Characteristics of the effective literacy principal

Date of Completion

January 2006


Education, Administration|Education, Elementary




The purpose of this study was to examine the characteristics of an effective literacy principal. The study was guided by two research questions: (a) In what ways does the building principal demonstrate the five characteristics of an effective literacy principal suggested by Harwayne (1999), Pessah (2005) and Reeves (2004)? and (b) What other essential factors characterize the effective literacy principal?^ Participant selection was purposeful both in the selection of the principal and teachers. The principal was selected based on recommendations from key informants from the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, Columbia University (Project). The assistant principal, literacy coach, and teachers, who participated in the study, were all assigned to the same school as was the principal. Primary data sources for this qualitative case study were in-depth interviews with open-ended questions and supporting data from observations and documents. Interviews that lasted from 1 to 4 hours were conducted with each participant. In addition, I observed the principal for approximately 40 hours in his role as a literacy leader, and observed the literacy team and teachers in classrooms during and after professional development sessions and in a variety of meetings. Documents were also examined.^ The results of this study revealed that the effective literacy principal integrated instructional leadership, distributive leadership, and transformational leadership and that other significant factors such as the school district's commitment to literacy, funding, and access to professional development, contributed to the effectiveness of the literacy principal.^