«by SILVIA GONAONE MAKGONE submitted in accordance with the requirements for the degree of MAGISTER TECHNOLOGIAE in the subject HUMAN RESOURCE ...»
A closer look at school A assessment by the inspector shows another picture. The highest function was communicating school goals with 80% rated by the inspector in contrast of 38% rating by the teachers. The lowest rating is setting the school goals, rated 0% by the same inspector, as illustrated by the summary in table 4.5. This shows a contradiction that the principal cannot set goals but can communicate them well. The question is which goals is the principal, communicating so well, if setting school goals is 100% almost never?
The comparison of the results across the three schools as depicted in figure 4.7 shows that the Principal of School B as perceived by the teachers is engaged in instructional leadership that makes him effective and a strategic leader. However, the examination results (Appendix E) show a very poor academic performance of 27,8% for the school which suggests that the principal does not demonstrate instructional leadership. The results thus correlate positively with the assessment made by the inspector who assessed the principal of School B (figure 4.5). Based on the latter it can be deduced that the three principals do not demonstrate instructional leadership and thus the schools they are leading did not deliver positive academic results and cannot be classified as high performing schools.
The Principals through the survey indicated their years of training, years of being Principals and years of being Principal at current schools. The responses show that the Principals cannot offer lack of qualification and lack of experience as reason for not being able to lead the schools to academic success.
However, it should be mentioned that two of the principals indicated that their professional training did not include leadership courses that could have prepared them for the tasks at hand. In service training is also lacking as indicated and the Principals are left to their own devices year in and year out, with the same results being produced.
As poor academic performance in the schools cannot be attributed to lack of professional qualifications and experience, then poor leadership can be seen as the major contributor to that.
4.6 Conclusion The purpose of the study was to determine whether the leadership of the Principals in the three schools demonstrated the identified leadership behaviours that can contribute to high academic performance of the learners.
The first part describes the sample, while the second part of the chapter presented the results of the data derived from the teachers’ and inspectors’ responses in the PIMRS.
The data was then used to test the two null hypotheses.
The results indicated that, based on the teachers’ perception of the Principals’ behaviour, most leadership functions were not being demonstrated by the principals.
The observation is that overall the leadership function that was the least demonstrated by the Principals is function 4, which is monitoring student progress. Job functions 2, 3,5 and 6 were only demonstrated by the principal of school B, while job function 1 was demonstrated by principals of schools B and C.
The inspectors’ perception did not differ much from the teachers’ perceptions on the functions they assessed. The indication is most job functions were not demonstrated by the principal, except job function 2 that was highly demonstrated by the school A principal (table 4.5).
Several outputs were analysed to address the two null hypotheses, which resulted in both null hypotheses being rejected because it is found that there was a relationship between the instructional leadership of the Principal and the academic performance of the learners.
In the next chapter, a short summary of the findings highlights the significance of the results. The chapter ends with recommendations and suggestions for possible future research.
Chapter 5 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
5.1 Introduction Aspects of instructional leadership are interrelated and influence each other. This chapter discusses the relationship between the various summarised findings while conclusions are drawn. A discussion of the study’s potential implications are highlighted and suggestions for further research are also presented.
5.2 Discussion of salient points
Through the research it is found that all the principals and most teachers who took part in the survey were well qualified as required by the Ministry of Education. It can be deduced from the findings of the survey that the principal and teachers’ academic qualifications and work experience in a school does not necessarily lead to an improved academic performance of the learners. Therefore a principal within a school needs other variables to help him/her create a conducive environment, with the support of the teachers to make the school effective through academic performance of the students.
Another finding is that the mission statements of the schools are not well known by all the teachers. This was a disturbing factor. The mission of a school is a statement that should be giving direction to all who are involved in the school. The principal’s role is to work with the staff to establish a mission that is focused on academic achievement.
The three surveyed schools’ mission statements were not properly crafted and were also not result-driven which contributed to poor academic results over the past three years.
Hallinger (as cited by Lyon, 2010:22) stated that although the principal does not unilaterally create the mission, his or her role is to ensure that the mission exists and is communicated effectively. The fact that teachers and the principals in the surveyed schools gave different pass rate targets within their schools shows that effective communication of the mission statements is not taking place. It can be thus concluded that there are no clear vision and academic goals set for the schools and these are not communicated to the whole school community. When goals are not set and well communicated in a school then activities cannot be supervised and monitored properly.
The finding in the survey is that supervision and evaluation of instruction in these schools was neglected, as the importance of these exercises was not known. Teaching and learning in these schools is thus happening haphazardly without coordination, and the principals were not taking responsibility of the process.
The latter mentioned resulted in students’ progress not being well monitored and students’ results were not used for academic improvement of the school. Under student progress it is expected that the principal discuss academic performance results with the teachers to identify curricular strengths and weaknesses, use tests and other performance measures to assess progress toward school goals. The schools will not be able to deliver good academic results, when these activities are not taking place as part of monitoring.
Another tested dimension is whether the principals promote school climate through protecting instructional time and promoting improvement in the schools. School learning climate refers to the norms and attitudes of the staff and students that influence learning in the school. When the staff and students are not motivated, effective teaching and learning cannot take place and this will result in poor academic performance.
5.3 Interpretation of results in terms of literature
The research has focused on the instructional leadership functions that are evaluated by the PIMRS. This survey instrument provides principal performance levels on job functions associated with a principal’s leadership in effective schools.
Instructional leadership is aimed at standardising the practice of effective teaching. The principal’s role is to maintain high expectations for teachers and students, supervise classroom instruction and monitor student progress.
Through literature review in this study, it became evident that the principal with instructional leadership demonstrates both direct and indirect impact on the academic achievement of the students through school governance, instructional organisation, and school climate (Marks & Printy, 2003).
The results in charts 4.1, 4.2 and 4.3 indicated that principals did not demonstrate job function 3 and 4, which are supervising and evaluating instruction and monitoring student progress. This is evidence on why the schools have poor academic performance, confirming Wong et al., (2001) observation that poor performance of the school depends essentially upon the leadership of the Head and quality of the teaching.
Principals should ensure that students receive appropriate instruction in areas identified through the curriculum.
It is thus obvious that through instructional leadership there will be quality of teaching culminating in quality learning that will result in high academic performance by the learners, and the school will then be classified as a high performing school.
Another aspect that can be highlighted from the survey is the result on job function 1 and 2 that has to do with the developing of the school mission and goals. Hallinger (1987:57) stated that out of the mission evolves a sense of purpose shared by the staff, students, and community, which unites all the school’s activities. School goals are articulated to promote both accountability and instructional improvement.
The results in charts 4.1 and 4.3 show that schools had developed mission statements that are not shared and are on the notice boards of the staffrooms, which the learners and school community are not aware of. The latter proves Davies’ (2003) caution in the literature review, that schools should not only give importance to developing planning documentation that emphasise the strategic dimension but give equal importance to developing the strategic conversation.
The latter implies that the whole school community including teachers, learners, parents and stakeholders should know the strategic direction the school is taking. It does not make any sense that the principal is the only one in the school that knows the mission statement of the school as indicated through the survey. This also shows that although the principals were seen as demonstrating job function 1 and 2, it is evident that goals were not clearly communicated yet, that is what Davies in the literature review terms a strategic conversation. The two functions relate to the principal’s role in working with the staff to establish a mission that is focused on academic achievement.
5.4 Discussion of gaps
The results showed that the highest job functions demonstrated by the principals are job functions one and two that have to do with, setting the school mission and communicating the school mission. The contradiction comes in when all the teachers at the three schools do not even know the mission of their respective schools even though they rated them higher than other functions. This shows that the mission of the school does not occupy central place of the schools’ activities that need to be achieved. The possibility also exists that the significance of a mission statement to an organisation is not known, as some teachers eluded that the mission statement was developed somewhere and was sent to the school.
The main deviation in the data is the perception of the teachers compared to the perception of the inspector with regard to the leadership behavior functions of the principal of school B, whereby the teachers think he demonstrated most of the job functions, while the inspector scored him below average. As already mentioned in chapter four, the reason of the deviation could be that the teachers are in daily contact with the principal and knew him better than the inspector, who just comes to school on visits. It is interesting to note that the academic results of the school tend to correlate with the assessment of the inspector that implies that the principal does not demonstrate the leadership job functions as indicated by the teachers.
Ambiguity is also found in the survey through the way the principal of School B indicated 30% as the academic target for the school’s performance, when he answered question five. This can be concluded that the low target set for the school, shows that the principal has no vision for result improvement at this school. Another version can be that the other two schools set completely unrealistic targets given the level they achieved the previous year. School B could reasonably achieve 30% and then push for 35%.
5.5 Significance of the results
The purpose of this study was to investigate the leadership of the principal and its contribution to academic performance. More specifically, the goal was to determine whether the results indicate an ability to predict achievement outcomes based on teachers’ and inspectors’ perceptions of the instructional leadership activities in the school. The research questions were thematic based on the leadership job functions of the principal that are seen to improve academic results when demonstrated by the principal. It was thus, necessary to investigate this as the identified schools were producing poor academic results.
In this research the data in charts 4.4, 4.5 and 4.6 clearly indicate that the majority of leadership functions measured by PIMRS were not being demonstrated by principals within the surveyed population. This may have direct implications for professional practice, and reinforce the belief that effective principals do many things that other principals do not do. The results thus confirm what is mentioned through the literature review that leadership is one factor if not the main cause of poor academic performance in poorly performing schools.
It is high time that the results produced at schools are traced back to the principal heading the school. This is strengthened by Lyons (2010) who stated that school districts will continue to address the needs of state identified struggling schools through the hiring of principals who have been shown to consistently demonstrate many of the leadership behaviours. The result is that poor performing school principals need to account for the results produced in their schools, an action that is not given much attention in the Namibian schools.
The results of this study and others that have focused on the principal as well as the classroom behavior of teachers provide the needed empirical support for the belief that school variables, including principal’s instructional leadership, are predictive of the school’s academic outcome.