Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Coats, Linda T.

Committee Member

Prince, Debra L.

Committee Member

Xu, Jianzhong

Committee Member

Brocato, D. Kay

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Elementary, Middle, and Secondary Education Administration

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education


Department of Educational Leadership


This study examined the impact of principals’ leadership styles on the academic achievement of students as measured by the Mississippi Curriculum Test, Second Edition (MCT2). The 2013-2014 school year MCT2 mathematics and language arts scores were used as measures of student achievement and high-stakes testing. The Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ5x) was distributed to 420 principals. However, because of incomplete information given by the principals on the questionnaire, and the fact that the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) did not report MCT2 scores for particular schools, some of the principals’ information was not useful; thus leaving the researcher with a sample size of n = 110 participants. This study was guided by 2 research questions. Relationships were analyzed using the Multivariate test for Analysis of Covariance (MANCOVA) in which the variable of socioeconomic status was used as a covariate because it was found to result statistically different scores across group means. The research questions sought to determine what type of principal leadership style resulted in higher student achievement in mathematics and language arts. The findings of this study indicated that there were no statistically significant differences among the transformational, transactional, and passive avoidant leadership styles. It is imperative that principals draw from all leadership approaches (i.e. transformational, transactional, and passive avoidant approach) in their practice instead of focusing on just one type of leadership style. This is true especially in schools that serve a large percentage of students that come from families with low socioeconomic status since this study found that socioeconomic status had a statistical significant effect on student achievement. Only through the utilization of research-based practices will schools be able to raise the bar of student achievement by revamping the leadership style of the school’s ultimate instructional leader, the principal.