Case Studies on Educational Administration

Allyn & Bacon
Theodore J. Kowalski  
Total pages
January 2011
Related Titles


For students taking courses in educational leadership and educational administration.


A collection of case studies for prospective school administrators that emphasizes problem solving, decision-making, and effective management.


Based on the conviction that effective practice in school administration requires both leadership and management, this text provides a mix of problems that require administrative decisions as presented in 24 open-ended case studies. In today’s reform-minded, information-based society, practitioners must be able to frame problems correctly and then make effective decisions to ameliorate them. As leaders, district and school-level administrators are expected to focus on what should be done to improve schools; as managers, they are expected to focus on how to do things successfully. The cases in this book are designed to make students think about common problems of practice by encouraging them to bridge theory and practice. Each case provides an active form of learning, allowing students to demonstrate their ability to apply knowledge to common problem situations.


  • 24 open-ended case studies that allow students to think critically about the role of a key school administrator and the issues faced by school leadership each day. 
  • An emphasis on problem solving and decision making teaches readers how to both approach a problem and how to find the best solution for the school at large. 
  • Case study introductions, each containing selected aspects of professional knowledge base and explanations of key concepts, are presented before each case.
  • A problem framing feature, including questions, suggested activities, and suggested readings, are provided are provided at the end of each case study.

New to this Edition

  • An Educational Leadership Constituents Council (ELCC) Standards Matrix at the beginning of the text identifies the alignment of the cases with the Standards. 
  • Four new case studies:
    • “School Improvement through Better Grading Practices” explores one of the greatest contemporary challenges–rules for assigning grades to high school students.
    • “Let’s Get Strategic” details the leadership challenges faced by a new principal of a low-performing urban school.
    • “The Career-Center’s Revolving Door” describes a career center that has had an especially high turnover rate of teachers in academic areas, most notably in English and mathematics.
    • “Individualizing Staff Development” tells the story of the efforts of a new principal to move a middle school away from traditional staff development and toward the idea of individual career plans that are integrated with teacher teams and the school’s vision. 
  • An updated introduction provides the reader with new and expanded information about using cases to engage in problem solving and decision-making.
  • Revisions to all cases studies have been made throughout the book, including elements of background information, case content, questions, and suggested readings.

Table of Contents




1 Who Needs Lesson Plans?

2 Who Should Create the School’s Vision?

3 A Bully’s Threat

4 Lounge Talk

5 The Career Center’s Revolving Door

6 Let the Committee Decide

7 Old School Culture and a New Principal

8 School Improvement through Better Grading Practices

9 Sally’s Socialization

10 A Matter of Honor

11 Individualizing Staff Development

12 Break the Rules and Pay the Price

13 An Ambitious Assistant Principal

14 Let’s Get Strategic

15 Even on Saturdays

16 Appropriate Punishment versus Political Expediency

17 The Passive Principal

18 A Disillusioned Assistant Principal

19 Who Needs Career-Technical Education?

20 Illegal Drugs, In-School Suspension, and the Novice Principal

21 Let’s Not Rap

22 Is the Devil Teaching Spelling?

23 The Dark Side of Decentralization

24 The Maverick School Board Member

Back Cover

What is the best way to immerse prospective administrators in the reality of practice? Perhaps no other tool better gives educational leadership students a better grasp of their future profession than open-ended case studies. In this text, 24 such case studies help students to think critically about common administrative problems, effectively manage school-wide issues, and successfully and fairly implement solutions. Touching on issues ranging from staff development to bullying in schools to grading practices, this collection of true-to-life case studies helps students to hone their decision-making skills and develop a winning approach to even the most disparate issues.


Each case in this text hones four essential practitioner skills:


1.      The ability to frame a problem correctly

2.      The ability to develop and evaluate alternative solutions to a defined problem

3.      The ability to use data and other facts to counter the influence of politics and emotion in decision making

4.      The ability to develop tacit knowledge and to integrate it with theoretical knowledge by engaging in reflective practice


Theodore J. Kowalski holds the Kuntz Family Chair in Educational Administration, an endowed professorship at the University of Dayton. A former school superintendent, he previously taught at Purdue University, Saint Louis University, and Ball State University, where he also served as dean of the Teachers College. Professor Kowalski is the author or co-author of 18 books and over 135 book chapters and journal articles. He has published in leading journals such as Educational Administration Quarterly, Phi Delta Kappan, Leadership and Policy in Schools, and Planning and Changing. He also is editor of the Journal of School Public Relations and serves on the editorial boards of two other professional journals.