Principals' and Teachers' Perceptions of Elementary Turnaround Principals' Leadership Practices to Reading Achievement in One Virginia School Division

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Virginia Tech


Elementary students continue to fall below proficiency levels in reading as measured by reading achievement tests (NAEP, 2019; Virginia Department of Education, 2021). In 2019, The Nation's Report Card disclosed that 37% of fourth-graders performed at or above the proficiency level on the National Assessment of Educational Progress reading assessment (NAEP, 2019). Data from these assessments show gaps exist between specific subgroups of students. These statistics present a national crisis in the reading skills of elementary students sitting in America's schools. The Wallace Foundation (2021) research indicates that principals influence student achievement data as measured by standardized tests, and the impact of an effective principal is almost as great as having an effective teacher. The purpose of this study was to identify the leadership practices of elementary turnaround principals whose schools' reading achievement scores increased under their leadership. A basic qualitative research design was used and the study was conducted in one suburban school division in central Virginia. Two principals and four teachers were interviewed using semi-structured interviews to identify the leadership practices the principals employed as the literacy leader in the school. Interviews were coded and analyzed to identify trends and themes shared by participants. This study's findings include four themes emerging from the principals' interviews and three themes emerging from the teachers' interviews. One major finding from 100% of participants included the use of Professional Learning Communities (PLC) to help build the professional knowledge of the teachers in understanding how to teach reading. An implication of this finding states that school leaders could develop the master schedule with established times for PLC meetings to occur during the school day. An additional finding from 100% of the participants included the principal's knowledge of the reading process as it allowed the principals to have constructive conversations with teachers around their reading instruction. An implication of this finding includes school leaders considering building their knowledge of the reading process by attending conferences or reading professional books. The data from this research study will contribute to the research of prioritizing principals' leadership actions for turnaround elementary schools.



Principal Leadership, Instructional Leadership, Student Achievement, Turnaround Schools, Literacy