Leadership

The Cranky Taxpayer

Leadership


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We see lots of commentary on the question whether more money would improve our schools.  Some links:

We have some Virginia evidence on the question. 

In 2004, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission delivered a major report (pdf): Review of Factors and Practices Associated with School Performance in Virginia.  The report summary is long enough to be a major report; it hits the bottom line at Page VIII with the conclusion that high scoring divisions, including those that have overcome demographic challenges, provide

strong and stable leadership, a program to address ineffective teachers, professional development as a means of creating a com­munity of learners, strong support for data analysis, additional support from instructional specialists, and the encouragement of collaboration across schools.

In a word, "leadership."

To the same end, in 2000, the Department of Education performed a study of educators' perspectives of practices leading to student success.  In particular, the Department studied Virginia schools where "high numbers of students qualified for free or reduced price lunches and where student achievement on SOL tests was high.  In each of twenty-six such schools, they interviewed a team of teachers, the principal, and a central office administrator.  The Department asked those educators to rank the practices.  The department then scored the practices on a one to four scale; as well, the Department ranked the practices on the percentage of interview participants who "volunteered" the practice in question.

Here are the top-ranked practices:

Practice Score Volunteered
Leadership 3.69 92%
Student Motivation 3.43 84%
Intervention Strategies 3.4 79%
Data Analysis` 3.51 76%
Assessment 3.4 76%
Curriculum Alignment 3.69 72%
Curriculum Mapping/Pacing 3.9 71%

Ninety-two percent of the educators interviewed identified "Leadership."  When those same educators scored the practices for importance, Leadership tied for second behind Curriculum Mapping.  Here are the data on a graph; Leadership is the green point:

The study authors remarked:

While leadership was identified separately as an effective practice, researchers noted that activities commonly associated with leadership occurred throughout many of the other effective practices. Principals in these schools understood instruction, knew their students and staff, and established a vision for the school. While the principal set the stage for leadership, he or she was not alone in the leadership role. Specifically, the principal empowered teachers as leaders to work together to improve student achievement. It was often explained that “the principal provides leadership in getting teachers to work together.” This resulted in school leadership that provided focus, established ownership, and developed a collaborative system for monitoring progress toward increased student achievement.

Of course, it's hard to put a price on leadership.  In Richmond, however, we know for sure it's easy to get lousy leadership at a very high price.

 

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Last updated 05/26/14
Please send questions or comments to John Butcher