Exploring the Effectiveness of Leadership Practices in Urban Charter Middle Schools
Researchers have noted that educational manager and instructional leadership roles are vital to achieving sustainable student achievement. Ineffective leadership practices may decrease students’ academic success and are a continuous concern for educators, especially for those of urban charter schools. The purpose of this study was to explore practices that leaders of urban charter middle schools have implemented to advance their schools from a priority school to a focus school designation. This multiple case study sought to identify and clarify leadership practices of successful leaders in urban charter middle schools. Leithwood and Riehl’s core leadership practices model served as the basis for understanding successful leadership practices in 3 urban charter middle schools that progressed from a priority school to a focus school category. Data collection occurred at 3 urban charter middle schools in Midwestern United States and included semistructured interviews with 3 principals, 3 focus groups with a total of 16 teachers, and a review of relevant documents at each school. Data analysis entailed coding and theming significant statements for emerging patterns related to successful leadership practices until reaching data saturation. Emerging themes included leadership practices, professional development, student academic achievement, parental involvement, and redesigning the schools. Findings from this study resonate with Leithwood and Riehl’s leadership model and indicate the efficacy of core leadership practices to meet state and national guidelines. Positive social change comes from providing school leaders in urban charter schools with leadership practices that may more effectively offer students with educational preparation to compete in a global society.