Leadership Studies Ed.D. Dissertations


Principals' Role Perception and Implementation of Educational Reform

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Patrick Pauken (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Stephen Demuth (Other)

Third Advisor

Jamison Grime (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Tracy Huziak-Clark (Committee Member)

Fifth Advisor

Paul Johnson (Committee Member)


A theme in education stems from comparing international students’ scores on standardized tests with sub-par American students’ scores. The gap between the scores of international students and American students has prompted educational reforms to be passed by state and federal legislatures in the United States. This study begins with an investigation in the A Nation at Risk report and includes No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, Common Core, and the Every Student Succeeds Act. States and school districts across the United States have struggled with adapting these educational reforms over the last few decades. Therefore, research on educational leadership over the decades has provided insight into strategies educational leaders can utilize to successfully implement educational reform. Additionally, the National Policy Board for Educational Administration (NPBEA) established the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders (2015) to provide a set of updated standards for educational leaders. Often tasked with implementing educational reform, principals routinely bear the brunt of guiding the people in their buildings through the maze of changes.

The purpose of this phenomenological study is to discover how six principals see their role and what those six principals do to implement educational reforms. The intended method of coding and data analysis is an existing method by Moustakas (1994). The research questions guiding the study are (1) What do principals from secondary schools in Northwest Ohio perceive to be their role as instructional leaders concerning the implementation of Ohio’s Learning Standards and assessments? and (2) What leadership strategies do principals utilize to carry out implementation of Ohio’s Learning Standards and assessments in their school environment?

Themes from this study that revealed principals’ role perspective included their desire to practice distributed leadership and build relationships to foster a culture of collaboration. The emergent themes regarding leadership strategies included principals’ facilitation of teacher preparation and instruction to implement Ohio’s Learning Standards and assessments. Another major theme was challenges of rural high school principals. The implications for principals include to: maintain a positive attitude, search for solutions to challenges that predictably arise during times of change, utilize proven instructional leadership practices, and leverage their rural community characteristics to care for people. These qualities will help principals effectively lead their buildings through educational reforms.