Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Williams, Frankie K.

Committee Member

Armstrong, Christopher

Committee Member

McMullan, Leigh Ann

Committee Member

King, Stephanie

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Elementary, Middle, and Secondary Education Administration

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education


Department of Educational Leadership


With much emphasis on school accountability ratings and student achievement, it is imperative that building level leaders are equipped with leadership practices that will enhance academic progress. In essence, principals must implement leadership practices that will turn around low-performing schools. The purpose of this study was to investigate principals’ practices and ways to modify their existing leadership strategies to adapt to school improvement needs in low-performing schools in Mississippi. This study focused on 4 areas of principal practices in improving low-performing schools: (1) communication with staff, (2) instructional leadership, (3) professional development and growth opportunities, and (4) connection with key stakeholders as they relate to student achievement. A quantitative cross-sectional, non-experimental questionnaire design was utilized to examine leadership practices and principals’ preconceptions of communication, collaboration, and professional development used to promote student achievement. A self-reflective questionnaire was distributed via email to 898 Mississippi principals of which 152 responded. Generally speaking, for all schools, this study revealed there was a significant relationship between overall scale scores and math growth scores. However, there were no significant relationships between leadership practices and the other sub-scales of this study and student growth and proficiency for all participants. Further, when analyzing the results of individual leadership practices of principals of low-performing schools, findings indicated principals modeling instructional strategies displayed a significant relationship with English Language Arts growth. Findings also revealed a significant relationship between math growth and “using department chairs to collect data about staff concerns”. Further, findings revealed a significant relationship between math growth and “tracking and discussing professional growth with staff”. Additionally, when analyzing the results of individual leadership practices from all schools, communicating often and clearly to staff that change is not optional displayed a significant relationship to math growth. Also, principals utilizing shared leadership practices displayed a significant relationship with ELA proficiency. Recommendations for further research include conducting studies on the following: (a) high- performing Mississippi schools and leadership practices, (b) leadership practices utilized by principals in high-performing states, and (c) teachers’ perspectives of leadership practices and student achievement.



student achievement||leadership strategies||at-risk schools