Use of coping strategies to deal with the effects of accountability pressures on principals




Perez, Elizabeth


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This study explored the perceptions of successful campus principals regarding their strategies to navigate and mitigate the challenges of their roles in the context of high stakes accountability pressures. More so, this study proposed to explore the means by which school administrators cope with the challenges of accountability and the challenges of being a high school principal. Perceptions of those successful principals who rise above the fray of negative conversations around accountability and provide real behind-the-scenes insight into enacting leadership of successful campuses will inform the extant literature seeking real world examples. The lead researcher, who recently served as a current high school principal in an urban Coastal Bend high school and was promoted to central office, knows that successful leadership is possible when campus principals do have the necessary support from upper administration and superintendents to focus on building their own capacity and coping skills. The study included principals who experienced success with leading schools during this accountability era, as well as principals who left the profession of leadership due to accountability constraints. The study addressed several overarching research questions which focus particularly on the various challenges that cause work related stress for administrators as well as their coping strategies utilized to reduce the stress. Emerging themes identified may contribute to the understanding of the various forms of stress and support identification of the need for coping strategies. Findings from this study may assist educational institutions on better preparing aspiring principals by better understanding the challenges principals face in the public school system. More robust principal preparatory programs could potentially be informed of enhanced professional development and mentoring programs to support emerging leaders. The study’s findings may serve as a vessel to meet the needs of principals and better equip them with the tools and skills necessary to manage the ever changing accountability culture that exists in schools.



coping strategies, accountability pressures, stress, principals



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