Implications for school accountability : the impact of the professional service provider on building leadership capacity

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Rocha, Marisol

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The role of the campus principal has presented enormous and escalating challenges with the ever-increasing demands of academic accountability coupled with public scrutiny in the era of accountability that only continues to heighten with the new accountability rating system. Expecting swift and dramatic improvements overnight, tensions within the improvement required (IR) school organization tend to be evident, as principals are ill-equipped to transform a campus under local and state mandates. Building organizational capacity in schools with exacerbated achievement gaps among diverse student groups requires effective principal leadership. This study examined the role of the external Professional Service Provider coach within the context of improving school achievement through principal and campus capacity building. The multiple-case qualitative study employed data collected through semi-structured interviews, documents related to the study, and field notes. Data were subjected to several levels of descriptive analysis, whereby the emerging categories became the basis for organization and conceptualization of the data. Findings identified that principals of schools identified as improvement required benefited from working with an external coach. All schools noted the value in the PSP working to grow not only their skillset, but rather, the skillset of the entire leadership team. This approach allowed for a greater amount of whole school buy in, as a wide scope of people were coached either directly by the PSP, or by a leader on the campus. The consistency in the data showed IR campuses were found without steady, school wide systems and lacked a sense of focus. With the PSP, leadership teams were able to narrow their focus and establish systems that would sustain the passage of time. While the difference in expertise level was addressed as a major factor when selecting a PSP, no one was aware on a clear plan for improving the training provided to these coaches. Data varied on the amount of support and knowledge that was provided by the district office. This study illuminated the need for principal coaching through the use of an experienced external coach to support the growth of an improvement required school toward academic success


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