THE INTERACTIVE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SELECTED DEMOGRAPHIC AND LEADERSHIP CHARACTERISTICS OF PUBLIC ELEMENTARY-SCHOOL PRINCIPALS AND THEIR SPECIAL EDUCATION RESPONSIBILITIES AND PLACEMENT DECISIONS
The purpose of this study was to identify and analyze demographic and leadership characteristics of urban elementary-school principals that are associated with their (a) responsibility levels in 27 key special-education functions and (b) placement decisions for children with various kinds and degrees of handicapping conditions. The identification of those characteristics associated with school principals' special-education performance levels could have special significance for their initial screening, training, certification, and consequent employment. Subjects. Subjects (N = 166) were contacted, then sent the Leadership Opinion Questionnaire (LOQ), the Rucker-Gable Educational Programming Scale (RGEPS), a special-education responsibility checklist (SERC), and a demographic questionnaire. Nonparticipants included 105 refusers and 42 others that were excluded due to school closings, shared principalships, or incomplete data. Procedure. Six major hypotheses were tested using Pearson correlation coefficients. Additional statistical analysis incorporated: t-tests, analysis of variance, interscale correlations, and Chi-Square tests to compare demographic characteristics of respondents and nonrespondents. Results of the Study. H(,0(,1)), H(,0(,4)): SERC scores evidenced low positive associations with administrative leadership (r = .124, p < .05), exceptional coursework (r = .257, p < .01), and Structure (r = .177, p < .05). SERC scores were not significantly associated with educational experience, school size, city size, job category, sex, exceptional staff totals, and Consideration. H(,0(,2)), H(,0(,5)): RGEPS (low) knowledge scores evidenced low positive associations with educational experience (r = .174, p < .01) and administrative experience (r = .127, p < .05). Other demographic and LOQ variables were not significantly associated with knowledge scores. H(,0(,3)), H(,0(,6)): RGEPS attitude (toward mainstreaming exceptional children) evidenced a low positive association with exceptional staff totals (r = .158, p < .05), and was not associated with other demographic and LOQ variables. Limitations and Implications. Few demographic and leadership characteristics were found to be significantly associated with principals' exceptional-program decisions and involvement levels. Task-oriented principals with extensive administrative experience and exceptional coursework were only slightly more involved in exceptional programs than principals who did not possess these characteristics. This suggests that (1) the LOQ may be a modestly useful instrument to predict principals' involvement levels in exceptional functions, (2) the requirement of exceptional coursework for college training and state certification of school principals may slightly increase principals' participation in exceptional programs, and (3) the employment of school principals with extensive administrative experience may result in slight increases in the level, but not the quality (knowledge), of principals' involvement in exceptional programs. Caution should be used in equating high SERC involvement with favorable situations. Low SERC involvement may be appropriate for certain situations, while extensive SERC involvement without adequate knowledge of or attitudes toward exceptional children may result in less adequate exceptional services, if not conflict with other staff members. RGEPS (low) knowledge evidenced a nonsignificant association with exceptional coursework, but low positive associations with educational (r = .174, p < .01) and administrative (r = .127, p < .05) experience. This suggests that principals' field experiences may not improve their exceptional-education placement decisions. The low correlation coefficients evidenced between all variables in the study suggest that caution must be exercised in any interpretation or generalization of the findings.
JEREMY JON LIETZ,
"THE INTERACTIVE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SELECTED DEMOGRAPHIC AND LEADERSHIP CHARACTERISTICS OF PUBLIC ELEMENTARY-SCHOOL PRINCIPALS AND THEIR SPECIAL EDUCATION RESPONSIBILITIES AND PLACEMENT DECISIONS"
(January 1, 1980).
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