Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership: Administration


Educational Leadership and Policy




Teachers of children with social disabilities -- United States, Teacher-principal relationships, Teacher-administrator relationships



Physical Description

4, ix, 219 leaves: ill. 28 cm.


The purpose of this study was to investigate effective administrative support for successful teachers of urban at-risk students. The main difficulty in studying administrative support is that it comes in so many ways. Johnson’s (1990) theory of workplace variables and Butterworth's (1981) social exchange theory were the basis for this study. Failures of at-risk students threaten the well being of public schools and have become a generally recognized social problem of national priority. This study explores how principals act to influence the success of teachers as they work with at-risk students. It is grounded in the following four assumptions: 1. Administrators significantly influence workplace satisfaction (Butterworth, 1981; Sergiovani, 1991). 2. Workplace satisfaction directly affects quality of performance (Johnson, 1990; Lortie, 1975). 3. Teachers have a moral right to a satisfying workplace (Goodlad, 1984). 4. At-risk students are, in important ways, unique in their educational needs (Capuzzi & Gross, 1989; Chenoweth, 1993). Collection, analysis, and evaluation of data were guided by three research questions focusing on how uncommonly successful teachers of urban at-risk students perceive their administrative support, what these teachers recommend regarding administrative support and what these teachers recommend regarding preparation for teachers to teach at-risk students. The teachers were deemed successful by a combination of parental, student, teacher, and administrator evaluations (Peterson, Bennet, & Sherman, 1991). Thirty-nine teachers who had been recommended by their peers, parents, students, and building and central office administrators were sent letters inviting them to participate in this study. The first 18 who responded were interviewed using a 15 item protocol. Three were elementary teachers, 10 were middle school teachers, and 5 were high school teachers. Four of the 10 middle school teachers were from one middle school but the others were from a variety of schools. The elite interview technique proposed by Marshall and Rossman (1989) was used because it was felt that surveys do not elicit the depth of information desired and a single case study would not give enough breadth. The interview responses were analyzed both as individual documents and also an analysis by item was conducted. Twenty-two recommendations for aspiring and practicing administrators are listed and the eight main themes are listed. The results show specific kinds of support that can help teachers of at-risk students succeed: personal support, peer support, and training for both teachers and administrators. In general, the successful teachers felt that they did not receive adequate administrative support even though when asked the question “do you feel supported by your administrators?" some said "yes." The results also indicate that administrators need further training in both interpersonal skills and communication skills.


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