A study of the dual principalship: optimizing conditions for implementation and operation

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


The purpose of this study was to determine what conditions might optimize the implementation and operation of a dual school principalship when it is selected as an alternative administration organization pattern. The population for the study were the principals in the states of Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia who are assigned to administer two separate school organizations. Only those principals whose systems had two or more dual principalships were included in the study.

Descriptive survey and case study methodology were combined to gather data to accomplish the purpose of this study. The study consisted of two phases. In the first phase dual principals and their superintendents were surveyed using a seventeen item questionnaire to obtain their perceptions regarding the dual principalship. Qualitative descriptive analysis was utilized, results being presented in tabular form with response sets for both superintendents and principals. The second phase of this study utilized a case study research of four dual principalships to verify and extend data collected through the survey questionnaires.

The major conclusions of the study were:

  1. While principals and superintendents express dissatisfaction with this administrative arrangement, evidence indicates that this practice will continue to increase.

  2. Although principals are required to devote a majority of their time to supervision of educational programs, this is not taking place in dual assignments.

  3. Initial savings in this administrative arrangement are eventually offset by hidden expenditures.

Some of the recommendations based on the findings of the study were:

  1. Experience of the principal and staff should be a factor in utilizing a dual principalship.

  2. Numbers and enrollment alone should not be the sole determining factor in making a dual assignment.

  3. Support services will add to the flexibility of the principal in scheduling his attendance at both schools.

  4. Consideration should be given to the composition and stability of a community prior to making a dual assignment.

  5. One principal can accomplish the administrative tasks and meet the demands of a dual assignment; supervision and leadership in educational programs will suffer as a result.