Curriculum leadership: an investigation into the literacy knowledge, practices, and beliefs influencing middle school administrators’ identity salience


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A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in CURRICULUM AND INSTRUCTION, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Corpus Christi, Texas, December 2014
The purpose of the study was to investigate Ylimaki's (2012) New Professional Curriculum Leader (NPCL) and Critical Curriculum Leader (CCL) identities among middle school administrators. Research gathered for this study supported a rationale that administrators may possess more than one identity within their salience hierarchies. While evidence of salience hierarchies was established in the field of social psychology, no such relationship has been investigated among administrators in Texas middle schools. A researcher created survey was used to gather data from 265 Texas middle school administrators. Data analysis began with exploratory factorial analysis to test the validity and reliability of the survey and to isolate identities. Analysis continued with logistic regression to examine influencing factors and concluded with a content analysis of open-ended survey items. Results of factor analysis determined that Texas middle school administrators possess both the NPCL and CCL identities. In terms of decision-making, administrators placed the CCL identity higher in their salience hierarchy than the NPCL identity, while the reverse was observed for personal beliefs. Statistically significant relationships were found between administrators' identity salience and background knowledge, years of experience, geographic area, and 2012 Texas AYP ratings. Results of logistic regression determined that demographic data could predict identity salience when campus characteristics was the dependent variable. Six models indicated that background knowledge, education setting, years of experience, and 2012 Texas AYP ratings were predictors of identity. Conceptual analysis results revealed that a majority of administrators believe their knowledge of literacy instruction and assessment increases their credibility and effectiveness as an instructional leader. Administrators also maintained that their beliefs about literacy instruction resulted from background knowledge and personal experiences. Key findings from this study support that the commitment Texas middle school administrators place on their NPCL and CCL identities depends on factors within their immediate environments. For instance, administrators may adjust their identities to fit specific values modeled for them during training and by watching others make decisions. Commitments placed on identities higher within administrators' salience hierarchies may also depend on their ability to strengthen ties within a social network while playing a specific role.
Educational Leadership, Curriculum & Instruction
College of Education and Human Development