Key Questions

1. If a school already has a safe learning environment, does it matter if it makes further improvements?  Or does a school just need to have a safe learning environment to begin with?

2. Do schools that start out with weak leadership show larger gains in test scores if leadership improves over time, in comparison to schools that start out with strong leadership in the first place?


In the 2013-14 school year, researchers visited 12 schools in Chicago where teachers reported strong principal instructional leadership based on the annual 5Essentials surveys from 2011-13. The four case studies provided here come from interviews conducted at four of those schools. The goal of the study was to identify specific strategies successful principals used to influence instruction and learning. Although teachers in each of these schools reported their principal was a strong instructional leader, in half of the schools, student test scores were continuously growing, while in the other half, test scores were not improving during the same time period.  By using a contrasting case study design, our purpose was to identify subtle leadership differences in schools with improving student achievement from other schools.

The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Teachers College Record, 121(090303), September 2019 by Teachers College Record. All rights reserved. © 2019