Reexamining professional development through successful principals' perceptions
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Principal professional development is vital to the field of education because the principal is expected to be the instructional leader of a school. Even though principals do not provide instruction directly to students, their instructional leadership practices can greatly affect teacher practice and student learning. This descriptive case study examined the variety of professional development models created in Texas ISD (a pseudonym) to determine if one model is more effective than another in enhancing job performance. This study highlighted the principals' perceptions of a variety of components within professional development such as the delivery, design, how the learning needs are met, and how they helped enhance principal job performance. This qualitative case study design was seated within the constructs of Donald L. Kirkpatrick's (2006) Four-Levels of Learning and Evaluation Model that was utilized as the analytical tool to frame the initial and heuristic questions for the principal questionnaire and interviews. This Model guided the data collection, categorization, and emergent themes. Specifically, this study investigated the following: (a) aspects of principal professional development that enhance job performance as an instructional leader, (b) types of delivery and the impact it has on instructional leadership, and (c) comparisons of delivery models to identify the most effective. Ultimately, the findings of this study seek to provide supporting information to researchers and district leaders as they plan, design, and implement future effective principal professional development. The study focused on a group of nine successful principals in a Texas urban school system identified as Texas ISD. Examining the delivery models added to the body of literature regarding how to create effective principal professional development that helps principals enhance jobs performance and offer districts an alternative to the costly price of professional development. In Texas ISD, principal professional development was used as the vehicle for scale and sustainability of districtwide educational reform. In addition, the professional development assisted with K-12th grade vertical articulation of the school system's curriculum and educational plan. To analyze the impact of professional development on instructional leadership practices, questionnaires were given and interviews conducted in which individual perceptions of successful principals in Texas ISD were conducted.