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Improving School Leadership

Improving School Leadership: The Promise of Cohesive Leadership Systems

Catherine H. Augustine
Gabriella Gonzalez
Gina Schuyler Ikemoto
Jennifer Russell
Gail L. Zellman
Louay Constant
Jane Armstrong
Jacob W. Dembosky
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 178
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  • Book Info
    Improving School Leadership
    Book Description:

    This study documents actions of Wallace Foundation grantees to create more-cohesive policies and initiatives to improve instructional leadership in schools; describes how states and districts have worked together to forge such policies and initiatives; and examines the hypothesis that cohesive systems improve school leadership. Such efforts appear to be a promising approach to developing school principals engaged in improving instruction.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4917-9
    Subjects: Education, Management & Organizational Behavior

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Tables
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xv-xxiv)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxv-xxvi)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxvii-xxviii)
  9. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    Researchers have identified school leadership as a key factor in improving schools and their students’ achievement. In a recent review of the literature, Leithwood et al. (2004) concluded that among school-related factors that are associated with students’ achievement, leadership is second only to classroom instruction. In addition, they found more demonstrated effects of successful leadership in low-performing schools. Although other factors, such as parental involvement, students’ background, school characteristics, and the district context, should not be overlooked, certain practices on the part of principals have been found to be related to positive student outcomes, including increased student achievement (Waters, Marzano,...

  10. CHAPTER TWO Data Sources and Analytic Approach
    (pp. 11-22)

    To answer the study questions, we employed a cross-site comparative case-study design and both qualitative and quantitative research methods. We used multiple sources of data to triangulate findings within and across sites. We analyzed data from documents, interviews, principal surveys, and principal end-of-day logs, noting both confirming and refuting evidence. This chapter describes site selection, data sources, and our cross-site analytic approach.

    In 2007, The Wallace Foundation took stock of progress in 21 states and several more districts that it had been funding and otherwise supporting and classified them into one of three categories: CLS, aligned system of leader development,...

  11. CHAPTER THREE Policies and Initiatives Taken to Improve Leadership
    (pp. 23-34)

    The Wallace Foundation’s CLS hypothesis asserts that districts and states should take actions to support leadership improvement in three key policy areas: standards, training, and conditions and incentives (The Wallace Foundation, 2006). Based on the literature and our early examination of the study sites, we expanded this grouping to six policy areas: standards, pre-service and recruitment, licensure, evaluation, in-service, and conditions. We examined the 10 states and 17 districts separately to detail the types of policies and initiatives implemented at both levels, then we drew some comparisons among them. As expected, there was a good deal of variation across sites....

  12. CHAPTER FOUR Variations in State and District Roles in Improving School Leadership
    (pp. 35-42)

    Our investigation of whether states or districts tended to take the lead in efforts to improve school leadership found that districts took the lead in some cases, with little involvement from the state, and state agencies took the lead in other cases. Regardless of which pattern prevailed, some states were willing to identify and promote innovative efforts by what they termed “lead learner districts.” In some sites, no clear leader had emerged. In Missouri and Rhode Island, for example, the districts’ efforts at leadership improvement were limited, with few initiatives and therefore few scale-up opportunities. In Rhode Island, state agencies...

  13. CHAPTER FIVE Building Cohesion Across Policies and Initiatives
    (pp. 43-56)

    We have defined CLSs as a comprehensive set of leadership policies and actions aligned within and across systems, developed through a coordinated process that engages diverse stakeholders who reached agreement on a set of actions to address school leadership. In this chapter, we analyze the extent to which selected sites have developed such systems. We focus on six of the sites the Foundation identified as having made the most progress toward developing a CLS: Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, and Massachusetts. We also draw contrasts with non-CLS sites: Fort Wayne Community Schools, Indiana, Missouri (including St. Louis Public Schools), Oregon...

  14. CHAPTER SIX Effective Strategies for System-Building
    (pp. 57-74)

    This chapter highlights the strategies used by sites to build support for policies and initiatives to improve school leadership and create greater cohesion among state and district efforts. We focus primarily on states, which we found to be the key agents in this work, but we reference district work as well. We were particularly interested in learning how three of the sites achieved relatively advanced systems.

    We begin with a brief discussion of the growing role of the state in education policy and school reform, to place our finding that states tended to take the lead in building CLSs in...

  15. CHAPTER SEVEN Prospects for Sustainability
    (pp. 75-78)

    Interviewees from all 10 sites in our study talked about continuing the work they had begun. Some sites were planning to spread leadership improvement beyond pilot districts; others had accomplished much in one specific area, such as standards for leaders, and hoped to expand the work to other aspects of leadership, such as principal preparation programs. But most of our interviewees recognized that scaling up would be challenging—as would sustaining the progress they had made—after Foundation funding ends in 2010. In this chapter, we present lessons learned on ways to continue the work and address future funding challenges.

    Most of...

  16. CHAPTER EIGHT Support for the CLS Hypothesis
    (pp. 79-88)

    In this chapter, we examine the assumptions behind the CLS hypothesis. Up to this point, we have analyzed the sites’ CLS-building efforts with the help of Foundation funding and technical support. We now ask whether these efforts are likely to reap the benefits they were designed to achieve: improved school leadership that supports improved student learning. We did not set out to examine effects on student learning, but we did examine whether the sites that had achieved the most-advanced leadership systems could be associated with other positive outcomes. In the following, we describe the research evidence that would indicate an...

  17. CHAPTER NINE Recommendations
    (pp. 89-94)

    We have shown that it is possible to develop CLSs between states and districts to improve school leadership. We have identified the approaches that appear most effective in developing such systems, as well as certain local conditions that create a favorable environment for this work. Several of the sites in our study have achieved significant policy changes, particularly in principal preparation programs and statewide principal evaluation systems. State actors were most likely to be taking the lead in building CLSs, although districts played important roles and had many school leadership improvement initiatives under way. Many of our interviewees at both...

  18. APPENDIX A Background Information on Study States and Districts
    (pp. 95-102)
  19. APPENDIX B Indicators of Leadership Policy Initiatives, Factors of Cohesion, Conditions, and Effective Leadership Practices
    (pp. 103-108)
  20. APPENDIX C Principal Survey Technical Notes
    (pp. 109-112)
  21. APPENDIX D Principal End-of-Day-Log Technical Notes
    (pp. 113-114)
  22. APPENDIX E Index Construction for the Analyses in Chapter Eight
    (pp. 115-118)
  23. APPENDIX F Methodology and Elaborated Results for Analyses in Chapter Eight
    (pp. 119-144)
  24. References
    (pp. 145-150)