Date of Award

January 2013

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Charles S. Hausman

Department Affiliation

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies


High Schools located in Kentucky's rural Appalachian region have historically performed below average on national and state assessment instruments. These schools are located in a geographically isolated region with high unemployment, almost stagnant population growth and limited economic resources. Principals of these Kentucky Appalachian Schools are charged with raising student achievement and ensuring college and career readiness for all students in this challenging environment.

This correlational research examines principal leadership as determined by teacher responses on Kentucky's 2011 TELL survey and its relationship with student achievement as defined by school level performance on 2011 ACT and gains in student performance between 2010 PLAN and 2011 ACT. Principal leadership is categorized into operational, instructional and cultural dimensions as well as collectively. The study also reviews the relationship between student achievement and school characteristics of total student enrollment, per pupil expenditure, teacher education level, free/reduced lunch eligibility and school leadership.

Kentucky Teacher TELL survey responses regarding Appalachian high school principal behaviors related to school culture received the lowest mean scores while instructional leadership garnered the highest rating. Survey responses also presented strong positive correlations existed among the three leadership dimensions and overall leadership. Additionally, linear regressions of the leadership dimensions and overall leadership did not predict student achievement on the ACT or gains from the PLAN to the ACT. Finally, regressions of the school characteristics indicated that only the percentage of students eligible for free and reduced lunch was a significant predictor of Appalachian student performance on the ACT and PLAN/ACT gain