Page 29 - Volume 6 - Issue 1 - DBU Journal for K-12 Educational Leadership

Journal of K-12 Educational Research 27 The mean scores for Learning Experiences were lower for schools in the innovative model than those for School Connectedness and this difference was also further explored in the qualitative interviews of the current study. Additionally, the standard deviation for the Learning Experiences score was lower, SD = .23 than that for School Connectedness, SD = .25. For both the Learning Experiences scores and School Connectedness, there is consistency across schools with both dimensions despite the age of the schools. Since the null hypotheses were not rejected, and there is no relationship evident between School Connectedness or Learning Experiences and time in the model, what is found instead is that results vary for different schools at different points in time. Despite the lack of relationship, it should be observed that in the data set, the lowest recorded scores for any of the schools, in either School Connectedness or Learning Experiences, happen between Years 5-8. The principals interviewed for the qualitative study represent schools in Years 5-12 in the innovative model and can provide some context or explanation for why this may be the case. While there was not a correlation, either positive or negative, based on age of school in the model, other outcomes had to be considered for interpretation to understand if scores overall indicated a high or a low level of mission adherence at the innovative model school. In the case of School Connectedness, relatively high agreement was shown in the student responses for the 70 schools in the current study. School Connectedness scores for 20172018 had a mean of 3.1 on a scale of 4, and a standard deviation of .25. For Learning Experiences, the mean score was 2.68 on a scale of 4 with a standard deviation of .23. Learning Experiences as intended in the model are not as successful as School Connectedness but still overall present. Research Question 2 (RQ2) What are principal perceptions and experiences of their selection and transition to becoming the principal of an innovative model school? A total of 12 principals of mature schools were interviewed about their perceptions of what happens in innovative model schools as they age, how principals are selected to lead them, and what actions are taken by the principal and their staff to sustain the model over time. Mature schools are those schools in the model that are in their fourth year or beyond, because those schools have persisted beyond their initial contract with the national organization of the innovative model. The study was phenomenological in basis because it collected the perspectives of principals to provide an in-depth understanding of how leadership and mission adherence happen in innovative model schools over time. RQ2 asked about two parts to the innovative model principal’s job transition: their interview or selection process and their transition period, meaning the beginning phase of their principalship at their school. While some studies have codified the transition period to mean the first 90 days of a principal’s tenure (Horvath, 2007), the questions related to transition did not define that period and left it up to the interpretation of the individual principal answering the question. Results about these two phases of the principalship were reported separately because they were seen as two distinct phases in the responses of the principals. The results for RQ2 were examined for two groups separately as it was evident that founding principals had different experiences of hiring and opening their schools than successor principals had in their hiring and transitions. Founding principals selected the innovative model for themselves to lead and were granted that opportunity through the work and time they invested in researching and opening the schools. Founding principals did not cite implementation dips or difficulties with upholding the mission of their organization over time. Difficulties mentioned by founding principals stem from changes in district level administration or as a result of resource constraints. The answers provided by successor principals regarding their experiences of becoming innovative model principals can be divided into two sets of data: data regarding their hiring process and data regarding the transition period as principal. Of the nine successor principals, seven of them came from within the school district in which they now