All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Loucrecia Collins

Advisory Committee Members

Boyd Rogan

George Theodore

Alan Webb

Phillip Westbrook

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Education (EdD) School of Education


HOW DOES PRINCIPAL LEADERSHIP INFLUENCE IMPROVED GRADUATION RATES IN URBAN HIGH SCHOOLS IN THE GREATER METROPOITAN AREA OF BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA? CHRIS TRAWICK EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP ABSTRACT Principals of urban high schools are under extraordinary pressure to improve graduation rates of high school seniors (Zepeda, 2013). According to Layton (2014), urban high schools graduate approximately 55% of students, which is well below the national average of 80%. Greater expectations have been placed on principals to improve student achievement. Marzano, Sims, and Warrick (2014) noted that principals are required to improve student achievement. Zepeda (2013) described the role of principal as the instructional leader of the school and observed that principals are expected to create and support the necessary conditions for improving student achievement. For this study, a phenomenological approach was used to explore how principal leadership influenced improved graduation rates of urban high schools in the greater Metropolitan Area of Birmingham, Alabama. Ten principals who had seen a minimum of 10% increase in graduation rates in their urban high schools over the last three years were chosen to participate in this study. Principals participated in semi-structured, one-on-one interviews. Data analysis revealed two grand themes: (1) Building relationships, and (2) Building a culture of expectations, as well as multiple sub-themes. Findings from this study indicated a high degree of consensus among the 10 participating principals. Principals shared common leadership practices, mutual leadership behaviors, and similar leadership role responsibilities as related to influencing improved graduation rates in urban high schools in the greater metropolitan area of Birmingham, Alabama as well as individual perspectives on how principal leadership influenced improved urban high school graduation rates. These findings may have important implications regarding the requisite traits, characteristics, and skills of principals to move low, underachieving schools to school improvement in urban settings.

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