This study originated as an institutionally sponsored research residency conducted using utilization-focused evaluation (Patton, 2008) to investigate the nature of dispositional changes in candidates pursuing National Louis University’s M.Ed. and Ed.S. degrees leading to educational leadership (EDL) state certification in one large urban school district in a Southern state. The EDL program organized learning objectives intending to develop a specific knowledge base, an operational competency set, and, as this study’s focus, leadership dispositions related to preparing assistant principals and principals to lead effectively in chronically low-performing (CLP) schools. The inquiry cross-analyzed data at the intersection of the graduate program’s disposition-related learning objectives with 13 leadership dispositions identified in The Haberman Educational Foundation Star Urban Administrator Pre-Screener. EDL program faculty administered the pre-screener to EDL program candidates twice, yielding 187 matched pairs in pre-program and post-program administrations. Statistical analyses yielded a significant difference (improvement) in overall Haberman scores at the .01 alpha level, as well as an effect size considered (Cohen, 1969) to be a medium effect size. Faculty triangulated the data with interviews of alumni and faculty with experience in leading CLP schools, who affirmed that focus on leadership dispositions serves an important developmental role in an EDL program. The study appears to validate the measurable presence and dynamic changes in EDL candidate dispositions as an element of a graduate program focused on developing effective leaders of CLP schools.



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