Leaving fingerprints: principals’ considerations while implementing education reforms

Chen Schechter, Haim Shaked

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Purpose: Turning an education reform program into school reality greatly depends on the principal. In certain cases, principals choose to implement reform instructions only partially. The purpose of this paper is to explore school principals’ considerations leading to their decisions not to fulfill a national reform’s guidelines in a full and complete way. Design/methodology/approach: This qualitative study is based on interviews with 59 school principals. Generating themes was an inductive process, grounded in the various perspectives articulated by principals. Findings: Data analysis yielded three major considerations: adjusting to school reality; caring for teachers; and using discretion. Research limitations/implications: Longitudinal studies in order to explore how principals’ considerations and mediation strategies evolve and unfold throughout the reform implementation would be useful. The authors suggest complementing principals’ verbally expressed perceptions with more objective measures such as direct observations (recorded on video and then reflected upon), to evaluate their considerations and mediating strategies. Practical implications: Providing prospective and in-service principals with leadership education programs in order to develop an upgraded understanding of their role as mediating agents between the inner and outer spheres of school-life. Originality/value: As principals serve as mid-level policymakers who leave their “fingerprints” on policies received from the authorities, exploring these considerations may contribute to both the scholarship and the practice of the leadership role in times of education reforms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-260
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Educational Administration
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2017

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© 2017, © Emerald Publishing Limited.


  • Principals
  • School reform


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