Perception of principals in the southern, urban U.S. and eastern, urban China regarding the selection, preparation, and professional development of elementary principals




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Texas A&M University


An effective principal is the catalyst for an effective school. For this reason, it is imperative that education stakeholders all over the world become responsible for addressing the selection, preparation and development of principals. The purpose of this study is to explore the similarities and differences in the selection process, preparation programs and the professional development practices as perceived by elementary school principals in urban public schools in the southern U.S and urban public schools in eastern China. The naturalistic paradigm of inquiry was used to frame the study and acquire and analyze data. The sample consisted of fourteen elementary school principals in a southern, urban area in the U.S. and an eastern, urban area in China selected via a purposive sample. The researcher visited their campuses between September, 2004 and January, 2005. Intensive interviews and observations were used to gather information from principals in American and Chinese urban elementary schools. Data from interviews were unitized into categories. Some of the conclusions included: ?? The American respondents indicated that current admission criteria for entrance into educational leadership programs were not sufficient for identifying a candidate??s aptitude for being a successful principal. ?? The Chinese principals believed that most selected Chinese principals are successful school leaders. ?? The American principals were satisfied with the effectiveness of the university preparation programs. ?? The Chinese principals were not satisfied with the effectiveness of classroom instruction of preparation programs. ?? The American principals felt that their professional development programs were helpful for improving their practice and their schools. ?? The Chinese principals were not satisfied with the effectiveness of the professional development programs. ?? Similarities and differences exist between the American and Chinese respondents?? perceptions of selection, preparation, and professional development.