Anya Niazov

Date of Award

Spring 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


College of Education, Doctoral Program

First Advisor

Joseph Gardner, PhD

Second Advisor

Noah Sobe, PhD

Third Advisor

An Chih Cheng, PhD


U.S. schools have been shown to underperform other industrialized nations on tests of academic achievement. Canada is a higher-performing nation on international assessments and has a similar educational system to the United States. This study aims to determine if there are differences between urban U.S. and Canadian secondary schools and specifically addresses school leadership in these schools. The study employs transformational leadership theory to assess cross-district and cross-national differences in leadership behaviors. In this quantitative study, I characterize differences in administrator and teacher leadership behaviors, teacher satisfaction and empowerment, and their correlations within North American schools. Survey data were collected from over 500 secondary teachers and administrators and results were analyzed using inferential statistical methodologies.

This study demonstrates that there are significant differences between teacher leadership and empowerment both across districts and cross-nationally, but that there are not cross-national differences across administrative leadership. Administrator leadership did, however, have a substantial impact on teachers at the level of the school. Self-reported administrative leadership behaviors not only correlated with teachers’ likelihood to demonstrate similar classroom leadership behaviors, but also were associated with teachers having higher levels of self-efficacy in areas such as “autonomy” and “status”.

There were many significant differences in teacher leadership and teacher empowerment between two large districts (one in the US and one in Canada) and cross-nationally. While some of these differences were related to administrator leadership, this effect did not fully explain the differences among the teachers. This work builds on existing scholarship in the areas of educational leadership and international education and extends this work to assess the impact of leadership on teacher empowerment in a cross-district and cross-national context. My study also importantly lays the foundation for ongoing scholarship that can further illuminate the causes for differences and provides a critical knowledge base to help researchers and practitioners determine how impacting leadership behaviors can improve teacher empowerment and other educational outcomes in schools both in the U.S. and internationally.

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