Date of Award

Summer 7-5-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Executive Ed.D. in Education Leadership Management and Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


David B. Reid, Ph.D.


Monica Browne, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Robert Kelchen, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Thao Tran, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Kimberly Honnick, Ed.D.


principal self-efficacy, district climate, enabling district structure, leader efficacy, school improvement, integrated superintendent leadership


The research demonstrating the role of the principal in influencing student achievement has grown substantially over the last decade. However, increased systems of accountability for meeting school improvement goals have impacted the principalship, leading to increased turnover rates in underperforming schools. Principals, in turn, have had to acquire new skill sets to address the increasingly complexities of the role.

Effective school leadership is an integral component of school change initiatives; however, the research on the antecedents to what leads to effective school leadership is worthy of more attention in educational research. Principal self-efficacy (PSE) and collective efficacy has surfaced in educational literature as a formidable construct in explaining principal effectiveness. Coincidentally, there is an increasing body of literature on the role of the principal in supporting teachers’ sense of efficacy. As the research on collective teacher efficacy in raising student performance offers insight and implications for practice, the research on how to cultivate principals’ sense of efficacy to lead school improvement is warranted.

The purpose of this study was to explore the relationships between district climate and their sense of leadership efficacy to lead successful schools. District climate describes the collective effort within the organization of a school district to meet the goals of the organization. The dimensions of district climate include integrated superintendent leadership, enabling school structures, and teamwork for student success. Principal self-efficacy refers to principals’ perception of their perceived ability to meet the established goals of the schools in which they lead from a managerial, instructional, and moral position. To examine the relationship between district climate and principal self-efficacy, 42 principals in Essex County, New Jersey completed a three-part survey inclusive of principal vii demographics, principal self-efficacy scale (PSES), and a district climate index scale (DCI) in the spring of 2020. The findings from the linear regression suggest a statistically significant correlation between district climate and principal self-efficacy. The teamwork for student success dimension of district climate presented to be highly correlated with principal self efficacy. Enabling school structures proved to be the second greatest indicator for principal efficacy levels with integrated superintendent leadership having a less significant correlation to principal efficacy.

The study offers practical guidance to school districts for recognizing and implementing changes to address how school districts operationalize themselves and central office staff in support of principal leadership efficacy as well as the implementation of dual language immersion programs that facilitate positive student outcomes. Limitations and delimitations of the study as well as suggestions for future research are discussed.