Date of Award

Summer 1995

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Urban Services - Urban Education

Committee Director

Jack E. Robinson

Committee Member

Benjamin Troutman

Committee Member

W. Randolph Nichols

Committee Member

Jane M. Hager

Committee Member

Donna B. Evans


This study examined the assistant principalship in urban public high schools in Virginia that were restructuring. The study was designed to determine the role of the assistant principal, to identify how the role had changed as a result of restructuring, to identify concerns and issues to be considered for redefining the role, and to identify modifications to enhance the role.

The literature review revealed that the role in general and in schools that were restructuring had been ignored. Themes identified for exploration included role definition, ambiguity, and conflict; changing relationships; decision making; shared leadership; job satisfaction; and career goals.

A qualitative research design was employed. Four schools serving students in grades 9-12 participated. The primary method of data collection was interviews with 34 participants, including 4 principals, 12 assistant principals, and 18 teachers. Data were also collected through site visits and document analysis.

Findings showed that the primary duties and responsibilities were curriculum/instruction, pupil personnel, and school management, with varying levels of involvement in other areas. In contrast to the literature, administrators identified instruction as the primary duty. They prioritized curriculum/instruction first in importance, followed by pupil personnel, reversing rankings reported in previous research. Teachers identified instruction and discipline as equally important.

Other findings were (1) diversity in the role, (2) an increased workload, (3) more collegial relationships, and (4) a flattened hierarchy. Teacher participation in decision making strongly affected the role. Assistants' attitudes toward risk-taking were important, and the assistant principal was becoming a leader of leaders. Concerns about role ambiguity and conflict were replaced by an orientation toward collaboration, shared decision making, shared vision, and student learning. Restructuring did not lead to greater dissatisfactions, perhaps because of the reorientation toward a shared vision. Assistant principals believed their role in attaining the goals of restructuring was related to supervising and monitoring instruction, having high expectations, being team players, creating an environment conducive to teaching and learning, and building trust.

Among the implications are that (1) principals should consult assistants to identify experiences that tap their potential and to establish the assistant principalship as vital to school restructuring, and (2) early as well as ongoing training is essential.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).