Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Secondary Education and Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Pauline M. Sampson, Ph.D., Dissertation Chair

Second Advisor

Ali Hachem, Ph.D., Committee Member

Third Advisor

Janet Tareilo, Ed.D., Committee Member

Fourth Advisor

Stacy Hendricks, Ed.D., Committee Member

Fifth Advisor

Judy Abbott, Ph.D., Acting Chair, Department of Secondary Education and Educational Leadership


Researchers have not fully examined how school leaders impact the teaching and learning environment when working toward generating students’ academic success. Balyer (2012) called for more work on understanding the transformational leadership behaviors that create conditions conducive to generating student achievement within educational accountability. Therefore, the purpose of this phenomenological inquiry is to explore the lived experiences of principals and their perceptions concerning the state accountability system and how it may impact their transformational efforts in ensuring a holistic and quality education for every child. The phenomenological inquiry will yield the opportunity to compare administrators’ in-depth perceptions of the accountability systems in Texas that may impact how they apply transformational leadership behaviors to their efforts to educate all children. Five principals of schools that administer the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) and its associated end-of-course exams (EOC) and whose schools consistently show high academic performance year-to-year in a Texas urban area were selected to participate in the research. The impact the study has on principals could lead to principal retainment, improvement of student achievement, and trials of better practices and innovative strategies. The data reflected the following overall themes about the phenomenon of transformational leadership by principals in the era of accountability:

  • Navigating the political environment
  • Clear vision and focus on main priorities
  • High expectations
  • Collaborative environment
  • Teamwork
  • Inspiring and motivating teachers and students
  • Effective and on-going professional development

Working in a school district that has a focus on student achievement, not student testing, creates a fertile environment for principals to lead their staff and students. The principal must ensure that the vision for school success is clear so that the entire campus focuses on the main priorities for assuring the academic success of every student. Transformational leaders have high expectations for the staff and students and effective leaders of sustainable and high performing campuses create collaborative environments. An environment of teamwork is a key element of success on a campus because “working together, you achieve more.” Transformational leaders inspire teachers and students to strive for excellence is an important part of transforming an environment and on-going professional development is a vital part of a successful and productive organization.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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