The perceptions of public school principals from schools of different levels of quality about the influence that desegregation, supplementary financial assistance, magnet school thematic activities, and increased educational opportunities have on the quality of education in schools

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Virginia Tech

This case study determined whether there was a difference in perceptions among principals from different quality schools about the influence desegregation, supplemental financial assistance, magnet thematic activities, and increased educational opportunities had on quality in education. Since there was no significant difference in perceptions, this study also examined how the factors influenced the principals' beliefs about educational quality. Two hundred fifty-five elementary and secondary principals from four different types of organizational structures in ten states participated in the study.

The participating principals responded to the Survey of principals' Attitudes Regarding Education (SPARE) which constituted the data for this investigation. The degree of achievement, student dropout, violence, and racial balance were used to determine school quality and constituted the dependent variables. Principals' perceptions about desegregation, thematic activities, supplemental financial assistance, and increased educational opportunities constituted the independent variables.

The findings of this study revealed the following conclusions: (1) There was no significant difference among principals from lower, average, and higher quality schools regarding their perceptions about the influence finance, desegregation, thematic activities, and educational opportunities had on the quality of education in a school. (2) Principals believed three of the four factors including desegregation, finance, and increased educational opportunities were necessary for a school to offer quality education. (3) Principals perceived student achievement could be increased without additional financial resources; however, educational quality could not be attained without additional funds for desegregation-related services and for programs designed to improve educational opportunities for students.

Based upon information obtained from the survey instruments, principals believed a quality instructional program required a curriculum with special activities designed to improve student knowledge while increasing educational opportunities for a racially diverse student body. They believed schools should be given more funds for more specialized activities. Although magnet school thematic activities accomplished the same purpose, their costs were too high for most boards of education to finance. Regular school activities would be as effective as magnet school thematic activities with similar supplementary financial resources.