Public School Superintendents' Perceptions about Tasks Inherent in Their Position
Lepley, William L.
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The problem. The study's purpose was to examine perceptions of some Iowa public school superintendents toward thirty-two tasks critical to administering a school system and to determine the importance of each task and the expertise needed for task completion as well as how school size and experience influenced superintendents perceptions. Procedure. Twenty-five percent of the superintendents in Iowa, or 112, were chosen for the study. A questionnaire was sent to each superintendent to obtain his perceptions of the importance of each of thirty-two tasks as well as the expertise required to complete each task. After the data were returned, number of years of experience of each participant was identified and participants were divided into four categories of experience. A two-factor analysis of variance was used to test each of four null hypotheses. Where differences did occur amonq groups, a least significant difference t-test was used to determine the significance of the differences among means. Two tables were developed for each task. One table included task importance and the other task expertise. Where significance did occur among groups, t-values were calculated. Findings. The analysis indicated the number of years of experience of superintendents influenced their perceptions of importance of these tasks: managing the school plant, copinq with job pressure, and motivating employee performance. Size of the school district influenced perceptions of superintendents toward the importance of these tasks: negotiations, school district reorqanization, supervision of lunch programs, activity programs and adult education, student rights (activism and due process), and administering federal programs. Expertise required to complete a task as perceived by superintendents was influenced by years of experience with these tasks: legal aspects of education and student riqhts. Superintendents' perceptions of expertise required to complete a task was influenced by school district size within these tasks: supervision of lunch programs, activity programs and adult education, legislation, personnel supervision, federal programs, knowledge of social and educational change processes and issues and trends. When ranking the tasks there was a pattern of similarity among the highest and lowest rankings of both task importance and task expertise. Conclusions. While some differences existed between certain dimensions of the tasks rated, the results of the study did not conclusively support the research hypotheses. These conclusions can be drawn: (l) Differences in experience had no major effect on the superintendent's beliefs concerning the importance of specific administrative tasks; (2) Dlfferences in size of school districts administered by superintendents had no major effect on their beliefs relative to the importance of specific administrative tasks, (3) Differences in years of experience had no major effect on their beliefs as to the expertise required to complete specific administrative tasks; (4) Differences in size of school districts administered to by superintendents had no major effect on their beliefs as to the expertise required to complete specific administrative tasks; (5) Rankinq of the tasks indicated superintendents see people and finance tasks as more important than the application of research related tasks. Recommendations. Agencies and institutions responsible for conducting inservice and training programs for educational leaders should examine their own programs to determine the extent to which they emphasize those tasks deemed most important and require the most expertise by practicing school superintendents; (2) Aqencies and institutions responsible for conducting inservice and training programs for educational leaders should not consider school size as a factor in developing training programs, (3) Because of the questions raised in the rankinq of tasks, further research needs to be conducted to assist training institutions in understanding why the rankings occurred as they did.
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