A Repeated, Cross-sectional Analysis of Principals' Professional Development and Instructional Leadership Behaviors in the First Decade of the Educational Accountability Era

Date of Award

June 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Leadership


George Theoharis


accountability, instructional leadership, leadership for learning, No Child Left Behind, principal leadership, professional development

Subject Categories



Using two-level, Hierarchical Generalized Linear Proportional Odds modeling (HGLM-PO), and three pooled waves of the Schools and Staffing Survey (National Center for Education Statistics, 2000, 2004, 2007), I used a quantitative, repeated cross-sectional, self-report, extant secondary survey analysis design to investigate a set of principals' instructional leadership behavior changes regarding professional development during the accountability-driven No Child Left Behind (NCLB) era in the United States. I structured seven ordinal outcome variables regarding professional development and placed them into an antecedent direct-effects model theoretical framework. I operationalized Hallinger's (2011b) conceptually-based leadership for learning model into three domains: the contexts for leadership (antecedents); leadership focus, and sharing leadership (changes/differences as outcomes). Through this study I attempted to determine if educational policies and contexts at the state, district, and school levels have affected principal leadership behaviors regarding professional development and school goal-setting, district goal-setting, standards, student achievement, teachers' planning of professional development, teachers' presentation of professional development, and supporting professional development with resources. I also attempted to determine if groups of principals working in different professional contexts (accountability level, geographic location, socioeconomic status, grade-level) enacted changes in practice or increased influence over professional development activities during the implementation of NCLB between 1999-2007.

The study results show principals' increased influence and control over the planning and presentation of professional development as a result of NCLB implementation across all settings, reducing teachers' participation and collaboration with leadership in these areas. Principals also increased control and alignment of professional development and school goals, student achievement, and supporting professional development with resources. Results also show principals working in urban, elementary, low-SES, and high minority school contexts are more likely to include teachers in the planning and presentation of professional development, but are also more likely to direct and align professional development with school and district goals, standards, student achievement outcomes, and resources. I discuss the potential implications for educational leadership research, practice, and principal preparation.


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