Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)

8-2012

Type of Culminating Activity

Dissertation

Degree Title

Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction

Department

Educational Technology

Major Advisor

Kathleen Budge, Ed.D.

Abstract

Rural schooling and rural communities are interdependent to a degree not seen in suburban and urban contexts. Thus, the threat to the sustainability of one inevitably affects the other. One of the variables in their sustainability may be educational practices (Haas & Nachtigal, 1998; White & Reid, 2008) that influence the likelihood of rural high school graduate outmigration (Corbett, 2007; Huang, Cohen, Weng, & Zhang, 1996). Considering the body of literature that testifies to the strong influence school administrators have in schools (Hallinger & Heck, 1996; Leithwood & Jantzi, 2000; Prestine & Nelson, 2005), understanding the preferences in educational practices by rural school administrators is worthy of study. This study sought to understand the relationship between preferences in educational practices and length of tenure in the context of American historical and political streams among nine rural high school principals in a Rocky Mountain state. The maximum variation sampling strategy created three Administrative Roots Groups (shallow, moderate, and deep). Data was analyzed inductively using the constant comparative analysis method. A moderately strong positive relationship between tenure and preferences for place-based education (PBE) was found. This suggests that strategies need to be implemented to decrease rural high school principal turnover. Additionally, the twin findings that principals felt that their communities were often too small or too homogenous for PBE and that state standards did not allow for PBE suggests that the orientation needs to be incorporated into educational leadership programs (especially in light that none of the principals recalled being exposed to PBE in their educator programs). Also, it appears that better dialogue is needed from state and federal education agencies about acceptable instructional practices in our present standards-based environment.

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