Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Education and Human Services


Curriculum & Instruction/Literacy Studies

Committee Chair

Paul Chapman.


The current accountability movement faced by schools throughout the country has prompted educators to close the achievement gap or else face a barrage of federal, state, and public backlash. Schools which have met overall standards will not be considered successful unless they have done something to close the achievement gap. The gaps generally occur among the economically disadvantaged students, minority groups, and those with learning disabilities. The subgroup of particular interest for this research is low socio-economic status students (SES). Principals are the instructional leaders of their buildings. This research focuses on how school leaders are helping disadvantaged students.;To determine what leaders of high performing and high poverty schools are doing to close the achievement gap, a mixed methodology study was completed. Principals in Ohio Schools of Promise (high poverty schools which achieve at high levels on the Ohio Achievement Tests) were asked to complete the Kouzes and Posner Leadership Profile Inventory (LPI) self-survey. A comparison of urban and rural principals was conducted using multiple independent samples t-tests. The results of the survey were also the basis for identifying thirty teachers to interview. The interviews were designed to identify the best practices of principals in these high performing and high poverty schools. A regression analysis was performed to examine possible links between any of several demographic variables and LPI mean scores.;Results of the statistical tests indicated no significant differences in how urban and rural principals in Schools of Promise viewed their strengths and weaknesses as leaders. The regression analysis suggested there a statistically significant relationship between the composite LPI mean scores of principals and both administrative years of experience and student teacher ratio at the .05 level. Emergent themes resulting from the teacher surveys revealed best practices in five leadership areas: modeling the way, inspiring a shared vision, challenging the process, encouraging the heart, and enabling others to act.;The achievement gap between students from low SES backgrounds and their more affluent counterparts has been closed in many schools. The results of this study demonstrate that there are specific strategies leaders can take to help close the gap. The study suggests important steps which can be taken by educators at the building and district levels, as well as the graduate level, to help all students achieve at high levels.