Campus Location

Dallas Campus (Online)

Date of Award



Document Type



Organizational Leadership

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Committee Chair or Primary Advisor

William Frick

Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor

Donna Breault

Third Committee Member or Committee Reader

Mark Weatherly


Globally, elementary principals have similar responsibilities and duties. Some of their obligations include clerical tasks, other managerial assignments, and instructional leadership duties. All of these jobs require attention and can be time consuming. The researcher aimed to understand the perceptions which challenge elementary principals’ beliefs about student grouping strategies and the impact on reading achievement within a network of 35 schools located around the world. Principals at these schools have the challenge of creating student groups with limited numbers of students and a wide range of abilities. At most of the schools in this network, there are only enough enrolled students to develop one homeroom per age level. The purpose of this research was to explore the decision making elementary principals used for student grouping and understand more clearly and comprehensively the challenges school leaders had with grouping strategies to meet each student’s needs. The intent for exploring this problem was to support the organization to move schools closer to closing the reading achievement gap for elementary students. The researcher conducted an exploratory study using generic inductive qualitative methods and solicited all of the elementary principals from the 35 schools to participate, sending a “what is” and “what should be” gap assessment survey for those who consented to participate. A short-answer gap assessment questionnaire followed to determine the practices and perceptions of each principal and if they were able to share reading data with me. The survey and questionnaire led to semistructured individual interviews to dig deeper into the thought process and beliefs of what strategies principals use for student grouping. The researcher also addressed the expectations of principals’ student grouping for their teachers. Due to the Covid pandemic, there were some challenges collecting the reading data as schools went online for distance learning and did not follow the assessment protocols with fidelity. However, there were patterns of challenges from the principals related to parental expectations and ensuring success for intensive English students.

Keywords: elementary principals, student grouping, grouping strategies, perceptions and challenges of elementary principals

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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