Uncloaking the 'Shadow Army': Understanding the Changing Role of Principal Supervisors
Rogers, Laura Kathleen
Many districts have revised the role of principal supervisors in order to better support principals as instructional leaders. The empirical research base on principal supervision has said little about how districts and principal supervisors engage in the redesigned role. Within a mixed methods framework, this dissertation addresses the gap in scholarship by examining how principal supervisors in an urban school district implemented the new role in their daily work, how the central office supported principal supervisors’ work, and whether and how principal supervisors’ work related to improved principal performance. Findings indicated that principal supervisor role change was complex. Principal supervisors increased their overall focus on instructional leadership and coaching with principals but exhibited large variation in their enactment of practices associated with the new role. Little of this variation could be explained by characteristics of the principals and schools they served. Changes within central office structures and roles to support supervisors’ work were slow and not consistent. Supervisor practices could not be consistently linked with principal performance improvement. Principal perceptions of supervisors’ supportive behaviors were positively related to increases in teacher ratings of school leadership quality. The dissertation discusses implications for future research and policy.