The Wallace Foundation selects Vanderbilt University to Develop Tool to Assess K-12 Leaders

June 30, 2005

Media contact: Melanie Catania, (615) 322-NEWS

The Wallace Foundation selects Vanderbilt University to develop tool to assess K-12 leaders with goal of improving student achievement

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—The Vanderbilt Learning Sciences Institute has been awarded a prestigious $1.5 million, three-year grant from The Wallace Foundation to develop a tool to assess the performance of education leaders in the nation’s K-12 public schools.

 “Leadership is an essential element of successful schools. The identification and development of effective leadership, however, has been significantly hindered by the lack of sound tools for assessing and monitoring it,” LSI Director and Patricia and Rodes Hart Chair of Education Leadership Andy Porter said. “We will use this grant to develop an assessment system for measuring critical leadership skills of individual principals and groups of educators, especially in urban settings, with the goal of improving student achievement.”

 “Research tells us that leadership is second only to teaching in school-related factors in its impact on student achievement, especially in schools with the greatest needs,” M. Christine DeVita, president of The Wallace Foundation, said.  “Nonetheless, we have no reliable means by which we can determine whether school principals and their teams are doing a good job to improve the quality of teaching and learning.  With this grant, Vanderbilt will greatly advance the field by providing a valid and reliable approach to assessing and improving leadership effectiveness.”

In addition to Porter, the team developing the leadership assessment includes Professor of Education and Associate Dean of Peabody College Joseph Murphy; Professor of Educational Policy and Leadership Ellen Goldring; Professor of Special Education and Dunn Family Chair of Educational and Psychological Leadership Stephen Elliott; and Distinguished Professor of Education at University of Colorado at Boulder and Co-Director of the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing Robert L. Linn.
The team will develop procedures that school boards can use to assess leadership by principals and other educators as part of their job assessment. Though identified as a critical component in improving leadership in schools by the national Standards for School Leaders, which have been adopted by 40 states, no such assessments for measuring leadership currently exist.

The Wallace Foundation seeks to support and share effective ideas and practices that expand learning and enrichment opportunities for all people.  Its three current objectives are to strengthen education leadership to improve student achievement; enhance out-of-school learning opportunities; and expand participation in arts and culture. More information and research on these and other related topics can be found online by visiting the Wallace Knowledge Center at

The Vanderbilt Learning Sciences Institute brings together researchers from across the university who are exploring how people learn, effective teaching techniques, curriculum and education policy. For more information, visit

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