Middle School Principals' Time-on-Tasks and the Relationship to School Performance

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Virginia Tech

The daily, weekly, and unscheduled tasks for school administrators have increased in number and scope over the years, however surprisingly little is known about what principals do on a day-to-day basis and how this varies across schools. Since the effect of principal leadership behaviors, specifically how principals manage their time to accomplish important tasks, is one key to the success of schools, it is important to understand what effective principals do to accomplish this. The purpose of this study was to find out what the differences are in how principals in high and low-performing middle schools spend their time and to determine what relationships exist between the principal's time-on-tasks and school performance. In the literature review, the researcher identified seven categories of time use to collect and classify time-on-tasks data. The categories include: (a) administration/operations, (b) organization management, (c) day-to-day instruction, (d) instructional program, (e) internal relations, (f) external relations and (g) other (Horng, Klasik, & Loeb, 2010). The researcher collected time-on-tasks data from principals of high and low-performing middle schools in Virginia and analyzed the data to determine what relationships exist between the principal's time-on-tasks and school performance. Data analyses revealed that there are significant differences in the amount of time principals at high-performing schools devote to each of the time-on-tasks categories, as compared to the amount of time allocated by their counterparts at low-performing schools. In this study, principals as a whole and principals in the high-performing subgroup spend the largest percentage of time on tasks related to administration and operations, while principals in the low-performing subgroup spend the largest percentage of time on day-to-day instruction. Data also suggest that time spent on tasks related to internal relations is positively correlated with student performance on mathematics and reading tests. When demographic factors are combined with the time-on-tasks categories, a regression analysis suggests that the strongest contributing factor to mathematics and reading test scores is the socioeconomic status of the school with a strong negative correlation between the percentage of students on free/reduced lunch and test scores for mathematics and reading.

leadership behaviors, principal efficacy, time-management, time-on-tasks