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AN ANALYSIS OF AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENCY

A Dissertation Defense By Gary D. Bates Committee: William Allan Kritsonis, PhD Ben C. DeSpain, EdD Douglas Hermond, PhD David Herrington, PhD Camille Gibson, PhD
PhD Program in Educational Leadership Prairie View A&M University February 2007

Dissertation Defense Format


I. II. III. IV. V. Purpose of Study Significance of the Study Quantitative Research Questions Quantitative Research Design Quantitative Major Findings & Review of Literature VI. Qualitative Research Questions VII. Qualitative Research Design VIII. Qualitative Major Findings IX. Conclusions X. Recommendations

Purpose of the Study


The primary purpose of this investigation was to study what factors contributed to an African American becoming a school superintendent and retaining that position.

Purpose of the Study (Cont.)


This study also sought to discern whether African American superintendents perceive race as a barrier in obtaining the superintendency

Purpose of the Study (Cont.)


A secondary purpose of this study was to discover if there is a difference in perceptions between African American superintendents, superintendents who participated in the 2000 AASA study, and African American superintendents that participated in Williams study of 1984.

Purpose of the Study (Cont.)


The third purpose of this study was to create a profile of a successful African American school superintendent to assist potential African American superintendents in their endeavor of becoming a leader in education.

Significance of the Study


This study described aspects of the African American school superintendency from past to present and adds to the limited but growing body of research concerning African American school superintendents.

Quantitative Data

Research Questions
Quantitative 1. What are the personal characteristics of currently employed African American school superintendents?

Research Questions
Quantitative 2. Is there a significant difference in the frequencies of the top five ranked factors that inhibit effectiveness of all superintendents in the 2000 AASA study and the responses of African American superintendents in 2006?

Null Hypothesis
H01-There will be no statistically significant difference in the frequencies of the top five ranked factors that inhibit effectiveness of all superintendents in the 2000 AASA study and the responses of African American superintendents in 2006.

Research Questions
Quantitative 3. Is there a significant difference in the frequencies of the factors encountered en route to the superintendency by African American superintendents in the early 1980s and African American superintendents in 2006?

Null Hypothesis
H02-There will be no statistical significant difference in the frequencies of the factors encountered en route to the superintendency by African American superintendents in early 1980s and African American superintendents in 2006.

Research Design Quantitative Instrument Survey-Three Question Types Ranking Likert Type Descriptive/Explanatory

Research Design
Quantitative

Pilot Study - Survey


A pilot study was conducted using simple random sample of size 30. The pilot participants were not a part of the actual study.
An item analysis was applied on the data and a Cronbachs alpha coefficient of .84 was obtained.

Research Design
Quantitative
Survey Target Population African American Public School Superintendents 50 States Sample Simple Random Sample 61 Participants Return rate of 37%

Research Design
Descriptive Statistics Demographics
Age Gender Educational details Yrs Experience Career details Ethnicity of students

Research Design
Hypothesis Stat Method Ind. Variable Dep. Variable

H01

Chi-Square

significance of each challenge

frequency

H02

Chi-Square

factors frequency encountered en route

Factor for Both Tests: Year of Study

Major Findings Research Question 1


Quantitative What are the personal characteristics of currently employed African American school superintendents? 67.2% (n=41) male and 32.8% (n=20) female Median age was in the 5559 group

Major Findings Research Question 1


Quantitative
0% (n=0) bachelors degree 14.8% (n=9) masters degree 16.4% (n=10) working on doctoral coursework 68.8% (n=42) doctorate Employed as a superintendent - mean of 5.29 years 61.1% (n=36) districts lead by the sample have a majority (over 50%) of black students

Research Question 1 Literature Review Quantitative


Williams (1984) found that African American superintendents typically had an African American population slightly over 70% of the total district enrollment. In 2000, the average respondent had served an average of 8.75 years as superintendent according to the American Association of School Administrators 2000 study (Glass et al. 2000). Williams (1984) found that Black superintendents served an average of 5.8 years.

Research Question 1 Literature Review Quantitative


Superintendents that held a doctorate degree comprised 45% of all superintendents (Glass et al. 2000). In 1984, Williams (1984) found that 62.7% of African American superintendents held a doctorate degree. 2000 study, Glass reported that the median age group was 51-55 (Glass et al. 2000). Williams (1984) found that the median age group was 45-49.

Research Question 1 Literature Review Quantitative


The 2000 American Association of School Administrators study reported that male superintendents comprised 86.8% of the respondents while 13.2% were female (Glass et al. 2000). Williams (1984) found in 1984 that 88.5% of his respondents were male while 11.5% were female.

Major Findings Research Question 2


Quantitative Is there a statistically significant difference in the frequencies of the top five ranked factors that inhibit effectiveness of all superintendents in the 2000 AASA study and the responses of African American superintendents in 2006?

Major Findings Research Question 2


H01 There will be no statistically significant difference between the frequencies of the top five ranked factors that inhibited effectiveness between all superintendents in the 2000 AASA study and the responses of African American superintendents in 2006.

Major Findings Research Question 2


Quantitative Respondents were asked to rank 18 factors that inhibit effectiveness in order of importance. After completing a Chi Square it was found that the null hypothesis was rejected based on an alpha of p .05.

Major Findings Research Question 2


Quantitative The top five ranked factors in 2006 were: 1. Accountability/Creditability 2. Compliance with State and Federal Mandates 3. Assessing Education Outcomes 4. Financing Schools 5. Teacher Recruitment/Selection

Major Findings Research Question 3


Quantitative Is there a statistically significant difference between the frequencies of the factors encountered en route to the superintendency by African American superintendents in early 1980s and African American superintendents in 2006?

Major Findings Research Question 3


H02 There will be no statistically significant difference between the frequencies of the factors encountered en route to the superintendency by African American superintendents in the early 1980s and African American superintendents in 2006.

Major Findings Research Question 3


Quantitative African American public school superintendents were given a list of 16 factors encountered en route to the superintendency to rate on a Likert-type scale from 1 4 (1 meaning none to 4 meaning great). These frequencies were compared with the 1984 data.

Major Findings Research Question 3


Quantitative Eight out of sixteen of the identified factors encountered en route to the superintendency had a significance of p<.05, thus rejecting H02.

Major Findings Research Question 3


Quantitative In 13 out 16 cases, the percentages of the factors affecting them decreased. The findings show that the feelings of the African American superintendents have changed significantly from 1984.

Qualitative Data

Research Questions
Qualitative 1. What are the problems in leading a school district identified by African American school superintendents? Is race a factor?

Research Questions
Qualitative 2. What are the barriers to career advancement for African Americans in the superintendency?

Research Questions
Qualitative 3. What qualities or characteristics are vital to the success of an African American school superintendent?

Research Design Qualitative


Interviews Target Population African American Public School Superintendents 50 States Sample Simple Random Sample 28 Participants

Research Design - Qualitative


Interviews Pilot Study The interview questions and guided conversation approach was piloted to establish that the questions were clearly worded and for the interviewer to practice the techniques of the interview process. A pilot study was conducted using 5 African American superintendents.

Research Design
Interview Qualitative 1. What would you define as the challenges public school superintendents face, particularly the ones of African American descent? In your opinion do all superintendents face these issues? In your opinion do you believe that race plays a major role in these issues?

Research Design
Interview Qualitative

2. What qualities or characteristics do you think a successful African American superintendent should possess? Would you say that these traits are needed by all superintendents? What traits would be most important for African American superintendents?

Research Design
Interview Qualitative

3. Describe the type of networking that occurs in your state that assists in the advancement of superintendents? Does this network assist African American superintendents? Do you believe that there is a need for an upward mobility network to assist African Americans in becoming superintendents?

Research Design
Interview Qualitative

4. What is the ethnic breakdown of your district? If the majority population is African American, is working in this district your choice? If you had the choice of working in a district comprised of a majority African American population or a more diverse population which would you choose? Why?

Research Design
Interview Qualitative

5. What advice were you given as a first year superintendent that helped you the most?

Research Design
Interview Qualitative

6. What advice would you give a first year superintendent?

Research Design
Data Analysis Qualitative Emergent category designation Peer Debriefing Triangulation

Research Design
Emergent category designation involves taking the data and sorting them into categories of ideas. This allows themes of ideas to exist intuitively based on the data given. Qualitative data coded accordingly to common themes were analyzed for recurring and emergent themes.

Major Findings Research Question 4


Qualitative What are the problems in leading a school district identified by African American school superintendents? Is race a factor?

Major Findings Research Question 4


Qualitative Emergent themes regarding the challenges facing public school superintendents, particularly the ones of African American descent were funding, accountability, achievement gaps, low social economic status, low perception, and challenging districts.

Major Findings Research Question 4


Qualitative A majority of African American superintendents thought that race plays a role but it takes a backseat to the role of the economic status of their students.

Major Findings Research Question 5


Qualitative What are the barriers to career advancement for African Americans in the superintendency?

Major Findings Research Question 5


Qualitative One major barrier to career advancement is considered to be the lack of upward mobility associations for superintendents in general but especially for African American public school superintendents.

Major Findings Research Question 5


Qualitative The main barrier for many African American public school superintendents was the lack of available districts to which they felt were open for them to apply.

Major Findings Research Question 6


Qualitative What qualities or characteristics are vital to the success of an African American superintendent?

Major Findings Research Question 6


Qualitative Emergent themes regarding qualities or characteristics that a successful African American superintendent should possess were integrity, curriculum and instruction, communication, politics, working with people, personable, financial knowledge, leadership, statistics/research, and passion.

Recommendations
A formal organization be established in each state to assist African Americans specifically in the pursuit of the superintendency. A formal organization be established nationally by district demographics for all superintendents to gain multiple perspectives on educational and social issues.

Recommendations
For African Americans in the pursuit of the superintendency, create relationships with other African American administrators and possibly find a mentor that is currently an African American superintendent.

Recommendations
For African Americans in the pursuit of the superintendency it is suggested that additional educational training should be pursued in the areas of public speaking, governance, and written communication.

Recommendations for Further Study


A national study to compare African American superintendents with similar size districts to determine if the perceptions of challenges and barriers are similar.

Recommendations for Further Study


A national study to compare African American superintendents by national geographic regions to determine if the perceptions of challenges and barriers are similar.

Recommendations for Further Study


A national study of both African American superintendents and their school boards using surveys and interviews to determine the perceptions of the expectations of an African American superintendent.

Recommendations for Further Study


A national longevity study over a period of five to ten years, tracking the number of African American superintendents and the mobility of African American superintendents to verify that the actual number of African American superintendent is growing or declining.

Recommendations for Further Study


A national study of African American ex/retired superintendents to determine their reasons for vacating the superintendency.

Conclusions
Aspiring African American superintendents must possess great communication skills both written and oral, high morals, the ability to influence individuals, and they must be well versed in all aspects of running a school district.

Conclusions
A great significance in change of perceptions of African American superintendents between 1984 and now was found using a Chi Square. Superintendents currently feel that discrimination does not play a major role in the daily operations of leading a school district.

Conclusions
The major challenge faced was not their race, but that a majority of their districts contained a high percentage of low socioeconomic students. The perceptions among African American superintendents is that their race prevents them from being selected for a majority of available superintendent positions.

Conclusions
African American superintendents in 2006 had different perceptions than the superintendents surveyed in 2000 and African American superintendents surveyed in 1984.

AN ANALYSIS OF AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENCY


Gary D. Bates Prairie View A&M University February 2007