Date of Award

Spring 3-16-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Carol Anderson-Woo

Second Advisor

Dr. Kimberly Greene

Third Advisor

Dr. Laurie Love


Purpose: The purpose of this Classical Delphi study was to identify the essential skills educational leadership experts perceive as crucial for novice elementary school principals to support students towards the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) goals of preparedness for college, career, and life success and the key steps to acquire the identified skills.

Methodology: This descriptive, mixed-method Classical Delphi research involved gathering qualitative and quantitative data from 17 educational leadership experts regarding the most essential skills needed by novice elementary school principals to meet the ESSA goals for students’ college, career, and life success. Respondents acknowledged as experienced principals were purposively selected using specific criteria and recommendations based on snowball and convenience sampling. The researcher collected data via e-mail and surveys. The participation result rate was 100% for Rounds 1 and 2 and 94% for Round 3.

Findings: Based on the perceptions of the expert educational leaders, the top ranked skills were collaboration to develop a sense of community, effective interactions based upon trust, and promoting vison and mission focused on transformational change. The top ranked key steps to acquire the identified skills were ongoing self-improvement and personal growth, practice self-reflection, and interactions with other leadership professionals.

Conclusions: Grounded by the literature and the study’s findings, collaboration and communication are essential to school improvement. Leadership is most effective when there is a sense of collaborative synergy integrating all stakeholders. Data-informed instructional leadership is the cornerstone of student achievement. Skillful leadership takes true grit and purposeful intention.

Recommendations: Further research is recommended to examine the skills needed by novice principals in different types of school, and the best pathways needed to develop the identified skills. Eleven specfic recommendations for further study are provided.