All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Loucrecia Collins

Advisory Committee Members

Matthew Fifolt

Tonya Perry

William Boyd Rogan

Michele Jean Sims

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Education (EdD) School of Education


EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP ABSTRACT The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the lived experiences of Alabama principals who have overcome the challenges of School Improvement. The signing of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) has led to wholesale changes within the public education system and has had lasting effects on school leadership. The role of principal has become more complex due to the multifaceted responsibilities to which one must adhere. Under the current legislation of NCLB, schools must attain 100% proficiency in reading and math by 2014. Additionally, schools must meet the state goals of adequate yearly progress (AYP). When schools fail to meet these goals for two consecutive years, they are designated with School Improvement status. In the research literature, leadership has been identified as the second most important school-related factor to student achievement. This study sought to uncover strategies these principals used to emerge from School Improvement status. The researcher used a qualitative methodology utilizing a phenomenological approach to obtain the perspectives of Alabama principals. Nine principals from three elementary schools, three middle schools, and three high schools in central Alabama were purposefully selected for this study. Data were collected from semi-structured interviews, artifacts, and site observations. Six themes and 19 sub themes related to the phenomenon were developed from these interviews. The six themes that emerged were Accountability, High Expectations/Commitment to Success, School Culture, Curriculum Shifts, Professional Development, and Pressures of the Principalship. This study will assist practicing leaders who are experiencing the challenges associated with the status of School Improvement. Principals may learn from the lived experiences of their colleagues and adapt the lessons that proved to be successful and sustainable for them and their schools. This study serves to encourage school leaders to keep student achievement at the helm of the school and to know what is best, and to do what is in the best interest for children, regardless of state and federal legislation.

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