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Ask A REL Response

August 2020


What research has been conducted on literacy leadership teams?


Following an established REL Southeast research protocol, we conducted a search for research reports as well as descriptive study articles on literacy leadership teams. We focused on identifying resources that specifically addressed literacy leadership teams. The sources included ERIC and other federally funded databases and organizations, research institutions, academic research databases, and general Internet search engines (For details, please see the methods section at the end of this memo.)

We have not evaluated the quality of references and the resources provided in this response. We offer them only for your reference. These references are listed in alphabetical order, not necessarily in order of relevance. Also, we searched the references in the response from the most commonly used resources of research, but they are not comprehensive and other relevant references and resources may exist.

Research References

  1. Laleka, S. (2019). Developing multilevel school leadership for instructional improvement in elementary schools of post-colonial Pakistan. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 22(2), 222-236.
    From the abstract: "Schools in post-colonial developing countries have complex and varied problems with the quality of leadership and instruction, calling for unique approaches to improvement. Based on an interventionist-ethnographic study involving three low-fee elementary schools in Pakistan, this paper discusses a model for developing multilevel leadership practices for instructional improvement. A situation analysis in the first phase of the study indicated leadership practices of control and centralized decision-making without a focus on instructional improvement in the light of authentic learning goals. The operational mental models strongly influenced the practice of leaders and teachers in the presence of limited professional development activities and non-existent learning networks. The second phase of intervention involved the development of a model of practice creating and strengthening multilevel leadership practices for improving instruction. Through management of mental models, shared vision, team learning, team projects and participation in learning networks, teachers were involved in simple and complex leadership tasks and formal delegation evolved into incremental and emergent leadership practices. The simple model, applicable in a wide range of contexts provides a direction for professional development activities and school leadership development programs in schools struggling for improved educational quality."
  2. Mestry, R. (2019). School management teams' instructional leadership role in closing the achievement gap in impoverished schools. Africa Education Review, 16(6), 94-110.
    From the abstract: "Although the South African government has made numerous strides in addressing equity and social justice in education, significant inequalities still exist in learner performance, especially in many impoverished schools. One of the reasons cited for poor learner achievement is the ineffective leadership role of school management teams (SMTs). This article reports on a study that explored the instructional leadership role of SMTs of public schools with the view to closing the achievement gap in poor performing schools. To gain better insights into the SMTs' realities and experiences of their work as curriculum leaders, qualitative research located within the interpretivist paradigm was undertaken. The findings revealed that SMTs of impoverished schools exhibit consistently low to moderate instructional leadership competencies which ultimately affect student learning. In order to close the achievement gap in poor performing schools, SMTs should play a more pronounced instructional leadership role by leading and managing core curriculum matters and educational resources effectively and efficiently."
  3. Morgan, D. N., & Clonts, C. M. (2008). School leadership teams: Extending the reach of school based literacy coaches. Language Arts, 85(5), 345-353.
    From the abstract: "This article describes how establishing a literacy-focused school leadership team can strengthen and expand the reach of the literacy coach. This team helps bring faculty into dialogue to critique and transform their current literacy practices and works towards developing a common vision, beliefs, and a shared language within the school. This article describes one way to structure professional development work with these teams and highlights one school leadership team's journey with their faculty as they begin working towards transforming the way their work with one another and their students. (Contains 3 figures.) ["School Leadership Teams: Extending the Reach of School Based Literacy Coaches" was written with The Swansea Primary School Leadership Team.]"
  4. Stoisch, E. L., Forman, M. L., & Bocala, C. (2019). All together now: Internal coherence framework supports instructional leadership teams. Learning Professional, 40(3), 40-44.
    From the abstract: "More than a decade of research suggests that improving the quality of instruction and student learning requires leaders to set a vision for instruction, promote teacher learning around that vision, and foster organizational conditions for teacher collaboration and growth (Louis, Dretzke, & Wahlstrom, 2010). Yet designing professional learning that enhances instructional leadership has proven challenging. Previous attempts may have been unsuccessful because they targeted only school principals rather than teams of leaders or because they were conducted away from school sites rather than being job-embedded. Increasing school leaders' "knowledge" of curriculum, instruction, and assessment is insufficient. Improving instructional leadership requires increasing school leaders' "direct involvement" with teachers in these core areas. A team-based approach to professional learning is more effective in enhancing the instructional leadership capabilities of administrators and teachers. Instructional leadership teams are a promising model for such an approach. These teams involve administrators and teachers in collectively improving teaching and learning through collaborative professional learning and a shared commitment to instructional improvement. This shared approach to leadership requires joint practice and learning. The authors have worked collaboratively with district, school, and teacher leaders over the past 10 years to develop an approach they call the "internal coherence approach" to school improvement. With this approach, instructional leadership teams can transform their organizations from low-performing or stagnant to high-performing or improving."
  5. Townsend, T., Bayetto, A., Dempster, N., Johnson, G., & Stevens, E. (2018). Leadership with a purpose: Nine case studies of schools in Tasmania and Victoria where the principal had undertaken the principals as literacy leaders (PALL) program. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 17(2) 204-237.
    From the abstract: "This paper reports on Australian case study research in schools where principals completed the Principals as Literacy Leaders (PALL) program. The purpose was to gather data about the effects of PALL on principals' leadership and the impact of interventions in Reading on teaching, student learning, and achievement. Data gathering included interviews with principals, leadership teams and teachers (parents in some schools), a student survey and examples, and reading progress data. Findings indicated that PALL had impacted positively on principals' leadership and provided a framework to lead their teachers in ways that improved teaching practice, student engagement and learning."


Keywords and Search Strings
The following keywords and search strings were used to search the reference databases and other sources:

  • Literacy leadership teams
  • Literacy achievement, leadership teams
  • Leadership teams, reading instruction
  • School literacy leadership teams
  • Instructional leadership teams, literacy
  • Instructional leadership, teamwork

Databases and Resources
We searched ERIC for relevant resources. ERIC is a free online library of over 1.6 million citations of education research sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences. Additionally, we searched Google Scholar and PsychInfo.

Reference Search and Selection Criteria

When we were searching and reviewing resources, we considered the following criteria:

  • Date of the publication: References and resources published for last 15 years, from 2003 to present, were include in the search and review.
  • Search Priorities of Reference Sources: Search priority is given to study reports, briefs, and other documents that are published and/or reviewed by IES and other federal or federally funded organizations, academic databases, including ERIC, EBSCO databases, JSTOR database, PsychInfo, PsychArticle, and Google Scholar.
  • Methodology: Following methodological priorities/considerations were given in the review and selection of the references: (a) study types - randomized control trials,, quasi experiments, surveys, descriptive data analyses, literature reviews, policy briefs, etc., generally in this order (b) target population, samples (representativeness of the target population, sample size, volunteered or randomly selected, etc.), study duration, etc. (c) limitations, generalizability of the findings and conclusions, etc.

This memorandum is one in a series of quick-turnaround responses to specific questions posed by educational stakeholders in the Southeast Region (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina), which is served by the Regional Educational Laboratory Southeast at Florida State University. This memorandum was prepared by REL Southeast under a contract with the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Contract ED-IES-17-C-0011, administered by Florida State University. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.