Date of Award

Fall 12-13-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership for Learning Dissertations


Educational Leadership

Committee Chair

Dr. Arvin Johnson

First Committee Member

Dr. Ivan Manuel Jorrin Abellan

Second Committee Member

Dr. Susan Padgett-Harrison

Third Committee Member

Dr. James Zoll


The purposes of this study were to determine if the position of the assistant principal is an effective pathway to the principalship and to examine the links between actual and ideal responsibilities of the assistant principal and principal positions, and the accountability measures of preparation for the principalship. This research study was conducted using a qualitative case study with a phenomenological touch. The particular phenomena studied in this research is the assistant principal role as preparation for the principalship within a large metropolitan school district in the southeast. By nature, case studies involve a small target population.

The study analyzed the leadership preparation, responsibilities, and evaluation of the assistant principal. This study includes details on the position of the principal as it is the next typical career step for assistant principals. It should be noted that not all assistant principals aspire to become principals, but this study focused on those that do. The participants consisted of seven secondary assistant principals and six secondary principals, as well as a mini case of an elementary principal and one on the researcher.

The findings were presented categorized by the four themes that emerged during the interviews - evaluation, instructional leadership, preparation, and role/responsibilities. Each of the findings center back to the importance of the principal in preparing their assistant principals for the principalship. The respondents in this study demanded that principals assume this responsibility and that those stakeholders that support principals provide them with coaching and the expectations to do so. Colleges and universities, as well, should be purposeful in their preparation of principals to include a portion on coaching and preparing others. Finally, the state should provide guidance and suggestions about how to use the LKES evaluation as a coaching tool in preparing for the principalship.

This research provides insight with regard to the transition from assistant principal to principal and how to define, evaluate, and support both roles. The findings impact how colleges and universities should structure their preparation programs for school leaders. Additionally, individual school leaders will find this research beneficial due to the pragmatic findings in the study. Both assistant principals and principals can find critical information about how roles and responsibilities along with evaluations impact the transition. Districts can use this research to address their coaching of principals for leadership preparation and support for current assistant principals who aim to become principals.