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Faculty trust in the principal: an essential ingredient in high-performing schools

Megan Tschannen-Moran (Educational Policy, Planning, and Leadership, The College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, VA, USA)
Christopher R. Gareis (Educational Policy, Planning, and Leadership, The College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, VA, USA)

Journal of Educational Administration

ISSN: 0957-8234

Article publication date: 2 February 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationships among faculty trust in the principal, principal leadership behaviors, school climate, and student achievement.

Design/methodology/approach

Data from 64 elementary, middle, and high schools in two school districts formed the basis of the study (n=3,215 teachers), allowing for correlational and regression analyses of the variables.

Findings

The authors found that faculty trust in the principal was related to perceptions of both collegial and instructional leadership, as well as to factors of school climate such as teacher professionalism, academic press, and community engagement. Student achievement was also correlated with trust, principal leadership behaviors, and school climate. The authors found that both of the composite variables, principal behaviors and school climate, made significant independent contributions to explaining variance in student achievement and that together they explained 75 percent of the variance in achievement.

Research limitations/implications

Limitations of the study include the use of a single form to collect participants’ responses that may have elevated the degree of correlations, as well as the exclusion of rural schools from the sample.

Practical implications

The findings of this study suggest that principals must foster and maintain trust in order to lead schools effectively. Importantly, trust has both interpersonal and task-oriented dimensions. Thus, principals must be prepared to engage collegially with teachers in ways that are consistently honest, open, and benevolent, while also dependably demonstrating sound knowledge and competent decision making associated with administering academic programs.

Originality/value

Situated in a conceptual framework of systems theory, this study explored the interplay of faculty trust in the principal, principal behavior, school climate, and student achievement. The findings suggest that it is necessary for principals to evidence both interpersonal and task-oriented behaviors in order to be trusted by teachers. Furthermore, the strength of the relationships suggests that schools will not be successful in fostering student learning without trustworthy school leaders who are skillful in cultivating academic press, teacher professionalism, and community engagement in their schools.

Keywords

Citation

Tschannen-Moran, M. and Gareis, C.R. (2015), "Faculty trust in the principal: an essential ingredient in high-performing schools", Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 53 No. 1, pp. 66-92. https://doi.org/10.1108/JEA-02-2014-0024

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited