education


Research has indicated that the role of the principal as an instructional leader has come to the forefront as the school leader is an influential factor in student achievement and school improvement. Understanding the impact instructional leaders have on student achievement, reform efforts have focused on the preparation of school leaders to effectively transform 21st-century schools into high-performing learning organizations by calling for higher standards for principals and more rigorous means of credentialing principals. In the effort to improve school leadership, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) began implementation of National Board Certification for Education Leaders (NBCEL), a research-based, nationwide advanced certification for principals. This phenomenological study was undertaken to uncover the perceptions and experiences of principals who participated and completed the pilot for NBCEL. Qualitative methods of in-depth interviewing, on-site observation and artifact collection were used to collect data from 10 principals who comprised this study. An analysis of interview data revealed five themes with corresponding subthemes regarding how principals described their experience of participation in the NBCEL pilot. The five major themes that emerged were (a) motivation, (b) reflection, (c) transformation, (d) validation, and (e) overall experience. This qualitative phenomenological study provided insight into the perceptions and experiences of NBCEL for administrators. This study was significant to education stakeholders interested in developing a national certifying credential, understanding principals' reflection and transformational learning, and improving the states' effectiveness models and current evaluation models for school administrators. The study will aid universities in preparation programs for school administrators. It may also serve as a premise for future support through funding, mentoring, and professional development. Recommendations of this study included (a) creating additional professional development opportunities that focus on growth for principals in the areas of instructional leadership; (b) developing and expanding course work in principal leadership preparation programs, training, and evaluation to include Standard V, Culture; (c) incorporating the Accomplished Principal Standards in the design of principal effectiveness models; (d) utilizing the surveys from the National Board to strengthen the state's educator effectiveness model; (e) adding a reflective task performance component to state's evaluation process for educational leaders; (f) encouraging participation in programs that allow the entire school faculty to participate in professional learning communities; (g) increasing crucial conversations that center around professional growth and evidence of practice; and (h) establishing benchmarks and observation tools to monitor growth, and strengths and weaknesses. Keywords: National Board Certification, Principals, Leadership Standards, Education Leaders, Professional Development

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