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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

Robert Blackburn

Third Committee Member

Stephen Davis


This research examined the relationship of student academic performance exhibited by American elementary-school students through the types of school leadership. The goal was to define a functional model of leadership that might support the academic achievement of students attending school in low- to middle-socioeconomic areas. Teachers on the staffs of 58 California elementary schools located in such areas completed the Task Relationship Change Questionnaire (Yukl, n.d.) to facilitate data collection. This survey instrument measured teacher perception of the leadership characteristics of principals. Three broad areas of leadership characteristics, as well as 14 leadership-behavior factors were measured and correlated. The study results supported the notion that the same type of leadership is generally effective in schools located in both middle- and low-socioeconomic areas. The findings also indicated that elementary-school principals serving these schools generally possess leadership characteristics that are blended between factors of change, relationship, and task. The academic performance of students attending low-socioeconomic schools is enhanced by principals that incorporate specific task and change behavior factors into their leadership styles. The findings also suggest that a more directive leadership style enhances the academic achievement of students attending such schools. Task-leadership behavior factors that facilitated this goal were found to be related to task monitoring. Leadership change behaviors producing the same enhancement included a strong visionary leadership and the ability to infuse dimensions of improvement into schools through new ideas and opportunities. This study also found that the academic performance of students attending elementary schools of low-socioeconomic status may be negatively impacted when principals incorporate certain relationship and change behavior factors into their leadership style. Potentially negative change factors included overly aggressive emphasis on efficiency and product by principals. Potentially negative related relationship factors were found to be equivocation by principals during the decision-making process, resulting in the engagement of teaching staff in extended debate over pivotal school issues. Overall, the results of this study were significant and represent a new approach to research in the area of leadership. The study illuminates the pivotal fact that certain leadership characteristics can indeed enhance student academic performance in elementary schools serving populations located in low-socioeconomic areas.




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