A Psychometric Look at Principal Professional Development


  • Lee Westberry The Citadel Military College of SC
  • Fei Zhao The Citadel Military College of SC




Principal professional development, principal self-efficacy, instructional leadership, principal confidence


This study evaluates aspects related to P12 principals’ professional development needs in South Carolina regarding the three domains of school leadership: management, instructional leadership, and program administration. A survey to rate principals’ current leadership knowledge, rank order their professional development needs, and provide a confidence rating regarding their abilities was given to over 1,100 principals and 85 superintendents. Through examining relationships with a psychometric model, results derived latent leadership ability scores and self-reported confidence ratings of principals as well as the superintendents’ leadership scores and confidence ratings of their principals. This study found a significant discrepancy between principals’ and superintendents’ confidence ratings and their corresponding leadership ability scores, respectively. A further analysis of the rank-ordered professional development needs highlighted instructional leadership to be the most needed topic for professional development. Finally, atypical response patterns regarding principal’s current leadership knowledge are also identified through person-fit analysis to provide additional information regarding P-12 principals’ professional development needs.

Author Biographies

Lee Westberry, The Citadel Military College of SC

Dr. Lee Westberry is an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership in the Zucker Family School of Education at The Citadel Military College in Charleston, S.C. She also serves as the Program Coordinator for the Division of Ed Leadership and the Director of Program Development and Enhancement for the ZFSOE. Prior to working with the Citadel, Dr. Westberry worked as a school administrator at the middle school, high school, and district levels. She provides principal professional development across the state and has recently published a new book entitled Putting the Pieces Together: A Systems Approach to School Leadership. Dr. Westberry’s research agenda focuses on school leadership.  

Fei Zhao, The Citadel Military College of SC

Dr. Fei Zhao is Director of Educational Assessment and Instructor for The Zucker Family School of Education at The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina. Her current work centers on contributing to ZFSOE’s school wide efforts in fulfilling high-stake national and state accreditation requirements, as well as teaching courses related to educational research methodology. Zhao’s research revolves around evaluating large-scale high-stakes assessments’ psychometric properties and their impacts on P12 Education. Zhao received her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and Research (Research, Evaluation, Measurement, and Statistics track) from University of Kansas.





How to Cite

Westberry, L., & Zhao, F. (2021). A Psychometric Look at Principal Professional Development. International Journal of Education Policy and Leadership, 17(7). https://doi.org/10.22230/ijepl.2021v17n7a1103