Date of Award

Winter 12-12-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership for Learning Dissertations


Educational Leadership

Committee Chair

Dr. Sheryl J. Croft

Committee Chair/First Advisor

Dr. Susan Padgett-Harrison

Second Committee Member

Dr. Albert Jimenez

Third Committee Member

Dr. Georgann Toop


The purpose of this study is to gain a clear understanding of principal behaviors in high achieving/high climate elementary schools in North Georgia and the impact of these behaviors on future principal professional learning practices. This research study was conducted using a qualitative case study with a phenomenological approach. The particular phenomena studied in this research are the characteristics and behaviors exhibited by principals in elementary schools with high achievement and high climate ratings in one North Georgia School District. Case studies, by nature, involve a small target population.

The study analyzed total instructional programs, reducing the achievement gap, and developing a positive school climate with a high level of student, teacher, and community engagement. This study includes details on practices that enhance curriculum instruction and increase school climate and culture. The participants consisted of eight elementary school principals from high achieving/high climate schools from one North Georgia School District.

The findings were presented categorized by the three themes that emerged during the interviews—data, communication, and relationships. Each of the findings enforces the importance of the principal in developing high achievement and high climate and culture within the school. The respondents in this study claimed that principals assume the responsibility of developing high achieving/high climate schools. Colleges and universities should be purposeful in their preparation of principals to include courses on effectively disaggregating and utilizing data as well as interpersonal relationships skills that make effective school leaders. Finally, the state and local districts should provide guidance and training about how to effectively utilize data to drive instruction as well as ways to increase the emotional quotient of principals.

This research provides insight with regard to the role of the principal and ways to enhance data uses and interpersonal relationship skills. The findings impact how colleges and universities could structure their preparation programs for school leaders. Furthermore, individual principals will find this research valuable due to the pragmatic findings in the study. Principals can find critical information about how roles and responsibilities can impact overall school achievement as well as school climate and culture. Districts can use this research to assess their training of principals for leadership preparation in an effort to further enhance district wide achievement and climate ratings.