Date of Graduation

2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

College/School

School of Education

Department/Program

Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Doreen F. Jones

Second Advisor

Ralph E Metts

Third Advisor

Patricia A. Mitchell

Abstract

The Perceptions of Catholic Elementary School Principals in the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon Concerning the Catholic Identity and Program Effectiveness of Their Respective Schools

Since their inception in the 1800s in America, Catholic schools have been essential to the ecclesial mission of the Roman Catholic Church and to the formation of students for the common good. As Catholic schools move further into the 21st century, they face many challenges, including the formation of personnel in their Catholic identity, the high cost of tuition and operations of schools, the preoccupation for financial success of students, and the ongoing rise of secularism in our culture. The USCCB (2005) called upon the Catholic community to address these challenges and to support the advancement of Catholic schools across the nation especially with regard to their Catholic identity and their program effectiveness.

This study examined the perceptions of the Catholic elementary school administrators in the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon regarding the extent to which Catholic identity and program effectiveness were operative in their respective schools. The administrators also identified factors that aided as well as challenged the concepts of Catholic identity and program effectiveness. Principals also offered recommendations to the Department of Catholic Schools in Portland to address their concerns.

This study utilized mixed methods research: an online survey and face-to-face interviews. The study utilized the Catholic Identity Defining Characteristics Staff Survey and the Catholic Identity Program Effectiveness Staff Survey (Ozar & Weitzel-O’Neill, 2012). Of the 39 elementary school principals who received the invitation to participate in the study, 33, or 85%, accepted and completed the surveys (N=33). In addition, a purposeful sample of six administrators that matched the demographics of the general population was selected to complete face-to-face interviews. The collected data revealed that all of the administrators agreed or strongly agreed that Catholic identity and program effectiveness were exhibited in their respective schools. Principals recognized that a supportive pastor and shareholders were vital to their program effectiveness and identity and that strategic planning at the Archdiocesan level was needed.

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