[Note: A new 2021 synthesis –
How Principals Affect Students and Schools: A Systematic Synthesis of Two Decades of Research –
offers updated recommendations on effective principal practices.]
This Wallace Perspective summarizes a decade of foundation research and work in school leadership that identifies what effective school principals do. “Principals can no longer function simply as building managers tasked with adhering to district rules, carrying out regulations and avoiding mistakes,” the report suggests. “They have to be (or become) leaders of learning who can develop a team delivering effective instruction.”
The report concludes that principals who are effective leaders practice five key actions particularly well:
1. They shape a vision of academic success for all students.
2. They create a climate hospitable to education.
3. They cultivate leadership in others.
4. They improve classroom instruction.
5. They manage people, data and processes with the goal of school improvement.
Each of these five tasks needs to interact with the other four for any one to succeed. When all are well executed, leadership is at work.
An expanded edition of a report originally published in 2012, the Perspective includes an interview with Linda Darling-Hammond, an authority on education policy and teaching, about the connection between strong school leadership and strong teaching.