Assistant Principals' Perceptions of Preparedness for the Principalship as Defined by the Assistant Principal Development Framework

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Virginia Tech


A review of literature on the preparation and training for assistant principals showed that there are gaps in the current support structures in place to encourage them to be effective in their position or prepared to assume other leadership roles (Armstrong, 2009; Barnett et al., 2012; Morgan, 2018). The role of assistant principal is an important area of educational leadership that has historically been underrepresented in the literature, and it is "one of the least researched and least discussed topics in educational leadership" (Weller and Weller, 2002, p. xiii). The researcher adapted the quantitative methodology techniques and survey tool of Inabinett's (2015) study titled, The Nourishment of Assistant Principals: The Effective Development of Future School Principals in Alabama. The researcher focused on assistant principals' beliefs about their preparedness for the principalship and how their real and ideal development compared to one another. Specifically, the study considered the five elements (professional development, mentoring, aspiration, networking, and experiences) from the Assistant Principal Development Framework as being instrumental in preparing assistant principals for the principalship.

The purpose of this study was to identify assistant principals' self-reported perceptions regarding their job experiences as defined by the Assistant Principal Development Framework. This study reported assistant principals' perceptions of their ideal development compared across each of the five domains of the Assistant Principal Development Framework. Additionally, this study identified specific professional development that assistant principals perceive they need to become future principals and determined which components of the Assistant Principal Development Framework were currently utilized in their leadership practice.

This study sample included assistant principals in one PK-12 school division in Virginia. The research questions guiding this study were: 1) What are the self-reported perceptions of assistant and associate principals' levels of preparedness for the principalship based on their real job experiences? and 2) How do their self-reported perceptions compare to their ideal development across each of the five domains in the Assistant Principal Development Framework? The research method included a researcher-adapted survey titled the Assistant Principal Perceptions Survey. The survey instrument consisted of 63 items: 11 demographic questions, 51 Likert-scale questions, and one open-ended question. Descriptive statistics, including a paired sample t-test, were used to analyze the data and identify findings and implications.

Results from this study revealed that assistant principals perceived a difference between their current job experiences and what their ideal experiences should be to prepare them for the principalship. Participants reported the need for readily accessible professional development, opportunities for networking with other administrators, formal mentoring, and more experience in the areas of curriculum and instruction, organizational management, student achievement, and professional and ethical behaviors. Furthermore, the findings provide educational leaders with relevant research and awareness related to assistant principals' perceptions of their preparedness for the principalship.



assistant principals, Career development, job preparedness, mentoring, leadership capacity