Date of Award

Summer 6-12-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

EdD Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Daniel Gutmore, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Elaine Walker, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Triantafillos Parlapanides, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Stephen Zengel, Ed.D.


Educational Leadership, Student achievement, Leadership frames, Bolman & Deal, Socioeconomics, NJDOE School Report Card


As the achievement gap widens, it is even more critical than ever to examine factors that may influence the closing of that chasm. Principal leadership is one such component that needs further study.

The purpose of this quantitative study was to examine which leadership styles principals employ in traditional public schools in the State of New Jersey, and to determine whether principal leadership styles are associated with student achievement.

Furthermore, and more specifically, this study examined the principal leadership styles utilized in the highest academic achieving schools and the least academically successful schools. Additionally, this study also analyzed the principal leadership styles in schools categorized as being in the highest and lowest socioeconomic status groupings in the State of New Jersey.

Lastly, principal leadership styles were analyzed by elementary, middle, and high schools.

To categorize principal leadership styles, Bolman and Deal’s Four-Frame Model (1991) was used. This model classifies four frames of leadership as Structural, Human Resource, Political, and Symbolic. Principals may operate in none, one, two, three, or four frames on a consistent basis. The dependent variable applied to this study is based on a school’s cumulative score produced by the New Jersey Department of Education, which resulted in a school’s ranking in comparison with all other schools in New Jersey. Schools in the top and lowest 20% of the rankings were used for comparison. In order to categorize a school’s socioeconomic status, the District Factor Group (DFG), which is also produced by the State of New Jersey, was applied. In regard to principal leadership styles, schools with the two highest (DFG I and J) and the two lowest (DFG A and B) socioeconomic groupings were compared.

Participants in this study were principals in traditional public schools in the State of New Jersey from elementary, middle, and high schools who were their respective building principals during the 2016-17 school year which is the year the NJDOE School Performance Data was collected. Potential participants received an email requesting consent, and those who consented were then provided with an anonymous code and link to the Bolman and Deal Leadership Orientation Survey. Data were collected and loaded into Excel and IBM SPSS Version 24 software for analysis.

Based on the analysis conducted for this study, the usage of leadership styles is consistent with prior research. The frames most utilized, in order of frequency of use, are the Human Resource frame, the Structural Frame, the Symbolic Frame, and the Political Frame. Notably, the majority of principals employed a multi-frame (application of three or four frames simultaneously) approach to leadership. Lastly, this study determined that no statistical difference exist among frame usage in elementary, middle, or high school principals. This study also concludes that no relationship exists between principal leadership styles and student achievement, as measured by school rankings produced by summative scores provided by the State of New Jersey’s Department of Education Performance Reports.

While the findings may have resulted in producing no statistically significant relationship between principal leadership styles and student achievement/SES in traditional public schools in New Jersey, this does not indicate that the research study did not produce significance. On the contrary, the fact that the variables are independent produces a vastly valuable result and confirms the significance of this research study: It demonstrates that principals in traditional public schools in New Jersey utilize the same leadership styles regardless of student performance, socioeconomic status, or school grade levels.

Considering the numerous variables that may lead to a maximization of student achievement, it may be difficult to demonstrate a direct association with student achievement based solely on principal leadership styles; notably, the principal may play a significant role, but there is undoubtedly an abundance of factors to consider.