A Case Study: Leadership and its Effect on Achievement of Children from Poverty in a Rural Setting

Marilyn Dishman Horst, Barbara N. Martin


The purpose of this study was to examine the perceived effectiveness of leadership in a Missouri rural K-8 school with a high incidence of poverty that consistently met federal and state accountability mandates. The concepts of accountability as measured by student achievement, the unique educational needs of children from poverty, and the challenges of the rural school location were viewed through the lens of leadership. Ten practices of leadership that lead to consistent student achievement were suggested. They include integrity and courage, focus and vision, expectations and data evaluation, resources and empowerment, role modeling, and collaboration. Implications of this study could impact mentoring programs to support beginning and practicing administrators, leadership training in schools of education and state leadership programs, programs and instruction designed for children from poverty, and considerations of the monetary and educational cost of consolidation.


Abel, M. H., & Sewell, J. (1999). Stress and burnout in rural and urban secondary school teachers, The Journal of Educational Research, 92(5), 287-293.

Baker, C. H. (2004). No Child left behind: A case study of a school-linked service integration model. Unpublished dissertation. University of Missouri, Columbia.

Beaulieu, L. M., & Israel, G. D. (2005). It’s more than just schools: How families and communities promote student achievement. In L J. Beaulieu & R. Bibbs (Eds.), The role of education: Promoting the economic & social vitality of rural America (pp. 44-55). Mississippi State University: Southern Rural Development Center.

Beeson, E. (2001). Rural schools: Principals facing unique challenges. Principal, 81(1), 22-24.

Bernhardt, V. (1999). The school portfolio: A comprehensive framework for school improvement. Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education.

Bernhardt, V. (2001). The school portfolio toolkit: A planning, implementation, and evaluation guide for continuous school improvement. Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education.

Bogdan, R. C., & Biklen, S. K. (1998). Qualitative research for education: An introduction to theory and methods (3rd ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Bolman, L. G., & Deal, T. E. (2002). Leading with soul and spirit: Effective leadership in challenging times boils down to qualities such as focus, passion and integrity. Retrieved November 14, 2005, from The School Administrator Web Edition. www.aasa.org/publications/saarticledetail.cfm?itemnumber=2693&sn

Bruffee, K. A. (1999). Collaborative learning: Higher education, interdependence, and the authority of knowledge (2nd ed.). Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Buckingham, D. (2001) The rural principalship: For better or worse. Principal, 81(1), 26-32.

Carter, C. S. (1999). Education and development in poor rural communities: An interdisciplinary research agenda. Eric Digest, E#DO-RC-99-9. Retrieved March 20, 2005 from http://www.ael.org/page.htm?&pd

Cervero, R. M., & Wilson, A. L. (2006). Working the Planning Table. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Chirichello, M. (2002). Collective leadership: Sharing the principalship. Principal, 81(1), 46-51.

Citizens for Missouri’s Children. (2005). The Children’s Chronicle. 22(1), 1-8. Coladarci, (2003). Galllup goes to school: The importance of confidence intervals for evaluating ‘adequate yearly progress’ in small schools. Washington, DC: The Rural School and Community Trust.

Collins, T. (2001). Rural schools and communities: Perspectives on interdependence. The Eric Review, 8(2), 14-24.

Cotton, K. (2003), Principals and student achievement: What the research says. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Danielson, C., & McGreal, T. L. (2000). Teacher evaluation: To enhance professional practice. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Darling-Hammond, L. (1998). Teacher learning that supports student learning. Educational Leadership, 55(5), 6-11.

Davis, J. R. (2003). Leadership and administration: Building practical definitions. Learning to lead: A handbook for p postsecondary administrators (pp. 3-17). Westport, CT: American Council on Education and Praeger Publishers.

DeVol, D. (2004). Using the hidden rules of class to create sustainable communities. Highlands, TX: aha! Process, Inc.

DuFour, R., & Eaker, R. (1998). Professional learning communities at work: Best practices for enhancing student achievement. Bloomington, IN: National Educational Service.

Eaker, R., DuFour, R., & DuFour, R. (2002). Getting started: Reculturing schools to become professional learning communities. Bloomington, ID: National Educational Service.

Ellis, K. D. (2004). Putting the pieces together: More activities for modules 12-16. Highlands, TX: aha! Process, Inc.

Elmore, R. F. (2002). Building capacity to enhance learning: A conversation with Richard Elmore. Principal Leadership, 2(6), 39-43.

Fowler, F. (2000). Policy studies for educational leaders. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Fullan, M. (2001). Leading in a culture of change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Furman, G. (2003). The 2002 UCEA Presidential Address. UCEA Review, XLV (1), (1-6).

Glickman, C. D. (2002) Leadership for learning: How to help teachers succeed. Alexandria, VA: Association of Curriculum and Instruction.

Goetz, S., & Rupasingha, A. (2003). How the returns to education in rural areas vary across the nation. In J. Beaulieu & R. Bibbs (Eds.), The Role of Education: Promoting the Economic & Social Vitality of Rural America, (pp. 6-9). Mississippi State University: Southern Rural Development Center.

Haun, D. D. (2003). Attrition of beginning teachers and the factors of collaboration, school level, and school setting. Unpublished dissertation. University of Missouri, Columbia.

Hedgpeth, P. S. (2000). Professional development practices for developing principal instructional leadership. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of Missouri, Columbia.

Hough, D. L. (2003). The case for the elemiddle school. Middle Matters, Retrieved February 9, 2005, from http://naesp.org/ContentLoad.do?contentid+5347action=print

Houston, P. D. (1997). It takes a village to raise achievement. School Administrator, 58(6), 46.

Kanter, R. M. (1994). Collaborative advantage: The art of alliances. Harvard Review, 72(4), 96-108.

Kusler, M. (2004). View from the hill. Rural Education News, 55(1), 2.

Lashway, L. (2002a). The accountability challenge. Principal, 81(3), 14-16. Lashway, L. (2002b). Accountability: A positive force for change. Principal Leadership, 5(2), 16-20.

Lieberman, A. (1995). The work of restructuring schools: Building from the ground up. New York: Teachers College Press.

Lyson, T. A. (2005). The importance of schools to rural community viability. In L J. Beaulieu & R. Bibbs (Eds.), The role of education: Promoting the economic & social vitality of rural America, (pp. 6-9). Mississippi State University: Southern Rural Development Center.

Marzano, R. J., Pickering, D. J. & Pollock, J. E. (2001). Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Alexandria, VA: Association of Curriculum and Instruction.

Marzano, R,. J., Waters, T., & McNulty, B. A., (2005). School leadership that works: From research to results. Alexandria, VA: Association of Curriculum and Instruction.

McCall, M. S., Kingsbury, G. G., & Olson, A. (2004). Individual growth and school success. A technical report from the Northwest Evaluation Association Growth Research Database. Northwest Evaluation Association.

Missouri Kids Count Data Book Online. (2004). Retrieved on March 31, 2005 from http://oseda.lmissouri.edu/kidscount/04 Missouri School Improvement Program. (2000). Integrated standards and indicators manual. Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Morgan, G. (1997). Images of organization (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Nonaka, I., & Takeuchi, H. (1995). The knowledge-creating company. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc.

Patton, C. (1998). The K-8 bunch: The K-8 schools are growing in popularity across the country. Do they really lead to fewer discipline problems and better academic performance? District Administrator. Retrieved on February 9, 2005, from http://www.districtadministration.com/pageprint.dfm?p=998

Payne, R. K. (2005). A framework for understanding poverty (4th ed.). Highlands, TX: RFT Publishing Co.

Sandholtz, J. H. (1998). Interdisciplinary team teaching as a form of professional development. Teacher Education Quarterly, 27, 39-50. Schein, E. H. (2002). Organizational culture and leadership. (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Schmoker, M. (2004). Tipping point: From feckless reform to substantive instructional improvement. Phi Delta Kappan, 85(6), 424-432.

Smith, F. (1998). The book of forgetting and learning. New York: Teachers College Press.

Spears, L. & Lawrence, M. (Eds.). (2004). Practicing Servant Leadership: Succeeding Through Trust, Bravery, and Forgiveness. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Tadlock, M., & Barrett-Roberts, J. (1995). Middle level education in small rural schools. Columbus, OH: National Middle School Association.

U. S. Department of Education, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (USDESE). (2002). No child left behind: A desktop reference, September 2002. Washington D. C., Author.

Yukl, G. (2006). Leadership in organizations (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Publication of the National Rural Education Association - http://www.nrea.net

Report problems or questions about to the website to jshedd@library.msstate.edu