The relationship between principal effectiveness and the use of counseling skills

Valerie Suzanne Hodge Cleckler

Abstract

In most educational leadership programs, the working relationship of the principal with teachers, parents, and the community is discussed, but the relationship of the principal and counselor is typically not given much, if any, attention. Principals are not trained in the use of counseling skills in educational leadership programs at Mississippi universities (Delta State University, 2008; Jackson State University, 2007; Mississippi State University, 2008; Mississippi University for Women, 2008, 2009; The University Southern Mississippi, 2009; University of Mississippi, 2007). The leadership training provided to school administrators is very important because of the role they play in the success of the school. The skills, and behaviors of, and the decisions made by, principals can impact the successfulness of schools. The purpose of this study was to determine if there is a relationship between counselors' reports of principals' effectiveness and their use of counseling skills. Principals' effectiveness was measured using Mississippi Curriculum Test, 2nd edition (MCT2), Algebra 1, and English 2 Multiple Choice score gains, performance ratings assigned by the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) and counselor report of leadership effectiveness based on the 21 responsibilities of the Mid-continental Research for Education Leadership (McREL) Balanced Leadership Framework. Counseling skills were measured using the American School Counseling Association (ASCA) National Model. Descriptive data were used to create a model that was analyzed to determine if those variables predicted the counselors' report of principals' use of counseling skills. Data were collected from 129 Mississippi public school counselors, from 121 schools. A strong, positive relationship was found to exist between counselors' reports of principals' use of counseling skills and principal effectiveness based on counselors' report of principal effectiveness measured by the McREL Balanced Leadership Framework. When principal effectiveness was measured using standardized test score gains, only 3rd grade MCT2 Language Arts scores were moderately, positively correlated with counselor report of principals' use of counseling skills. There was a small, positive correlation between counselors' reports of principals' use of counseling skills and MDE's rating of school performance. The overall model, using the principal, school, and student demographic characteristics, was found to be predictive of counselors' report of principals' use of counseling skills, but only student socioeconomic status was a statistically significant predictor of the principals' use of counseling skills. This study found significant correlations among counselors' ratings of principal effectiveness and counselors' reports of principals' use of counseling skills. Significant results can be used to enhance educational leadership programs in order to better train more effective principals. More effective principals can improve schools, thus assisting many students in becoming more successful (Marzano, Waters, & McNulty, 2005).