A phenomenological inquiry into being a middle school principal in a high stakes testing era
Wells, Stephanie McClung
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No Child Left Behind as well as current accountability mandates and policies have had profound influence on schools. Although the influence of these policies on teachers is well documented, the experiences of principals are not. This post-intentional phenomenological study was designed to explore the lived experiences of middle school principals in a high-stakes testing era. Four participants participated in four semi-structured interviews, sixteen interviews in total, which were 90-120 minutes long. In addition, publically available documents were analyzed to further my own understandings of the policies that each principal discussed. Each principal had experience being the leader of a school that had been identified as “Needs Improvement” or “Failing.” This provided additional insights into their experiences due to the high stakes nature of their job. Principals willingly discussed the responsibility, pressure, stress, and loneliness of their jobs because of the mandates and policies that are required of them. This is important because it allows school districts and other educational agencies to get a better understanding of the experiences of principals in order to support them in a more effective manner.