Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Administration

Major Professor

Ernest W. Brewer

Committee Members

Patricia Davis-Wiley, Jennifer A. Morrow, Mary Lynne Derrington


This modified Delphi study explored the effects of No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 (Public Law 10-110) on the nation’s education system and the challenges it has presented to public school principals nationwide regarding their ability to be agents of change at a local level while maintaining effective leadership. National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) 2009-2011 national and state awards yielded a purposive, homogeneous sample of 448 principals honored as experts in the field of educational leadership and qualified to make recommendations for future reauthorization of NCLB. Through use of PsychData online survey service, Phase 1 involved two rounds of open-ended questions iteratively to a discrete panel of experts drawn from sample; Phase 2, administering the NCLB Perceptions Questionnaire (75 five-point Likert-scale items generated from respondents’ Phase 1 input) to a second distinct panel. Qualitative data analysis was accomplished with QDA Miner 4; quantitative data, SPSS 20 (descriptive statistics, factor analysis, MANOVA testing). Descriptively, rank ordering of means indicated that participants selected strongly agree or agree on 59 (78.7%) of the 75 items (e.g., recommendation to policymakers to confer with principals on proposed changes). Although the selective nature of the sampling puts generalizability somewhat in question, findings interpreted from analysis of a wealth of participant perceptions increase our understanding of principals’ perceptions of myriad educational issues (e.g., accountability, individual student growth, problems with achievement, loss of local control, and ways to make a difference in national policies through organizations). Despite their inability to reach consensus regarding NCLB’s societal impact on the plight of public education, principals expressed opinions on both sides of this debate that can be traced back to NCLB’s inception. This study is distinctive in implementation of this modified Delphi technique design to obtain input regarding NCLB from principals nationwide representing both elementary and secondary levels of our public education system. The study helps bring to light the need to provide a voice to those in the field who know first-hand the many daily challenges of educating our students in America’s 21st century public schools.

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