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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Educational Administration and Leadership

First Advisor

Fred Muskal

First Committee Member

Dennis Brennan

Second Committee Member

Antonio Serna

Third Committee Member

Walt Hanline


In the field of education, how high school principals develop as they gain experience is unclear. This study examined three beginner (one to three years of experience), four intermediate (four to eight years of experience) and three advanced (nine plus years of experience) high school principals and how experience affects performance on the job. Similarities were examined within the experience groups. The Greenfield Model and its five dimensions of an administrator's demand environment were used as a guide to look at the different levels of experience. This grounded theory study found: (1) beginner principals felt a sense of debt to the superintendent and district office for hiring them, (2) beginners did not approve how the previous principal managed the school, (3) intermediate principals have a different relationship with the district office than the beginner principals, (4) intermediate principals learned to delegate more work than beginners, (5) veteran principals, in addition to delegation, were committed to a personal set of core values, (6) veteran principals all planned to finish their careers as high school principals, where in contrast, all the beginner and intermediate principals, with the exception of one, planned to continue their careers into the district office, (7) this study confirmed the five dimensions of Greenfield's research that are unique to a school administrator. Within the five dimensions, different experience levels of principals applied the dimension differently. The outcomes from the interviews suggest that high school principals do mature over time and make decisions using a different core philosophy. School districts, university programs and first time high school principals need to consider the challenges that may be encountered during the first years as a high school principal. In future studies, it is recommended a comparative study be done with beginner principals, intermediate principals and veteran principals new to a site to see if the issues encountered are unique to a certain experience level.





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