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Leadership--Principal/SchoolSelected Research & Readings (Additional Resources)
 
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Leadership--District Superintendent


Creating a School-Community Culture of Learning: Exemplary Leadership Practices in Four School Districts PDF - This ECS Policy Brief explores the results of interviews in four diverse, high needs districts meant to identify and understand exemplary education leadership practices. The brief explores a key leadership strategy common to all four districts, the purposeful cultivation of an environment that reflects – and reinforces – a commitment to: (1) transparency, (2) shared leadership and (3) focusing on the needs and interests of children. (Katy Anthes and Arika Long, Education Commission of the States, June 2006)...

Conversations on Education Leadership: With Michelle Young PDF - Part of an ongoing series, this interview explores the views of Michelle Young, executive director of the University Council for Education Administration (UCEA). UCEA is a consortium of major research universities with doctoral programs in educational leadership and policy. UCEA's mission is to improve the preparation of educational leaders and promote the development of professional knowledge in instructional leadership, school improvement and administration. (Education Commission of the States, April 2006)...

Conversations on Education Leadership: With Phillip Schlechty PDF - In 1988 Philip Schlechty launched the Center for Leadership as a means to provide high-quality and responsive support to those who are leading school reform efforts across the nation. This interview with Dr. Schlechty – part of a series that will address different perspectives on education leadership while highlighting its growing importance in our schools and school systems – discusses a number of topics, including: (1) the link between teacher quality and leadership quality; (2) what policymakers should know about the importance of education leadership and how they can support education leaders; and (3) future global trends that will alter the U.S. public education system and how we can properly prepare policy leaders and education leaders. (Education Commission of the States, March 2006)...

What's Happening in School and District Leadership PDF - New energy and resources are emerging for policy discussions about the aspects, types and styles of leadership that lead to effective school practices. Some of these emerging issues include standards for defining high-quality leaders, distributed leadership approaches and school leaders’ influence in the creation of a school culture conducive to teaching and learning. Each of these topics are explored in this paper, supported by MetLife Foundation, as well as provide a snapshot of the recent research and literature. Several promising examples of state and district activities also will be described. (Education Commission of the States, March 16, 2005)...

The Progress of Education Reform: District and School Leadership PDF - This edition of The Progress of Education Reform summarizes several reports and studies that provide a quick introduction to the issue of school leadership, including:

  • How – and the extent to which – the work of principals and superintendents affects student learning and school quality
  • The utility and effectiveness of existing professional standards for school leaders
  • The emergence of new ideas about the nature, structure and responsibilities of school leadership.
(Suzanne Weiss, The Progress of Education Reform, vol. 6, no. 2, Education Commission of the States, February 2005)...

Finding and Creating New Education Leaders MS Word - Under the No Child Left Behind Act, by 2014 100% of U.S. students must be proficient in reading, writing and math. To reach this goal, governors, legislatures, state boards of education, state education department officials, district superintendents, school boards and principals must be, and must create, effective leaders. This article identifies policy strategies states are using to address the need for such leaders, including developing state-supported database systems to track potential leaders and creating principal and superintendent standards and aligning preparation programs with these standards. (Katy Anthes, State Education Leader, Education Commission of the States, Fall 2002)...

No Child Left Behind Policy Brief: School and District Leadership PDF - The No Child Left Behind Act both reflects and reinforces a major shift in thinking about the roles and responsibilities of school board members, district superintendents and principals. This policy brief discusses the challenges facing leaders, opportunities for leadership development, and state policy trends and questions. (Katy Anthes, ECS, April 2002)...

Leadership for Results: The ECS Education Agenda for 2000 and Beyond PDF - Demographic, social and technological changes are requiring dynamic, well-trained, talented leaders committed to fresh ideas and willing to take risks. The current system of training programs, however, is inadequate and needs to be replaced. This document sets forth ECS' priorities related to this and other issues. (Education Commission of the States, 2000)...

Reality Check 2006: The Insiders: How Principals and Superintendents See Public Education Today - This report finds that most public school superintendents – and principals to a lesser extent – think local schools are already in pretty good shape. In fact, more than half of the nation's superintendents consider local schools to be "excellent." Most superintendents (77%) and principals (79%) say low academic standards are not a serious problem where they work. Superintendents are substantially less likely than classroom teachers to believe that too many students get passed through the system without learning. While 62% of teachers say this is a "very" or "somewhat serious" problem in local schools, just 27% of superintendents say the same. (Jean Johnson, Ana Maria Arumi and Amber Ott, Public Agenda, 2006) ...

Selected Tables from the: 2003-04 Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) PDF - Access SASS tables providing information on principals, including: (1) distribution by race/ethnicity and percentage minority, (2) distribution by highest degree earned, (3) experience, (4) average annual salary and average annual salary by years of experience, (5) average hours per week spent on all school-related activities and interacting with students, (6) percentage currently teaching in addition to serving as principal and average number of years spent teaching before becoming a principal, and more. All tables disaggregated by selected public school district. Full report available here. (Gregory A. Strizek, Jayme L. Pittsonberger, Kate E. Riordan, Deanna M. Lyter, Greg F. Orlofsky and Kerry Gruber, National Center for Education Statistics, March 2006)...

Breaking Ranks in the Middle: Strategies for Leading Middle Level Reform - This report details nine cornerstone strategies and 30 specific recommendations for improving student achievement. It includes four full-length profiles and a number of vignettes of schools that put the report’s recommendations into action. The nine strategies are concentrated in three key areas: (1) collaborative leadership, professional learning communities and the strategic use of data; (2) personalizing the school environment; and (3) creating rigorous student-centered curriculum, instruction and assessment. The executive summary is available free online. (National Association of Secondary School Principals, 2006)...

School District Leadership that Works: The Effect of Superintendent Leadership on Student Achievement - For this study, researchers identified 27 research reports conducted since 1970 that examined, using quantitative, rigorous methods, the influence of school district leaders on student performance. Using a sophisticated research technique called a meta-analysis, the authors combined data from separate studies into a single sample, creating what the authors believe to be the largest-ever quantitative examination of research on superintendents. Altogether, these studies involved 2,714 districts and the achievement scores of 3.4 million students. The report's major findings: (1) district-level leadership matters, (2) effective superintendents focus their efforts on creating goal-oriented districts and (3) superintendent tenure is positively correlated with student achievement. (J. Timothy Waters and Robert J. Marzano, McREL, 2006) ...

Successful School Leadership: A View from the Classroom - Recognizing that nearly half of New York City principals are eligible to retire within the year, Teachers Network released this report to help policymakers and schools train and support principals and staff. The report is meant to ensure that the teacher’s voice is an integral part of the ongoing conversation on how best to restructure educational practices and policies – and identify what is most needed to provide meaningful, sustainable leadership in New York City public schools. (Teachers Network, 2006)...

When Learning Counts: Rethinking Licenses for School Leaders - This report – the sixth in a series commissioned by The Wallace Foundation to study key aspects of education leadership – asks two fundamental questions: Do the licenses that states require of school principals encompass the knowledge and skills those principals need to promote student learning? If not, what kind of policy framework would help decisionmakers, educators and others rethink principal licenses and the school leadership they support? To find the answers, the authors examined licensure content for principals in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and reached the the following conclusions: (1) licenses don’t reflect a learning focus, (2) licensing requirements are unbalanced across states and misaligned with today’s ambitions for school leaders, (3) licenses form the foundation of school leadership development and (4) doing licensure well means tackling licenses in the larger context of school leadership development. Also available online is a research brief. [Readers interested in a complete listing of Wallace Foundation-funded reports may wish to visit the Knowledge Center.] (Jacob E. Adams, Jr. and Michael A. Copland, The Center on Reinventing Public Education, December 2005)...

Leading Schools: Distinguishing the Essential from the Important - In an era of accountability, when student achievement is paramount and evidence of the effects of principal leadership on student achievement continues to accumulate, it is not enough to know what is important, principals also must know what is essential. This issue brief is meant to assist principals in prioritizing the demands of the job by helping them identify and focus on responsibilities and practices correlated with student achievement. The brief also reports findings from a factor analysis McREL conducted of the 21 leadership responsibilities identified in its report, Balanced Leadership. One key finding is that the "order" or "magnitude" of change underway in a school impacts how teachers perceive their leaders' performance. (Tim Waters and Sally Grubb, Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning, 2004)...

How Leadership Influences Student Learning - According to this report, leadership not only matters, it is second only to teaching among school-related factors in its impact on student learning. The authors conclude that leadership’s impact tends to be greatest in schools where the learning needs are most acute. Leaders can make a difference by setting directions, developing people – providing teachers and others with the necessary support and training to succeed - and by ensuring that the entire range of conditions and incentives in districts and schools fully support teaching and learning. An executive summary of this report also is available. [Readers interested in a complete listing of Wallace Foundation-funded reports may wish to visit the Knowledge Center.] (Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement, University of Minnesota; Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, 2004)...

The Leadership We Need: Using Research to Strengthen the Use of Standards for Administrator Preparation and Licensure Programs - This report examines the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) standards in light of findings from McREL’s recent study of principal leadership, as captured in the Balanced Leadership Framework™. Recommendations for policymakers include reviewing and approving principal licensure and re-licensure programs to insure that they address the knowledge and skills needed by principals to engage in research-based practices, and that such programs are taught by qualified faculty. (Tim Waters and Sally Grubb, Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning, 2004)...

Working Smarter to Leave No Child Behind: Practical Insights for School Leaders - The authors provide a primer on various facets of the NCLB accountability model — including content standards, assessments, adequate yearly progress, reporting, technical assistance — and then examine the underlying conditions necessary to making each component work. They offer numerous recommendations for making NCLB as effective as possible, grouped under the umbrellas of (1) building capacity; (2) using standards to improve instruction; (3) using assessment results to improve instruction; (4) creating effective incentives; (5) helping parents make effective choices; and (6) going beyond the accountability data. One recommendation: design the state testing system to be resistant to score inflation. (Brian Stecher, Laura Hamilton and Gabriella Gonzalez, RAND, 2003) ...

Profiles in Leadership: Innovative Approaches to Transforming the American High School - A compendium of essays from 14 leaders in high school reform, including Richard Riley, Governor Mark Warner of Virginia, and Melinda Gates, this volume presents recommendations and success stories in turning around the American high school. A few examples: Melinda Gates portrays three high schools using innovative methods to increase student engagement and achievement. Gerald Tirozzi and Jonathan Schnur each suggest what needs to be in place to ensure high school principals are well-prepared. Dal Lawrence, former president of the Toledo Federation of Teachers, Mayor Ron Gonzales and former superintendent Linda Murray of San José, and Dan Challener, of the Chattanooga Public Education Foundation, tell about the transformations that took place in their respective communities. (Edited by Iris Bond and Jerry Ayers, Alliance for Excellent Education, 2004)...

Leading from the Middle: Mid-level District Staff and Instructional Improvement - This three-year research project demonstrates that mid-level central office staff can make or break critical reform initiatives. The report provides recommendations for a new vision of leadership in which central office and school staff become equal partners. To order the full report, please contact the Cross City Campaign at 312.322.4880. (Tricia Burch and James Spillane, Cross City Campaign for Urban School Reform, 2004)...

Leading for Learning: Reflective Tools for School and District Leaders - This report provides recommendations on how leadership structures and decisions can result in greater learning by students, teachers and school leaders themselves. The authors examine five areas of action for school and district leaders: (1) establishing a focus on learning; (2) building professional communities that value learning; (3) engaging external environments that matter for learning; (4) acting strategically and sharing leadership; and (5) creating coherence. (Michael S. Knapp, Michael A. Copland and Joan E. Talbert, Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy, February 2003)...

The View from Inside: A Candid Look at Today’s School Superintendent - The results of a 2003 survey of superintendents in Colorado’s 178 school districts, this report presents findings in four main areas: superintendent effectiveness, recruitment and retention, school board relations and superintendent professional development. Quotes from focus group participants also are provided. The authors found that 80% of current superintendents feel there is a shortage of qualified superintendent candidates, while improving compensation, easing pension and benefit portability across state lines and encouraging extended contracts were cited as the best methods of attracting and retaining them. Trends and attitudes of rural superintendents are broken out, and recommendations from superintendents to state and federal policymakers are provided. (Colorado Association of School Executives, 2003)...

Improving Teaching and Learning by Improving School Leadership - According to this issue brief, states can take steps to improve their system of preparing and developing principals. Governors and other state policymakers should focus on three key areas – licensure, preparation and professional development. The author also finds that three primary methods of leading result in increased student learning: (1) the principal as an entrepeneur, (2) the principal as an organizer and (3) the principal as an instructional leader. (Christopher Mazzeo, National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, September 2003)...

Making Sense of Leading Schools: A Study of the School Principalship - This report is based on in-depth interviews with educators (principals, vice principals and teachers) in 21 schools in four cities across four states. The authors examine what school leaders actually do, and then ask what this implies for policy and leadership development. (Bradley Portin with Paul Schneider, Michael DeArmond and Lauren Gundlach, Center on Reinventing Public Education, September 2003)...

Rolling Up Their Sleeves - This report examines the attitudes of public school leaders about their jobs and the challenges they face. The authors found that school leaders say their biggest headaches are funding and the time it takes to comply with a blizzard of local, state and federal mandates. Some 93% of superintendents and 88% of principals say their district has experienced "an enormous increase in responsibilities and mandates without getting the resources necessary to fulfill them." Almost nine in 10 call No Child Left Behind an "unfunded mandate," and most say the law "will require many adjustments before it can work." A summary of selected findings also is available. To download a free copy of the full report, a brief registration is required. (Steve Farkas, Jean Johnson and Ann Duffett with Beth Syat and Jackie Vine, Public Agenda, 2003)...

An Impossible Job? The View from the Urban Superintendent's Chair - Nine of 10 urban school superintendents say they need more authority to fix bad schools and improve student achievement, according to this survey. The survey, which focused on superintendents in the nation's 100 largest districts, found many school leaders believe their reform efforts are hampered by the way power is divided among school boards, teacher unions and other groups. (Howard Fuller with Christine Campbell, Mary Beth Celio, James Harvey, John Immerwahr and Abigail Winger, Center on Reinventing Public Education, July 2003)...

Who Is Leading Our Schools? An Overview of School Administrators and Their Careers - In this report, the researchers examine: (1) the characteristics and career paths of U.S. principals and superintendents; (2) modes of entry to and exit from the school administrative field; (3) job movement within the school leadership field; and (4) the links between principals' pay, school characteristics and their perceptions of their school. The authors provide numerous conclusions, including that there is no nationwide shortage of school administrators, as well as recommendations and suggested areas of future study. (Susan M. Gates, Jeanne Ringel, Lucrecia Santibanez, with Catherine Chung and Karen Ross, RAND Education, 2003)...

What We Know About Successful School Leadership - These research-based conclusions about successful school leadership can be used to guide leadership practice, policy and research. (1) Leadership has significant effects on student learning, second only to the effects of quality curriculum and teaching. (2) Administrators and teachers provide most school leadership, but other potential sources of leadership exist. (3) A core set of practices form the "basics" of successful leadership and are valuable in almost all educational contexts. (4) Successful school leaders respond productively to challenges and opportunities created by today's accountability-oriented policy context. (5) Successful leaders respond productively to the opportunities and challenges of educating diverse groups of students. (Kenneth A. Leithwood and Carolyn Riehl, American Educational Research Association, January 2003)...

When Mayors Lead Urban Schools: Toward Developing a Framework To Assess the Effects of Mayoral Takeover of Urban Districts PDF - According to this report, mayoral takeover is associated with greater levels of per-pupil expenditures in core education functions such as instruction and student support. While there is some mixed evidence on recent student achievement, there is no evidence to suggest mayoral takeover will leave the worst schools behind in the wake of reform. In fact, the authors find that gains in achievement are especially significant for the lowest-performing schools in takeover districts. (Kenneth K. Wong and Francis X. Shen, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, 2003)...

Building A New Structure for School Leadership - The author of this report contends that school leaders are being asked to assume responsibilities they are largely unequipped to assume, and the risks and consequences of failure are high for everyone, but especially high for children. The paper attempts to chart a way out of this conundrum through an understanding of large-scale instruction improvement. It focuses on the imperatives of public school leadership and the demands standards-based accountability place upon it. (Richard F. Elmore, Albert Shanker Institute, Winter 2000)...

Leadership: A Message for State Legislatures MS Word - This Stateline article discusses recent studies and surveys of school principals and superintendents to illustrate how critically important strong leadership is in public education systems. The article presents how school leaders feel about governance, funding, accountability and teacher quality, and what these findings mean for state policymakers. In particular, the article highlights a study about Department of Defense Schools and their high-achievement levels despite serving high numbers of students who are mobile, low income and of modest parental education. (Kathy Christie, Stateline, Phi Delta Kappan, January 2002)...

Trying to Stay Ahead of the Game: Superintendents and Principals Talk About School Leadership - Few would expect a principal's day to be leisurely and contemplative, but the sheer sensory overload experienced by many school leaders is a key theme of this report from the Public Agenda. Based on in-depth surveys of 853 randomly selected public school superintendents and 909 randomly selected public school principals, the research shows that superintendents and principals believe in their work and its importance, with overwhelming agreement that finding a talented principal is the first step in turning around a troubled school. (The Public Agenda, 2001)...

The Super - Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Roy Romer may be "the most talented man ever to run a big-city school district. He also is bound to fail." This in-depth article is about Romer’s first year as superintendent. The broader context of this piece describes the enormous difficulties involved in bringing about change and improvement in urban school districts, and the capacity of school leaders to address the problems. (Matthew Miller, Washington Monthly, June 2001)...

Learning to Lead, Leading to Learn: Improving School Quality Through Principal Professional Development MS Word - This report outlines a national strategy for principals to bolster skills and urges school leaders to spend more time observing teachers and classrooms. The report calls principals crucial to school improvement and recommends targeting federal funds to strengthen principal leadership in low-income schools. (National Staff Development Council, 2001)...

School Leadership for the 21st Century Initiative - The Institute for Educational Leadership offers this series of essays on Leadership for Student Learning. The reports examine and discuss the various aspects of school leadership, including the principalship, the state role in public education, redefining teachers as leaders, restructuring district leadership, and urban school leadership. They provide insights and strategies from principals and superintendents in the field, as well as recommendations and guidelines for improving school leadership. (IEL, 2000, 2001)...

Thinking Differently: Recommendations for 21st Century School Board/Superintendent Leadership, Governance, and Teamwork for High Student Achievement MS Word - Authors Richard Goodman and William Zimmerman Jr. discuss the specific steps that must be taken by local school boards and superintendents, by state political and educational leaders, and by university deans and faculty in order to develop and strengthen local school board/superintendent leadership. The authors identify seven key strategies to strengthen school governance, including a redefinition of student achievement to include a broad array of educational goals, and a strong, unified leadership and governance body at the school district level, with the overriding goal of providing quality education for all children. (Educational Research Service, 2000)...

Effective Leaders for Today's Schools: Synthesis of a Policy Forum on Educational Leadership - This booklet explores the major issues involved in creating effective leadership for today's schools. It summarizes the deliberations of 43 participants involved in a two-day forum on education leadership. Participants included superintendents, principals and teachers from urban, suburban and rural school districts, as well as prominent researchers in education leadership, state policymakers, education consultants, professional development specialists, education officials and others. (U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, June 1999)...

The Leadership Issue Project State-of-the-Field Reports: Improving Leadership for Learning - Commissioned by the Wallace Foundation, these reports from the University of Washington explore central issues in the exercise of educational leadership, the reports synthesize studies, conceptual work, and examples of current and emerging practice. The reports address: (1) leading, learning and leadership support; (2) data-informed leadership in education; (3) allocating resources and creating incentives to improve teaching and learning; (4) redefining roles, responsibilities and authorities of school leaders; (5) purposes, uses and practices of leadership assessment in education; (6) redefining and improving school district governance and (7) leadership for transforming high schools. (The University of Washington, October and December 2006)...


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