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IES Grant

Title: Learning from Efforts to Strengthen Educational Leadership in Urban School Districts
Center: NCER Year: 2004
Principal Investigator: Quint, Janet Awardee: MDRC
Program: Education Leadership      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years Award Amount: $1,498,923
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R305E040100

The accountability context in which education reform efforts now occur places increasing pressure on education leaders to produce results, especially increases in test scores and reductions in achievement disparities by income and race. This pressure to improve student achievement places a premium on defining effective leadership at various levels in the education system, thinking clearly about the connections and interactions between the actions of leaders at different levels, and focusing on how these actions relate to desired instructional practices and student outcomes. At present, however, there is little evidence regarding what good instructional leaders actually do that has an impact on students' academic achievement. The purpose of this project is to investigate the possible relationships among leadership actions, teacher practices, and student achievement, in order to build research knowledge about how education leaders can become more effective.

The project is being carried out at 80 primary schools in three urban school districts serving a high proportion of students from low-income families and diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. The researchers are focusing on the actions of school principals and the school districts' intermediary supervisors who oversee the work of those principals. These school leaders have participated in the professional development activities of the Institute for Leadership (IFL), which supports a particular theory of effective instructional leadership. The researchers are using interviews, surveys, observation, and education tests to collect data to address three questions. First, do schools with leaders who demonstrate "effective" leadership actions (that is, actions consistent with the IFL's theory of effective instructional leadership) experience greater improvements in student outcomes over time? Second, do schools with "more effective" leaders experience greater improvements in instructional practice over time? And third, do these changes in teaching practice appear to explain the connection between leadership actions and trends in student outcomes? The researchers are developing reports about the measurement of leadership behaviors and about the relationships between these behaviors, teacher practices, and student outcomes.

The overall goal of this study is to develop preliminary information on the empirical connections between specific leadership actions, changes in teaching practices, and improvements in student achievement. By doing so, the study may provide useful information for district and school leaders about how they can act effectively to improve teaching and, ultimately, student learning.



Quint, J.C., Akey, T.M., Rappaport, S., and Willner, C.J. (2007). Instructional Leadership, Teaching Quality, and Student Achievement: Suggestive Evidence From Three Urban School Districts. New York: MDRC.