26 SES 04 B, Effects Of Leadership On The Student And School Level
The aim of this study was to explore principals' perceptions of school practices that have ethical meaning through a transnational perspective based on the 8th - grade TIMSS 2015 international assessment. The sample comprised 8,353 principals from 8,353 different schools and 280,130 students that participated in the TIMSS 2015 survey.We used principals' ranking procedure, and Mplus for exploratory and confirmatory analyses, multilevel confirmatory analysis, and multiple group comparison. The results indicated that principals' perceptions include three main dimensions with an ethical meaning: “caring for students' learning”, “respecting the rules amongst students and teachers”, and “parents' and students' involvement in schooling”. These dimensions broaden the meaning of existing dimensions describing ethical practices in school leadership. In addition, they were found to positively predict students’ science achievements.
The novelty of this study is reflected by the results, leading to the understanding that the TIMSS principals' questionnaire has an additional meaning, which goes beyond its original parameters. The findings may lead to a better understanding of the importance of the role of educational leaders in promoting ethical school practices. This study set out to elicit a new transnational measure, and which may warrant an exploration of the similarities and differences between countries. The study findings promote the role of educational research and school ethical practices in providing opportunities for equitable under conditions of uncertainty and risk now and in the future.
A transnational perspective in educational leadership
Previous studies have described the importance of transnational research in the educational leadership field, showing that such studies promote a wider perspective and present a holistic approach that infuses new meanings into research in the field of educational leadership (Lumby and Foskett, 2016; Marfan and Pascual, 2018). This study ponders the power of globalisation as manifested in principals' perceptions of school practices with ethical meaning across countries in order to strengthen the potential transferability of these concepts. This will facilitate exploring the meaning of these shared ethical practices in different countries, while paving the way for change and development in light of each country’s unique context.
Educational leadership and ethical practices
Educational leaders operate in often difficult ethical circumstances, while all along being expected by society to arrive at ethical decisions (Kimber and Campbell, 2014). Thus, educational leadership is deeply rooted in ethical practices that are embedded in a social context. Moreover, principals are perceived as those who are ultimately accountable for what occurs in the confines of the school (Grootenboer and Hardy, 2017). Nonetheless, several studies have shown that principals lack awareness of the ethical meaning of school practices and the impact of their behaviours (e.g., Bogotch, 2000).
Previous studies have discussed three primary dimensions that characterise ethical practices in school leadership: (1) Caring for teachers' and students' learning, refers to principals who utilise a range of high standards, strategies, and assessments in their schools in order to support their teachers' development (Haiyan et al., 2017); (2) Respecting school regulations, and teachers' and students’ rights, emphasises the fact that school rules are designed to safeguard the human rights and dignity of all students and all teachers; therefore, principals are well aware of the importance of conforming to these rules (Norberg and Johansson, 2014); (3) Respecting parents' and students' involvement in school, refers to principals who are driven to collaborate with parents and students because of their shared interest in advancing learning opportunities (Rapp and Duncan, 2012).
These ethical dimensions drove us to analyse, transnationally, whether, and which, characteristics of ethical school practices are implicit in principals' TIMMS questionnaires, since these questionnaires reflect school practices, of which ethics are an integral part.
Context and measurement The current study focuses on the TIMSS 2015 principals' questionnaire in relation to 8th - grade students’ science achievements across 45 countries. Data were based on: (a) the principals' questionnaires, composed of an initial 49 items related to school practices, which were subsequently condensed to 22 items based on principals' ranking procedure. These items focused mainly on the school’s emphasis on academic success, school discipline and safety and student achievement based on questionnaires focusing on the 8th - grade science curriculum aggregated into a school mean achievement. More specifically, the science achievement score was measured and imputed to generate five plausible values for each student (von Davier et al., 2009). We integrated these five scores, by aggregating each plausible value at the school level. Our analyses were based on a dataset available on the TIMSS website (IEA, 2014), where all the relevant items in the principals' and students’ questionnaires are already coded. Sample Our sample comprised 8,353 principals from 8,353 different schools (one principal per school) and 280,130 8th - grade students (the students' gender distribution was equal) that were represented in this study by mean achievement grade per school across 45 countries that participated in the TIMSS 2015 survey. Nearly half of the principals held a bachelor's degree or its equivalent (49.8%), and the others held a graduate degree (42.5% had completed a master's level; 4% had completed doctoral studies). The rest did not complete a bachelor's degree or its equivalent. Average management experience was 9.42 years (SD=7.79). Principals were not asked to designate their gender; therefore, these statistics are not available. The majority of the students (88.9%) were born in the country in which the survey took place, while the rest (11.1%) were born in a different country and migrated to the surveyed country. We focused on the students’ science scores, using the plausible value procedure (Foy, 2017). Ethics and analysis Approval of the research ethics committee was obtained from the authors' university. In our analyses, we used Mplus V.8.0 (Muthén and Muthén, 2017), which enables complex examinations related to both the multilevel structure of the data and the possibility of constructing different latent factors, based on variant items in the sample (Brown, 2006).
The novel findings of this study indicate that principals’ responses to TIMSS questionnaires manifest ethical meanings that are shared by principals across all of the surveyed countries. This led us to the understanding that the TIMSS principals' questionnaire has an added meaning, which goes beyond its original parameters. Our results also contribute to understanding the broader meaning of shared perceptions of school ethical practices amongst principals by identifying three ethical dimensions: “respecting the rules amongst students and teachers”, “parents' and students' involvement in schooling”, and “caring for learning”. This may be a new transnational measure which, up until now, has never been investigated in principals' TIMSS questionnaires and which may warrant exploring the similarities and differences between countries based on this measure. These shared ethical practices were also supported by the ability to predict student achievement across countries, by examining principals’ ethical perceptions vis-à-vis school rules, parents' and students' involvement, and caring for learning. The strength of this study is reflected in our findings, which expand upon the meaning of ethical practices in school leadership described in previous studies. Moreover, our findings add ethical meanings that can be attributed to the TIMSS principals' questionnaires. Our study revealed the concept of ethics in school practices, considering principals’ ranking and mainly using an advanced statistical approach, which included multilevel confirmatory analysis and confirmatory factor analysis, and which demonstrated high internal reliability for the different dimensions of ethics in principals’ perceptions of school practices. Future studies should continue to investigate whether our findings assist in developing updated measures for ethical aspects in school practices under conditions of uncertainty and risk based on students' and teachers' TIMSS questionnaires.
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