By Jennifer Macones, Principal, Liberty School, Great Meadows Regional School District
Centenary University, Ed.D. candidate

It has widely been debated that the success of a school is based largely upon the morale of those in the trenches. Over the past decade in the United States the public education system has endured numerous changes. These changes came in the shape of education reforms such as high-stakes testing, revised teacher evaluation protocols, expanded tenure requirements, “No Child Left Behind (NCLB)”, and “Race to the Top” initiatives, even the technological advancements which were introduced and believed to modernize education. Not only did most initiatives fail to produce, it led to a great decline in public school teacher morale. The topic of my dissertation study is to explore the relationship between principal leadership and teacher morale in a k-12 school setting.

falling morale - edd - dissertation

With increased demands, lower wages, decreased incentives, increased health care contributions and stress from top-down education reforms, public school teacher morale

has plummeted. In addition, standardized testing has placed fiscal strains on districts to increase technology usage to administer the state mandated tests.  This research will provide ample insight to building administrators to better understand their leadership roles and their direct effect on teacher morale.  It is imperative that principals promote positive work environments to combat these environmental constraints.

Fourteen public schools in northern New Jersey will participate in this study. These schools will consist of buildings serving students in grades kindergarten through twelfth. All schools will vary in population, demographic make-up, student body size, and socioeconomic status.  Teachers and paraprofessionals will complete a 60 question electronic survey which will provide data to help analyze if a relationship exists between principal leadership characteristics and teacher morale.

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