Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Rosemary Lambie


This mixed methods case study described and analyzed the 2004-2006 district-based principal preparation programs in Virginia. This dissertation explored goals stated in proposals for funding as well as program director and program completer perceptions of goals, content, processes, and outcomes for the 10 principal preparation programs that stemmed from the Commission to Review, Study, and Reform Educational Leadership. Data collection employed three phases: Phase I focused on the 10 grant proposals; Phase II involved semistructured interview questions centered on perceptions of nine participating program directors; Phase III investigated perceptions of 75 program completers who responded to a web-based survey. Data collection was conducted by coding proposals, transcriptions of directors’ interviews, and open-ended survey responses were coded to explore key terms that would be used to identify themes within and across all data sets. Findings from qualitative data analyses revealed themes related to program goals, content, processes (i.e., program delivery, elements), and outcomes. Program directors’ and program completers’ perceptions of the identified themes (e.g., practitioner-oriented, real life) were found to both differ and have similarities. Instructional content received minimal discussion from most program directors; program completers generally perceived needs for more content instruction in school law, special education, and finance. Practitioner-oriented program processes were perceived as valuable by both groups. Mentorship, portfolio projects, and SLLA test preparation were perceived as critical. Diverse perceptions were found particularly in the personal interactive component of the eight elements. Program directors and completers shared the same outcome goal; both groups were focused on fully prepared, highly qualified principals. Both groups wanted a definition of standards for acceptance into district-based principal preparation programs. Outcomes of the 10 programs included unintended consequences as well as challenges, particularly the ongoing need to balance theory and practice to reform principal preparation programs. Three of the 10 programs have continued with redefined partnership roles. Universities provide the preparation and involved school divisions annually select their cohort of students and provide some funding.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

October 2010