Developing countries in many parts of the world have experienced a disturbing trend in the differential pace of economic development among urban and rural communities. These inequities have been observed in education systems in Asia, Africa, and Latin America where researchers have documented differences not only in resource allocation but also in the academic performance among students in urban and rural schools. Recently researchers have shifted their focus from examining financial and physical resources to investigating the nature and impact of differences in human resources. The purpose of this paper is to examine differences in school organization processes associated with learning-centered leadership and teacher learning among urban and rural primary schools in Thailand. Teacher trust and teacher agency were proposed as possible mediators of leadership effects on teacher learning.
This study employed a cross-sectional survey design. The authors collected survey data from 1,011 teachers and 60 principals in 30 urban and 30 rural primary schools in Thailand. Multi-group confirmatory factor analysis, structural equation modeling, and bootstrapping were used to analyze the proposed model of leadership and teacher professional learning. More specifically, data analysis was aimed at determining the nature of relationships among the constructs in the conceptual model and whether patterns of leadership and teacher learning differed in urban and rural primary schools.
The results affirmed a model whereby school leadership exerted significant indirect effects on teacher learning in both urban and rural primary schools. Data analyses determined that the path of leadership effects moved through trust to agency and then to teacher professional learning. Thus, while the authors found a strong direct effect of leadership on teacher trust, there were only small direct effects of leadership on teacher agency and no meaningful direct effects of leadership on teacher professional learning. Thus, the research affirmed a full mediation model of leadership effects on teacher learning. Finally, the study also affirmed that the measured variables were perceived as significantly stronger in the urban schools than in the rural schools.
The research expands on prior research on the “achievement gap” in Thailand by demonstrating the existence of a similar “human resource gap” when comparing urban and rural school leaders and teachers. This study implies that addressing the gap in student achievement will require action aimed at building the capacity of the principals and teachers who work with the rural pupils.
These results suggest differences in the quality of human resources between urban and rural primary schools in Thailand. There may be potential benefit to be gained from providing training focused on “learning-centered leadership” for principals and middle level leaders, as well as expanding access to quality professional development opportunities for rural teachers.
Piyaman, P., Hallinger, P. and Viseshsiri, P. (2017), "Addressing the achievement gap: Exploring principal leadership and teacher professional learning in urban and rural primary schools in Thailand", Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 55 No. 6, pp. 717-734. https://doi.org/10.1108/JEA-12-2016-0142Download as .RIS
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