Wallace Foundation study: Leadership matters in student achievement

29 Jul

In New research: School principal effectiveness, moi said:

The number one reason why teachers leave the profession has to do with working conditions. A key influencer of the environment of a school and the working conditions is the school principal.

Gregory Branch, Eric Hanushek, and Steven Rivkin are reporting in the National Centerfor Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Educational Research report, Estimating Principal Effectiveness:

VI. Conclusion

An important facet of many school policy discussions is the role of strong leadership, particularly of principals. Leadership is viewed as especially important in revitalizing failing schools. This discussion is, however, largely uninformed by systematic analysis of principals and their impact on student outcomes….

The initial results suggest that principal movements parallel teacher movements. Specifically, principals are affected by the racial and achievement distribution of students in schools, and this enters into mobility patterns. Yet the common view that the best leave the most needy schools is not supported.

An important element of the role of principals is how they interact with teachers. Our on-going analysis links principals to measures of teacher effectiveness to understand how principals affect teacher outcomes. http://www.caldercenter.org/upload/CALDER-Working-Paper-32_FINAL.pdf

See, Principals Matter: School Leaders Can Drive Student Learning http://www.huffingtonpost.com/Karin%20Chenoweth/principals-matter-school-_b_1252598.html?ref=email_share

In lay person speak, what they are saying is that a strong principal is a strong leader for his or her particular school. A strong principal is particularly important in schools which face challenges. Now, we get into the manner in which strong principals interact with their staff – is it an art or is it a science? What makes a good principal can be discussed and probably depends upon the perspective of those giving an opinion, but Gary Hopkins of Education World summarizes the thoughts of some educators:

Top Ten Traits of School Leaders

Last month, 43 of the Education World Principal Files principals participated in a survey. The result of that survey is this list of the top ten traits of school leaders, presented in order of importance.

1. Has a stated vision for the school and a plan to achieve that vision.

2. Clearly states goals and expectations for students, staff, and parents.

3. Is visible — gets out of the office; is seen all over the school.

4. Is trustworthy and straight with students and staff.

5. Helps develop leadership skills in others.

6. Develops strong teachers; cultivates good teaching practice.

7. Shows that he or she is not in charge alone; involves others.

8. Has a sense of humor.

9. Is a role model for students and staff.

10. Offers meaningful kindnesses and kudos to staff and students.


These traits can be summarized that a strong principal is a leader with a vision for his or her school and who has the drive and the people skills to take his or her teachers and students to that vision. https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/new-research-school-principal-effectiveness/

Also see, Are rules which limit choice hampering principal effectiveness? https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/04/08/are-rules-which-limit-choice-hampering-principal-effectiveness/

The Wallace Foundation has several reports about principal effectiveness. Here is the press release from the Wallace Foundation about the report, The Making of the Principal: Five Lessons in Leadership Training:

Research Points to Five Essential Steps to Get Better Trained Principals in All Schools

June 26, 2012


Jessica Schwartz
The Wallace Foundation

Angie Cannon
The Hatcher Group

New Wallace Foundation “Perspective” is Second in Series about School Leadership

NEW YORK (June 26, 2012) – Strengthening university-based principal-preparation programs and boosting on-the-job training for new principals could help school districts develop more effective principals, according to a report released today by The Wallace Foundation.

The Making of the Principal: Five Key Lessons in Leadership Training distills insights from school leadership projects and major research studies supported by the foundation since 2000. The report notes that although notable progress has been made in revamping how principals are prepared for their jobs, much more remains to be done to improve university-based principal training programs – long criticized as weak and unselective – and to ensure that novice principals receive effective professional development.

“If we want to meet our goals for improving our public schools, we must strengthen the training programs that prepare our principals to lead,” said Jody Spiro, director of education leadership at Wallace. “Research shows that effective principals are essential to turning around troubled schools, and among in-school factors are second only to teaching in their influence on student achievement. Investing in their preparation and support is a cost-effective school improvement strategy.”

The report notes that over the past decade, more school districts have begun providing better mentoring and professional development to new principals. Districts have also pushed to raise the quality of “pre-service” principal training, while many states have tightened accreditation rules and adopted new standards to push universities and other training providers to improve.

Yet, the report notes that training offered at most of the 500-plus, university-based programs, where the majority of principals are trained, has failed to keep pace with the evolving role of principals as instructional leaders, that is, managers who focus on improving teaching and learning, not just administrative matters. Critics cite flaws including: nonselective admissions, curricula that fail to take into account the needs of districts and diverse student bodies; weak connections between theory and practice; faculty members with little or no experience as school leaders; and poorly designed internships.

The publication is the latest in a series of Wallace Perspectives, occasional reports that mine foundation-supported projects and research for insights to help solve difficult problems in education. The Making of the Principal draws on lessons from Wallace-supported scholarship by leading researchers (at institutions including the RAND Corporation, Stanford University, Vanderbilt University, the University of Washington, the University of Minnesota and the University of Toronto), as well as Wallace-funded projects in 24 states and numerous districts. The new Perspective concludes that five lessons could guide many more school districts as they devise ways to put strong principals in every school:

  • A more selective process for choosing candidates for training is the essen¬tial first step. Exemplary programs rigorously review candidates’ skills, experience and leadership dispositions. The best programs actively involve school districts in identifying, recruiting and screening candidates with the potential and desire to lead schools.
  • Aspiring principals need pre-service training that prepares them to lead improved instruction and school change, not just manage buildings. Exemplary programs offer curricula focused on improving instruction, coursework that applies theory to practice and well-designed internships.
  • Districts can and should do more to exercise their consumer power to raise the quality of principal training so that graduates better meet their needs. Training programs have a powerful incentive to improve when a district says it will only hire graduates of programs that meet its standards and needs.
  • States could make better use of their power to influence the quality of leadership training through standard-setting, program accreditation, principal certification and financial support for highly qualified candidates. In 2010, at least 23 states enacted 42 laws to support school leader initiatives, but states need to do more to build a pipeline of qualified school leaders.
  • New principals need high-quality mentoring and professional development tailored to individual and district needs. Since 2000, more than half of the states have enacted mentoring requirements, but it’s often merely a “buddy system,” with inadequately trained mentors.

A Perspective released earlier this year examined the five practices of highly effective principals. Subsequent reports in the Wallace series will focus on:

  • The district role in building a corps of effective principals that is big enough to improve teaching and learning district-wide.
  • The state role in improving school leadership.

This report and other materials can be downloaded for free from The Wallace Foundation’s Knowledge Center at www.wallacefoundation.org


The Wallace Foundation is an independent, national foundation dedicated to supporting and sharing effective ideas and practices that expand learning and enrichment opportunities for children. The foundation maintains an online library of lessons at www.wallacefoundation.org about what it has learned, including knowledge from its current efforts aimed at: strengthening educational leadership to improve student achievement; helping disadvantaged students gain more time for learning through summer learning and an extended school day and year; enhancing out-of-school time opportunities; and building appreciation and demand for the arts.


The Making of the Principal: Five Lessons in Leadership Training

Published :

June 2012, 33 pages

Author(s) :

Lee Mitgang

Publishing Organization :

The Wallace Foundation

Topics :

School Leadership, Effective Principal Leadership, Principal Training


Related Research and Resources

How Leadership Influences Student Learning ›

A landmark study reviews existing literature to demonstrate the powerful influence of education leadership on student achievement.

Learn more ›

Preparing School Leaders for a Changing World: Lessons from Exemplary Leadership Development Programs – Final Report ›

A groundbreaking report provides case studies and practical guidelines to help district and state policymakers reinvent how principals are prepared for their jobs.

Learn more ›

Districts Developing Leaders: Lessons on Consumer Actions and Program Approaches from Eight Urban Districts ›

What happens when urban school districts set out to improve principal training by flexing their consumer muscle? This report finds out.

Learn more ›

See, Study: The problem with principal training and how to fix it http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/study-the-problem-with-principal-training-and-how-to-fix-it/2012/07/29/gJQA1gL5HX_blog.html

Schools must be relentless about the basics for their population of kids.   

What does it Mean to Be Relentless About the Basics:      

  1. Students acquire strong subject matter skills in reading, writing, and math.
  2. Students are assessed often to gauge where they are in acquiring basic skills.
  3. If there are deficiencies in acquiring skills, schools intervene as soon as a deficiency assessment is made.
  4. Schools intervene early in life challenges faced by students which prevent them from attending school and performing in school.
  5. Appropriate corrective assistance is provided by the school to overcome both academic and life challenges.   


The Performance Indicators for Effective Principal Leadership in Improving Student Achievement


Effective Schools: Managing the Recruitment, Development, and Retention of High-quality Teachers


What makes a great principal?


Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

6 Responses to “Wallace Foundation study: Leadership matters in student achievement”


  1. Wallace Foundation study: Leadership matters in student achievement | Transformational Leadership | Scoop.it - July 31, 2012

    […] In New research: School principal effectiveness, moi said: The number one reason why teachers leave the profession has to do with working conditions. A key influencer of the environment of a school…  […]

  2. Wallace Foundation study: Leadership matters in student achievement | Mathematics education | Scoop.it - August 2, 2012

    […] In New research: School principal effectiveness, moi said: The number one reason why teachers leave the profession has to do with working conditions. A key influencer of the environment of a school…  […]

  3. Wallace Foundation study: Leadership matters in student achievement | Coaching in Education for learning and leadership | Scoop.it - August 13, 2012

    […] In New research: School principal effectiveness, moi said: The number one reason why teachers leave the profession has to do with working conditions. A key influencer of the environment of a school…  […]

  4. Study: There is lack of information about principal evaluation « drwilda - February 6, 2013

    […] https://drwilda.com/2012/07/29/wallace-foundation-study-leadership-matters-in-student-achievement/ […]

  5. More states adopting laws which mandate principal evaluation | drwilda - May 25, 2014

    […] Wallace Foundation study: Leadership matters in student achievement https://drwilda.com/2012/07/29/wallace-foundation-study-leadership-matters-in-student-achievement/ […]

  6. Study: Successful schools have strong leadership | drwilda - May 28, 2014

    […] https://drwilda.com/2012/07/29/wallace-foundation-study-leadership-matters-in-student-achievement/ […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: