Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department or School

Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

Ronald Williamson, EdD, Chair

Committee Member

Nelson Maylone, EdD

Committee Member

Theresa Saunders, EdD

Committee Member

Jaclynn Tracey, PhD


The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between servant leadership style and Michigan public school superintendents as measured by student proficiency on the MEAP Math and Reading tests for grades 3rd – 8th.

The methodology for this qualitative study consisted of the Wong and Page’s (2003) Servant Leadership Profile Revised Instrument (SLPR). The survey consisted of a 62 item survey, using a 7- point Likert type scale, comprised of 10 subscales used to represent the presence of servant leadership characteristics. There were 7 additional items created by the researcher to gather demographic information. The participants were convenience sampling identified from the Center for Educational Performance and Information (CEPI), according to the criteria set for the study.

The study examined how servant leadership characteristics (listening, empathy, healing, persuasion, awareness, foresight, conceptualization, commitment to the growth of people, stewardship and building community) are used by the superintendent to create a culture within their district that promotes academic success as measured by the MEAP test. The literature framed the historical definition and description of the superintendent and their role, a comparison and transition from transformational leadership to servant leadership as a result of public demand to reform school districts and how the culture determines growth and academic success for staff and students.

The data from the survey is a result of self-reporting from superintendents in urban, suburban and rural districts. The study produced insights into how 3 of the 7 traits of servant leadership influences trends in student proficiency on the MEAP. Summarily, the results strengthen the discussion regarding a superintendent’s leadership influence on academic achievement, particularly those superintendents who practice servant leadership. A leader must lead considering the affective aspects of leadership that encompass supporting the whole individual, ultimately, influencing the goals of the organization.

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