First Advisor

John D. Lind

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

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


Educational Leadership and Policy




High school principals -- Training of -- United States



Physical Description

4, viii, 187 leaves: ill. 28 cm.


Although the assistant principalship has been an important part of American secondary schools for over thirty years, the educational establishment has yet to arrive at a formal definition of the assistant principal's role in that institution. Researchers have tended to find the assistant in a role defined by procedures. At the same time, they have called for a new definition of the assistant based on policy-making activities. This outcome has had several important consequences, not the least of which has been failure to provide formal guidelines for training assistants in their role and preparing them for future administrative assignments. This study has investigated the relationship between fourteen areas of responsibility connected with secondary school administration and the role of the assistant principal in meeting these responsibilities. Unlike previous studies, it has emphasized, not the areas themselves, but the perceptions of principals and assistants who rated the value of each area as a training ground for the principalship. By classifying the areas perceived to be most valuable for training, the study contributes to the emerging definition of the assistant principalship. Also, by explaining the relationship between the administrators' backgrounds and their influence on the ratings given, this study has attempted to account for the factors that affected the respondents' perceptions. The study was organized around three research questions: (1) Do principals and assistant principals differ in the extent to which they perceive the assistant principalship as an adequate training ground for the principalship? (2) What factors affect the perceptions of assistant principals? (3) What factors influence the perceptions of principals? In order to address these questions, secondary school administrators who were members of the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators (COSA) were surveyed. They rated fourteen areas of responsibility for their training value and for the extent to which assignments to the areas were made on the basis of gender stereotyping. In addition, the areas to which the respondents were currently assigned were reported. The respondents also supplied background information concerning the years of experience in their current position and size of the administrative staff of which they were a part. Of the 454 members surveyed, 373 returned completed questionnaires, yielding a response rate of 71%. Assistant principals comprised 57% of the sample, while principals comprised 43%. Females comprised 16% of the sample and males 84%. Major findings suggest that while principals and assistants differed in the amount of value they awarded each area of responsibility they consistently identified the same areas as valuable. Assistants' perceptions were found to be influenced by staff size and gender. Principals' perceptions were related to their length of tenure as assistant principals, how long they had been principals, number of assistant principals they supervised, and gender. These findings have implications for the future definition of the assistant principalship and improved training for assistants because they showed that principals believed in the value of the assistant principalship as a training ground. Thus, they also suggested the feasibility of combining the leadership of the principal and the concept of teamwork in both the definition and training of Assistant.


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