Date of Award

Spring 1989

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Urban Services - Urban Education

Committee Director

Petra Snowden

Committee Member

Jack E. Robinson

Committee Member

Bruce McAfee

Committee Member

Robert Lucking


The purpose of this study was twofold. First, the study determines if Virginia urban public school executive leadership used automated informational systems to support policy, goal setting, and decision making typical of its job requirements. Secondly, the study describes the planning techniques specific to automated system development used by the school division where such automated executive support occurs.

The personal interview method was selected because it helps to insure 100 percent of the desired sample to participate. The interview technique insures responses to direct questions, to narrative responses sought, and to follow-up discussions necessary to insure clarification.

The instrument follows a general to specific pattern of inquiry. First, all division-level administrative computer support functions are identified. Next, the functions are examined related to the collecting and reporting of data. Each reported function was classified as either executive or non-executive, based on the function's use in regard to policy or goal formation. Finally, additional questions requiring "yes" or "no" responses and a series of questions requiring narrative responses were used to describe the planning techniques employed in the implementation of these computer functions.

Results of the study presented in Chapter Four include: (1) The identification of seventeen additional administrative computer functions not identified in either the 1984 American Association of School Administrators study or the 1986 Virginia Department of Education study. (2) Preliminary indications of practices of data utilization that suggest the potential of automated executive decision-making support.

In addition to these results, the study presents in Chapter Five two major conclusions. First, there is evidence that computer technology has advanced to such a level of operational ease that a non-technically trained public school division executive should be able to operate and gain valuable support from the computer or terminal. The executive will realize this benefit only if the programming to deliver information related to the executive level of decision making, as well as the operational requirements, are reduced to a level of difficulty which does not require specialized training. Both of these requirements should be incorporated into an executive support system. Secondly, the review of literature reveals five techniques of needs assessment typically used in the planning and development of automated informational systems. Of these five, the Critical Success Factor (CSF) method best meets the planning needs for developing the type of automated decision-making system necessary for the executive level of management for large urban school division leadership.