Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Educational Administration


Educational Administration

Major Professor

Dr. Brian Beabout


In a 2021 Wallace Foundation study, researchers concluded that effective school leaders may have a greater impact on student achievement than any single classroom teacher, primarily because of the principal’s scope of influence. Therefore, district leaders may consider how to support school leaders and build their capacity to effectively lead schools and school improvement initiatives. Job-embedded professional development has demonstrated promise in providing principals with opportunities to deepen their instructional leadership practice within an authentic school setting. Even though the current research on job-embedded support for school leaders is limited, this study builds on existing research to focus on the types of professional development and district support offered to school leaders and principal perceptions of district led efforts to build their instructional leadership capacity. In this qualitative, explanatory embedded single case study, data was collected through semi-structured interviews of both school and district leaders in a traditional public-school district and observations of principal professional development opportunities. Using New Institutionalism, specifically focusing on isomorphism and threat rigidity effect, as the theoretical framework for the study allows the context in which principals work to also be considered as it may affect perceptions of the professional development and support received. An examination of the school system’s structure and organizational culture, along with the isomorphic pressures that influence district decision-making, provides the context to better understand principal perceptions of district-led leader professional development and support district leaders offer to build principal’s instructional leadership capacity.


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