Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Ed.D. Doctor of Education

Academic Discipline

Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Lorrie Butler

Second Advisor

Carla Sparks


The purpose of this evaluation was to analyze the leadership characteristics of principals and determine how the characteristics influenced science achievement. The context of this inquiry was a school system in the southern United States where 55% of elementary students scored below grade level on the end-of-grade science assessment compared to the state average of 36%. I conducted a mixed-method study using extant science achievement data, science teacher survey data, principal survey data, and principal interview data. The survey and interview data demonstrated a disconnect between teachers’ perceptions and principals’ perceptions of science leadership provided by principals. I recommended a policy to improve science scores by providing professional development for principals. The policy included eight action steps to improve student proficiency in science: analyze science performance, set science goals, define instructional practices, establish clear priorities and parameters in which to act, build instructional capacity in the principals, establish indicators to monitor, align leadership behaviors to facilitate the change, and celebrate small wins (Odden, 2012; Kotter, 2012).