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Conclusion - How Leadership Influences Student Learning

Contents

How Leadership Influences Student Learning

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How Leadership Influences Student Learning

This review has summarized a broad range of empirical research and related literature. Our purpose was to summarize the starting points for a major new effort to better understand the links between leadership and student learning. There seems little doubt that both district and school leadership provides a critical bridge between most educational reform initiatives and their consequences for students. Of all the factors that contribute to what students learn at school, present evidence led us to the conclusion that leadership is second in strength only to classroom instruction. Furthermore, effective leadership has the greatest impact in those circumstances (e.g., schools “in trouble”) in which it is most needed. This evidence supports the present widespread interest in improving leadership as a key to the successful implementation of large-scale reforms.

Educational leadership, our review also makes clear, comes from many sources, not just the “usual suspects” – superintendents and principals. But the usual suspects are likely still the most influential. Efforts to improve their recruitment, training, evaluation and ongoing development should be considered highly cost-effective approaches to successful school improvement. These efforts will be increasingly productive as research provides us with more robust understandings of how successful leaders make sense of and productively respond to both external policy initiatives and local needs and priorities, and of how those practices seep into the fabric of the education system, improving its overall quality and substantially adding value to our students’ learning.

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