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The Role of Leadership in Starting and Operating Blended Learning Charter Schools: A Multisite Case Study

, Drexel University, United States

Drexel University . Awarded


Heavily utilizing both instructional technology and face-to-face instruction within a bricks-and-mortar school environment, blended learning charter schools are gaining attention as a cost-effective school design. As educators turn to these blended learning school models to improve both the operational efficiency and student outcomes of America's public schools, prior research suggests a shortage of school leaders who sufficiently possess the skills and knowledge to effectively start and operate the technology-driven schools. Using a multisite, case study approach to examine the leadership of three blended learning charter schools in California, this study sought to answer the following questions: What are the biggest challenges founders of blended learning charter schools identify in their attempts to start a blended learning charter school? What are the particular skills and knowledge these founders have had to rely on or develop in order to design and start their blended learning schools? When hiring their school leaders, what particular skills and knowledge do the founders of blended learning charter schools seek and how do these desired qualifications differ from traditional public schools leaders?

School leaders of the blended learning charter schools in this study described a multitude of people-, operation-, and resource-related challenges they faced in starting their schools, many of which appear particular to establishing a blended learning instructional program. While leaders of these schools relied on many of the same leadership skills required by school leaders of traditional public schools, the blended learning charter school leaders in this study identified numerous skills that appear either unique to blended learning or are used to a much greater degree at blended learning schools. School leaders emphasized, among other skills, the importance of being able to use data, technology, instructional staff, and other resources to individualize student learning. In addition, school leaders described the difficulty they faced in identifying future leaders. Participants in this study bemoaned the quality and relevance of school leadership certification programs and, consequently, described relying on internal strategies for grooming their future school leaders.


Agostini, M.E. The Role of Leadership in Starting and Operating Blended Learning Charter Schools: A Multisite Case Study. Ph.D. thesis, Drexel University. Retrieved March 21, 2019 from .

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