Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Andrew T. Alexson


Students living in poverty who attend Title 1 schools continue to underperform academically compared to their more-advantaged peers. Researchers have shown that leadership and school climate influence academic outcomes for students, and educators and community members need to understand effective leadership and school climate practices used where students have demonstrated academic growth. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to gain an understanding of principals’ perspectives on their leadership and school climate practices that may contribute to students’ academic growth in Title 1 elementary schools. The conceptual framework encompassed elements of transformational leadership and constructs of school climate. Interviews were conducted in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States with 8 elementary principals in Title 1 schools where student academic growth had been documented. Each of the participants had been principal at the schools for a minimum of 3 years. A combination of a priori and opening coding was used to support thematic analyses. Themes describing important practices include actualizes a compelling vision, promotes positive relationships for building capacity, practices adaptive leadership, and fosters collaborative actions focused on improvement. The identified leadership and school climate practices inform initial preparation and continuing professional development for principals. The findings also inform hiring practices to provide leaders for Title 1 schools. Researchers have shown that a principal’s leadership is a powerful and necessary component for improving educational outcomes. Positive social change implications of this study include enhancing the performance of economically-disadvantaged students attending Title 1 schools.