Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Louann Bierlein Palmer, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Patricia Reeves, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Ancell Scheker Mendoza, Ph.D.


Leadership, school accountability, school principals


The school accountability system in the Dominican Republic (DR) involves the use of several national assessments, the reporting of such data, and the training of principals on how to use such data as part of school improvement efforts. While this type of indicator accountability system does not include specific consequences, there is still significant measuring and reporting of student achievement data, with the implied connotation of teacher and principal responsibility for specific school outcomes. The problem addressed in this study was the lack of research on what school principals know about such school accountability in the DR, and how they might use any aspect of the indicator system to improve school performance. The purpose of this qualitative study, therefore, was to capture the voices of school principals in the DR regarding what they know about the system, and how they see their role as leaders in using data from it to improve student achievement. There was also interest in whether there were any thematic differences between higher and lower performing schools.

Using a basic qualitative design with an interpretative approach, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 principals in urban Santo Domingo. Analysis of the data revealed three major themes and 12 sub-themes. Findings reveal that all principals know something about school accountability, but with different meanings. Most participants acknowledged some elements of a school accountability system (e.g., standards, goals, performance, measurements, reporting, improvement plans), and indicated they analyze, use, and share the information produced by assessment and evaluation, acknowledging it as an important source of feedback to teachers, students, parents, and schools, considering it a powerful tool for school quality management and improvement. However, their level of knowledge and their articulation of data usage differed.

Similar to literature on leadership, findings show that all participants declared themselves as leaders and claim the capacity to balance pedagogical tasks, operational factors and motivation for others. All acknowledged duality in their functions as principals, being both managers and leaders, and most believe their primary role is as a leader within the pedagogical process. However, and contrary to the literature related to the role of principals, none articulated the concept of instructional leadership, one of the primary roles of the school principal. Finally, the study showed a glance at a possible larger research: there seems to be different characteristics between those principals working in higher and lower achieving schools, related to their knowledge and understanding of school accountability.

Recommendations go toward additional research on the knowledge (or lack thereof) of instructional leadership in school principals in the DR, and on leadership in general related to principals’ use of it to improve their school outcomes. To leaders, it recommends revising the current DR school accountability system to further clarify key concepts and data usage for principals, and to offer further training in this regard. The last recommendation is for higher education providers in the DR to revise their education programs, to include a stronger conceptualization and practice of school accountability.

These results contribute to the literature on school accountability and leadership in the DR, characterizing principals’ knowledge and their use of the current system. It also adds to the knowledge based regarding principals leadership for improving student performance in their schools.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access