Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Executive Ed.D. in Education Leadership Management and Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Daniel Gutmore, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Elaine Walker, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Donald Leake, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Dennis Copeland, Ed.D.


instructional leadership, leadership preparation, positive school climate, establishing high expectations, instructional practices


In today’s world of accountability, the preparation of school leaders has never been more critical. Many states are now developing policies and processes that seek to enhance school leadership preparation programs. Enhancing school leadership preparation programs is particularly important in the area of instructional leadership because research suggests that instructional leaders have a significant direct effect on student outcomes. The purpose of this study was to explore principals’ perceptions of relationships between training in their pre-service principal preparation programs and their effectiveness as in-service instructional leaders in New Jersey schools. The study is significant because the preparation of school leaders impacts the success of their students. Twelve in-service principals participated in semi-structured interviews designed to explore their perceptions of the emphasis that their pre-service programs placed on three skills associated with effective instructional leadership: 1) setting high expectations, 2) establishing a positive school climate, and 3) instructional practice. Results of the interviews showed that while all principals used these skills in their current practice, they did not attribute their training primarily to their pre-service principal preparation programs. Instead, they relied on alternative methods of training to gain these critical skills. Based on participant responses, recommendations are made for ongoing research to improve principal preparation programs through embedded practical opportunities.