A Study of Alternatives in American Education

Vol. II, The Role of the Principal

by Margaret Ann Thomas

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The second in a series documenting a study of alternative schools in American education. It focuses on the role of school principals in managing diverse educational programs in their schools. From interview data with principals and mail survey responses of teachers, principals were categorized according to their dominant modes of decisionmaking behavior. Alternative programs were categorized into two types, based on their method of organization: those located with other programs in one school building and those organized as separate site programs. The study examines the relationship between principal behavioral style and the extent to which the alternative programs follow diverse classroom practices, and looks at the relationship between principal behavior and tension between program staffs. In addition to this school-level analysis, the study describes the district-level influences on principals and how these influences affected principal selection and their behavior towards alternative programs.

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