Principals' perception of site-based managed Milwaukee public schools

Patrick Joseph Murphy, Marquette University


The influence site-based management has had on student academic performance in the Milwaukee Public Schools is unknown. Ten Milwaukee Public Schools were designated site-based in 1987, when the program was begun. This research focused on the perception of the principals who have served in the ten schools since 1987. The study investigated the leadership role the principals perceive they play under the site-based governance model, and asked them to identify areas of perceived influence as well as those that are the greatest challenge for them. The research also explored whether site-based management has impacted student academic performance and student conduct. The research methodology employed was a qualitative case study approach. An instrument was developed and sent to the fourteen principals who agreed to participate in the study. Personal interviews were also conducted with the principals. A pilot study was undertaken to test the flow and structure of the questions along with the areas of exploration. The data was clustered into categories and submitted to a cross-case analysis. The responses were also compared to the leadership roles identified as the "Effective Principal" by Dr. Thomas Sergiovanni. The results of the research show that principals have no way of knowing whether site-based management has impacted student academic performance and student conduct. As one principal stated "we may never know." The principals are supportive of site-based management as a governance model, and feel they have the most influence in the area of curriculum. The main area of frustration for the principals is the union contract. The principals have no say over teachers transferring to their school, and it is "next to impossible" to do something about a teacher who is "not up to par." The conclusion reached is that change is not an easy task. Principals need to be better prepared for the culture of empowerment and teamwork they are seeking to foster.

Recommended Citation

Murphy, Patrick Joseph, "Principals' perception of site-based managed Milwaukee public schools" (1995). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9600857.