First Advisor

Deborah Peterson

Date of Publication

Summer 10-28-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

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


Educational Leadership and Policy




Elementary school principals -- Oregon, Educational leadership, Poor children -- Education (Elementary) -- Oregon, Elementary school administration, School management and organization



Physical Description

1 online resource (xx, 188 pages)


Children living in poverty in the United States face some of life's greatest challenges, including achieving academic success in school. Evidence is also emerging of a growing income disparity in America that affects families, communities and local labor markets in ways that can undermine the effectiveness of schools serving disadvantaged populations (Duncan & Murnane, 2011). Evidence exists, however, that high academic performance is within the reach of all children in high poverty schools, and that principal leadership is a contributing factor.

This study examined principal leadership practices in three high poverty K-5 elementary schools in Oregon identified as Model schools under the Oregon ESEA waiver to No Child Left Behind. This study identified themes of leadership practices including 1) high expectations, 2) meeting children's basic needs, 3) shared leadership and teamwork, 4) use of data, and 5) personal attributes of the principal. Other themes considered important to one or more groups of respondents but not necessarily to all included 1) caring, 2) positive support, 3) addressing biases about children and families in poverty, 4) principal's elementary teaching experience, and 5) pride in the local school. As such, the findings of this study support the knowledge base in educational leadership regarding principal leadership as a factor in schools that impact the academic growth of children (Hallinger, 2005; Hallinger, Bickman, & Davis, 1996; Hallinger & Heck, 1998; Hattie, 2009; Jacobson et al., 2004; Leithwood & Jantzi, 2012; Leithwood & Louis, 2012; Leithwood et al., 2004; Lyman & Villani, 2004; Marks & Printy, 2003; and, Water, Marzano, & McNulty, 2003).

This study has implications for district hiring and planning for principal succession, teacher hiring, resource allocation, community engagement, and district support for schools serving students in high-poverty communities.


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