Impact of Principals on the Quality of Schools, Case Study Example

A case study helps to acquire objective answers from a given problem. A case study involves observations and comparison to various theoretical frameworks For years, the role of school heads has been determined to a large extent by public expectations while the functions of the principal range from management to being a lead teacher. In the contemporary society, the role of the principal has evolved due to the requirement of applying managerial and leadership skills to enable him to tackle challenges occurring in the society. The community expects that the principle play the role of a leader.

The role played by school leaders in the formation of overall culture in the school community cannot be overlooked. The issue of how school systems go about their selectionand placement of successful principals in community schools stands unresolved. However. A formula for school systems to use in order to select, place, and encourage the success of their principals is a requirement. This problem is compounded by the kind of impact that school principals have on the achievement of the student, learning culture and accountability.

The research studywas designed to identify the individual’s preparation for the position of a principal, the associated key responsibilities, attendant pitfalls and the relationship the individual sees to site-based business administration and facilities management in contemporary schools (Jensen, 1998). The research attempts to identify the non-instructional functions as the responsibilities of the school principal, the way that the principal is oriented to oversee these functions and the accountability measures for these functions.

This study used a methodology that was a case study design. Interview was used to collect data. “Deep Run High” school principal was chosen. The findings under this study show that successful principals take the following accountability measures:

  1. exemplary strong organizational skills for efficient time management
  2. proficient knowledge of data and its applications for business and facility management
  • accountability to society by understanding importance of community involvement
  1. empathy through non- judgmental and non -confrontational to eliminate possibility of animosity
  2. flexibility by taking off the cuff decisions
  3. strong people skills and vision for efficient delegation of duties.

About “Deep Run” High School

Deep Run High School is a learning institution which seeks to maintain a comprehensive learning program in a serene environment to encourage students to attain full potential and become a reliable integral part of society (Jensen, 1998).


Selection of school principals is the key to changing the history of a school. Through an interview a principals’ performance ideologies, behaviors and beliefs can be used to determine non instructional functions. These non instructional functions that can be used include;

  1. Leadership- This shows the principal’s resilience when it comes to dealing with recurring tough problems. Is the individual the kind of a person who is able to go against the crowd and challenge legislation that undermines the students’interest?
  2. Commitment towards improving the learning environment of the student, this function predicts the willingness of the principal to enhance and protect student learning. Is the individual a leader who will strive to please his supervisors by creating tension within these intertwined goals?
  • Putting theories into practice- Efficient principals pursue a vision that can better the lives of students and community at large. They use their personal ideologies to depict the vision of the schoolin reference to the education ofa free people. Should the leader be able to articulate the vision persuasively and clearly and communicate his purpose for the school sufficiently?
  1. The School role of serving students from poor backgrounds -Through this function, the individual beliefs towards children underdevelopment in schools is gauged. Does analyzing these beliefs enable the interviewer to tell whether the individual believes in the ability of all children to acquire education?
  2. Fighting burnout and creating a positive school climate – The principal suffers most from burnout since he/she is in charge of conditions which can be influenced, but not manipulated. He must deal with stress amicably and accept it as one of the challenges associated with the job. To that extent, should a good principal believe that he is not exempt from burnout?
  3. Evaluation – This function predicts the principal’s capability to improve his performance, school program, and learning for the students. Is he able to prioritize goals?
  • Decision making – This function helps tell whether the principal believes the school belongs to him or to the community. Can the principal come up with a genuine community in the school composed of teachers, staff, parents and students or does he intend to impose a dictatorial kind of environment where people do what they are told?
  • Fallibility – This function predicts behavior of idiosyncratic nature. Does this have the intention of trying to establish what kind of school climate the individual endeavors to create as a principal?
  1. Style of administration – The respondent’s performance as a leader who takes initiatives in effecting changes is predicted. Is he democratic and does he involve others in making decisions?
  2. Administrative relations with community and parents – the community anticipates a favorable co-existence with the school. Doers such a climate depends on the performance of the principal?

The Principal

Mr. Brandon Hess has been an outstanding English teacher in a number of schools.  In addition, he has served in various leading roles as an English specialist in district schools. He was a self driven and determined person and this was unique ability of being outstanding was the cause of his promotion to the level of a principal at Deep Run High School.

From the responses of Mr. Hess, it is clear that there is significant change from a teacher to a principal in the non-instructional functions played by school administratorsin contemporary society. The principal focused mostly on improving and reforming the school.

Apart from pedagogical responsibilities, Mr. Hess’s response shows that there are a number of non-instructional functions which he dispenses. These include delegating duties to facilitate a smooth running in order to achieve a high quality of teaching. Such duties include parking lot delegation, the collection of parking fees, and supervision of the vending machines.  The principal also has the responsibility to refurbish systems and to ensure their repairs and maintenance.

The principal plays a major role in the decision making process and he enhances the process by encouraging teamwork. For this to be achieved, he engages all those privy to the process in non judgmental and non confrontational conversation whenever an issue needs to be resolved and when he must delegate some duties. As he stated, agentle and empathetic demeanor help to reduce animosity between him and the teachers, thereby promoting teamwork.

The principal also organizes the school calendar and manages school events such as field trips, observations, games, and competitions.  He also carries out regular checks on teacher performance by scheduling weekly meetings where the teachers are required to submit reports detailing all their activities. The principal also manages the school and maintains a physical presence in order to ascertain the order of the school. He monitors extra- curricular activities, like athletic events.

Mr. Hess manages facilities and takes care of catalogues and the evaluation of prices from different vendors. He ensure equitable sharing of resources across the various departments, oversees what fees are being charged, and ensures proper use of these resources.   He also works closely with the accountant and for him to be able to do this; he needs to have accurate knowledge of data. He also took seriously the issues of indiscipline to ensure that student performance was never compromised. He takes custodial care and the vending machines and handles the general budget consistent with funds allocated by the federal government. He oversees day to day school activities and cares for staff development, managed time and teachers’ welfare.

The principal’s view on how he is oriented towards executing these functions is quite surprising. He states that “In regard to budgeting no orientation is necessary as it is not learned in school. Since funds are allocated by the federal government, it is prudent to play the minimal role of consulting with experts, identifying materials and determining what suppliers are fit to do business with so as to keep off from the federal government.” He finds it fit to make off the cuff decisions when faced with issues that needed him to be decisive.

To ensure accountability, the principal keeps regular checks of staff performance. This is sometimes done systematically, especially where the teachers were required to submit weekly reports. He stated that “a little bit of it was that people had to meet from week to week to present a report of what they have been doing”. Also, he had to work with the accountant to ensure that deadlines were being met.

Principals as school heads play an important role in managing business activities in regard to school affairs. The decisions made by principals will determine how funds will be allocated in the construction program of the school, which directly correlates to sustained gains in students reading scores (Jensen, 1998). However, efficient decision making can be hampered should the principal engage in other outside activities that are certain to divide his attention. In the past, principals focused most on slow learners so as to improve on schools grades. At the moment, the roles played by school heads can be said to have evolved to some extent to accommodate everyone. A manager is never worried about the entire issue as he only looks into the problem, for instance, by restricting the thoughts to solving the problem, the manager can easily ignore taking proactive steps to improve the whole being of the student.     The principal’s response demonstrates the necessityfor the paradigm shift that has occurred in school leadership.  School managers play a pivotal role in allocating available resources in the most appropriate and efficient manner for the benefit of the students.



Jensen, P. (1998). Foundations of Organizational StrategyHarvard University Press.