Key Questions

1. How do principals influence student achievement? 


Principal leadership is considered one of the critical levers for school improvement and student learning, but principals have very complex, demanding roles, and could put their efforts in many different areas. Furthermore, the effects of leadership are largely indirect--mediated through school organizational processes. It is critical to know through which processes school leaders have the most influence on student achievement, and whether this differs based on conditions of the school. This chapter describes the results of a longitudinal multi-method study of hundreds of schools that examined the influence of principals on school organizational processesincluding parent-teacher trust, school climate, professional capacity, instructional guidance, and teacher leadershipand the ways in which those processes mediated growth in student achievement. The findings highlight the importance of building a strong learning climate by supporting and guiding teacher collaboration around common goals. The stronger the climate, characterized by safe learning environments and high expectations of students, the easier for teaching and learning for everyone in the school.

"Principal Leadership Practices, Organizational Improvement, and Student Achievement" is chapter 13 of Exploring Principal Development and Teacher Outcomes: How Principals Can Strengthen Instruction, Teacher Retention, and Student Achievement, edited by Peter Youngs, Jihyun Kim, and Madeline Mavrogordato .  The full book is available from Routledge.

About the Book

This edited volume examines innovative ways of preparing, supervising, and evaluating principals and explores factors that promote effective leadership practices. Chapter authors consider how principals’ leadership practices affect teachers’ instruction, satisfaction, commitment, retention, and effectiveness, and present evidence that principals can influence key student outcomes as well. Covering topics such as school leaders’ use of time, their efforts to reduce implicit bias, how leadership practices are associated with teachers’ workplace attitudes, leadership and student achievement, and how school leaders can best be supported under new federal legislation, this volume is a “must read” for educational leadership and policy faculty, school and district administrators, and researchers committed to promoting effective principal leadership.