The Critical Conditions, Leadership Modes, and Specific Essential Actions Described as Necessary by Effective Secondary School Principals Who Have Achieved School Improvement: A Narrative Inquiry

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D)


Educational Administration

Date of Award

Summer 2020


There was a lack of empirical narratives from principals, and in particular, secondary principals in Texas, about the critical conditions and leadership modes within the 2019 Effective School Framework (ESF) designed by the Texas Education Agency. The purpose of this narrative inquiry was to understand how secondary principals seeking to improve schools in IR status in Texas describe their overall experiences. The study was guided by a theoretical framework involving critical conditions, leadership modes, and specific essential actions labeled as the School Improvement Elements Framework by the researcher. Eight middle school principals of schools were recruited to participate in narrative interviews. The schools had to contain configurations of Grades 6 through 8 and be rated as IR status by the TEA. Each participant was interviewed twice. The interviews were conversational, but semistructured, to ensure the participants had ample opportunity to share their experiences in an in-depth manner. The data formed from the researcher’s creation of participants’ journals that were put together from the researcher’s handwritten notes from both interviews in which their stories were collected. Coding involved the three analytical tools for narrative inquiry of broadening, burrowing, and story and restorying with a coding scheme representing the chunks of their narratives. Several themes emerged from the principal interviews regarding their overall collective experience of improving their schools. Regarding the ESF, four common themes emerged from secondary principals seeking successful school improvement: (a) self-led implementation, (b) positive school culture, (c) high expectations, and (d) overcoming barriers. For the critical conditions needed for ensuring school improvement, three themes emerged from the secondary principals: (a) administration empowers through engagement, (b) resources and empowerment from central office, and (c) system for everything. Finally, for the leadership modes and styles, one major theme of be flexible emerged as overshadowing instructional, transformation, situational, and adaptive leadership efforts when pursing school improvement. Several implications for practice and policy were made and included providing mentors for principals needing to improve their schools. The recommendations for future study included phenomenological and case studies relating to school improvement, mentoring, and teacher empowerment.


Nathan R. Templeton

Subject Categories

Education | Educational Administration and Supervision