Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Kerry Burner


In the Denver metropolitan area, many elementary school principals have been focused more on management than on instructional leadership issues, even though school administrators have been charged with overseeing academic achievement based on state and federal standards. According to research, participating in these 2 disconnected roles hinders principals' ability to achieve the academic and social success of their students. Guided by Bandura's self-efficacy theory and Hallinger's distributed leadership theories, this qualitative study explored factors that influenced 6 principals' adoption of the instructional leadership role to learn how principals might shift from managing the school to becoming its instructional leader. The selection criteria for the participants were that each principal was based in a linguistically and culturally diverse, low-income community and led successfully as noted in the School Performance Framework. Data from individual interviews and a focus group were triangulated with observational data (3 observations of participants in their work role at their individual school sites) and researcher field notes. Data analysis used open coding, from which 3 core themes emerged: voice, focus, and alignment of resources. Based on these findings, the proposed project, presented as a position paper, recommends the development of a district-level policy directed toward the building of a school-site infrastructure that supports elementary principals in the role of instructional leader. The implications for positive social change at the local level include providing recommendations that might enable administrators as the instructional leader to develop and oversee an infrastructure conducive to the academic and social success of the students they serve, thus increasing the number of successful schools throughout the district study site.