The effects of transformational leadership on academic optimism within elementary schools
This study examined the relationship between transformational leadership and academic optimism. Elementary schools in northern Alabama were the focus of this study. Sixty-seven schools participated in this study. Faculty members of the participating schools completed two survey instruments: Leithwood's school leadership survey and the school academic optimism survey (SAOS). There were 470 respondents to the instruments. All data were aggregated to the school level. The independent variable for this study was Leithwood's model of transformational leadership. Conceptually, Leithwood defines transformational leadership as a form of principal leadership that moves individuals toward a level of commitment to achieve school goals by setting direction, developing people, redesigning the organization, and managing the instructional program. The dependent variable of this study was academic optimism. Hoy, Tarter, and Hoy defined academic optimism as the general and collective confidence of a school's faculty that conditions exist for students to achieve academic success. Academic optimism is comprised of three organizational characteristics: teacher collective efficacy, academic emphasis, and faculty trust in clients. Prior research has found that principal activities focusing on the learning environment, emphasizing academic achievement, and establishing high performance goals can influence student achievement. Furthermore, previous studies support the positive relationship between transformational leadership and student engagement, classroom instruction, teacher commitment, organizational learning, school culture, job satisfaction, changed teacher practices, and particularly collective efficacy. This study theorized that transformational leadership and academic optimism would be positively correlated. Results of correlation testing indicated that Leithwood's model of transformational leadership is positively related to the academic optimism of the school. The results of linear regression testing showed that each individual category of Leithwood's model of transformational leadership was also positively related to academic optimism. These results provided support for the hypotheses of this study; the greater the degree of transformational leadership the greater the degree of academic optimism in a school.