A qualitative study of elementary principals' values and beliefs about early reading

Date of Completion

January 1993


Education, Administration|Education, Early Childhood|Education, Reading




The purpose of this study was to identify elementary principals' values and beliefs about early reading. Next, the influence those values and beliefs have on principals' actions and on the perceptions of teachers was examined. Eight principals, who had served for three or more years were randomly selected. Two primary teachers from each school were also selected at random. Teacher perceptions were theorized to function as a validity check on the value and belief statements made by the principals. The interview transcripts of these 24 educators served as the data for this study.^ Interviews with principals and teachers were in the form of semi-structured dialogue. Each interview was audiotaped and transcribed. Transcripts were coded in several stages. As coding categories were identified and analyzed, important domains emerged. A computer program and a peer reviewer were used to assist in the systematic processing of data.^ The findings reveal that the principals' beliefs are highly consistent with practices cited in current literature related to early reading--particularly in the areas of curriculum and instruction. All the principals believe that early intervention is important for children experiencing reading difficulties. Yet, seven principals believe that the causes of children's reading difficulties lie in factors outside of school which may mean principals do not have firm convictions for the early intervention programs they advocate. In comparing principal statements and teacher perceptions about principals' beliefs and behaviors related to early reading, the highest incidence of congruence is in the categories beliefs about children with reading difficulties and behaviors related to securing resources. The lowest congruence is in the categories beliefs about instruction and supervisory behaviors. ^