The Cross-Cultural Fit of the Learning-Centered Leadership Framework and Assessment for Chinese Principals
Cravens, Xiu Chen
This dissertation explores a framework for effective school leadership that is connected with research, standards and current practices in the United States, and investigates its cross-cultural generalizability both theoretically and empirically. First, it evaluates the alignment of the Learning-Centered Leadership Framework with the professional standards and practices of principals in Chinese schools. Second, it examines whether the Vanderbilt Assessment of Leadership in Education™ (the VAL-ED), an instrument that is developed based on the framework, has construct validity and reliability when administered to Chinese school principals. Third, it explores if and how the framework and the instrument may be modified to enhance its cross-cultural relevance and utility. Employing both qualitative and quantitative methods, results are generated from three studies: (a) expert-panel review of the alignment of the framework, (b) cognitive interview about the instrument content and format, and (c) validity and reliability analyses of the VAL-ED addressing its factor structure, reliability estimates, and concurrent criterion measures using assessment scale scores from 1165 teachers, 18 principals, and their supervisors of 19 Chinese urban schools. Findings from the studies give support to the claim that there is strong cross-cultural alignment on the overarching goal of improving student learning through setting high standards, providing rigorous curriculum and quality instruction, and enhancing the professional learning culture in schools. The VAL-ED instrument is proven to have strong internal reliability. Its cross-cultural validity can be partially confirmed through the examination of content and criterion validity evidence. The findings also indicate that the existing framework and assessment content may need to be modified with special attention to the role of external communities, systemic accountability, and advocating for at-risk students, reflecting the new Chinese educational reform priorities that emphasize the balance between academic and social learning.