UMI Number: 3340157
Copyright 2008 by
Hagerty, Susan Fitzgerald
All rights reserved.
The quality of this reproduction is dependent upon the quality of the copy
submitted. Broken or indistinct print, colored or poor quality illustrations and
photographs, print bleed-through, substandard margins, and improper
alignment can adversely affect reproduction.
In the unlikely event that the author did not send a complete manuscript
and there are missing pages, these will be noted. Also, if unauthorized
copyright material had to be removed, a note will indicate the deletion.
UMI Microform 3340157
Copyright 2009 by ProQuest LLC.
All rights reserved. This microform edition is protected against
unauthorized copying under Title 17, United States Code.
ProQuest LLC
789 E. Eisenhower Parkway
PO Box 1346
Ann Arbor, Ml 48106-1346
Copyright by Susan Fitzgerald Hagerty, 2008
All rights reserved.
As many researchers and writers will attest, it is only with the help of many that
the single product is actually is completed.
I would like to acknowledge and express my gratitude for the assistance and
guidance from my committee. The road to this point certainly had its fair share of
unexpected turns. That I was able to navigate to this point is due so much to the help and
confidence of Dr. Robert Roemer, Dr. Maria Israel and Dr. Kathleen Goeppinger. Thank
you all for your feedback, suggestions and thought provoking questions. I am also very
appreciative for the excellent editing from Lynn Martin.
When this work began, I expected to be challenged to learn; I did not foresee to
be as touched as I was by the participants themselves. I can only hope that I have given
the appropriate voice to the group of educators who generously gave their time to
participate in this study. Their willingness to share their experiences so openly combined
with their enthusiasm to help me complete this academic goal, is appreciated more that I
can express. Their dedication to their students, faculty and community is inspiring. To
them I offer my most sincere thanks.
To my friends and coworkers who continually offered their interest and
encouragement, we can say that social capital truly does exist. Thank you all.
Finally, to my family who constantly remained faithful throughout this long
endeavor. 1 must say that knowing I had you all to come home to, helped during the
long hours. To Katy and Maureen, I hope you know how much of an inspiration
you are. Paul, thank you for all your patience and support.
I would like to dedicate this work to my father, Robert E. Fitzgerald, M.D.,
who so clearly lived by the tenet that continual learning, and furthering your education
are lifelong pursuits.
Trust and the Economy 5
The Components of Trust in Organizations 6
Trust in Schools, Improvement, and Reform 11
Theoretical Framework and Significance of the Study 13
Research Questions 16
Definition of Terms 17
Empirical Studies 20
Ethics, Responsibility, and Authenticity in Leadership 24
From Literature Review to Research 29
Research Design 31
Sampling Method 32
Procedure 35
Delimitations of the Study 36
Bias Minimization 39
Research Tool Design 39
Confidentiality 46
Summary of Research Methodology 46
Decision-Making Models for Situations in Education 47
The Ethic of Justice 47
The Ethic of Care 48
The Ethic of Critique 49
The Ethic of the Profession 49
Demographics 52
Research Question 1 – How Do Key Administrators in
in Education Identify and Define Important or Critical? 53
Issues Educational Leaders Faced 58
Affecting School and Community 58
Hiring and Retaining Teachers 60
Restructuring Cases 62
Curriculum 65
Finances 66
Facilities 67
Legal 67
Non-Academic Programs 68
Special Student Population 69
Staff Development 70
Research Question 2: What Strategies Are Employed in
Addressing and Resolving Decisions 71
A Rule, Law or Policy? 72
Special Care Needed or Consideration to the Rule? 74
Neither Rule based, nor Exception to the Rule 75
Research Question 3: When Administrators Make These
Decisions, Do They Make Them in an Environment of Trust? 79
General Comments on Trust 80
Faculty Trust 83
Benevolence, Reliability and Competence 83
Honesty 85
Openness 86
Discerning the Intentions of Others 87
Respect 88
Personal Regard 88
Competence 89
Integrity 90
Review of the Problem 96
Significant Findings 97
Trust and School Achievement 99
Unexpected Findings 104
Research Question 4: What do Administrators’ Perceptions
Tell us about Educational Leadership? 107
The Ethic of Community 108
Thoughts for Future Study 111
What Can Be Done to Understand High School Better? 111
Conclusions 113
Appendix A—Letter to Superintendents 115
Appendix B—Letter to HR Leaders 117
Appendix C—Release Form 119
Appendix D—Interview Guidelines 122
VITA 131
1. Faculty Trust vs. Transactional Trust
2. Trust from Shared Role Understanding vs. Transformational Trust
3. Interview Questions and References
4. Decision Making Styles using Education Models
5. Faculty Trust
6. Conditions of Trust based on the Intentions of Others
Figure Page
1. Social Capital Cycle 3
2. Participants’Years of Experience 53
3. How Leaders define a Critical Decision 57
4. Issues Educational Leaders Faced 71
5. Initial Decision Style Classification 76
6. Decision Styles after 2n
Analysis 77
7. ISAT—Reading, 2003-2007 101
8. ISAT—Mathematics, 2003-2007 101
9. ISAT—Science, 2003-2007 102
10. Degrees Achieved by Faculty 103
11. Teachers Experience and Salaries 104
12. PSAE—Reading, 2004-2007 105
13. PS AE—Mathematics, 2004-2007 105
14. PSAE—Science, 2004-2007 106
Literature from the 1990s has professed that not only is trust a key ingredient for a
business’s viability and sustainability, it is vital to organizations that want to succeed in a
global economy. As a consequence of organizational restructuring, downsizing or
integrating acquired companies as part of a merger, companies must depend on diverse
and remote teams working together, in order to succeed. In this effort, trust is especially
critical. One specific type of organization, the United States’ Education system is
struggling to consistently reach achievement levels and is under continual scrutiny, in
light of repeated poor performance against recently mandated standards.
After reviewing a several key studies focusing on elementary and middle schools
in an urban setting, Hoy and Tschannen-Morran (1999), Bryk and Schneider (2002),
Kochanek (2005), the intent of this study is to explore the dynamics of decision-making
in connection with the concept of trust, specifically, the perceptions of key decisionmakers in education. Using a purposeful sample of key decision makers in Human
Resources involved in actual decision-making situations, this research examines how
existing components of trust are either central or peripheral to the perceptions of decision
makers across a spectrum of issues.
Where prior studies were conducted in an urban setting and looked at trust from
the viewpoint of principals to teachers, teacher to teacher and sometimes parents to
teachers and principals, this inquiry seeks evidence as to the perceptions of those in
suburban district offices. This group is very involved in decisions that affect all levels of
the educational organization and this paper seeks to understand their perspective and give
them a voice.
Trust is a social good to be protected as much as the air we
breathe, or the water we drink. When it is damaged, the community
as a whole suffers, and when it is destroyed, societies falter and
collapse. Trust and integrity are precious resources, easily
squandered, hard to retain.
(Bok, 1978, p. 10)
In the above quote, Bok (1978) is speaking of trust in the context of her principle
of veracity and asserting a clear case against lying. It draws one to imagine how much
having trust impacts daily existence. Without a basic level of trust, one would need to
clarify every statement of conversation or verify and validate every transaction
encountered in a day, each day of life. However, in a situation with trust, because
individuals have confidence and belief in each other, communication is improved. Not
every statement needs confirmation and day-to-day activities are efficient. Whether in
personal or organizational settings, trust has tremendous value. The concept has been
studied and discussed in numerous contexts including a single interpersonal interaction, a
global economic perspective, and various organizational and institutional groups in
between. And yet, on an individual level, everyone can relate to personal experiences
where trust was high and interactions seem to flow without effort, as well as the contrary
case where a confidence had been broken and repair (or a rebuilding of trust) was
necessary if the relationship was to continue.
Through a number of perspectives, this study will show the value of having and
fostering trust in organizations. Specifically, this study centers on leaders in educational
settings, their decision making, and how the components of organizational trust might
influence effectiveness.
Trust has been referred to as both the emotional glue that joins leaders and
followers together (Bennis & Nanus, 1985), and the lubricant that aids in the efficiency of
organizational operations (Arrow, 1974; Bennis & Nanus, 1985; Tschannen-Morran &
Hoy, 1998). In fact, Covey (2006) states that the actual cost of having trust, or the lack of
it in an organization, can be quantified. This research attempts to show that trust is
actually beneficial to organizations in a number of ways.
Trust leads to social capital which, according to Cohen and Prusak (2001),
includes “the stock of active connections among people, the trust, mutual understanding,
and shared values and behaviors that bind the members of human networks and
communities and make cooperative action possible” (Cohen & Prusak, 20jQl). When this
social capital exists, it leads to greater organizational effectiveness, trust is developed,
goals are aligned, and fewer conflicts among individuals or groups arise. When a conflict
does happen, it can be resolved with open communication and problem solving tactics.
Operational issues can be handled at lower levels because employees are trusted to do the
right thing.
As MacMillan (2006) points out, organizations with social capital have lower
turnover rates as employees perceive better job security. Because the company is more
able to promote from within, there is more continuity of leadership as well. MacMillan
also says that organizational growth seems connected to social capital—as a company
grows, it becomes more competitive in the market which allows for more employee
opportunities. Conceptually, this is depicted in Figure 1.
Figure 1. Social Capital Cycle.
Competitive in
Long Term
Employment o
Francis Fukuyama (1995) has examined a wide range of cultures in an attempt to
find principles that lead to prosperity in society. Fukuyama’s premise is that the economy
is dependent on the bonds of social trust and is the:
Unspoken, unwritten bond between fellow citizens that facilitates transactions,
improves teamwork, increases knowledge sharing, empowers individual creativity
and justifies collective action. In the global struggle for economic predominance
that is now upon us, a struggle in which cultural difference will become the chief
determinant of natural success, the social capital represented by trust will be as
important as physical capital.
(Fukuyama, 1995, jacket cover, para 3)
Fukuyama (1995) also believes that a high trust society can be more flexible in
the work place without being dependant on rules and policies. Instead, workers can be
trusted with decision making responsibilities.
While these cited authors agree that trust and social capital are beneficial if not
necessary for an organization’s success, the consequences of its absence is also clear as in
the recent cases of such companies as WorldCom, Enron, and Arthur Anderson. These
examples are painful memories to the employees and stockholders affected by these
organizations’ failure to live up to the expectations of those who trusted them. As
corporations are required to have explicit measures in place to assure compliance with
laws and standards, would they not also have well-trained and knowledgeable executives
capable of making good decisions? How could Enron, the sixth largest energy
corporation in the world, find themselves in a position of declaring bankruptcy? Certified
public accountants receive training, licenses, and status based on the assumption they will
represent the public’s interest in their review (or auditing) of the financial practices of the
individuals or companies they are hired to serve. However, Arthur Anderson, the
accounting firm responsible for auditing Enron, its largest client, had been dealing with
slower growth and having internal conflicts within its auditing and consulting divisions.
(Enron paid over $50 million per year to the firm’s auditing, consulting, and tax
divisions.) By the 70s and 80s, internal conflicts finally led to the consulting division
being spun off. In 2000, Accenture became a wholly independent entity with 80 former
Arthur Anderson employees working for Enron. Could this have led to an insufficient
division of interest and possibly led to, as Gardner (2005) refers to as, “compromised
work” (pp. 42-43)?
The accounting profession claims to have the second oldest code of ethics in
history—the first being the Hippocratic Oath traditionally upheld by physicians that
pertains to the ethical practice of medicine. The American Institute of Certified Public
Accountants (AICPA) states that its code applies to all certified public accountants in
both the public and private sectors. The AICPA even requires continuous education
courses in accounting policy and ethics in order for its members to remain certified
practitioners (Gini, 2006). So, one might propose that in the Anderson-Enron example, it
was not a case of not knowing the right thing to do but more a question of making the
decision to actually do the right thing?
In response to this financial failure, and to prevent other occurrences, the
Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) was enacted in 2002 to ensure that publicly traded companies
accurately report their financial status and thus protect employees and stockholders from
catastrophic losses. This explicit control requires companies to document the calculation
processes and assure that internally, operations are under control (Grossman, 2005).
Trust and the Economy
The amount of trust varies from one society to another. Fukuyama’s (1995) work
discusses the high-trust cultures (United States, Japan) and compares the attributes of
low-trust societies (China), and the Latin Catholic cultures (France, southern Italy, Spain)
that favor strong family bonds and indicate a lack of trust with individuals not related to
each other. As a consequence in these regions, many businesses are “family-owned and
managed and tend therefore to be of rather small scale” (Fukuyama, 1995, p. 56).
Where a number of authors contend this is central to business success (Covey,
2006,2008; Marshall, 2000; Reina & Reina, 1999; Shaw, 1997), Fukuyama (1995)
argues that only those societies with high degrees of social trust will be able to create the
kind of flexible, large-scale business organizations that are needed for successful
competition in the emerging global economy.
According to Reina, D., Reina, M. L. (1999), the same point can be made that
building trust is especially important in a global economy because it increases creativity
and critical thinking. With these attributes, organizations can have more flexible and
adaptive work environments—the premise being that this leads to increased performance,
greater willingness to take on challenges and ultimately, to exceed business expectations
(Covey, 2006,2008; Marshall, 2000; Reina & Reina, 1999; Shaw, 1997).
The Components of Trust in Organizations
While it may be possible to say that one has trust in an organization, actually,
trust is first given to individuals within a group. As a whole, it is their collective actions
that may later lead to building trust in the organization. In looking at the components of
trust in organizations, thefe are three key concepts:
1. Trust in transactions.
2. Trust in the minds of individuals.
3. The effect trust plays in leadership.
Trust in transactions
The work of Reina, D., Reina, M. L. (1999) is helpful in explaining that trust is a
relationship of mutual confidences in contractual performances, honest communications,
expected competences, and capacities for unguarded interaction. Reina et al. (1999)
found that one model is to define trust as either transactional or transformational, and
that there are three types, each of which have specific behaviors that build and maintain
trust in the work place. They are:
1. Contractual.
2. Communication.
3. Competence.
Contractual trust involves managing expectations, establishing boundaries,
delegating appropriately, encouraging mutually-serving intentions, keeping agreements,
and being congruent in one’s behavior. Communication trust is “the willingness to share
information, tell the truth, admit mistakes, maintain confidentiality, give and receive
constructive feedback, and speak with good purpose” (Reina & Reina, 1999, p. 81).
Lastly, competence trust is characterized by a willingness to trust the capability of others
and to do what is needed ourselves. Along with the element of personal accountability is
the need to “respect people’s knowledge, skills, and abilities” as well as their judgment.
Competence trust also includes “involving others”, “seeking their input” and “helping
people learn skills” (Reina & Reina, p. 81).
According to Reina, D., Reina, M. L. (1999), transformational trust is a higher
form of trust and occurs when the amount of trust within a team or organization
ultimately leads to an exceptional level of output or performance. Four characteristics are
usually present in order to reach this level. They are: conviction, courage, compassion,
and community. These four characteristics must be practiced on a daily basis to actually
demonstrate the behaviors of transactional trust (Reina & Reina, p. 19).
Covey (2006) has written about the benefits of trust in transaction—that it affects
the organization’s bottom line. He devised a model in the form of an equation that shows
that as trust increases, efficiency improves and costs go down. He sees trust as something
businesses have taken for granted but should now realize how powerful and influential it
can be for leaders and organizations today. Like others, Covey professes that trust is an
economic driver and contends that trust affects two measurable outcomes: speed and cost.
When trust goes up, costs go down and speed goes up. This creates a trust dividend.
When trust is down, speed goes down and costs go up. Covey calls this the trust tax.
While this cost may not actually show up on a company’s balance sheet, it is evident in
other problems such as redundancy, bureaucracy, politics, disengagement of employees,
turnover rates, and fraud (Reina & Reina, 1999).
Trust in the minds of individuals
In a set of articles written for Executive Development, Rogers (1995a, 1995b)
introduced the concept that trust is a psychological contract between employees and
employers. As previously discussed, individual employees would trust their organizations
based on past treatment and their belief that one had a sense of security working for that
organization—positive aspects for any business. However, as business conditions
changed and the economy became more global, many employees suffered the loss of their
job (or status) as a backlash to resulting mergers and acquisitions. Where in the past, an
individual may have felt a certain loyalty to their employer; a willingness to take on other
roles; or endured the personal hardships associated with relocating for a new position,
loyalties now shifted to professions or self-development. For example, individuals would
feel more closely tied to the profession of engineering versus staying with a particular
company. In addition, employees might be inclined to leave an organization in search of
more challenging assignments or the opportunity to improve their skills. Rogers adds that
business leaders’ actions are very important in contributing to changing an organization.
The effect trust plays in leadership
Fostering trust is based on a number of factors, two of them being: business
competence and people orientation. Business competence includes leadership
competence and an orientation to take action. People orientation is comprised of a
fundamental belief in people, open communication, and consistent behavior. For
example, J. W. Marriott, Roger Milliken, and Pete Correll of Georgia Pacific (a
manufacturing company that employs over 50,000 people in 300 locations) are leaders
who have earned the respect and trust of their employees by taking the time to visit
various locations and plants to talk to their employees (Rogers, 1995b). To retain trust
with employees, leaders need to be consistent and, according to Rogers (1995b), able to
create a high-trust vision, know yourself, build bridges of commitment, model your
beliefs, and encourage team trust.
After leaders retain trust with employees, trust among employees needs to be
promoted and cultivated. According to Rogers (1995b) to build trust among team
members, leaders should encourage the following:
1. Maintain each other’s self-esteem.
2. Support and praise each other.
3. Keep sensitive information confidential.
4. Stand up for each other.
5. Avoid gossip or unfair criticism of others.
6. Appreciate each other’s skills and differences.
Rogers (1995b) believes that the long-term relationship forged between employer
and employee cannot exist as it did decadesago. Rogers challenges today’s business
leaders to strengthen the psychological contracts with employees believing it is the most
important role they can play in the organization’s future and long-term successes.
Like Fukuyama (1995), Shaw (1997) also contends that trust is vital to business
success—specifically because of what would occur in its absence. Shaw’s discussion
differs from others. He notes that a discussion of trust in the organizational view cannot
stop with just the personality or character rationale. He maintains that trust must be
treated as a structural and cultural character ^)f the organization and in some cases
requires tough actions on the part of the leader. According to Shaw, trust has to be
integrated into the company via the following four levels: individual credibility, one-toone collaboration, team performance, and overall business vitality.
Shaw (1997) maintains that the organization must balance the three key
imperatives of: results, action with integrity, and demonstrating concern. Like others,
Shaw comments on key business areas such as structure, management policies,
technology systems, informal culture, member values, and leadership behaviors. One
distinction Shaw has is his overriding commitment to balancing the tough decisions
regarding people not sharing the overall vision. Here, the organization’s need would be to
take an unpopular action (or remove an individual from their position). Shaw agrees with
Fukuyama (1995) in that an organization cannot allow its members to benefit from being
part of the organization without making an appropriate contribution. This is not to say
that harsh actions are taken without concern. Again, in line with Fukuyama, Shaw
stresses that all human beings believe they have a certain amount of inherent worth or
dignity. This demonstrates the concern part of the balance.
Trust in Schools, Improvement, and Reform
While there has been a significant amount of literature on the topic of trust in
organizations, when Tschannen-Moran wrote Trust Matters (2004), she cited that the
systematic study of trust in schools had been neglected. In conducting her literature
review, she noted that prior research had looked for the presence of trust among such
groups as teachers and principals, teachers and parents, and teachers with the school
board. As in any successful organization and as will be discussed in detail later in this
work, trust in a school setting is important and a necessary condition for school
improvement. Better practices leading to improved achievement are needed in the current
educational environment as educational leaders and the American educational system in
general, are currently under continual scrutiny—whether the criticism points to how the
system leaves behind the struggling disadvantaged (Wallis & Steptoe, 2007), or how it
fails the group classified as gifted (Cloud, 2007).
The most recent and comprehensive federal education legislation was enacted into
law when President Bush signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in January
2002. Generally known as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), this legislation joins a
long list of educational reforms including the Smith-Hughes Act of 1917, the National
Defense Education Act of 1958, the original Elementary and Secondary Act of 1965, the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1975, as well as Goals 2000 (Harvey,
2003; Zietlow, 2002). However, even with the most recent law, debate is continual as
critics of the NCLB legislation take sides. Some challenge educational administrators to
stop complaining about accountability and start making improvements; others insist that
NCLB is sorely under funded and that policy makers know little about the problems they
make policy for, stressing that insisting on testing without fixing the ability to increase
capacity only makes the problems worse (Elmore, 2003; Jerald, 2003).
In these times of school reform and broad initiatives, relational trust will reduce
the sense of risk, encourage support from parents, and give teaching professionals a sense
of security to implement better practices (Bryk & Schneider, 2002). Students need this
type of network (or social capital) both for learning as well as socially. If it is not
available, then students will look for it in other areas, possibly outside the school and not
always in the most helpful environment (Bryk & Schneider, 2002; Sergiovanni, 2005).
However, to even begin reform, some level of trust is needed—higher levels of
trust would be crucial for true reform and improvement to occur. Without a baseline level
of trust, conversations about process and instructional reform cannot start (Kochanek,
In her book, Building Trust for Better Schools, Julie Kochanek (2005) notes that
there have been a number of researchers looking at this topic with similar results.
Hoy and Tschannen-Morran (1999) developed a definition of trust in schools from the
cultural climate perspective while Bryk and Schneider (2002) conceptualized trust in
schools as a product of everyday interactions that affected individual relationships that in
turn, affected the characteristics of the schools’ structure.
Theoretical Framework
& Significance of the Study
With considerable discussion around the efficacy of education, it appeared that a
research project that looked into the more internal processes of decision makers, their
perceptions while contemplating their decisions, and the issue of organizational trust,
would contribute to an area not yet fully explored. If the research study could offer a
view of educational leadership from this perspective, then it was hoped that it would lend
a voice to this group of educational leaders, and administrators as well.
Basic to this investigation are the following questions: How do leaders make
decisions affecting their schools? Do they exhibit behaviors that lead to building trust?
Based on the findings, what can be said about their organizations?
Interest in the subject of organizational trust originated from the researcher’s
observations and professional involvement with these explicit controls (in response to
SOX), and the implementation of ethics hotlines and training programs. Yet, these acts
and programs are still external. As a human resources professional and participant in the
organizational implementation of legal and ethical training modules, the researcher finds
the internal process of decision making, and the implications of trust, an area that is in
need of further investigation and analysis. As a student in the field of educational
leadership, this research differs from prior studies as it offers an opportunity to explore
trust and decision making at the district office level, where assistant superintendents deal
with human resource-related issues.
Prior studies in educational research have looked at school effectiveness
(Goodlad, 2004), or have taken a case study approach and examined the characteristics of
a school recognized for Excellence in Education (Giancola & Hutchison, 2005). The
latter was an effort to isolate proven best practices and share in the hope that other
institutions would benefit from the learning. Significant research work in the Chicago
Public School system centered around the behaviors of the principal; their leadership
style; and its effect on the trust relationships of principal-to-faculty, faculty-to-faculty,
and principal-to-parents (Kochanek, 2005). The methodology for these studies was
primarily quantitative, conducted at the elementary and middle school levels in an urban
setting. These prior studies looked to isolate and define (within an educational setting) the
presence of components of organizational trust and its possible effect on school
effectiveness. But they did not consider the viewpoint or perspective of the decision
makers at the time they contemplated their dilemmas.
Also, while a number of studies looking at the concepts of trust, social capital,
and leadership have utilized a quantitative method, this researcher chose instead to
emphasize a more phenomenological view. Qualitative interviews were chosen because
of this method’s ability to unearth greater detail about participant’s perceptions as
compared to a quantitative survey.
Therefore, this current study (which attempts to examine the perceptions of key
decision-makers in education, investigates how critical decisions were defined and made,
examines the criteria they were based on, and explores the implications of trust in those
situations) could fill a gap in the literature.
During fieldwork, the researcher probed into the basis for an important decision,
the stakeholders, and how the concept of trust is considered when a decision maker must
make a critical choice. For example, is historical or organizational culture the dominant
guide? Is a common decision style preferred? Does the decision maker consider that there
are expectations on the part of those affected by this decision?
Initially this project’s sample was to include only assistant superintendents of
human resources and not their superintendents to avoid conflicts of interest. In reality,
due to organizational staffing structures of the participants, two Superintendents
participated for their districts. Also, because prior studies centered on elementary and
middle schools in an urban setting, this researcher wanted to include the possibility of
new information so chose to include districts containing high schools (located in the
suburbs of a major metropolitan city).
Research Questions
The specific research questions of this study were:
1. How do key administrators in education identify and define what they
consider to be important (or critical) values and principles when facing a
human resources-related decision?
2. What strategies are employed in addressing and resolving decisions that are
problematic or result in a dilemma?
3. When administrators make these decisions, do they make them in an
environment of trust?
4. What do administrators’ perceptions tell us about educational leadership?
While this chapter attempts to put the research question in a social and
educational context, Chapter II will review relevant literature and empirical studies of
trust in school environments.
Definition of Terms
American Association of School Administrators.
American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium.
The No Child Left Behind Act was signed on January 8,2002. Originally known
as Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), it is the most recent federal
education legislation and affects the grades kindergarten through high school.
Annual state and district report cards are published to inform the community
about the schools’ progress based on standardized achievement tests. School that
do not make adequate progress must provide additional services and implement
corrective action (U.S. Department of Education. PL 107-110 No Child Left
Behind (NCLB), 2002).
Contractual Trust
Contractual trust involves managing expectations, establishing boundaries,
delegating appropriately, encouraging mutually-serving intentions, keeping
agreements, and being congruent in one’s behavior.
Communication Trust
Communication trust is “the willingness to share information, tell the truth, admit
mistakes, maintain confidentiality, give and receive constructive feedback, and
speak with good purpose” ((Reina & Reina, 1999, p. 81).
Competence Trust
Competence trust is characterized by a willingness to trust the capability of others
and be counted upon individually. To exhibit competence trust, one needs to
respect others’ knowledge, skills, and abilities, as well seeking their input and
helping others develop skills.
Ethics is the study of beliefs, principles, and values.
Faculty Trust
Faculty trust has been defined as an important element in developing a positive
school climate. There are five components including: benevolence, reliability,
competence, honesty, and openness.
Transactional Trust
Transactional trust helps to build trust in the work place. There are three
components in transactional trust: contractual, communication, and competence
Transformational Trust
Transformational trust is a higher form of trust than transactional and leads to
exceptional levels of performance. Transformational trust happens when a team
possesses courage, conviction, compassion, and community.
Sarbanes—Oxley Act (SOX)
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act was enacted in 2002 to ensure that publicly traded
companies accurately report their financial status.
Social Capital
Social Capital includes the active connections among people, mutual
understanding, and shared values and behaviors that join individuals into a
network or community. It includes a high level of trust which leads to cooperation
and efficiency.
Before discussing specific research on the topic of trust in education, it is
necessary to review a basic definition. Shaw (1997) gives a good working definition of
trust that includes “the belief that those on whom we depend will meet our expectations
of them” (Shaw, 1997, p. 21). Shaw later adds “positive expectations” to this definition to
acknowledge that individuals who continually disappoint, although predictable, will
ultimately not have trust from others (Shaw, 1997, p. 22). Misha’s (1996) definition of
trust includes attributes of both parties in the interaction and states that trust is when one
is willing to be vulnerable to another based on the belief that the second party shows the
qualities of being competent, open, concerned, and reliable. In reviewing the studies on
trust done in education, it is Misha’s definition with its mention of vulnerability, that is
often mentioned as a base line.
Empirical Studies
Hoy and Tschannen-Morran (1999) developed a definition of trust in schools
from the cultural climate perspective. Their results demonstrated that trust is related to a
climate of openness, collegiality, professionalism, and authenticity. Open and authentic
behavior from the principal created trust individually but did not affect the trust among
teachers. Teacher trust came from their behavior toward each other. This faculty trust was
an important element in the school setting and linked to school effectiveness as well as a
positive school climate. Faculty trust is defined as having five components:
1. Benevolence.
2. Reliability.
3. Competence.
4. Honesty.
5. Openness.
(Kochanek, 2005; Tschannen-Morran, 2004; Tschannen-Morran & Hoy, 2000)
Tschannen-Morran (2004) define these five components in the following manner.
Benevolence is defined as the confidence in the goodwill of others. When this confidence
that one will not be betrayed exists, there is less time and energy spent on protecting
against it. The absence of benevolence is costly and leads to a loss of productivity.
Reliability is the idea that someone can be counted on to come through. Competence is
the ability to actually come through and complete what is necessary. Honesty is a concept
for one’s character; that one will act as one says, accept responsibility for one’s actions,
avoid manipulative behavior, and behave consistently. Openness relates to the sharing of
information with others.
Anthony Bryk and Barbara Schneider (2002) conceptualized trust in schools as a
product of everyday interactions that affected individual relationships which in turn,
affected the characteristics of the schools’ structure. Their work noted that trust in
schools is formed around the roles people have in an educational setting and that the
growth of trust depends on the degree that people share understanding around those roles.
Because many of the players cannot make actual observations of each other in their roles,
assumptions are made based on perceptions. The parents do not directly observe the
teachers in the classrooms but if the parents believe the teacher appears to be dedicated to
the students’ best interest, then parents feel the teacher is meeting the expectations one
would have for the role of a teacher (Kochanek, 2005).
A second major category of trust includes four key components that help to
discern the intentions of others in schools. They are:
1. Respect.
2. Personal regard.
3. Competence.
4. Personal integrity.
Bryk and Schneider (2002) define these four components as respectful interaction
happening when each person genuinely listens and takes into account the views of the
other. That personal regard springs from an individual’s willingness to go beyond the
formal requirements of a job description or contract. This could largely be an individual
style. But, if the principal is open and willing to reach out to parents and students, they
will be setting a norm that will impact the climate of the school. As Kuchanek (2005)
relates, the Hoy group studies, as well as Bryk and Schneider (2002) define competence
as the ability to carry out core responsibilities effectively and efficiently. Perceptions
around personal integrity shape views as to whether trust exists. Not only does one ask
can others be trusted to keep their word, but also, will that individual maintain a moralethical perspective to guide their work? In an educational setting, it would be expected
that despite conflicting and competing personal interests, the primary concern would be
the students’ welfare and making commitments to their education.
In summary, in the educational setting, literature has defined a number of models
for both the faculty as well as other participants in the social structure of the school such
as parents and students. In addition, relational trust is an important characteristic in
schools that had demonstrated increased achievement in reading (Bryk & Schneider,
2002). Tables 1 and 2 show how the components of trust mentioned in both
organizational and educational contexts can be compared.
Table 1
Faculty Trust vs. Transactional Trust
Faculty Trust
Transactional Trust
Table 2
Trust from Shared Role Understanding vs. Transformational Trust
Trust-Shared Role Understanding
Personal Regard
Transformational Trust
To explain Table 1, note that Contractual trust in organizations can be compared
to Benevolence and Reliability under Faculty trust. Competence is the same for both
models and Communication listed under Transactional, can be compared to the
combination of Openness and Honesty. For Table 2, note that Conviction and Courage
match up with Integrity under Shared Role Understanding. Compassion compares with
Personal Regard and Respect, while Competence relates to Community.
Ethics, Responsibility, and Authenticity in Leadership
As one of the integral questions in this study centers around decision making
processes, it is necessary to discuss the concepts of authenticity, responsibility and ethics
in leadership. Ethics can be defined as the study of beliefs, principles, and values that
lead to a moral life whereas morality is acting upon one’s set of ethical beliefs and
commitments (Starratt, 2004).
Starratt (2004) begins his analysis with the question of whether ethics is a set of
rules and principles developed by religious or civil authorities, or a set of established
norms constructed by a community bound to a moral way of life that seems reasonable
and necessary for a richly human and civil way to live. He decided his model would be
from the perspective of a specific group of civil servants, and for a group serving in a
leadership role in education, the specific virtues would be responsibility, authenticity, and
presence. Rebore (2001) writes that “it is the responsibility of each educational leader and
the education community … to look for what is good in producing services for students
and in supporting the activities of school district employees” (p. 45). He summarizes by
stating “institutions are either for or against the common good or for the good of some
segment of society” (p. 47) and that social ethics come from structures and patterns of
relationships that have become routine and involve policies and institutions. Both authors
agree that educational leaders must demonstrate ethical behavior.
According to the ethic of responsibility, leaders in education are morally
responsible in two ways.
They must:
1. Prevent harm in their actions.
2. Be proactive in the duties of the position.
(Starratt, 2004)
These responsibilities are complex as the leader functions in multiple capacities
including as an individual, an educator, an administrative leader, and an educational
administrator. As an individual, the responsibility is to be a moral human being, to be
accountable for past actions as well as able to respond to future dilemmas. As an
educator, there is a personal responsibility to stay up-to-date via continuing education in
order to use that knowledge to assist their students and faculty. As an administrative
leader, there is an implied obligation to stay current on the work of managing one’s
department. Finally, as an educational administrator, leaders must sustain their personal
and professional learning to improving the learning of the organization. Since these
leaders continually face complex problems and issues, they must continue their education
in ethical and moral understanding (Rebore, 2001; Starratt, 2004, 2005).
Those in leadership roles must answer to a variety of stakeholders. Those in
education have a responsibility to students, parents, faculty, support staff, district
authorities, the school, and finally, the community as a whole. These relationships are
multilayered and leadership needs to consider this. For example, students are learners, as
well as participants in extracurricular activities. Decision makers need to consider how
their actions will affect the students while they are in the classroom as well as when they
are in sports, theater, clubs, and other extracurricular activities. Also, how does the
leaders’ actions effect the process of their younger charges becoming good citizens?
(Starratt, 2004,2005). Ultimately, a free democratic society needs to have educated
people in order to participate in the political and economic life of the community
(Banner, 1968).
Similarly, teachers and faculty must be treated with dignity, and with the intent to
foster their personal and professional growth (Rebore, 2001). Parents, district personnel,
the school board, and the community at large all have stakes in the actions and decisions
of the educational leader. Because the breath of the position is so all-inclusive (including
managing multi-million dollar budgets, relating to parents and families, and the
responsibility of shaping young minds) it touches many constituents and so each feels
they have the right to comment on leadership performance. Because of this, these roles
are held to higher standards (Starratt, 2004).
The ethic of authenticity centers on the essence of the person. Individuals are
called to live life in a way that is unique and not an imitation of anyone else (Taylor,
1991). While this concept implies a certain uniqueness, it is not without interaction and
shaping from others. With this freedom also comes the reciprocal understanding that we
allow others a similar freedom (Starratt, 2004). With the ethics of authenticity comes the
ethic of social responsibility that is grounded in the idea that all humans have dignity1
Authentic educators exercise their authenticity through the relationships they
encounter in their daily life. This includes students, parents, administrators, faculty, and
the community contacts. Authenticity is novel because it brings us back to the idea that
most educational leaders are educators first (Starratt, 2004). Connecting responsibility to
authenticity is the notion of presence. Starratt believes that for creation of a successful
learning environment, there needs to be personal authenticity and since authenticity is so
relational, the leader must be truly present to the students, teachers, staff, and each
situation they encounter (Starratt, 2004).
Being present requires a level of concentration and an ability to be sensitive to the
messages of each person with whom one has this dialogue. If one appears to be
individually authentic, but cannot respond to others’ actions (or live up to the
expectations of the given responsibilities) then there is a missing link to the relationship.
If an individual carries out assigned duties but continually feels in conflict because of
incongruence, then relationships will be incomplete (Starratt, 2004).
According to Starratt (2004), there are three types of presence:
1. Critical.
2. Affirming.
3. Enabling.
Note that Fukuyama (1995) and Shaw (1997) share this thought on dignity as well.
Critical presence may create blockages either by being self-critical or because the
listener perceives there to be a possible harm coming from the other. It requires some
action before the ability to move on to affirming. Actually, both parties need to engage
with the other to name the problem and begin moving to a respectful dialogue. This also
requires both parties to be authentic and honest about their concerns and reservations.
Affirming presence confirms to others that they have the right to be themselves. This may
appear as positive feedback to staff or as simple as truly listening to students so they feel
their concerns are seriously being considered. The final type, enabling presence, flows
from both critical and affirming presence. With this type, participants in the dialogue can
make progress and realize that only in a joined effort can they move on. Enabling
presence builds capacity. This can mean individuals are now more able to take on a
challenge, or it may mean that the system has added capability due to this collaboration.
Those educational leaders who can develop an enabling presence will foster a positive
self-confidence in students facing academic challenges, as well as encourage teachers to
take on more to enhance the whole school’s ability to be creative and effective (Starratt,
While these virtues of responsibility, authenticity, and presence are related
primarily on the individual level, they can also provide a foundation for those holding
leadership roles. As leaders, these individuals are called upon each day to make decisions
that affect those around them. Individuals in leadership need to understand their own
values, be sensitive to the perspective of others, and have a method for resolving
dilemmas. Understanding one’s personal ethics and value models are highly relevant to
school leadership.
From Literature Review to Research
As the preceding literature discussed, trust is at the foundation of the economy. Its
presence is a key factor in business success. The discussion has also included what
leaders in organizations can do to foster, improve, or maintain trust. In the educational
setting, the literature has defined a number of models for both the faculty as well as other
participants in the social structure of the school, including parents and students. Hoy and
Tschannen-Morran (1999) developed a definition of faculty trust that came from the
cultural climate of the school while Bryk and Schneider (2002) contributed the second
category of trust that related to the intentions of others and based on the roles within the
school. The organizational models for the components of trust and those in education are
clearly similar and the comparison has been demonstrated. This chapter also included key
thoughts from Starratt (2004) and Rebore (2001) on the importance of educational leaders
understanding their responsibilities and assumptions the community makes upon them.
Because this dissertation attempts to examine how the concept of trust is
considered when a decision maker in education must make a critical choice, as well as the
process they follow, the next chapter (Methodology) will look at actual decision-making
situations, as well as examine how these leaders in administration made their decisions
which directly impacted the human resources of their specific organizations. Again,
where other studies in the school setting looked at the behaviors of principals and
teachers in effort to improve student achievement, this project focused on the views of the
administrators responsible for decisions that affected the entire district. Major questions
included, what specifically is most important in the decision maker’s mind; what role
does the organization \ history or organizational culture play; and is a particular
decision model (or point of view) considered? Jo stay true to the concept of an emergent
design, interview questions did not probe for specific ethical frameworks.
Overall, this research looks at how key administrators in education identify and
define what they consider to be critical or important issues when facing a Human
Resources related decision and explores the strategies administrators use in addressing
and resolving decisions they considered problematic. In discussing the leaders’
perceptions of the incidents, there should be discovery about some concepts of
organizational trust. This chapter describes the design process for determining the basic
research items.
Research Design
As the goal of this research centers around the participants’ perception of the
decision-making process and how that relates to the greater question of trust, interviews
were used. This method is appropriate because this study is about understanding the
processes and perceptions from the participants’ point of view, rather than proving a
hypothesis predicting a correlation (Maxwell, 1996). When the goal of an inquiry is to
understand meaning, context, and process, the qualitative methodology is well suited.
Very significant in this research was the question of whether the idea of trust was a
consideration of the leader. It was the researcher’s belief that interviews would provide a
richer and deeper understanding of these issues than would be possible with a
quantitative instrument. Instead, a semi-structured interview guide was constructed based
on concepts from the literature review. After access to the participants was gained with
introductory letters and appropriate consent documentation, the actual interviews were
arranged. The researcher interviewed participants in their offices while recording the
responses. The results were transcribed and at a later date, the transcripts were analyzed.
Sampling Method
The research utilized a purposeful sample of key informants. This select group
shared the similar characteristic of making important decisions in an educational setting.
Because the previously reviewed studies from Bryk &Schneider, Hoy & TschannenMorran and Kochanek had centered on elementary and middle schools in an urban
setting, this researcher wanted to allow for the possibility of new information and chose
to include districts containing high schools. The state school system’s public website
(“Illinois State Board of Education,” 2006) provided contact information so that an
introductory letter describing the study could be sent out to District Superintendents to
ask if Human Resources could be contacted. This letter of introduction was sent to
twenty-four Superintendents in three counties (Appendix A ). Eleven superintendents
responded and a second letter (Appendix B) was addressed to the Human Resources
contact for the responding districts. Those heading the Human Resources function were
selected deliberately for their ability to provide the depth and breath of information
particularly about the decision making process and its implications for trust. In essence
this was a panel of “people who are uniquely able to be informative because they are
expert in an area or were privileged witnesses to an event,” (Weiss, 1994, p. 17).
Typically the Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources is responsible for
managing the school district’s human resources programs, which would include various
forms of communication to staff and parents as well as formulating, recommending and
administering policy. This Assistant Superintendent position serves as the
Superintendent’s chief advisor on human resource matters and has a staff relationship
with the other Assistants Superintendents and the districts administrative personnel.
Human Resources leaders are responsible for the following functions: recruiting and
retention of staff, placement and development of faculty and staff; compensation and
appraisal programs and staff development programs (Rebore, 1998). According to
Rebore, individuals in this Assistant Superintendent role would have the following
credentials – state administrator certificate, doctorate in educational administration,
formal coursework in the areas of curriculum, finance, school law, HR administration and
collective negotiations. In this study, the participants usually had years of classroom
teaching along with prior experience as a building level administrator. All had graduate
level education in administration. (Specific educational demographics will be covered in
Chapter IV.)
There are four goals of purposeful sampling (Maxwell, 1996). The first is to
deliberately select a group of subjects or cases that are known to be typical of the setting
the research is attempting to investigate. This selection process allows the researcher
more confidence in drawing conclusions that more adequately represent the average
member of the population than a random sample would allow. With this study, the
researcher had hoped to gain access to approximately ten to fifteen districts which
contain high schools in suburbs of a major metropolitan city, specifically to interview the
Assistant Superintendents of Human Resources or equivalent. At this level of
administration and within this discipline, participants are certainly key informants. The
researcher believed they would be both representative of other Human Resource
professionals in education and able to provide rich data on the subject of decisions at the
level of an Assistant Superintendent.
The second goal of a purposeful sample is to uncover the broadest range of
possibilities within the group. Here the intent is to adequately cover the entire range of
variation in the data. The disadvantage to this type of selection is that there will be less
data about particular cases or settings where one would find a more homogeneous sample
(Maxwell, 1996). This was not the intent for this research and as such, the sample of
Human Resources leaders in the suburban high schools were not expected to provide
extreme cases.
Thirdly, a purposeful sample could be chosen to explicitly examine a particular
theory under investigation (Maxwell, 1996). As with the prior example, extreme cases are
occasionally sought if validating theory is the goal. This research, however, is more
exploratory in nature and thus proving an already established theory was not the main
Finally, a fourth possible goal could be to establish comparisons and to illustrate
differences between groups. This method is less likely in qualitative research because of
the size of the study and because comparisons are not the main focus for this type of
inquiry The value and strength of the qualitative method is to illuminate and explain the
processes, meanings and particulars of the cases being studied (McMillan & Schumacher,
2001; Miles & Huberman, 1994). Since this study intended to explore the issues of trust
in organizational decision-making, in the single discipline of Human Resources, variation
analysis was not the major focus.
Once the participating superintendents gave permission to contact the Human
Resources professional and the Human Resources contact returned a similar consent form
(Appendix B), the researcher contacted the schools directly by phone and set up
appointments to conduct semi-structured interviews. In only two cases was a Human
Resources leader not available, and in both cases, the Superintendent agreed to the
interview. Before each interview, the researcher reviewed the nature of the project,
outlined the procedure and gave the subjects a copy of the signed release (Appendix C)
which assured them of the confidentiality of the process.
The semi-structured interview was the method for gathering the examples or
stories that provided data around the participants’ perceptions in terms of their key
decisions and how the issue of trust enters into the process. While the interview schedule
started with questions around the subject’s work environment, further questions derived
from the literature review were used to get at participants’ statements that might indicate
the presence of the main categories of organizational trust as well as their style of
decision making. For example, if the participant agreed to having an “open-door policy,”
then it could imply the existence of the element of “openness.” Through this initial
conversation, the researcher would be able to explore in greater detail, the particular
cases where other elements of trust were present. The overall goal for the interview,
which lasted from one hour to about ninety minutes, was to discuss two to three incidents
where the participant was faced with an important decision that significantly affected the
school, staff, students or community. This sampling strategy did generate a significant
number of examples to analyze for the project.
The interviews were tape recorded and later transcribed. Initially, demographic
information was captured in a spreadsheet so it could be summarized and later displayed
in the Presentation of Data section. Following that, the researcher would take each
transcript and identify the items that directly related to the initial research questions.
These phases were highlighted on the transcript and also copied on to a master quote file.
For example, quotes such as “Impact on the students,” “Best for kids or hurts them the
least,” would be pasted under the main heading, “How leaders define critical.” Each
record was reviewed this way, looking for common terms, attempting to categorize the
data based on the concepts from the literature review
Delimitations of the Study
As with any study, it is necessary to set parameters and delimiters (Pyrczak &
Bruce, 1998). Shank used the metaphor of a window for quantitative research methods, as
they allow a clear and transparent look at a subject. For qualitative research, his analogy
was a lantern, allowing the researcher to go beyond the transparency of the data and use
the light to get another view and see the research question from a different angle (Shank
& Villella, 2004). For this study and its complexity, a qualitative method is appropriate,
but with any inquiry, there are limits. For example, because the process is a snapshot in
time, it is limited to the participant’s availability. As such, some questions on the
interview schedule may get more time than others and as a consequence, a question on
the schedule may not have sufficient time for a full answer or may not get answered at
all. The researcher needs to manage the process for consistency. Also, interviewing
provides only the participants’ account of the events and their impressions. This selfreporting method does contain a measure of subjectivity, but in this case, that is not a
concern since the purpose of the research, in part, is to give a voice to those in participant
The participants included Assistant Superintendents of Human Resources or in a
few instances, the district Superintendents themselves. Because the Human Resources
leader reports in to the Superintendent, the research design (interview schedule) was
designed to prevent a possible conflict of interest and so the individual’s supervisor was
not interviewed. As this study was limited those in Human Resources, one assumption
could be that their decisions may have been limited to the Human Resource discipline.
Even so, those same decisions would significantly affect other members of the schools or
district; and one key goal was to gain a special insight as to the type of decisions Human
Resources leaders face in the educational setting.
The study is also limited by time and geography, with the interviews taking place
in a two month period, coincidently the same two month period preceding teacher
contract renewal. Geographically, the districts were suburban, as compared to the urban
environment of a large public school system.
As the main focus of the study was to explore perceptions, assuring validity or
verifying each statement is less an issue that assuring that what is analyzed is what was
actually said. To this end, assuring validity in this study is more an issue of alleviating
threats to validity. One such threat is that the data is incomplete or inaccurate (Maxwell,
1996). To address this concern the interviews are taped and transcribed. The
opportunities for multiple reviews of the interview gives the researcher another chance to
understand the content and the transcription gives richer detail than if just notes were
taken during the actual data collection. Throughout the interview, the researcher would
ask for clarification from the participant to assure accuracy. Actual member checking
(returning a transcript to the participant for review) of the transcripts was not done and
could be considered a limitation of the study. However, one of the advantages of the
interview method is the breath and depth of the information compared to a one
dimensional survey, but in order for that data to be honest and candid, the researcher will
need to establish rapport with the subject. Making the interview setting comfortable and
convenient is one way and to address this; so all the interviews were scheduled at the
participants’ convenience both for time and location. In all cases, the interviews were
during the participant’s work day and held in a private office or nearby conference room.
Given that the data is self-reported and the effort was made not to create
compromising situations with reporting relationships, one option for verifying the
authenticity of the data was using supporting documentation as one method of
triangulation. For instance, a number of subjects did provide supporting documents such
as training manuals and orientation material, which helped to confirm the interview data
that job expectations are communicated. In addition, districts have websites which the
researcher did use to verify enrollments and communication to the community.
Observation of classrooms did not happen but one spontaneous discussion between the
participating Assistant Superintendent and a teacher did occur. In this case, it was clear to
the researcher that there was rapport between the individuals and certainly leads one to
believe that the component of personal regard was present in that district. These
triangulation methods did enhance the credibility of the study (McMillan & Schumacher,
2001; Miles & Huberman, 1994).
Bias Minimization
The researcher must be watchful not to impose a personal framework or bias into
the interpretation of the data. For example, while this researcher is a Human Resources
professional and familiar with situations of staff selection and evaluation, every attempt
was made to understand and be open to the nuances of the educational setting and not
automatically interpret or draw conclusions based only on a perspective from personal
experience in a business setting (Maxwell, 1996). One suggested method that was
followed is to have the researcher keep notes of personal impressions separately and
review accordingly. This gives the writer an outlet for expressing individual beliefs and
the process help prevent personal bias from over influencing the data analysis.
Research Tool Design
The initial draft of the instrument was piloted with a small number of colleagues,
seeking input on the content of questions, as well as the length and flow. Based on the
feedback, the interview schedule was more effectively grouped into main sections and the
questions edited for clarity and better understanding of the participants.
An introductory section which started the interview was to allow the researcher to
establish some rapport with the subject (Rubin & Rubin, 2005), get the general consent
form signed as well as record consistent demographic information.
• Introductions and thank-you
• General consent form and tape set-up
Demographic information:
Name / id #
Highest Level of Education received
Size of Local school
Position title
Size of District
Years in Current position
Years in Education
HS some College B M Ph. D
The general format of the interview schedule was based on an Appreciative
Inquiry (AI) model. The rationale for AI as a framework for the interviews is based on
the premise that starting inquiry or discovery with a positive point of view, versus a more
“what’s wrong?” type of problem-solving script will lead to a more constructive process.
The concept, first published in 1986 by David Cooperrider, searches for the best in
people and what “gives ‘life’ to the living systems” (Cooperrider & Whitney, 2001, p. 7).
This model was especially desirable since it allows for the conversation to start and flow
in a very positive manner.
There are four sections to the interview schedule, which respectively focus on the
decision process, the school’s environment, communication and working together. In
building the interview guide, it was important to give numerous opportunities to the
participant to relate experiences about the various components of trust but also to
consider how an organization works together and specifically how members of a school’s
staff work with each other. Table 3 presents the questions the researcher asked, including
the specific decision process and the rationale for including it in the questionnaire with
the literature review reference.
Table 3
Interview Questions and References.
1. Decision process
a) I would like you to reflect on a couple of
times when you faced a critical decision.
First of all, describe how you perceived it to
be critical or important.
b) Could you describe one example -what
happened, where, when?
c) What was most important to you as far as the
process? (school’s culture, history)
d) Were others involved in the process? If so,
how? What information did they provide?
e) How were the possible outcomes considered?
How were alternatives evaluated?
f) f. If you could, would you change anything?
2. School Environment
a) How would you describe your school’
b. Do you have a particular philosophy in your
role as a leader?
c. Have there been any major changes? (program
cuts, reorganizing)
d. Is there an “open-door” policy? —.
e. How are new ideas received?
f. How are “grievances” handled?
> –
g. Sarbanes-Oxley is now in place to assure the
financial catastrophes of the past few years don’t
happen again. This is an example of imposing an
external measure. What can you say about the
internal practices that encourage staff and faculty
to do the right thing?
h. For example: does your school have a “code of
conduct?” or a Mission statement?
Categorizes the type of decision and how
the subject thinks it is important
Benevolence, Sharing of information
(Kochanek, 2005)
Information sharing, communication trust
(Reina & Reina, 1999)
Synergy, transactional trust (Reina & Reina,
Conviction, courage, compassion,
(Reina & Reina, 1999)
Competence-, Honesty
(Kochanek 2005)
This allows for any major events that might
influence the
(Rubin & Rubin, 2005
These questions (d, e, f)
relate to communication,
openness, sharing information.
(Reina & Reina, 1999)
Behaviors: Vision, know self, commitment,
modeling beliefs & encouraging team trust
(Rogers, 1995b)
Honesty(Kochanek, 2005; personal regard
(Bryk & Schneider, 2002)
Overall section relates to Communication Trust
(Reina, 1999)
3. Communication
c. How are “rumors” or gossip handled? What
about confidential information?
d. Is there a climate of teamwork or would you
say that people work more independently?
e. Would you say that staff is loyal? To what or
f. Do you think most people(staff, faculty,
parents, students) would agree that they feel
listened to?
g. What happens in crunch times? (ex: do people
pitch in to help out?
h. Let’s talk about delegation. What are your
criteria for delegating? Any parameters?
4. Working Together
a. I’d like you to recall a time when the
communication process was especially effective
and you felt that you and another person worked
together exceptionally well. What was the
f. It is understandable that there may be
disagreement with a decision, but in general,
would employees say that they are considered /
treated fairly?
g. How would you describe your particular
leadership style? How would other colleagues
describe you?
h. What is the most important thing to remember
when others are depending on you to act
Personal integrity (Bryk & Schneider, 2002)
Personal regard (Bryk & Schneider, 2002)
Behaviors: Vision, know self, commitment,
modeling beliefs & encouraging team trust
(Rogers, 1995b)
Respect (Bryk & Schneider, 2002)
Competence, personal regard,
Commitment (Reina &Reina, 1999; Rogers,
Contractual (Reina & Reina, 1999)
Transformational: conviction, courage,
compassion, community (Reina & Reina,
Faculty trust: Benevolence, reliability,
competence, honesty, openness (Kochanek
Honesty, sharing information (Kochanek,
Honesty, sharing information (Kochanek
Honesty, sharing information (Kochanek,
Honesty, Benevolence, openness (Kochanek
Personal regard (Bryk & Schneider, 2002)
Competence-, Honesty
(Kochanek 2005)
Consistency, congruent with values,
keeping commitments, knowing self,
(Rogers b, 1995)
a. How are expectations (like job responsibilities)
communicated to staff and faculty?
b. What about policies and procedures? Are they
formal? Or more collegia!?
Roles (Bryk & Schneider, 2002)
Competence (Bryk & Schneider, 2002)
b. What was it (you or the other person) that made
this working together exceptional?
c. What role does sharing information play?
d. When is sharing information or communicating
a decision difficult?
e. What happens when someone makes a mistake
(a mistake that had an impact)
Overall and Summary
Is there anything further that you would like to
say? Do you have any questions about this
research project?
Thank you for your time and participation in this
If you are interested in viewing the results of the
research, I would be happy to send you a
The following section lays out the specific rationale for each question. For
example, the question lc “What was the most important to you as far as the process?
(school’s culture, history)” relates both to the component benevolence and sharing of
information (Kochanek, 2005). To follow up on information sharing and communication
trust in the organization, (Rogers, 1995b) question Id probed about others’ involvement
in the process. “How were the possible outcomes considered,”(le) came from the need to
look specifically for synergies (where individuals combined to be especially effective)
and possibly transactional trust (Reina & Reina, 1999). Asking if there was a desire to
“change anything” (If) allowed for some closure to that section as well provided clues to
the presence of conviction, courage and compassion (Reina & Reina, 1999).
After a general question on the school’s environment, the second question in that
section gives the participant a chance to explain personal leadership philosophy. This
section has great potential for identifying a number of trust components, including
communication styles, information sharing as well as tying to the concepts of competence
and honesty (Kochanek, 2005). It also could lead to the topic of setting a vision and
building team trust (Rogers, 1995b). Note that there is an attempt in this method, to
explore trust components mentioned in both business and educational literature. One
strength of the interview as a technique is the potential to uncover unanticipated
phenomenon (Maxwell, 1996). While of discovery of this type could be highly
enlightening, it could also skew the data. Therefore, the researcher must be sure to ask if
there have been any major changes recently.
Questions 2d, 2e and 2f all relate to communication, openness and the sharing of
information. Handling grievances (2f) relates to transactional trust and how people work
together in the school, especially when dealing with differences of opinion. This question
aids in revealing the environment and since school systems do have unions, it is an
important component. It also serves as a transition into the more formal aspects of code
of conduct and work rules, as well as stimulating discussion about informal processes and
standards of behavior.
Section Three concentrates on the topics of communication, including the
components of role understanding, competence, personal integrity and personal regard.
The discussion on rumors, gossip and confidential information is critical because Human
Resource professionals deal with especially sensitive information about faculty and
students daily. In this environment, keeping confidential information secure would be
expected and breaking a confidence would clearly damage a trusting relationship.
Questions 3d, 3e, 3f, and 3g all pertain to the staff environment and hopefully lead to
clarifying how the administrative leader acts with his/her department. Delegation (3g) is
very important if one wants to discover the leader’s view on contractual trust,
competence and even staff development.
Section Four seeks to uncover data about the administrators’ experiences in
specific situations that might affect social capital or the sense of community. Questions
4a and 4b ask about successful projects or especially effective communication. This was
to look at the components of transformational and faculty trust. Building on the
importance of honesty and sharing of communication, 4c, 4d and 4e ask about the
leader’s view on information, especially when the message is difficult. The last three
questions (4f, 4g and 4h) attempt to bring out the leader’s perceptions on how he/she is
viewed by others and if that view is actually considered at the time the decision is
contemplated. Question 4h tries to look specifically at self-knowledge and to see if the
concept of social capital is present in the administrator’s mind – but does so trying to
avoid asking a leading question.
The summary section of the schedule brings closure to the interview, address any
topics that are unfinished and hopefully get an overall statement from the participant.
Equally important, having this section helped to ensure that the researcher expresses
appreciation for the participant taking time to assist in the project.
A final note on the interview process itself is that the researcher would consider
the time and importance of the subject being discussed. If the participant is giving very
rich data on a particular area, the researcher would not attempt to “move things along” if
it did not seem appropriate. The actual Interview Guideline is included in the
Appendices. (Appendix D)
To ensure confidentiality of the responses, each interview or record received a
unique identification number. The recordings of the interviews were locked in a secure
location in the researcher’s home. Transcript files were password protected and during
data analysis, the records were identified by the unique identification number. Individual
names or the names of the schools were not mentioned in the final writing and once the
final writing of the research is completed, the recordings will be destroyed
Summary of Research Methodology
The concept of trust in organizations combined with trying to discern how leader
defines important decisions and makes those decisions, is a complex relationship. The
research questions are multifaceted and therefore, the design must be able to address this.
This study is asking individuals to reveal how they, themselves, perceive decisions they
make about conditions in their schools. The complexities and nuances of perception
cannot be observed or surveyed with a questionnaire. Surveys and questionnaires are
methods used when the subject to be studied is more defined, universally understood and
quantifiable. These quantitative methods would not lead to achieving the depth of
understanding desired in this study and would not allow the researcher to reconstruct the
participants experiences for analysis.
After appropriately gaining access to the school districts, interviews were
conducted with nine high-level administrators responsible for the Human Resource
function and two district Superintendents. The school districts in the sample included
both unit and high school districts so that the research would have the potential to discuss
specific Human Resource related cases in both unit and high school settings. The
interviews are semi-structured to allow both for flexibility as well as attempti to assure
some consistency in data content. The interviews would be taped and later transcribed.
Those transcripts would be analyzed for recurrent themes.
Decision Making Models for Situations in Education
A number of scholars have researched how educational leaders have handled
issue resolution (Begley & Stefkovich, 2007). Consistently cited and perhaps the most
familiar framework used in education would be based on the work of Starratt (1995;
2004) with his discussion of the ethics of justice, critique and care (Furman, 2003). Later
this work would be built upon by Shapiro and Stefkovich who added the ethic of the
profession (Begley & Stefkovich, 2007).
Because this research focuses on decision making in education, a discussion of
the specific models is both appropriate and necessary as these models were considered in
analyzing the cases from the interviews to determine the possibility of common method
for making decisions.
The Ethic of Justice
This model stems from the ideal that some standard would be applied so that
individuals are treated fairly and with equal treatment. Deontologists or nonconsequentialists would believe that if the rule is able to be universally applied regardless
of the consequences, then the rule should be used. This strict an interpretation would not
fit for today’s situations, but this philosophy is logical, rational and asks what ought to be
done. Overall, the ethic of justice looks to see if there is a prior rule, policy or practice
that would apply in the current situation (Shapiro & Stefkovich, 2005; Starratt, 1994).
The Ethic of Care
A number of feminist scholars in the 1990’s and early 2000’s challenged the
prevailing ethic of justice by emphasizing social responsibility, nurturing and providing
care in relationships. Where Kohlberg had argued to make schools “just communities,”
where all people would use the same rules in all situations and that the schools should
teach principles, equity and respect for liberty, the ethic of care would consider caring for
the individual, considering each case in particular. An ethic of care would consider the
personal relationships involved, and the traits of compassion, fidelity, sympathy and
trustworthiness (Honderich, 2005). While Kohlberg’s research was centered on males,
Gilligan’s “In a Different Voice,” introduced the findings that women and girls
frequently looked to care, concern and connection when contemplating dilemmas
(Gilligan, 1982). In contrast to the historical approach to ethics, largely seen as
masculine, an ethic of care centered less on established principles and more on making
moral decisions from the viewpoint of caring for someone’s particular circumstances. In
this ethic of caring, the emphasis is not on the consequences of the decision maker’s
action, but those same consequences are not irrelevant (Noddings, 2003).
Take the case of a father facing a moral dilemma concerning his child, he may ask
about the underlying principles. Another mother looking at the same event will
contemplate what would it be like if her child were in the same situation. Women, when
facing a hypothetical dilemma will frequently ask for more information, seemingly to get
a better picture of the whole situation. They will still give reasons for their acts, but from
a sense of personal ideals, feelings and needs. Men, historically have turned more to the
universal principles and applications. All this said, and while for many women, caring is
central to their self-image, Noddings (2003) maintains that the ethic of care does not
speak for all women, nor does it exclude men from having a caring perspective. Starrat
(1994) will add that even if one chooses this model, one must still consider social order
and fairness.
The Ethic of Critique
This ethic is based on critical theory, analysis of social class and its inequities.
Supporters of the ethic of critique are frequently activists and one proposal may be that
more social analysis that is done to identify key morals and values, could lead to helping
educators rectify social inequities (Shapiro & Stefkovich, 2005). In contrast to the ethic
of justice which looks for universal fairness, this model looks to identify barriers to that
fairness (Furman, 2003). If the educators are aware of the social inequities, especially in
the schools, they could then affect some change to the benefit of disadvantaged groups
who may be suffering due to their gender, race or socio-economic status (Shapiro &
Stefkovich, 2005). One fault of using this ethic exclusively, is that while it does challenge
the decision maker to identify the issues and inequities, it does not provide a distinct
method or template to address them. In comparison, because it centers on rules, the ethic
of justice does provide for a more explicit framework (Starratt, 1994).
The Ethic of the Profession
The last decision making model to be discussed is an ethical paradigm that
complements the preceding ethics of justice, care and critique but is broader and allows
for professional judgment based on personal experience in a chosen profession.
In working with their own educational leadership students, Shapiro and
Stefkovich found that a prevailing thought process in a deciding a course of action was
the idea of considering what was in the best interest of the students. This was a necessary
complement to the other three ethics of justice, critique and care when none of the prior
models seemed appropriate. Adding this choice of ethic of the profession completed their
their four-part ethical framework (Furman, 2003).
With the ethic of the profession, educational leaders would look to their personal
code of ethics, the standards of their professional codes (for example, the American
Association of School Administrators or the Interstate School Leaders Licensure
Consortium), consider students to be central to decision making but also consider the
community’s needs. Most applicable here would be Standard 5 of the ISLLC, which
states: “A school administrator is an educational leader who promotes the success of all
students by acting with integrity, fairness and in an ethical manner” (Starratt, 2004,
Therefore, the educational decision maker would consider their dilemma in light
of the ethic of justice, ethic of care and ethic of critique and finally add to their
consideration any questions that may be raised because of their unique situation as an
educator (Shapiro & Stefkovich, 2005).
Reviewing the ethical models above is quite helpful as the decision process was
analyzed. As the next chapter will show, there are many interesting points from the
participants that directly relate both to the concepts from the literature as well as some
commonality in thought process and method. These recurrent themes will be described in
greater detail in the following section.
This chapter will present the data gathered through a semi-structured interview
process with the eleven key Human Resource professionals who agreed to explore the
following questions:
1. How do key administrators in education identify and define what they consider to
be important or critical values and principles when facing a Human Resources
related decision?
2. What strategies are employed in addressing and resolving decisions that are
problematic or result in a dilemma?
3. When they make these decisions, do they make them in an environment of trust?
4. What do leaders’ perceptions tell us about educational leadership?
While involved in the mechanics of setting up the interview process, it became clear
that there seems to be a special willingness among this group to help even an unknown
researcher. It can only be surmised that there is an unwritten rule that those in education
try to help in these instances. This is different from the researcher’s prior experience in
the business environment. There is no shortage of work or time constraints in either
environment, yet with this sample in the educational field, there was not only an
agreement to help, but a clear spirit – that being available to a colleague (even one
unknown) was, almost a given. Granted, most of them Had personal experience with the
rigor necessary to complete the research requirement for a doctorate; but not all did and
yet all were quite willing to accommodate, even at a very busy time in the school
calendar. Here is one key to the educational leaders’ environment which will be
explored in greater detail later in the discussion section. Additionally, the fact that in
two cases the Superintendent was personally willing to take the interview also speaks to
this. Leadership roles at the district level carry an enormous level of responsibility. In
this study, student populations ranged from a unit district of approximately 1,600,
included a high school district of 2,200 students at a single location to a Unit district
with 40,000 students. The largest district included five high schools, a total of fiftyseven buildings and served students at the Middle School, Elementary and pre-K levels.
One of the Unit districts may seem moderate considering a student population of nearly
20,000; but it had the distinction of including a geographical territory of fifteen cities
and four counties. The district spans 35 miles, which could mean some students would
have as much as an hour long bus ride, twice a day.
Of the eleven administrators that were interviewed, four are female leaders and
seven are male. For highest education level attained, three had completed a Masters
degree, one of whom was planning to start a doctorate program later that fall. One
participant had completed coursework in a doctoral program (ABD) and seven had
completed doctorates. In this group, four had completed an Ed. D.; and three participants
had completed a Ph. D.
Experience in the field of education ranged from a year and a half to thirty-seven
years. The average time in education for this group was 26.09 years. While the range for
time in current position went from less than one year to nine years, clearly this group
had significant experience in the field. Compared to Rebore’s list of typical backgrounds
for HR administrators, (Rebore, 1998) this group fit the academic qualifications, in
addition to their years of classroom teaching and prior experience as building level
administrators. Figure 2 represents their experience levels, showing total years in
Figure 2.
Participants’ Years of Experience.
Number of Years in Education
a <u
« M
u yea
5 —
0 —
1 2345678 9 10 11
participant no.
Research Question 1 — How Do Key Administrators in Education Identify and Define
Important or Critical?
The interview started with “I would like you to reflect on a couple of times when
you faced a critical decision. First of all, describe how you perceived it to be critical or
important?” Resoundingly, the most prevalent theme surfaced as these next few quotes
so succinctly state: “Impact on the students,” “If the decision affects a lot of kids or a
major deviation from current practice,” “Best for kids or hurts them the least.” “Impact
in the organization.” Notice how the following replies give even more clarity to this
(1) Important decisions definitely have to do with what happens to kids.
Because we are kid-focused. And you should be able to go home every night
knowing the decisions you made were what was best for kids. And [whether]
that’s critical in policy or critical in the staff you hire or critical in disciplinary
issues, or an expulsion. However, it impacts the kids to me is a critical decision.
(2) More directly it impacts the welfare of the students. And linked to that,
would be the effect it has on colleagues and fellow human beings. So for me
decision making is really linked on the Human cost. Human cost determines its
critical nature
(3) To the extent you can draw this direct line from A to B – it is really all
about the students. And that is what we do… . So consequently it is all about
their development, their acquiring skills and knowledge to be successful adults.
So the decision making filter that I use – is based on the simple question of “does
it work for kids?”
One respondent talked about “crisis and important” first; however, the students
are the critical factor:
.. .there are varying degrees of crisis and important decision – 1) what is
important to fill a public good-1 see a benefit for the students so what I
would tend to emphasize as important are things that benefit the long term
financial,… Social stability of the community. That is what is long term
important. When it is crisis type of decision is something that would directly
impact students safety, health of students, their wellbeing —
Two respondents specifically mentioned staffing first, but also noted that this was
because this type of decision would determine who would ultimately be in front of the
(1) I think any decision having to do with selection and retaining of staff is
critical. 80 % of school district’s budget is related to salaries. Who we invite to
employ and those decisions related to retaining those individuals are in my mind,
very critical.
. . . and that if we are going to achieve what we want to achieve – and that is to
have teachers who are good at what they do, are able to work effectively with
others, to engage students in a meaningful way. They need to be able to do all
three [including mastering basic pedagogical techniques] and if any one of those
is not where it should be then we have concluded in the past that it is time to
move our separate ways.
Later in the interview, the same administrator reiterates this thought just after speaking
about “it is really all about the students.”
. . . Now having said that, the most important variable in this education
process is the teacher that is in front of the student. So I also have to look at it
from the standpoint, what is in the best interest of the adult? And sometimes
those interests clash – and sometimes those interests dovetail quite nicely.
So the real challenge s to look for ways that – serve students too. But you also
want to encourage and motivate and hold high expectations for the adult that are
working in the district. And those are some of the questions I have to continually
ask myself—if I do something – what impact will that have on teachers,
secretaries or custodians? How is that going to play in their minds and will it
further advance the cause of helping the students? (Assistant Superintendent
HR, Unit district, 6,000 students)
The second example concurs:
(2) Another critical decision is who we hire and who we put in front of
students every single day and also who we release. I think that every time I
hire a teacher and I say that I recommend to the board – because the board is
the official hiring body. For every recommendation I make, the average
teacher’s salary is 50 thousand plus, and that includes benefits and they are
here 35 years, which is what law requires to have full retirement you looking at
a major decision- we used to call it a Million dollar decision, now it is 2 or 3
million dollars. So it is not just about the financial impact but it is also about
who’s standing in front of our kids 8 hours / day. So to me that is another
critical decision. And probably the last one- is just as critical is the
administrative, hire as well as the teacher hire. Because the administrator
who leads the building —that is a huge piece.
(Assistant Superintendent HR, Unit district, 14,200 students)
Another (Superintendent, HS District, 4,200 students) mentioned the idea of resources,
its impact on the goals and mission of the district as well as the political considerations:
The impact on our clients – or the need to use resources or it impacts our
goals and mission… sometimes you can spend a very little amount –
but the area might be politically important ~ i.e. immigration issues. So if you
decide to hire someone to do something that is dealing with immigrants, that
might be a very sensitive issue—small amount of resources, but the issue is big.
Figure 3 summarizes how the respondents clarified what defined a critical decision.
Figure 3.
How Leaders define a Critical Decision.
Critical decisions are those that
Affect Students
Immediately Long term
Affect Hiring or retaining of
Affect the use of resources
Affect the mission of the
After this initial question, a specific example was requested for more discussion.
Although there was agreement that the impact on the students was the key
consideration, the actual range of incidents discussed was diverse. In total, twenty-one
examples were discussed and of those, fourteen or 67% did affect the high schools.
Issues Educational Leaders Faced.
Affecting School and Community
Of all twenty-one issues mentioned, the broadest ranging group affected both
the school and the community. These issues were broad in both time and impact. These
included a project to redefine the boundaries for a new high school and consequently
affected where the students would attend for the following year; addressing the issues
of safety and public disturbance when an open-campus high school went to a closed
campus; and adding a staff resource to oversee programs to help the Hispanic students
and parents in a two high school District. There was also an emergency safety issue
when a school in a Unit district had to lock down at the end of the school day because
an individual with a gun was in a threatening situation within walking distance of the
school. The administration did not want the children walking home under those
(1).. .well, certainly, we had to determine where boundaries would be
drawn- and of course that involve a lot of people, impacted a lot of people.
Political ramifications. All kinds of ramifications- political, social,
financial. One of the most complex decisions one can make. (Assistant
Superintendent for Administrative Services, Unit district, 40,000
(2) high school- open campus was a nightmare. Safety issues, kids driving
fast to get back to school, tickets, leaving liter strewn around in the neighbors’
yard. (Assistant Superintendent HR, Unit district, 14,200 students)
(3) We ended up -employing a community liaison person as an outreach.
But targeted specifically to Latino outreach. And doing that because we still
struggle, like many schools with a Latino population, with achievement. So
everything we do here is around student achievement and learning. So
whatever we do gets back to that whole focus- what impact is it going to have
on achievement, learning and so we. looked for some funds. We recognize that
as one of our issues – we have a Latino outreach program on Saturday,
mornings and as a backdrop. We meet with Latino families and business
partners . .. We had been planning on how we could more effectively
assimilate families, how do we more effectively get them engaged in the school
educational process. How do we get the kids more engaged in the educational
process and stay with us because high school kids – Latino high school kids
don’t stay in school. They go to work. (Superintendent, high school district,
4,200 students)
(4) There was a situation where there was a thing going on in the community,
several blocks from one of our school, so we locked down the school, so kids
wouldn’t go anywhere. So we could have sent out a message with this system
[automated Voicemail] to all the parents of that school- informing them, this is
what is happening, this is what we have done. (Assistant Superintendent for
Administrative Services, Unit district, 40,000 students)
Hiring and Retaining Teachers
The next category included four decisions regarding teachers. The first case
seems straight forward as the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources related
that each staffing decision is considered in light of how it affects the organization’s
mission and ultimately the students. However, notice how in all the following
scenarios, there is clearly a degree of connection and passion on the part of the
administrative leaders:
(1)… let’s talk about the retaining question – that is usually the area that gets
the most – provides the most headaches for people in my shoes .. . Those are
always difficult questions for building administrators. Those are always
challenges that I need to be involved in – in the process, to make sure that we
are complying with all due process. And we are also following our guidelines.
But I have always talked about it as if it is like a divorce. There is an emotional
toll that it takes on the building principal, on the teacher, on the school
community. And it is tough- tough to let somebody go. In education that’s not
something that we do very well. We tend to be more relationally inclined – as
compared to some other industries. So that’s a very difficult decision for a
building principal to make, it is a difficult decision for us as a district to make.
But never the less, one that we have to make in order to ensure that our boys
and girls are working with the very best teachers that they can. (Assistant
Superintendent of HR, Unit district, 6,000 students)
(2) I love the fact that I am going to start a new program next year, where
my retirees are going to come back and work- I cannot allow that expertise and
experience and excellence walk out the door .. . I have a math teacher who is
one the best and brightest and he is retired and I went to him and said “don’t
you want to teach a little bit?” and he said “is that possible?” Their [the
teachers] understanding is that they are out the door … the system didn’t allow
them to stay. I said “no, that teacher retirement system allows you to teach 120
days or 600 hours—I want those hours, if you will come back.” I now have
eight people that are signed up for next year. The word is spreading .. .
. . . we have some where the kids are just sick that they are leaving… get that
person back in here. Even a couple periods a day. Kids are lined at the door.
When you see the kids sitting outside the door, doing their homework — there’s
a message there – hello-
So those are the kinds of things I do to keep my best and brightest and most
loved. Ask the kids, they’ll tell ya. (Assistant Superintendent HR, Unit
district, 14,200 students)
(3) As a high school principal – we had a teacher who had a 95% fail rate
for his classes. 145 out of 150 students. Is that reasonable? A failure rate of
over 95% – he had a similar rate the year prior. The issue, was that reasonable?
Most would say no. He said it was the kid’s fault. So it is a case where
something had to be done which to change grades in the school setting is a
pretty significant intervention- school code allows for the principal to change a
teacher’s grade with notice to the teacher – but it is a fairly egregious – doesn’t
happen very often- pretty rare but in this case there was really not choice.
. .. you have to look at the history what has been done in the past, what is the
precedent. What is the code, what do the rules actually say? What impact does
the collective bargaining agreement have with the teachers. Again, the most
important thing is – what is the right thing to do – what is the best for kids
Interviewer: so that is the theme- what is best for kids?
Response: right- that is why we are here
(Superintendent, Unit district, 1600 students)
Restructuring Cases
In the restructuring cases, one involved the entire high school and the other two
were individual departments, within a high school District. In the first case, the
Assistant Superintendent HR, of a high school district with 2,200 students, related that
they were going from a Department Chair structure to Division model. Maintaining the
quality of the curriculum was key, but they also asked: “Special Ed, would they get
lost?” “Who would the union really represent?”
In the second example of restructuring it was a high school district with 3,000
students, on two campuses. The Executive Director of Human Resources restructured
the technology department and the library. In both situations, the changes were made
considering how best to serve the students. In the Technology Department, the
leadership was changed and more duties were pushed back (appropriately) to the
teachers so that the Technology department head could spend more time improving
systems. In the library, instead of keeping the aids doing what they had always done,
they were given the opportunity to pursue an Instructional Aid Certificate. This did not
affect headcount, but gave students more one-on-one assistance when doing research.
There were two cases involving high school graduation requirements, the
first was in a unit district with 14,200 students. According to the Assistant
Superintendent of Human Resources in a Unit district:
We got here and in our first year recognized that our kids were not being
challenged. Not enough AP classes. Way too many grads.
Where are they going? We set up a different structure with department
chairs, asked them to get their Type 75 s and validate that they were
instructional leaders with their own curriculum, and content areas. Spent
a lot of time asking what is not working? They would say that we do not
have enough rigor, not enough course rigor for the kids. Not being
challenged. AP thing, the gifted program K-12. [They] still got into
college. So with 24 [credits], they don’t walk out until June.
They [the students] didn’t even blink.
The next case involved being proactive with the science requirement:
Response: But both schools, the kids are really well-behaved, the
discipline, the climate has been really good and positive and we are
doing a lot of learning initiatives, both schools have a lot of interventions
going on. We raised the graduation requirements a year ago. Both schools
are adapting their schedules to that. We have strong elective programs in
both schools, strong music and arts.
Interviewer : how did you change the graduation requirements?
R: with a 3 rd
year of science .. . we wanted to be more serious about our
academic rigor- it was going to be a state law anyway
I: is it now?
R: yes – and this research I was doing showed that we just need more
science and technical skills for kids to graduate and go on to college. So
that was why we did that. (Superintendent, high school district, 4,200
The incident classified as “Curriculum” referred to a five year program in
a high school district to redefine the Language Arts requirements:
One of the important decisions that came from the Language Arts
department and this was probably five years ago, we looked at our 9-12
Language Arts curriculum. What’s the articulation with that curriculum, with
the feeder schools? But more importantly, what were we doing at the
grade level and it came out of concern and frustration we felt we
had too much curriculum at the 9th
grade –we couldn’t get it all, couldn’t
teach it all and yet people at the higher levels were wanting to move forward .. .
So we started through our department chair leadership. They started some
research and looked at what are the best practices out there? What are other
schools doing? [The district had two campuses with two department chairs.
Both had excellent Speech programs that made each a Forensics State
Champion numerous times.].. we really want to focus on reading, and if the
focus is on reading because that is where all the research says you need to be
and we are looking at our literacy units and then we have these speech
components stuck in there…. should Speech be taught as a Speech
class as an entity in and of itself, or should it be integrated in with
the rest of the curriculum. Ultimately the decision by the large group was to
integrate speech into across the rest of the curriculum
(Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, high school district, 5,500
There were a number of cases involving managing the finances of the district.
What is noteworthy here is that it isn’t just about the money, but what carefully
managing the funds, means to the community.
So if you watch the money very carefully, that is really the
foundation of whether people will trust you or not. Because if
you can’t watch the money, how can you design an effective
curriculum… went away from a site based system and we are
still dealing with the remnants – that were used to being in that system.
They had a lot more control at the building level. So there has been
some resistance. But one of the things that ironically helped us change,
was poor financial health of the district. Things were so bad that you were
looking at laying off people. And sometime it takes an outside event like
that to help people get [the idea].
(Director of Human Resources, Unit district, 19,200 students)
In the case regarding Facilities, this Unit district was planning for nearly a 35%
increase in high school enrollment over the next ten years, yet they were thinking
about more than just adding classrooms for a greater number of students, notice
the concern over planning for the appropriate level of resource facilities:
We added on to the high school, 30 Million dollar addition about 6 years
ago and now we are just about to embark on another major study to lay the
foundation for another addition that will have to be put on for the high
school. A review of the space needs of the school has been undertaken,
reconfiguring of who should be located next to who, do we have adequate
library facilities? Do we have adequate technology facilities? We are in a
good situation in that we get to ask those questions. Because we are
growing. Our student enrollment at the high school will probably get to
2500 here in the next 10 years. At least that is what our projections are
showing. So we get to ask the question what do we want a school of 2500
to look like? And that is an exciting opportunity for the high school
administration and the high school staff. (Assistant Superintendent of
Human Resources, Unit district, 6,000 students)
One instance was classified as “Legal” referred to an investigation within the
district and the issues considered by the administrator who was directly involved:
Compliance issues – unions and contracts and what rights employees
have .. . And then there is the ethical issue of trying to come as close to
the investigation process to truth as you can and then to achieve some
sort of outcome.. So why was that an important decision? It is an
important decision for all those reasons. (Director of Human
Resources, Unit district, 6,300 students)
Non-academic Programs
Regarding a non-academic program, a high school district had to cut
$1,300,000 due to a failed referendum and one of the dilemmas was how could
they continue to provide the same level of service in the Drivers’ Education
program but reduce the cost.
We needed to change the way we were operating.” [one] option was to
“delay capital projects, “If we delay fixing the roof, [what is the ] risk?
Will you make it through the year?(Assistant Superintendent, high
school district, 5,500 students)
The most geographically spread-out of the districts studied (Unit, 19,200
students) needed to look at how best to provide food service and transportation.
Half of the land was not developed and it included fifteen cities and four counties.
The administrator’s thought here was to consider if a private company could do it
better because- “our business is to educate students.” And yet he also had to
consider that because the district is thirty-five miles long, there was an impact.
For instance, this could mean an hour bus ride for a five-year old trying to get to a
special education program.
Special Student Population
In trying to address an issue affecting a group of students who had trouble
completing basic skills class, the challenge is to balance helping the students get
credit for graduation in a way other than just repeating the course. One initiative
is being helping:
Well,- credit recovery program, community outreach position – one at
each school – that is a big issue.
. . . It is a computer driven [program] – helping kids recover credit. They
went through English class and it didn’t get done. They can go to a lab and
use the skills that are identified as weaknesses. We do a lot of assessment
programs and we are training our staff on assessments. We have a lot of
staff development on the uses of assessment for student learning.
. . . For teachers, it is how do you actually assess kids in ways you identify
what skills they have, instead of seeing how much homework they do. The
traditional way is if you show up and you do your homework, you get an
“A”. What we are trying to go to is — but what skills do you have and can
you write a paragraph correctly?. Just doing the homework and filling in
the blanks isn’t going to be enough. So we are try to move
organizationally to higher level skill development and higher level
alignment to major standards, such as the ACT test or the standards from
the National Council Teachers of mathematics or English – so trying to
get people to align – not just what they have always done, but align with to
those standards and what they teach everyday. That is a whole major
learning initiative that has many, many pieces to it… .credit recovery is
simply an issue for kids who fall short rather than repeat the whole course,
we analyze what skills do you have?, put them through a program – if they
complete, they still get the “F”, but they get the credit. So the kid gets the
credit to move toward graduation- the teacher’s grade that they gave the
student is still in place. So things like that.
This case also speaks to staff development, while challenging status quo methods.
Staff Development
Another example regarding Staff Development referred to a time when an
Assistant Superintendent of HR did not approve a teacher’s request to take a
continuing education course. Here, she wants to be supportive of continuing
education but not give in to continuing education providers just looking for
revenue without offering the appropriate rigor in their course. “Some of these
classes are just not graduate school level work”. (Assistant Superintendent of
HR, Unit district, 19,000 students
While Figure 3 classified the types of issues that the participants faced and
considered critical, it can also be said that the issues discussed also covered a fairly
wide range if compared to the definition of Human Resource administration outlined by
Smith (2005) and represent typical Human Resource problems faced by administrators
in education. Human Resources Administration, by definition, works to the balance the
school’s need to accomplish its mission and the individual’s need to perform useful,
satisfying work. This discipline focuses on everything that influences the effectiveness
or ineffectiveness of school personnel and shows concern for people at all levels. Smith
will also say that it is doing what is best for teachers because if principals are spending
their time doing this, and teachers are doing what is best for students, then ultimately it
all leads to what is best for the students.
To further illustrate, Figure 4 shows all the issue categories sorted by
Figure 4.
Issues Educational Leaders Faced.
5 i
3 –
2 –
Types of Issues Facing Educational Leaders
– >;
” i ‘””’• ”
& y y ** y s y y <? y & y-
«f if ^ C
. / J? jf y
</ **• y
Research Question 2: What Strategies Are Employed in Addressing and Resolving
In an effort to determine what strategies were actually employed in addressing
and resolving these specific issues, the researcher invited each participant to discuss the
situation in detail. This was to address the second research question: What strategies do
they employ in addressing and resolving decisions that are problematic or result in a
dilemma? The first filter for analysis was to determine if a prior rule, law or policy
existed and would be appropriate to apply in the case.
A Rule, Law or Policy?
Those cases where the decision depended on interpreting a rule, law or policy
and then taking action, was the prevailing style and accounted for 57% of the situations.
Specifically, these included the following: due process for non-tenured staff,
investigation of a parent’s complaint, raising graduation requirements, and restructuring
necessitated by budget and finding more cost effective ways to provide non-academic
In the cases involving a staffing decision, the criteria for the decision included
“does it support the mission” and what is the “impact on kids” as well as being
“consistent and fair.” In the case of the dismissal of a non-tenured teacher, the
investigation of a parent’s complaint and the teacher with the 95% fail rate, due process
language is identified as well as numerous references to “rights” of the various parties
involved. Note in the examples below, the language is clearly referencing policy
contractual issues, precedents or codes:
(1) Probably the most important part of the process is to ensure that
the principal has adequately observed the teacher in the classroom. And
has sufficiently concluded that the teacher is deficient in at least one or
two areas that warrant dismissal. So that is the biggest challenge to make
sure that the principals are doing what they need to do – to reach that
conclusion. And then to make sure that the conclusion can be sustained –
if is challenged.
(2) There were contractual issues, there were mandate issues, there
were Federal mandate issues. Child welfare issues, employee right issues
and there is also the ethical issue of human welfare. Welfare rights,
rights of the child, rights of the seemingly aggrieved family and the
rights of the employee .. .
(3) You have to look at the history what has been done in the past,
what is the precedent. What is the code, what do the rules actually say?
What impact does the collective bargaining agreement have with the
teachers. Again, the most important thing is – what is the right thing to
do – what is the best for kids
Three situations in this “rule” category were primarily financial: the district
needed better financial health and concurrently went from site-based to more
centralization, the cases involving outsourcing foodservice and transportation, the
district looking to offer Drivers Education in a more cost effective way.
There were two cases of raising graduation requirements and both came from
looking at the current “rule” and determining that a change was needed. In one instance
a third year of science was added to the graduation requirements in anticipation of the
state law changing. In the other case, although students were meeting the graduation
requirements, the faculty and parents felt that there were too many early graduates and
the curriculum lacked rigor: “.. . recognized that our kids were not being challenged.
Not enough AP classes. Way too many grads.”
In the case of the open campus going closed, students were breaking the rules,
there were “Tardies, detentions, lack of discipline.” And so the administration
collaborated with police, fire and the deputy sheriff (along with a committee) to provide
the necessary structure and policies to improve the safety and discipline of the campus
and school environment
Finally, was the case of the high school restructuring to a Division model.
Certainly there were numerous considerations besides “who would the union really
represent?” but the need to follow the parameters of the contract, justified its
classification in this first grouping.
Special Care Needed or Consideration to the Rule?
Where the situation called for a possible exception to the utilitarian view point
and favored the students, teachers or a special needs group in a socially responsible
way, or provided some special care or nurturing, then it appeared that the case was
decided by exception. For example, two cases included restructuring departments; one
ultimately gave library staff more student contact although costing more for upgrading
skill sets. The other gave a technology department staff member less student contact but
allowed his time to be spent on overall technology improvements. This in turn, gave the
teachers more “work” but greater accountability in using the available tools for class
websites and communication. The special needs case allowed students with incompletes
to go back and finish assignments so that they would receive credit for graduation. The
original failing grade would stay but the higher risk student would have a better chance
of completing graduation requirements. This “exception” group accounted for 23.8% of
the cases.
Neither Rule-based nor Exception to the Rule
The last four cases (19%) did not seem to fit easily into the previous two
categories. All of these situations (redefining boundaries, planning an addition to the
high school, hiring a community liaison to the Hispanic population and a five-year
program to revise the language arts curriculum) affected districts with high schools and
s$pmed to need a hybrid type of classification.
In these situations the decision maker considered the students’ needs to be
central but also took into account the needs of the community. And while the cases
described in the previous two classes (staffing, legal, departmental reorganizations,
dealing with local law enforcement) could be imagined in a business setting or other
disciplines, it would be hard to imagine these four cases outside of the educational
field. Figure 5 represents the initial coding breakdown.
Figure 5.
Initial Decision Style Classifications.
Initial Decision Style Classification
Only In
Education? Exception?
19% /^T~X
Rule or
However, after taking a second look at the contexts of the cases, the researcher
reclassified ten of the twenty-one cases. Five of the “Rule or Policy?” cases, and all of
the “Exception?” cases seemed unique enough to the educational profession to justify
this. While raising the graduation requirements and restructuring to a division model,
relate to standards or rules, these situations would only happen in the educational field
and so it was felt that the educational leaders would have to draw on their special
experience to make the appropriate calls. The case where one teacher had a 95% fail
rate certainly had due process considerations, but again, this was clearly unique to the
field of education. Finally, while the decision to return to a closed campus affected a
special population (students); it also had a clear impact on the whole community and
required the cooperation of numerous municipal entities (Fire, Police, Sheriff) to
implement. For that reason, it was also reclassified in the “Education Only?” category.
When the “Exception to the Rule?” cases were examined more closely, three of
the five actually became “Education Only?” Because giving talented retirees with
special skills the option to work on a part-time basis is a current practice in a number of
industries, it stayed classified as “Exception to the Rule?” based on its special
properties dealing with relationships. Similarly, if there were a threat of violence near
the campus of a workplace, the site’s management would defer to the advice of the
Police and most likely not allow employees to leave the premises. So the safety of the
students and staff outweighed any considerations of schedules and transportation plans.
The special credit recovery program and the two departments restructuring, are
unique to education and as such, require the administrative leaders to draw on their
special experience in the field. In all three cases the students were central to decision
making but in the credit recovery program, the community’s needs were also a
consideration. That particular ethnic group was dropping out of school to go to work. If
the credit could be recovered, at least the students could graduate and possibly be
eligible for better employment opportunities if they had a diploma.
After this second analysis, the distribution changes and is shown in Figure 6.
Figure 6.
Decision Styles after 2nd Analysis
Decsion Style Classifications after 2nd Analysis
Education! ‘^^^B B
Only? \ ^^ V
57% \ ^W
Rule or
\ ^^ V 33%
Although the participants’ interviews favored a “do what is best for the kids”
philosophy, it seemed that their personal leadership styles may also be influenced by
the requirements of their environment. It is encouraging that the leaders in the study did
seem to be willing to consider making an exception to the rule based on a special case
or need and that the majority of the time, they seemed to honor what their profession
As the previous discussion from Kochanek, Rebore and Starratt have pointed
out, ethics and understanding personal styles are important in educational leadership
(Kochanek, 2005) and so to better understand this group of participants, the above
analysis was compared to the decision making models of Shapiro and Stefkovich
(2005). Using these templates, the data on decision styles could be redefined in the
following ways: Those cases where a prior rule was in play or a following an in-place
policy was an appropriate way to reach a decision, became classified under “Ethic of
Justice” and this accounted for one-third of the cases. Those incidents where special
consideration was invoked because there was no prior rule in place, (special safety
issue in the school area and inviting retirees back to teach part-time) became renamed
under the “Ethic of Care.” The majority of the examples (over 50%) were cases where
the district administrator relied faced a unique situation that required relying on their
personal experience in the field of education. While there were a number of times
where the decision maker would try to improve conditions with the community or atrisk students, there did not seem to be major policy or practice change. Some effort was
made to remove small barriers to success (credit recovery to encourage students to stay
in school) but it was not an aggressive posture or push to right a social wrong, or
change a threat to the fairness of the system. This was not a case where the students
were prevented from attending class by the nature of gender or race, but rather a case
where their economic situation or cultural norm directed them to choose an alternative.
Because the solution was more to provide an option, it did not seem to warrant
classification in to the Ethic of Critique category. The fact that this Critique model
seems to drop out of the sample, is interesting and gives one cause to wonder why.
Possibilities will be discussed more in the final chapter. Below, Table 4 summarizes the
final distribution of decision making styles:
Table 4
Decision Making Styles using Education Models
•rvu- <• i >• o.u- r o Ethic ot the
Ethic oi Justice hthicofCare „ ., .
7 Profession 2 12
33.33% 9.52% 57.14%
Now with the decision strategies more defined, the analysis in the next section
will look at the conditions in the district to see if the elements of trust can be identified.
Research Question 3: When Administrators Make These Decisions. Do They Make
Them in an Environment of Trust?
In order to discern if these educational leaders who employ a variety of decision
styles, make them in an environment of trust, one needs to start with what the
participants say about trust:
General comments on Trust
(1) And also the trust you develop institutionally . . .affects your ability
to globally help the organization. Untrustworthy organizations are not solid
systems. They make bad decisions.
(2) It goes back to the kids. You have to be fair. Be a listener
(3) You want to be credible. It may not be the best thing, but I said I was
going to do it this way. Sometimes credibility and trust trumps a good decision.
Nothing really trumps doing what’s best for kids.
This last response is especially poignant on a number of levels. First, he is very
clear about wanting to be credible and for that, he is willing to take his second choice
for a decision so that people will see that he keeps his word. The second point is that
clearly, in his mind, the students needs come first. In the next case, it is clear to the
administrative leader that having the trust of student and staff family members is
And in dealing with personnel, you know we deal with all the divorces,
all the lost children, all the people who die in their family, all the health
concerns. It is a very personal job. People need to know they can tell
me and share with me and it won’t go any further. That whole trust
thing is a huge piece of… and I do all that with all my staff…
It is a huge piece. We have to be the office seen as trustworthy –
there are no other options.
The following quotes give an impression of the environment in which these
administrators work and provide for their staff:
(1) Interviewer: so what would one of the reasons people want to teach
specifically in [city’s name omitted]?
Response: we hear from our teachers when we interview them after
their first year, that one of the reasons that they like to come here is
that they appreciate and value the strong community support, strong
parent support – and that this is a place that they can really exercise their
pedagogical muscles. This is a place where we value good teaching and
they pick up on that right away. So that is something time and time again
from our staff when we talk to them at the end of their 1st
2) Interviewer: How would you describe your high school’s environment?
Response: it is positive, it is safe, it is focused on kids, provides a wonderful
opportunity, not just academically, socially with extracurricular. Everything.
I hire 90 coaches each season at each high school… I have more volunteers
than I can even tell you. –retired NFL players live here for a reason- One of the
premier systems.
(3) Unique culture, a family unit’
(4) Interviewer: so in crunch times, everyone really pitches in?
Response: I would say yes
Sometimes the environment mentioned was not ideal, but trust is still the
leader’s objective: “In 2002, there was a strike, [it] changed the environment. To build
trust we used an outside facilitator.”
Or in this case, the administrator identified a different culture in his prior
assignment compared with his current location.
It was a very adult-focused school; the teachers union wanted to
make it “the best place to work” it was not about a good school,
or good for students, it was about being good for employees—teachers
did very little outside the school day, if anything extra – expected
compensation. Racial tension from an almost all-white faculty and
almost all minority student population. .. .leadership was very different, myself
and my superintendent were new together – a lot of administrative changes.
(current environment)
Remarkably the opposite, with the small schools there is a real strong
sense of community in the district now. We have a staff that tries to meet
the kids’ needs. A lot of the staff who use their own time to work with
students, in small groups
According to the review of the literature, there are numerous conditions of trust
in organizations cited, but for this study, those items in the educational setting were
used to analyze the data. To review, Faculty Trust has the five components of
benevolence, reliability, competence, honesty and openness (Bryk Schneider, 2002).
(Bryk & Schneider, 1996)
Faculty Trust
Benevolence, Reliability and Competence
Benevolence or the confidence in the goodwill of others is demonstrated when
someone has made a mistake and the administrator’s response is to “talk to the person,
don’t crush them, provide feedback.” (Or another example could be the willingness of
all the participants to assist a stranger in completing a dissertation.) Reliability is the
idea that someone can be counted on to come through and this trait is demonstrated in
cases where a team works very well together. One of the best example of trust leading
to high performance (from this research) is the account describing the last union
contract negotiation:
Our negotiations this year – we did negotiations for three year contracts
in twelve hours. We will present at the National School Board conference
– because we did it in 12 [hours]…. and the reason it worked that way is
that we set up five committees prior to that focused on specific item. The
union came in and said these are five things that we want to bargain. —
Didn’t mean we agreed at the committee level but this was the
recommendation from the committee and it came to the bargaining table
and we bargained it. And it just cut out all that lengthy—ten day – drag
on to midnight – we didn’t do any of that. We sat down at 8 in the
morning and we finished at 8 at night. (Assistant Superintendent of
Human Resources, Unit district, 14,2000)
This example also demonstrated competence and the ability to actually come through
and perform well. Another example of competence, along with contractual trust can be
seen when the same Assistant Superintendent responds to the question of “Do you have
criteria for when you delegate?”
Well, if I am going to assign a task- first find out if they are interested,
if they are not interested, they are not going to do a good job. You have
to be interested in what you are doing. If they are willing to learn something
new- I need to know that – and I have found they really step up to the
challenge. I think sometime we underestimate people’s skills. And all
of my staff has designated things that they need to do and then I have
cross training. You don’t need to show it to me (I have the report) no –
did you do it? Is it valid. Well what if it is wrong. We’ll deal with it later.
Then we will look at it.
Interviewer: and you should know it is right – otherwise it is not done yet?
Response: That’s right. Now I am not spending one minute on your report…
you got to trust them. Have to trust, have to delegate. It is something I
have had to learn
Honesty means that one will act as one says and will behave consistently. How
one handles mistakes can demonstrate how this aspect of trust, is actually a component
of both faculty trust as well as communication trust. This can apply to both mistakes
made personally as well as those made by colleagues or staff. These comments do
concur with this thought: “Try to correct the mistake and give feedback. “Or as another
participant said, “I’m sorry is very important. If you acknowledge it, it doesn’t diminish
Honesty is also demonstrated when sharing information. These responses imply
that frank discussion is encouraged:
(1) .. . fortunately – people are not bashful about expressing their
opinion. Teachers in their world, they make a majority of the decisions.
So when they exit their classroom, they take that same mentality, they
expect to be able to exercise a lot of those decisions as well – which is
fine. So in the course of my conversations with them, they are not very
bashful about saying ‘what if we did it this way,’ or ‘what if we did it
that way.’
(2) : well, typically decisions are made in sync with everyone who is
impacted by the decision. There are not a whole lot of unilateral
decisions— don’t believe in that. I think that if you are going to be
impacted by the decision, you need to be – at least have impact and
understand why it needs to be made. That is a huge piece or our puzzle.
(3) open door, customer service and 24 hour response time
that’s a big deal to me. And my staff does the same thing and it has made
a huge difference, even if I don’t know the answer, I will call you and say
‘I don’t know the answer yet and I will get back to you.’ But they know
I’ve received it and I have contacted them.
As openness relates to the sharing of information, there are a number of
situations where this is clearly seen in dealing both with grievances along with general
communication practices.
(1) I get all the angry parent phone calls and typically it is about
how their child has not been treated appropriately. Or how a teacher has
been inappropriate with them. That is all informal – all over the telephone
and typically I meet with them. Most of the time I can deal with it right
on the telephone. Most of the time they just want to be heard-1 m the
sounding board, they don’t need anything to change
(2) We have a huge parent communication program – called powerschool –
where parents can access grades daily, attendance daily for every kid
for every teacher. That is a huge communication piece…
(3) We have had to look for ways to get better at providing more
frequent and more effective type of communication so that people would
understand how we are supposed to work. In my world, a disgruntled and
misinformed employee is not a very productive one. And so consequently,
one of our jobs is to keep people as informed as possible and keep them
relatively happy so that they can do the job that they were hired to do.
The quotations and discussion above show the current state of the group studied,
however, maintenance and future growth of trust also depends on the degree that people
share understanding of their roles (Bryk & Schneider, 2002; Kochanek, 2005). For
example, while the parents cannot directly observe the teachers in the classrooms, if the
parents believe that the teacher appears to be dedicated to the students’ best interest,
then the parents might feel that the teacher is meeting their expectations. (Kochanek,
2005). Two common practices used to assure consistency in the communication of role
expectations are job descriptions and performance evaluations.
Discerning the Intentions of Others
There are four key components to discern the intentions of others in schools:
Respect, personal regard, competence and personal integrity (Bryk & Schneider, 2002).
Respect can be demonstrated by genuinely listening and considering the views
of the other. The following responses show that these participants agree on the
importance of listening:
(1) I would be suspicious of someone who says they have an open door
policy- cause it is not about the door, it is about your ability to listen
2) yea, I think that generally speaking they would – depends on the topic,
but if I am in a situation where I have to make a decision or I have to make a
decision where I am not able to do something that somebody wants me to do,
the goal is to always end the conversation, hoping that the staff member will say
you know, I didn’t get my way but I felt I was heard .. it was a good shot and it
just didn’t work. But they heard me, they took me seriously, and respected my
point of view.’
Personal Regard
Personal Regard is an individual’s willingness to go beyond the job description
or contract. This aspect was less explicitly expresses although one district was proud of
their parental involvement, relating that “I have more volunteers than I can even tell
you.” In another example, the Assistant Superintendent of HR described one aspect of
the recruiting process.
Sure, we look for people who will be collaborative –
work well with the team – strong subject knowledge, beyond
certification – who want to be involved in outside activities as
well [coach, sponsor a team].
Competence is the ability to carry out core responsibilities effectively and
efficiently. One way to assure this is with formal and informal means to communicate
expectations. Nearly all participants mentioned that there are job descriptions for both
administrative staff and teachers, along with new teachers orientation programs,
including a “Four year induction process, with required meetings and ‘Back to School
Night.'” Two more specific examples are provided below:
(1) .. . we have an induction program – couple of years, two years
induction program. Series of activities. Again, facilitating the transfer of
some of this craft knowledge that we think is important for them to know. But
also sharing basic information about certain legal responsibilities, they have.
For example, this Friday, all of our new teachers are going to spend some time
with our school nurses, going to deal with issues related to student health.
(2) .. we do a new employee workshop and we just talk about
conduct— things that were appropriate in college don’t work any longer.
In this situation, the advice is that the outgoing message on a new teacher’s home
voicemail should be professional and appropriate for the position and not overly casual
which may be acceptable if still on campus.
With personal integrity— an individual not only keeps their word, but also has a
moral and ethical perspective to their work. This component becomes apparent when
the participants were asked if they had a particular philosophy in their role as a leader
The following four examples are very representative of the group as a whole:
(1) You want to be credible. It may not be the best thing but I said I was
going to do it this way. Sometimes credibility and trust trumps a good
decision. Nothing really trumps doing what’s best for kids.
(2) I think first and foremost, you have to be true to yourself and you really
have to know who you are. And what you stand for and what you believe in.
We talk about truth, justice and the American dream, but that is what we are
about. And we are about providing the best possible education and resources
for kids so that they will succeed and all of that – we believe [that] holds itself
to what we believe is one of the last bastions of democracy as it stands. God
forbid we ever loose our public education system.
(3). .. ultimately to do What is best for the kids. That has to be in the forefront
in all the decisions you make. That doesn’t mean you ignore the adults- but
primarily we are here to deal with kids.
(4) Response: Well, I think because we work so much with people- you have
to include them, involve them. You make a decision which is the best decision
for students –
Interviewer: Is that the deciding factor – what is best for the students?
R: Absolutely- that’s why we’re here. I think if you are going to be
respected, you have to respect others. Realize that people are always
watching you, they’re listening to you. And just an off-the-cuff comment
can be taken very seriously by others so you always have to behave in a
way that you would want to be portrayed.
Overall, the educational environments in this study had many conditions of
organizational trust, which in the educational literature falls into the two categories of
Faculty Trust and Trust Based on the Intentions of Others. The idea of trust is valued
and each leader readily knows its importance to the success of their departments,
administrations and the overall district. Tables 4 and 5 summarize the components
sought in this inquiry and the extent they were present in this group of Administrators.
Table 5
Faculty Trust.
Component of Faculty Trust
Benevolence— confidence in the goodwill
of others.
Reliability— the idea that someone can be
counted on to come through.
Competence —the ability to actually come
Honesty— means that one will act as one
says; behaves consistently
Openness—relates to the sharing of
Presence in Participant Group Studied
All decision methods consider the
goodwill of one or more constituent
General feeling that people self-select into
the profession with the ideal to serve the
kids and the community. There is also the
understanding that if the leader is
unreliable, they will not be successful
Formal measures such as job descriptions,
performance standard and strategic plans
exist to assure expectations are set and
Strong view of all leaders that they must
be consistent in action and expect the
same from their staff. One leader
specifically mentioned that of a staff lied
to her – that individual would be fired.
Wide use of technology and traditional
methods to communicate with faculty,
staff, parents and students. Scheduled onsite meetings, campus visits and opendoor policies provide access to the leaders
for ad hoc subjects and general rapport
building. Vision statements, Board
meeting minutes and Strategic Plans are
available on a number of websites.
Table 6
Conditions of Trust based on the Intentions of Others.
Condition of Trust based on Others
Respect— each person genuinely listens
and considers the views of the other
Personal Regard —individual’s willingness
to go beyond the job description or
Competence— ability to carry our core
responsibilities effectively and efficiently
Personal Integrity— an individual not only
keeps their word, but also has a moral and
ethical perspective to their work
Presence in Group Studied
All leaders valued listening to teachers,
staff, students and parents. Open door
policies were the norm and frequently the
leader would visit campuses. With
important communication such as changes
to policy or new technology programs,
presentations would be made at the
various sites. Relationship with Union is
critical in leaders’ minds. Only one leader
mentioned tension with the bargaining
unit due to a past strike. All stressed their
attempt at open channels of
communication. Most felt that even
unfavorable decisions were received with
the feeling of fairness and felt their
concerns were heard.
Appeared to vary at the faculty levelssometimes due to finances and whether a
Unit or high school. All districts
mentioned high level of teamwork.
Job Descriptions document role
expectations. Faculty performance is
assessed by at least annual observation by
the building Principal.
All leaders valued personal integrity and
set high expectations for themselves. No
one saw their position as a job. Overriding
view to serve and “do what is best for the
kids.” While the possibility for rumors
and gossip is understood, there is an
understanding that confidentiality is nonnegotiable. All districts maintain that they
investigate complaints promptly and take
a proactive approach even when the
incident is questionable.
While the data from the interviews is summarized, more discussion on the
component of competence is needed, in a broader view and with the outcomes of the
decisions considered. Job descriptions can be reviewed but they will be limited to
definitions of proscribed behavior and transactions. If confidentiality were not an issue,
performance evaluations might be a source to see if staff, teachers and even the
administrators themselves had ratings equating to levels of competence. However, at
this point the intent is to infer a level of competence by contrasting what Bryk and
Schneider (2002) have cited as examples of incompetence.
For example, if unsafe and disorderly school environments imply incompetence,
then if the contrary condition exists, one can infer that there is not incompetence and
likely, in its place, some level of competence. Take for example the two cases of school
safety— the after school lockdown and the entire “open campus” situation. In both
situations, doing nothing would lead to or continue an unsafe environment. In both
cases, the administrators acted to avoid the unsafe conditions and chose options that led
to assuring safety for all involved. Therefore, these two administrators, in these
situations, demonstrated competence in their decision making and leadership.
Teachers’ competence is also possible and intriguing to consider in this way. If
not having interesting classroom material and lacking student discussion is considered
not competent, then if the opposite condition exists, could it be said that some level of
competence does exist? Reviewing performance evaluations is not an option, and
participating in teacher observations was not part of this study. However, consider the
examples of the students sitting outside the teacher’s classroom and the bringing back
the favorite math teacher. These do provide a compelling argument for teacher
More discussion and the implications of these factors of trust will follow in the
next chapter.
Schools play a special role in society and so understanding trust relationships in
schools is critical. Students have to have trust in their teachers to learn. Teachers need to
have trust for each other as well as for their administrative leaders if they are to be
successful in reaching common goals, which may include school reform and the
implementation of better practices (Kochanek, 2005). This trust assists in reducing
feelings of risk and in turn helps students develop socially. Schools need to be trusted by
their communities if they are to have adequate funding as well as the support of parents in
a mutually beneficial working relationship. As educators are trustees of the nation’s
school children, school administrators need to understand the complex and dynamic
properties of trust in general, and certainly how it specifically relates in a school setting
(Bryk & Schneider, 2002; Sergiovanni, 2005).
This final chapter of the dissertation will revisit the research questions, review the
most significant findings and discuss their implications. Topics for further study will be
Review of the Problem
This research began by looking at how key administrators in education identify
and define what they consider important, or critical when facing a Human Resources
related decision. These types of decisions would be most worthy of study as the research
explored the strategies the administrators used in addressing and resolving decisions that
they considered problematic or result in a dilemma. By approaching the analysis with an
open mind and looking for common themes, one could see if the decision maker was
aware of the complexities of the nature of the issue and how it was resolved. By later
comparing those decision styles to recognized theories used in educational leadership
courses, the argument is made that the concepts of personal regard and integrity were
considered. Since these components (identified from the literature) contribute to trust,
then by definition, the decision was made in an environment where the conditions of trust
also exist.
In discussing the leaders’ perceptions of the incidents, there would be some
discovery about each educational organization’s trust. This focus on the perceptions of
the administrative leaders attempts to add to the understanding of the relationship
between trust and leadership which has been mentioned as an area in need of further
study (Tschannen-Morran & Hoy, 2000).
Significant Findings:
If trust exists when the components of trust behavior are observed, then it can be
said that each district had one or more of the components of either Faculty Trust or Trust
from Discerning the Intentions of Others (refer to Tables 5 & 6 above). The literature has
reported that there is trust when parties in an interaction feel that they are treated fairly,
both parties are reliable and consistently competent. Predictability is occasionally
mentioned as a criterion for trust, but Shaw (1997) has suggested this be replaced with
dependability and reliability. Being able to predict someone’s incompetence does not lead
to trust.
In the prior chapters, the specific components of trust were outlined and data from
the interviews were used to illustrate how that component was visible. However, this
research also sought to explore the perceptions of the leaders about those situations. To
illustrate this more clearly, the quote below shows the administrator’s thought process, in
terms of the decision, the decision process and how the result would be perceived. In this
case, the leader knows he will not be able to do what the person wants, but he still wants
to be perceived as fair:
The goal is to always end the conversation, hoping that the staff
member will say ‘you know, I didn’t get my way but I felt I was heard.
And I felt like I had and it was a good shot and it just didn’t work. But
they heard me, they took me seriously, and respected my point of view.’
(Assistant Superintendent-HR, Unit district, 6000 students)
The next example reflects the importance of treating people with respect and making
ethical decisions:
We are here to serve. “No excuse for behaving in an unethical way.”
Choices you make in life, [are important. You need to] respect values, regardless of
cost. (Director of HR, unit district, 6300 students)
And certainly one key finding was the overwhelming constancy in replies that
centered on doing what was best for the students. As one administrator conveyed, “You
should go home every night knowing the decisions you made were what was best for
kids.” Another leader responds similarly, “You make a decision which is the best
decision for students.” The interviewer asked, ‘Is that the deciding factor – what is best
for the students?’ and the reply was “Absolutely— that’s why we’re here.”
Trust and School Achievement
In a time of school reform and broad initiatives, trust become even more
important. Specifically, social, relational or faculty trust will reduce the sense of risk,
encourage support from parents and give the teaching professionals a sense of security to
implement better practices. While the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (“No
Child Left Behind”) became effective in 2002, there has been continual debate as to its
effectiveness. Defending the act are those who challenge educators to stop complaining
about accountability and start making improvements; along with its critics who insist that
the act is under funded and the legislation’s processes are only aggravating the
educational system’s existing problems (Elmore, 2003; Harvey, 2003; Hess, 2003; Jerald,
2003). The interviews from this study identified that these leaders both agreed for the
need for accountability as well as acknowledged the frustration of working within a
structure flawed and without adequate resources.
To investigate the connection between school performance and the presence of
trust, some measure of achievement is needed. For this, State Report Cards were pulled
from the State Board of Education’s website. Each district’s report cards for the period
from the 2003-04 school year through the current year available (2006-07) were
For grades three through eight, students are tested in Reading, Mathematics and
Science; though not all subjects are tested in each grade. The researcher decided to look
at the year over year trends for seventh and eighth grades. The rationale was that the
reading levels after fifth grade would show levels of students now applying their reading
skills versus still learning. However, at the fifth grade level, not all districts tested for the
same subjects over the same time period. To get the most consistent data for reading,
mathematics and science, it was necessary to review the achievement data for reading and
mathematics for eighth graders and to get data on science, use the data for seventh
graders. In high school, students take the Prairie State Achievement Examinations. The
test is given to students in the eleventh grade, covering reading, mathematics and science.
Shown below are figures highlighting districts’ achievement for students taking
the ISAT for the school years starting in 2003 and ending in 2007. (The four high school
districts are not included and the 2003-04 data were not available for districts 3 and 10.)
This graph, Figure 7, shows that all districts at this level are above the necessary 55%
meeting or exceeding state learning standards for reading. One district was at 60% in
2003-04, however, over this time this has improved. In fact, each district has improved to
the 80% level.
Figure 7.
ISAT-Reading, 2003-2007
Percent meeting or exceeding
State Learning Standards, using
(ISAT)-Reading grade 8 only
90%- ‘
80% –
60%- ‘
\- state level
6 7 8
particpant districts
0 2003-04 • 2004-05 D 2005-06 D 2006-07
Following are the results for the same group and same time period, but for
Mathematics. Three districts hovered around the minimal level early in this period, but by
the current year, they had made significant improvement. Currently, all are above the
80% level.
Figure 8.
ISAT-Mathematics, 2003-2007
Percent meeting or exceeding
State Learning Standards , using
ISAT-Mat h gradeBonly
5 6 7 8 9
particpant districts
I 0 2003-04 m 2004-05 D 2005^06 O 2006-07!
In order to get consistent data for science, it was necessary to look at eighth grade.
As each district started out with a higher level of achievement, the degree of
improvement is less visually dramatic. However, this should not be minimized since only
one district is now (slightly) below the 80% level.
Figure 9.
EAT-Science, 2003-2007.
Percent meeting or exceeding
State Learning Standards , using the
ISAT -Scienc e
6 7
particpant districts
B 2003-04 • 2004-05 D 2005-06 • 2006-07
grade 7 only
m m
state level
Returning to the claim that research has shown a positive connection between
trust and school effectiveness, it can be said that with this sample at the middle school
level, it also appears to be the case.
Some may argue that trust alone cannot account for the improvement. Advocates
of current reform legislation may take credit. A future investigation of student
demographics and funding levels may show different relationships. To those that claim
that teachers’ competence is a factor, note that teacher development leads to school
effectiveness. And in a trusting environment, development will be encouraged.
In this sample, it is clear that here is a high percentage of faculty with Masters
degrees. Note that it is not just the high school districts with the high levels of advanced
Figure 10.
Degrees Achieved by Faculty.
Educational Degrees for Teachers
[a % with Bachelors Degree D % with Masters Degree]
data compiled from http:webprod.isbe.net
High Sdhobl Districts
-Ostri !_.
d2 d3 d5 d6 d7
participating districts
d9 d10 d11
Figure 11, which shows teachers’ years of service and salary, is included below. While
one cannot directly claim that more years of experience equals competence, but given
that strict standards of performance must be demonstrated in order to receive tenure at the
four year point, a degree of competence can be inferred.
Figure 11.
Teacher Experience and Salaries
Teacher Experience and Salary
dat a
compiled from: http:vwbprod.isbe.net
JEHDAve. Yrs. Teacher Experience —•—Ave. Teacher Salary
Unexpected Findings
To make a similar comparison for high school, achievement levels for students in
the eleventh grade were also reviewed. The Prairies State Achievement Examinations
(PSAE) are used as the metric and below is the percent meeting or exceeding the state
learning standards, by district, for the past three school years.
Figure 12.
PSAE– Reading, 2004-2007.
Percent meeting or exceeding
State Learning Standards
(PSAE)–Reading grade 11 only
12345678 9 10 11 STATE
particpant districts
{•2004-05 D 2005-06 132006-07
Figure 13.
PSAE – Mathematics, 2004-2007.
Percent meeting or exceeding
State Learning Standards
(PS AE)-Math grade 11 only
12345678 9 10 11 STATE
particpant districts
[•2004-05 D2005S D2006-07
Figure 14.
PSAE-Science, 2004-2007.
Percent meeting or exceeding
State Learning Standards
(PSAE)-Science B-ade 11 only
80% – -‘ *° ‘ l
1 WT I 1 f% dg a
R I B earn ^m
50% ‘ ~~ 111 ° W° — T ” state level
12345678 9 10 11 STATE
particpant districts
a 2004-05 • 2005-06 D 2006-07
These results are surprising compared to the middle school scores, because there
is no difference in how these educational leaders perceive their role or the importance of
trust in dealing with issues at the high schools. However, this study did show that
something appears to happen to levels of achievement from middle school to high school
and this finding is a indication that there is more to be studied.
High school is the educational system’s last opportunity to prepare young adults
for their next phase in life (employment or further education) before they take their role
as citizens in the community. More research is needed because the effectiveness of an
educational system influences more than just the students, parents and teachers from one
particular school or district and may impact the immediate community. This idea of
greater impact on the community members provides an interesting lead into the final
research question.
Research Question 4: What Do Administrators’ Perceptions Tell Us about Educational
There seems to be a phenomenon that of the major decision styles, the Ethic of
Critique did not appear. At face value, this is interesting because in twenty-one cases, it
did not show up and even more intriguing is that in this sample, these administrators had
some significant social issues to face. As earlier discussion pointed out, the Ethic of
Critique is based on critical theory, looks at the inequities of social class and attempts to
remove the barriers that may be hindering groups who are disadvantaged (Furman,
2003b; Shapiro & Stefkovich, 2005).
Even in the most assertive case involving the credit recovery program, the action
taken was not an aggressive action to right a social wrong. It was more a choice that
would help a special group of students by creating a way for them to find some success
(credit to graduate) and still balance their need to follow the strong cultural norms to
address their family’s economic needs. However, one might also propose that this
solution addressed a specific need without overt favoritism to one group and thus sought
to serve, had a need to be fair, but also tried to appease the greater community. One might
even ponder whether the high occurrence of deciding by the Ethic of the Profession was
only because the issues were truly unique to the educational profession or if in fact part of
the Ethic of the Profession includes a loyalty to the community at large and possibly
related to a fifth ethic: the Ethic of the Community.
The Ethic of the Community
Gail Furman, in her address to the University Council of Educational
Administration (Furman, 2003 a) discussed her view that educational leadership (as a
field) was focusing more on what leadership was for and less on the who, what and how.
This is a change from the model of “who” or the leadership traits, what roles, tasks and
duties were leaders doing and how (leadership styles, behaviors) they were doing them.
Her opinion is that there are a number of shifts from the “traditional leadership studies”
to a concentration on what she refers to “the new scholarship” which includes,
• Leadership for School Improvement
• Leadership and Learning^or All Children
• Leadership for Democratic Community
• Leadership for Social Justice
• Leaderships/or Ethical Schools
(Furman, 2003a, p. 2)
Furman refers to these as being “valued ends” or more the “why ” of leaders
leading; compared to the specifics of what they are doing. She claims that these valued
ends are embedded with moral purpose, where moral purpose specifically means “the
sense of purpose in our work as educators that fires the imagination and the heart, that
proceeds from a sense of duty and conscience, that inspires, that let’s us know we doing
something really important, something that really matters for children!” (Furman, 2003a,
These thoughts tie into the current educational environment not because moral
purpose is new concept, but because currently there is a new sense of urgency. Some of
this urgency does come from the recent legislation (Furman, 2003a). And as seen in this
study, educators attempt to serve with moral purpose while striving for balance in
complying with the forced accountability.
Furman’s pivotal claim relates to the practice of leadership in schools and she
proposes that this practice must be grounded in an ethic of community. This ethic builds
from the previously discussed models from Starratt (1994) and Shapiro & Stefkovich
(2001). Furman is clear that she is not being critical of these authors’ work; she supports
it and teaches the material. She adds however, that the model is still lacking an explicit
commitment to work together on important problems through processes of the
community. That the valued ends for leadership in schooling cannot reached without
being committed to “the processes associated with democratic community in schools”
and that this ethic of community is the foundation to all other leadership practices.
(Furman, 2003a, p. 4).
Note that in this definition, community is not necessarily a particular entity and should be
not be equated with the recent literature on community in schools (Furman, 2002;
Sergio vanni, 1999).
She gives her definition as: “the moral responsibility to engage in communal
processes as educators pursue the moral purposes of their work and address the ongoing
challenges of daily life and work in schools. The ethic of community thus centers the
community (as opposed to the individual) as the primary locus of moral agency in
schools” (Furman, 2003b, p. 2). Furman’s proposal for this ethic of community is more
about the characters commitment to the processes of communication, collaboration,
listening, and working together.
The absence of the Ethic of Critique in this sample appears to show a greater
tendency to try to serve the needs of multiple stakeholders while not taking an aggressive
stance for social justice; and it could all be related to Furman’s concept of the Ethic of
Community. The leaders in this research did use their interpersonal skills to listen to
stakeholders (redefining boundaries, hiring a community liaison); worked in teams (were
able to negotiate a three year contract renewal in basically twelve hours); engaged in ongoing discussions (five year reorganization of the language arts programs, building a new
high school) and they took these actions across all the categories of the decision styles.
In one of the Ethic of Care cases, (lockdown for students’ safety) there was no
time for committee discussions. Immediate action was needed to address an urgent
situation. But the decision to hire back talented retirees was certainly made with a
number of stakeholders in mind. Some of the “Rule” or Ethic of Justice cases (legal
investigation, open campus concerns) required significant outside collaboration and
utilization of outside resources. It is not surprising that a number from the Ethic of the
Profession category (increasing graduation requirements, planning for a new high school,
moving to Division model) also required significant interaction with numerous groups to
reach successful outcomes.
More study could be done to explore the application of the ethic of community
theory to determine whether it is becoming more observable in the decision process of
I l l
educational leaders. For this research, it does appear that many aspects of the concept
were evident and did have a place among established decision making models.
Thoughts for Future study
What Can Be Done to Understand High School Better?
There is a need to investigate further the issue with high school achievement
scores. Where prior studies may have concentrated on an urban middle-school setting,
possibly due to having easier access to teachers and principals or funding, this research
design specifically included districts with high schools so that there was the potential for
uncovering data unique to the high school setting. And now it appears there is a definite
need to understand better the high school environment and achievement levels.
This study concentrates on the leadership at the district office and in eight out of
eleven districts, the administrators are the same for both environments and there is no
stated difference in their views on the importance of trust or how a critical decision is
defined, as dictated by the grade level. In the cases where the administrators oversaw a
high school only district, they were equally adamant (as their Unit colleagues) about the
importance of serving the needs of the students and the community at large.
Clearly, changes in perspective have occurred since 1984 when Goodlad’s report
quoted Bruce Gunn and related that many people believed in an input/output model
where “schools are factories, taking raw material (students) and processing them through
its operations (curriculums) to satisfy demands for products and services (jobs) in
society” (Goodlad, 2004, p. 150). There is no doubt, given the interviews from this group
of administrators, that these schools are not seen as factories but rather like Goodlad
(2004) relates, more like “little villages” (p. 113). While the data from Unit districts
containing high schools did suggest that the high school environment is different,
(faculties are more on their own) given the curriculum, there was nothing to lead anyone
to believe that the desire to excel or serve the students was any less. It should be noted
that with three of the high school-only districts, interviews revealed that there were
significant challenges for the administrators, such as dealing with a prior teachers strike,
budget cuts due to losing a referendum, trying to serve a population where for most
students (and parents) English was not their first language and the households were lower
At first glance, the immediate response may be to question the environment. Is
there something significantly different to the high school setting, or curriculum that
affects these scores? Could it be that that by eleventh grade, there is such diversity in
student course choices that math and science are significant for only a select group of
students? Now that a third year of science is required by the state, will this have an
effect? One might also question the actual choice of metric. Since many students do take
other achievement tests in eleventh grade, are the scores on similar assessments
consistent from student to student. For example, do the students who take the ACT,
prepare differently or perceive the importance of the tests in the same way? If not, then
further study is needed to answer concerns about the validity of using the PSAE as the
official metric for school achievement and determining if adequate progress has been
If (according to Hoy, Tchannen-Morran, and Bryk & Schneider) trust is a
necessary component for school effectiveness and improvement; how is it that in the
presence of many components of trust, with clearly dedicated leadership, why are the
high school test scores not improving at the same rate as the middle school? If trust is not
sufficient, and mandates from legislation are not the complete solution, then what are the
other necessary conditions for school effectiveness and student achievement? Could it be
related to student trust and social capital or some other element of the surrounding
community? Future research might take a similar sample and in a broader base of
interviews, investigate the perceptions of stakeholders and their views.
What is to be said about the environment when one of the best math teachers
wants to teach “a little” after retirement? Without actually interviewing the individual,
one cannot say completely. But most likely there are a number of Faculty Trust
components (benevolence, reliability, honesty and openness) as well as respect,
competence personal regard, personal integrity present for someone to make the choice to
return to the school environment when retirement offers a number of options in how he
could spend his time.
This researcher believes that these findings do give us hope for the future. Right
now, there is a strong belief in the future of the schools in this study. However, what is
equally important is that this study has accurately reflected the dedication of the
participants. It is important that their voices are heard in both a time of change and a time
critical to the mission of education. Hopefully, readers will discern that these very
dedicated, educators are leading with moral purpose, facing complex decisions and
making them with ethical considerations in mind.
And that like Fullan (2001) advises, readers will agree that this moral purpose is
necessary for leaders in education to be effective. Fullan adds that effective leadership,
“causes more good things to happen” (and “fewer bad things”). “In schools, good things
are enhanced student performance; greater capacity of teachers, greater involvement of
parents and community members, [and] engagement of students” (Fullan, 2001, p. 10).
It is now our role and duty as educators and educational leaders to follow through
in our own families, schools and communities, employing the components of trust when
faced with complex (critical) decisions.
I have been an HR professional for 20 years, here in the western suburbs. This fall I started the
final stages of my Ph.D. at Loyola University Chicago, in the Department of Education.
My dissertation proposal, “A Study of Processes and Perceptions of Educational Decision
Makers: Looking at Organizational Trust in Critical Decisions, ” will explore this topic in the
field of education, specifically asking HR leaders to participate because of their professional
experiences in a leadership role and the fact that they face critical decisions on a regular basis.
I hope that you will agree to allow your district to participate in my research. The Internal Review
Board at Loyola requires a signed letter of cooperation, prior to my contacting any individuals.
To facilitate this, I am asking that you copy the attached form on your letterhead and mail back to
For your information, I have attached some sample questions that I propose to use in my research
interviews. These interviews will be an open-ended questionnaire format and last about 60-75
minutes. The location and time of the interview will be at the subjects’ convenience.
I will tape the interview, take notes and check with the subject for accuracy. Each individual will
have the opportunity to revise my notes at that time, if they think it necessary.
All responses will remain confidential. No identifiers (individual names, names of the districts,
schools or even cities) will be mentioned in the final writing. I am the only one who will have
access to the data. Even when reviewing with my graduate advisors, the material will only be
identified with a unique number. If you have questions, please call or email me.
Many thanks and kind regards,
Susan Hagerty SPHR
27W205 Chartwell Drive
Winfield, IL 60190
slMISert!«l!iic,ed]l mobile: 312-615-9213
Lkrrkk TO rik LEAtteks
January 11, 2007
(City), «state» zip
I have been an HR professional for 20 years, here in the western suburbs. This fall I started
the final stages of my Ph.D. at Loyola University Chicago, in the Department of Education.
1 have already received a letter of cooperation from your school district and hope that you
personally will agree to participate.
My dissertation research will be looking to explore organizational leaders’ perceptions
around decision making processes and styles, school culture and organizational trust. I am
asking individuals in the field of education, specifically HR leaders, to participate in this
project because of their professional experiences in a leadership role and the fact that your
position faces critical decisions on a regular basis.
The study’s methodology is qualitative; and specifically I am asking you to participate in an
interview about your experiences. It will be an open-ended questionnaire that will take about
60-75 minutes of your time. The location and time of the interview will be at your
I will tape the interview while taking notes and checking with you for accuracy. You will
have the opportunity to revise these notes at that time. All responses will remain confidential.
Individual names, names of the schools, districts or city locations will not be mentioned in the
final writing. If you have questions, please call or email me. I have attached some sample
questions for your reference.
I do hope that you will agree to meet with me and participate in my research. If you do agree
to volunteer, Loyola’s process does require a signed consent form. This form is attached and
can be mailed back to me with your signature. I will then contact you to arrange the
Many thanks,
Susan Hagerty SPHR
27W205 Chartwell Drive
Winfield, IL 60190
shasertMkicedu mobile: 312-615-9213 office: 630-585-2047
Loyola University (.-hie;i(:o; Liike.siik: Campuses
Insiimiiomil Review Doiwl liir
The Protection of I lunwn Subject?
Daw ol’Approval; W S/6~}~
Approval Expires:.
Project Title: “A Study of Processes and Perceptions of Educational Decision Makers:
Looking at Organizational Trust in Critical Decisions”
Researcher: Susan Hagerty
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Robert Roemer
You are being asked to take part in a research study being conducted by Susan Hagerty for her
dissertation, under the supervision of Dr. Robert Roemer in the Department of Education, at
Loyola University of Chicago.
You are being asked to participate because of your professional experiences in a leadership role
and the fact that your position faces critical (affecting others) decisions on a regular basis.
Please read this form carefully and ask any questions you may have before deciding whether to
participate in the study.
The purpose of this study is to explore organizational leaders’ perceptions around decision
making processes and styles, organizations, school culture and organizational trust.
If you agree to be in the study, you will be asked to:
• Participate in an interview about your experiences involving decision making. It will be
an open-ended questionnaire that will take about 60-75 minutes of your time. The
interview will be audio taped, notes taken and transcribed. Throughout the interview,
your responses will be checked with you, for accuracy. You will have the opportunity to
revise, if necessary. Once the transcript is in a final stage, it will be coded.
• Every effort will be made to ensure confidentiality of the participants. To alleviate any
risk from giving an honest response, neither participant names, nor references to
individual schools or the area will be named in any written publication or report of this
There are no direct benefits to you from participation, but this study will add to the body of
research in leadership and education.
• All responses will remain confidential. Each respondent will receive a unique
identification number. Ail data will be analyzed/coded using the identification number.
• To further protect the confidentiality of the responses, written publication or reports
including this research will NOT contain any participant names, references to individual
schools or the area names.
• The recordings of the interviews will be kept in a secure location in the researcher’s
home. Only the researcher will have access to the tapes and notes. Once the final writing of
the research is completed, the recordings will be destroyed.
Voluntary Participation:
Participation in this study is voluntary. If you do not want to be in this study, you do not have to
participate. Even if you decide to participate, you are free not to answer any question or to
withdraw from participation at any time without penalty.
Contacts and Questions:
If you have questions about this research study, please feel free to contact:
Susan Hagerty
shagert(S),luc.edu or (Dr. Robert Roemer at [email protected]).
If you have questions about your rights as a research participant, you may contact the
Compliance Manager in Loyola’s Office of Research Services at (773) 508-2689.
Statement of Consent:
Your signature below indicates that you have read and understood the information provided
above, have had an opportunity to ask questions, and agree to participate in this research study.
You will be given a copy of this form to keep for your records.
Participant’s Signature Date
Researcher’s Signature Date
Introductions and thank-you
General consent form and tape set-up
Demographic information:
Name / id number
Highest Level of Education received
Size of Local School
Position / title
Size of District
Years in Education
Years in Current position
HS some College B M Ph. D
1. Decision process
I would like you to reflect on a couple of times when you faced a critical decision. First
of all, describe how you perceived it to be critical or important.
Could you describe one example – what happened, where, when?
What was most important to you as far as the process? (school’s culture, history)
Were others involved in the process? If so, how? What information did they provide?
How were the possible outcomes considered? How were alternatives evaluated?
If you could, would you change anything? How?
2. School’s Environment
How would you describe your school’s environment?
Have there been any major changes? (program cuts or reorganizations) How did that
event affect the faculty and students?
Do you have a particular philosophy in your role as a leader?
Is there an “open-door” policy?
How are “new ideas” received?
How are “grievances” handled?
Sarbanes-Oxley is now in place to assure the financial catastrophes of the past few years
don’t happen again. This is an example of imposing an external measure. What can you
say about the internal practices that encourage staff and faculty to do the right thing?
For instance, does your school have a code of conduct? If so, describe how that process
3. Communication
What types of communication processes are there?
How are expectations (like job duties) communicated?
What about policies and procedures? Would you say there is a formal structure or more
How are “rumors” or gossip handled? Confidential information?
Is there a climate of teamwork or would you say people work more as individuals?
Would you say that staff and faculty are loyal? To what or whom?
Do you think most staff would agree that they feel listened to?
What happens in crunch times? (For ex. Do people pitch in?)
Let’s talk about delegation- what are your criteria for delegating to employees? Are there
any parameters?
I’d like you to recall a time when the communication process was especially effective and
you felt that you and another person worked together exceptionally well.
What was the situation?
What was it about you, the other person, and the communication that made this possible?
What role does the sharing of information play?
When is the sharing of information or communicating a decision difficult?
What happens when someone makes a mistake? (a mistake that actually has an impact?)
It is understandable that there may be disagreement with a decision, but in general, would
employees say that they are considered fairly?
Overall and Summary
How would you describe your particular leadership style? How would other colleagues
describe you?
What is the most important thing to remember when others are depending on you to act?
Is there anything further that you would like to say? Do you have any questions about
this research project?
Thank you
Thank you for your time and participation in this research.
If you are interested in viewing the results of the research, I would be happy to send you
a summary.
Arrow, K. J. (1974). The limits of organization. New York: Norton.
Banner, W. A. (1968). Ethics: An Introduction to Moral Philosophy. New York: Charles
Scribner’s Sons.
Begley, P. T., & Stefkovich, J. (2007). Integrating values and ethics into post secondary
teaching or leadership development. Journal of Educational Administration,
45(4), 398-411.
Bennis, W., & Nanus, B. (1985). Leaders: The strategies for taking charge. New York:
Harper & Row.
Bok, S. (1978). Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life: Pantheon.
Bryk, A. S., & Schneider, B. (2002). Trust in Schools: a Core Resource for
Improvement. New York Russell Sage Foundation.
Cloud, J. (2007). Failing our Geniuses. Time 170(9), 40-46.
Cohen, D., & Prusak, L. (2001). In Good Company: How Social Capital Makes
Organizations Work. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
Cooperrider, D., & Whitney, D. (2001). A Positive Revolution in Change: Appreciative
Inquiry. In D. Cooperrider, P. Sorensen, T. Yaeger & D. Whitney (Eds.),
Appreciative Inquiry, an Emerging Direction for Organization Development.
Champaign, IL: Stipes Publishing.
Covey, S. M. R. (2006). The Speed of Trust, The One Thing That Changes Everything.
New York, NY: Free Press.
Covey, S. M. R. (2008). Trust Is a Competency. Chief Learning Officer, 7(5), 54-57.
Elmore, R. F. (2003). A Plea for Strong Practice. Educational Leadership, 61(3), 6-10.
Fukuyama, F. (1995). Trust, The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity. New
York: Free Press.
Fullan, M. (2001). Leading in a Culture of Change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Furman, G. (Ed.). (2002). School As Community: From Promise to Practice in
Educational Leadership. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Furman, G. (2003a). 2002 UCEA Presidential Address. UCEA Review, XLV(\), 1-6.
Furman, G. (2003b). Moral Leadership and the Ethic of Community. Values and Ethics
in Educational Administration, 2(1), 1-8.
Gardner, H. (2005). Compromised work. Daedalus, 134(3), 41-51.
Giancola, J. M., & Hutchison, J. K. (2005). Transforming the Culture of School
Leadership. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, A Sage Publications Company.
Gilligan, C. (1982). In a different voice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Gini, A. (2006). Why It’s Hard To Be Good. New York: Routledge.
Goodlad, J. I. (2004). A Place Called School. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Grossman, R. (2005). Demystifying Section 404. HR Magazine, 50(10), 27-53.
Harvey, J. (2003). The Matrix Reloaded. Educational Leadership, 61(3), 16-21.
Hess, F. (2003). The Case for Being Mean. Educational Leadership, 61(3), 22-26.
Honderich, T. (Ed.). (2005). The Oxford Guide to Philiosophy (Second ed.). New York:
Oxford University Press.
Hoy, W. K., & Tschannen-Morran, M. (1999). Five Faces of Trust: an empirical
confirmation in urban elementary schools. Journal of School Leadership, 9, 184-
Illinois State Board of Education. (2006). Retrieved June 26, 2006, from www.isbe.net
Jerald, C. (2003). Beyond the Rock and the Hard Place. Educational Leadership, 61(3),
Kochanek, J. R. (2005). Building Trust for Better Schools: Research-Based Practices.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, A Sage Publication Company.
McMillan, J. H., & Schumacher, S. (2001). Research in Education, A conceptual
introduction (Fifth ed.). New York, NY: Addison Wesley Longman, Inc.
MacMillan, W. (2006). The Power of Social Capital. Harvard Management Update,
11(6), 3-5.
Marshall, E. M. (2000). Building Trust at the Speed of Change, the Power of the
Relationship-based Organization. Chicago: Amacom.
Maxwell, J. A. (1996). Qualitative Research Design, An Interactive Approach (Vol. 41).
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative Data Analysis. Thousand Oaks,
CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
Mishra, A. K. (1996). The Organizational Responses to Crisis: Centrality of Trust. In R.
M. Kramer & T. R. Tyler (Eds.), Trust in Organizations (pp. 261-287). Thousand
Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Noddings, N. (2003). Caring (Second ed.). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Pyrczak, F., & Bruce, R. R. (1998). Writing Empirical Research Reports, A Basic Guide
for Students of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Los Angeles: Pyrczak
Rebore, R. W. (1998). Personnel Administration in Education (Fifth ed.). Neeham
Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Rebore, R. W. (2001). The Ethics of Educational Leadership. Upper Saddle River, NJ:
Prentice Hall, Inc.
Reina, D., & Reina, M. L. (1999). Trust and Betrayal in the Workplace: Building
Effective Relationships in Your Organization. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler
Rogers, R. (1995). The Psychological Contract of Trust: Part I. Executive Development,
5(1), 15-19
Rogers, R. (1995). The Psychological Contract of Trust: Part II. Executive Development,
5(2), .7-17
Rubin, H. J., & Rubin, I. S. (2005). Qualitative Interviewing, the Art of Hearing Data
(Second ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Sergiovanni, T. J. (1999). Refocusing Leadership to Build Community. High School
Magazine 7(1), 10-15.
Sergiovanni, T. J. (2005). Strengthening the Heartbeat; Leading and Learning Together
in Schools San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Shank, G., & Villella, 0. (2004). Building on New Foundations, Core Principles and New
Directions for Qualitative Research Journal of Educational Research, 98{\), 46-
Shapiro, J. P., & Stefkovich, J. A. (2005). Ethical Leadership and Decision Making in
Education, Applying Theoretical Perspectives to Complex Dilemmas (second ed.).
Shaw, R. B. (1997). Trust in the Balance, Building Successful Organizations on Results,
Integrity, and Concern (First ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Smith, R. E. (2005). Human Resource Administration: A School based Perspective
(Third ed.). Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education.
Starratt, R. J. (1994). Building an Ethical School: A Practical Response to the Moral
Crisis in Schools. Philadelphia: Farmer Press.
Starratt, R. J. (2004). Ethical Leadership (First ed.). San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons,
Starratt, R. J. (2005). Responsible Leadership. Essays. The Educational Forum, 69 (2),
Taylor, C. (1991). The Ethics of Authenticity. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Tschannen-Morran, M. (2004). Trust Matters. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Tschannen-Morran, M., & Hoy, W. K. (2000). A Multidisciplinary Analysis of the
Nature, Meaning, and Measurement of Trust. Review of Educational Research,
70(4), 547-593.
Tschannen-Morran, M., & Hoy, W. (1998). Trust in schools: a conceptual and empiracal
analysis. Journal of Educational Administration, 36(4), 334-329.
U.S. Department of Education. PL107-110No Child Left Behind (NCLB). (2002).
Retrieved December 30, 2007. from www.ed.gov.
Wallis, C, & Steptoe, S. (2007, June 4). How to Fix No Child Left Behind. Time, 169,
Zietlow, R. (2002). Education Act in State Hands. State Government News, 10-13.
Weiss, R. S. (1994). Learning from Strangers, The Art and Method of Qualitative
Interviewing. New York, NY: Free Press.
Susan Fitzgerald Hagerty is the daughter of Robert and Carol Fitzgerald. She
was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin but after a few years traveling due to her father’s
military service, her family settled in the western suburbs of Chicago where she
finished elementary and high school. She graduated from Kalamazoo College in 1979
with a Bachelor of Arts in History. In 1987 Susan earned a Master of Science degree
in Industrial Relations from Loyola University Chicago. In 1990, she completed a
Training and Organization Development Certificate at Aurora University.
Susan has worked in the field of Human Resources for nearly 26 years,
beginning her career in with a major Chicago advertising firm and served in various
Human Resource functions including Recruiting, Compensation and Training and
Development. For the past 20 years she has been the Human Resources Department
head for large medical device manufacturer. In this role, (along with typical HR
responsibilities) she frequently facilitates training programs, assists in staff
development and especially enjoys advising employees in her company’s talent
management programs. Because of a dual interest in teaching and seeing the need for
better programs to prepare students for the workplace, she started her Ph.D. program
at Loyola University Chicago. For a few years during that time, she was also an
adjunct faculty member for Aurora University.
Active in the local Society for Human Resource Management chapter, the
Chicagoland Human Resource Association, Susan has served on the Board of
Directors, including Vice-President of Education and Certification and is currently
President. She is also active in her parish community, serving on the Adult Education
Committee and School Board for the parish school.
She currently resides in a suburb of Chicago with her husband and children.
This dissertation submitted by Susan Fitzgerald Hagerty has been read and approved by
the following committee:
Robert E. Roemer, Ph.D., Director
Program Director, Cultural and Educational Policy Studies
Loyola University Chicago
Maria Israel, Ed.D.
Assistant Professor
Loyola University Chicago
Kathleen Goeppinger, Ph.D.
Midwestern University
The final copies have been examined by the director of this dissertation and the signature
which appears below verifies the fact that any necessary changes have been incorporated
and that the dissertation is now given final approval by the committee with reference to
content and form.
The dissertation is therefore accepted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the
degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
OJPA* I, loer ^lA^i S. /^r.
Date Director’s Signature

Get Professional Assignment Help Cheaply

Buy Custom Essay

Don't use plagiarized sources. Get Your Custom Essay on
The quality of this reproduction is dependent upon the quality of the copy
Just from $9/Page
Order Essay

Are you busy and do not have time to handle your assignment? Are you scared that your paper will not make the grade? Do you have responsibilities that may hinder you from turning in your assignment on time? Are you tired and can barely handle your assignment? Are your grades inconsistent?

Whichever your reason is, it is valid! You can get professional academic help from our service at affordable rates. We have a team of professional academic writers who can handle all your assignments.

Why Choose Our Academic Writing Service?

  • Plagiarism free papers
  • Timely delivery
  • Any deadline
  • Skilled, Experienced Native English Writers
  • Subject-relevant academic writer
  • Adherence to paper instructions
  • Ability to tackle bulk assignments
  • Reasonable prices
  • 24/7 Customer Support
  • Get superb grades consistently

Online Academic Help With Different Subjects


Students barely have time to read. We got you! Have your literature essay or book review written without having the hassle of reading the book. You can get your literature paper custom-written for you by our literature specialists.


Do you struggle with finance? No need to torture yourself if finance is not your cup of tea. You can order your finance paper from our academic writing service and get 100% original work from competent finance experts.

Computer science

Computer science is a tough subject. Fortunately, our computer science experts are up to the match. No need to stress and have sleepless nights. Our academic writers will tackle all your computer science assignments and deliver them on time. Let us handle all your python, java, ruby, JavaScript, php , C+ assignments!


While psychology may be an interesting subject, you may lack sufficient time to handle your assignments. Don’t despair; by using our academic writing service, you can be assured of perfect grades. Moreover, your grades will be consistent.


Engineering is quite a demanding subject. Students face a lot of pressure and barely have enough time to do what they love to do. Our academic writing service got you covered! Our engineering specialists follow the paper instructions and ensure timely delivery of the paper.


In the nursing course, you may have difficulties with literature reviews, annotated bibliographies, critical essays, and other assignments. Our nursing assignment writers will offer you professional nursing paper help at low prices.


Truth be told, sociology papers can be quite exhausting. Our academic writing service relieves you of fatigue, pressure, and stress. You can relax and have peace of mind as our academic writers handle your sociology assignment.


We take pride in having some of the best business writers in the industry. Our business writers have a lot of experience in the field. They are reliable, and you can be assured of a high-grade paper. They are able to handle business papers of any subject, length, deadline, and difficulty!


We boast of having some of the most experienced statistics experts in the industry. Our statistics experts have diverse skills, expertise, and knowledge to handle any kind of assignment. They have access to all kinds of software to get your assignment done.


Writing a law essay may prove to be an insurmountable obstacle, especially when you need to know the peculiarities of the legislative framework. Take advantage of our top-notch law specialists and get superb grades and 100% satisfaction.

What discipline/subjects do you deal in?

We have highlighted some of the most popular subjects we handle above. Those are just a tip of the iceberg. We deal in all academic disciplines since our writers are as diverse. They have been drawn from across all disciplines, and orders are assigned to those writers believed to be the best in the field. In a nutshell, there is no task we cannot handle; all you need to do is place your order with us. As long as your instructions are clear, just trust we shall deliver irrespective of the discipline.

Are your writers competent enough to handle my paper?

Our essay writers are graduates with bachelor's, masters, Ph.D., and doctorate degrees in various subjects. The minimum requirement to be an essay writer with our essay writing service is to have a college degree. All our academic writers have a minimum of two years of academic writing. We have a stringent recruitment process to ensure that we get only the most competent essay writers in the industry. We also ensure that the writers are handsomely compensated for their value. The majority of our writers are native English speakers. As such, the fluency of language and grammar is impeccable.

What if I don’t like the paper?

There is a very low likelihood that you won’t like the paper.

Reasons being:

  • When assigning your order, we match the paper’s discipline with the writer’s field/specialization. Since all our writers are graduates, we match the paper’s subject with the field the writer studied. For instance, if it’s a nursing paper, only a nursing graduate and writer will handle it. Furthermore, all our writers have academic writing experience and top-notch research skills.
  • We have a quality assurance that reviews the paper before it gets to you. As such, we ensure that you get a paper that meets the required standard and will most definitely make the grade.

In the event that you don’t like your paper:

  • The writer will revise the paper up to your pleasing. You have unlimited revisions. You simply need to highlight what specifically you don’t like about the paper, and the writer will make the amendments. The paper will be revised until you are satisfied. Revisions are free of charge
  • We will have a different writer write the paper from scratch.
  • Last resort, if the above does not work, we will refund your money.

Will the professor find out I didn’t write the paper myself?

Not at all. All papers are written from scratch. There is no way your tutor or instructor will realize that you did not write the paper yourself. In fact, we recommend using our assignment help services for consistent results.

What if the paper is plagiarized?

We check all papers for plagiarism before we submit them. We use powerful plagiarism checking software such as SafeAssign, LopesWrite, and Turnitin. We also upload the plagiarism report so that you can review it. We understand that plagiarism is academic suicide. We would not take the risk of submitting plagiarized work and jeopardize your academic journey. Furthermore, we do not sell or use prewritten papers, and each paper is written from scratch.

When will I get my paper?

You determine when you get the paper by setting the deadline when placing the order. All papers are delivered within the deadline. We are well aware that we operate in a time-sensitive industry. As such, we have laid out strategies to ensure that the client receives the paper on time and they never miss the deadline. We understand that papers that are submitted late have some points deducted. We do not want you to miss any points due to late submission. We work on beating deadlines by huge margins in order to ensure that you have ample time to review the paper before you submit it.

Will anyone find out that I used your services?

We have a privacy and confidentiality policy that guides our work. We NEVER share any customer information with third parties. Noone will ever know that you used our assignment help services. It’s only between you and us. We are bound by our policies to protect the customer’s identity and information. All your information, such as your names, phone number, email, order information, and so on, are protected. We have robust security systems that ensure that your data is protected. Hacking our systems is close to impossible, and it has never happened.

How our Assignment Help Service Works

1. Place an order

You fill all the paper instructions in the order form. Make sure you include all the helpful materials so that our academic writers can deliver the perfect paper. It will also help to eliminate unnecessary revisions.

2. Pay for the order

Proceed to pay for the paper so that it can be assigned to one of our expert academic writers. The paper subject is matched with the writer’s area of specialization.

3. Track the progress

You communicate with the writer and know about the progress of the paper. The client can ask the writer for drafts of the paper. The client can upload extra material and include additional instructions from the lecturer. Receive a paper.

4. Download the paper

The paper is sent to your email and uploaded to your personal account. You also get a plagiarism report attached to your paper.

smile and order essay GET A PERFECT SCORE!!! smile and order essay Buy Custom Essay