Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.


College of Education



First Advisor

Chris Jenkins, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Amanda Sailors, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Greg Thomas, Ph.D.


The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore the impact of secondary administrators’ leadership styles, management of instructional programs, and professional development in maintaining high performing schools. A total of 11 participants (principals and assistant principals) were selected from three high performing school districts. The conceptual framework for this study was based on the three dimensions and ten instructional functions that Hallinger and Murphy (1985) utilized in their research study. Hallinger and Murphy’s (1985) research study revealed that student academic performance improved because the role of the principal as a leader helped influence their staff to work toward a clear, measurable, and attainable goal. Therefore, Hallinger and Murphy’s (1985) conceptual framework effectively addressed the research questions for this study. The methodological triangulation was through the different data sources; interviews and full day observations were used for data analysis. This study sought to gain a deeper understanding of authentic experiences from secondary administrators’ points of view of how they maintained high performing schools for two consecutive years. Three central themes emerged from this study as well as sub-themes (a) transformational leadership, with subthemes: building educational leaders, and creating and communicating the school mission, vision, and goals (b) using data strategically with fidelity to make decisions, with subthemes: research-based instructional resources for students, and best practices instructional resources for teachers, and (c) professional learning opportunities, with subthemes: attending high-quality and relevant professional learning and facilitating a culture of collective responsibility for professional learning. Other subthemes emerged from the study that demonstrated how principals utilized their teachers, protected instructional time, maintained high visibility, modeled lessons, and provided incentives for learning and teachers. The essential findings from the study could be shared with K-12 principals to help them reflect on their practice. The findings from the study will help administrators improve their low performing schools and districts.

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