Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Robert Flanders


AbstractThe problem of a rural school district’s declining reading scores for students in Grades 3 through 8 was a significant concern because effective reading skills are of paramount importance to student success in school and life. Evidence suggests that principal instructional leadership practices influence student achievement; therefore, the purpose of this basic qualitative study was to examine the district’s elementary principals’ and assistant principals’ instructional leadership practices that influenced student literacy. Murphy’s model of instructional leadership served as the conceptual framework. The research question for this study addressed how these elementary administrators implemented instructional leadership practices at their schools to influence student literacy. Eleven elementary principals and assistant principals from this rural school district in the southern United States were interviewed using semistructured, predetermined questions. The interviews were transcribed verbatim, followed by provisional and open pattern coding with thematic analysis. Three major themes arose from the data analysis: (a) literacy-focused instructional leadership practices supporting teachers, (b) literacy-focused instructional leadership practices to support student literacy, and (c) instructional leadership practices supporting literacy schoolwide. This study may foster positive social change by positively influencing student literacy and improving the reading skills and abilities of the students within the school district as principals and assistant principals evaluate the instructional leadership practices they have employed or are considering for future use in their schools.