WWC review of this study

Exploring the Causal Impact of the McREL Balanced Leadership Program on Leadership, Principal Efficacy, Instructional Climate, Educator Turnover, and Student Achievement

Jacob, Robin; Goddard, Roger; Kim, Minjung; Miller, Robert; Goddard, Yvonne (2015). Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, v37 n3 p314-332. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1072764

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
    , grades

Reviewed: March 2020

No statistically significant positive
Meets WWC standards without reservations
School leader retention at the school outcomes—Substantively important positive effect found for the domain
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

Principal turnover at the school after 3 years

McREL Balanced Leadership vs. Business as usual

8 Months

Full sample: Principals;
124 schools





Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

  • Rural
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  • Race
    Other or unknown


The study includes 124 rural schools spread across as many as 74 school districts in northern Michigan, including the Upper Peninsula. Only schools that were public (including charter or magnet) and served grades 3 to 5 inclusively (for example, K–5 or K–12) were eligible to participate in the study.

Study sample

One hundred twenty-four schools participated in the study for all 3 years. This included 124 principals, as many as 1,764 teachers, and more than 30,000 students. Outcomes using the analytic samples of teachers and students did not meet WWC group design standards to be included in this review. In study schools, which averaged 300 students each, approximately 47% of students were eligible for the free- or reduced-price meal program and 10% were minorities. Forty-three percent of principals were female, 77% had advanced degrees, and all were White. No descriptive information was provided for the sample of teachers.

Intervention Group

Balanced Leadership® is a professional development program for school principals and other current and aspiring school leaders in schools serving kindergarten through grade 12. School leaders participate in professional development sessions with trained facilitators over one or two years, practice what they learn between sessions, and can receive additional coaching and online support. McREL International, the company that developed the Balanced Leadership® program, based the framework and content of the professional development on research identifying key actions and behaviors of school leaders that are associated with improved student outcomes. Principals in the intervention group were offered 10 Balanced Leadership® program sessions, each of which took place over 2 days. These sessions were spread across 3 academic years, starting in January 2009 (the 2008–09 school year) and ending in October 2010 (the 2010–11 school year). The consortium training model was used, with principals attending training together at one of two locations closest to their districts.

Comparison Group

No alternative intervention was designed for the comparison schools. Principals in those schools received their school or district’s standard professional development offerings. Of the school principals in the comparison group, 12% reported attending a program with content similar to the intervention.

Support for implementation

The Balanced Leadership® professional development sessions were facilitated by full-time training consultants employed by the program developer. Training consultants were required to complete practice training sessions with more experienced facilitators before they were allowed to facilitate sessions in the field. No additional information on support for implementation is described in the study.

In the case of multiple manuscripts that report on one study, the WWC selects one manuscript as the primary citation and lists other manuscripts that describe the study as additional sources.

  • Miller, Robert James; Goddard, Roger D.; Kim, Minjung; Jacob, Robin; Goddard, Yvonne; Schroeder, Patricia. (2016). Can Professional Development Improve School Leadership? Results from a Randomized Control Trial Assessing the Impact of McREL's Balanced Leadership Program on Principals in Rural Michigan Schools. Educational Administration Quarterly, v52 n4 p531-566.

Reviewed: February 2016

Meets WWC standards without reservations

Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Study sample characteristics were not reported.

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