Development and testing of an initial model of curricular leadership culture in middle schools
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Effective school studies, for the most part, have focused on different individual school-level independent variables influencing student achievement and have largely neglected examining contextual variables within the school or school community that may evolve as a result of responding to statewide accountability pressures, including examining how these contextual variables impact student achievement. Further, few studies in the school effectiveness literature provide clear and practical definitions of school-level curricular leadership (Brown, Claudet, & Olivarez, 2003; Bossert, 1998; Hoy & Ferguson, 1985; Teddlie & Reynolds, 2000). The purpose of this study was to develop and initially test a multidimensional model exploring relationships between curricular leadership culture (CLC) and school effectiveness (SE) to examine any identifiable contextual variables that may mediate this relationship in different school settings and to develop an instrument – the Curricular Leadership Culture Inventory (CLCI) – that can be administered to teachers and school administrators to identify educator perceptions of links between the quality of school-level curricular leadership culture and school overall effectiveness. The sample for this study consisted of professional and administrative staff in 151 middle schools throughout five regional service center areas in Texas who were asked to respond to an Internet survey asking for staff perceptions of how often certain types of curricular leadership culture behaviors occur in their schools. In total, 1664 professional and administrative staff representing 114 schools responded to the survey. Participation was voluntary throughout all 151 middle schools. Analyses were completed using both staff members and schools as separates units of analysis. Exploratory factor analyses identified three distinct dimensions best representing curricular leadership culture. These dimensions are: (1) School-based Leadership, (2) Curricular Decision Making, and (3) Middle School Curricular Elements. Further, bivariate and multivariate linkages were identified between these dimensions and three identified indices of school effectiveness (school organizational effectiveness, student achievement, and school holding power) used in this study. These results provided support that curricular leadership culture/school effectiveness linkages are multidimensional in nature and contribute both in a direct and indirect manner to overall middle school effectiveness. Further, it would appear that one or more additional latent variables exist that mask or mediate curricular leadership culture/school effectiveness linkages in middle schools.