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Title:College and career readiness: Principal perceptions and implications for leadership in Illinois high school districts
Author(s):May, Lauren B
Director of Research:Welton, Anjalé
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Welton, Anjalé
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Zamani-Gallaher, Eboni; Hackmann, Donald; Roegman, Rachel
Department / Program:Education Policy, Organization and Leadership
Discipline:Educational Administration and Leadership
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):principal leadership
college and career readiness
Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
Abstract:The definition of postsecondary readiness is evolving from discrete tracks emphasizing preparation for college or career to one that emphasizes college and career. Ideally, such a definition would provide all students access to the curriculum and instruction that weaves together career skills and knowledge with the traditional academic curriculum. Researchers have previously explored what college and career readiness (CCR) entails and how school leaders can work to ensure student attainment. However, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and how Illinois chose to implement the law will require school leaders to interpret and act upon their role in new ways. High school principals, as the instructional leaders of schools, are uniquely positioned to have an impact on student CCR outcomes. The purpose of this study was to examine Illinois principals’ perceptions of CCR under the accountability guidelines of the Illinois ESSA plan and how principals exercise leadership for CCR. This phenomenological study sought to advance the understanding of researchers and practitioners on principal leadership for CCR by addressing three questions through semi-structured interviews: 1) How do principals in high school districts make sense of the definition of CCR present in the Illinois ESSA plan, and how do their beliefs and experiences inform their leadership practice, if at all? 2) What do principals in Illinois high school districts value about CCR, and what factors influence those beliefs? 3) What conditions influence the behaviors and activities of principals in Illinois high school districts related to leadership for CCR? The findings of this study reveal how principals define CCR and how their perceptions are dynamic and evolving. Principals demonstrated both familiarity and positivity regarding the Illinois ESSA plan’s definition of CCR as it aligned with their goal of preparing students for a variety of postsecondary options through authentic experiences for students. Principals indicated that their CCR leadership is informed by multiple factors including their role in the larger educational and economic system. Recommendations include fostering a contemporary view of CCR, utilizing systems thinking to integrate CTE and advising with academic programming, and renewing focus on equitable access, especially with career-focused activities.
Issue Date:2020-11-04
Rights Information:Copyright September 2020 Lauren B. May
Date Available in IDEALS:2021-03-05
Date Deposited:2020-12

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