Leadership Practices of Selected Texas Public School Superintendents Pursuing Their District's Vision and Mission in an Environment of High Stakes Testing
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Since the early 1980s, the push for school and district accountability has been the driving force behind the increase in standardized testing in Texas public schools. Accountability is now conjoined with test results, often pitting the evaluation of a school district against its own vision, mission, and goals. The results of these high stakes tests can have significant consequences for students, families, teachers, administrators, and the community.
Leadership plays a vital role in managing the demands of the state’s reliance on high-stakes testing for accountability while pursuing the district’s mission and vision of the community the leader serves. At the helm of school leadership is the superintendent of schools whose job has become increasingly complex, in an environment that has become more convoluted and antagonistic. This qualitative research study explores the leadership practices that Texas public-school superintendents perceive they utilize to influence their organization’s culture toward the attainment of their district’s mission and vision in an educational environment defined by high-stakes testing. In this multiple case study, three district superintendents were interviewed to explore the leadership practices they pursue to support the district’s mission, vision, and goals with (a) central office administrators, (b) campus administrators, and (c) school board members. In addition, three district stakeholders were interviewed to investigate their perceptions of these superintendents’ leadership practices. Data from these interviews were coded and analyzed, documents were collected, and findings reported with conclusions drawn about the practices discovered. This study hopes to provide current and aspiring superintendents, as well as scholarly researchers, a deeper understanding of the superintendent’s leadership in managing the pursuit of their district’s mission and vision while negotiating the high-stakes testing environment.