Date of Award

January 2012

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

James R. Bliss

Department Affiliation

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies


This study explored whether conventional means to evaluate principal instructional leadership were appropriate in alternative school settings. The mixed methods research included shadowing an alternative school principal over two days during the fall semester, 2011. Data was collected using the Vanderbilt Assessment of Education in Leadership's (VAL-ED) Time Task Analysis ToolTM checklist supplemented by naturalistic observations and ongoing explanations by the principal. Leader activities were categorized within three major categories: instructional, management, and personal. Additional activity descriptions were based on instrument subcategories, multiple cycles of coding, and analytic memoing. Conclusions indicated that the VAL-ED instrument failed to accurately define the range of entrepreneurial and outreach activities this alternative principal undertook. The checklist was insensitive to the degree to which the principal multitasked, combining management with instructional duties. The observations provided important clues to principal function, suggesting a more nuanced evaluation useful in nontraditional settings.