Date of Award

Summer July 2011

Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Mary K. McCullough, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Franca Dell'Olio, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Kevin Baxter, Ed.D.


In the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, principal candidates are often ill prepared for the demands of the job. Yearly the Archdiocese hires inexperienced principals in up to 15% of its elementary schools. The principalship is becoming more demanding. At the same time, research shows effective leadership is critical to a school’s success.

This mixed methods study focused on the knowledge and activities of novice principals. The researcher gathered information from second and third year principals in the Archdiocese to determine their knowledge, practice, and desire to learn four effective leadership strategies: instructional leadership, shared decision-making, organization of the learning environment, and developing people. The analysis of the data collected was used to determine the need for a mentoring program for novice principals. The research and data collection consisted of a 48-statement survey using a Likert scale and three open-ended qualitative questions. Three follow-up focus sessions were conducted to clarify survey results and deepen the scope of the study.

Statistical means indicated principals did not implement the strategies to the extent they were known, and principals wanted to learn more about the strategies, especially in instructional leadership. Focus group data indicated principals felt overwhelmed by the job and did not implement the strategies to the same extend they knew them. Principals in the study expressed the need for a mentor, who would have assisted them in fulfilling their role of principal.

Recommendations to improve principal effectiveness were presented to the Superintendent, Regional Supervisors, Pastors, novice principals, and Loyola Marymount University.