Linking Leadership to Student Learning
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Linking Leadership to Student Learning

Linking Leadership to Student Learning clearly shows how school leadership improves student achievement. The book is based on an ambitious five-year study on educational leadership that was sponsored by The Wallace Foundation. The authors studied 43 districts, across 9 states and 180 elementary, middle, and secondary schools. In this book, Kenneth Leithwood, Karen Seashore Louis, and their colleagues report on what they found. They examined leadership at each organizational level in the school system—classroom, school, district, community, and state. Their comprehensive approach to investigating school leadership offers a balanced understanding of how the structures within which leaders operate shape what they do. The results within will have significant implications for future policy and practice.

Praise for Linking Leadership to Student Learning

"Kenneth Leithwood and Karen Seashore Louis offer a seminal new contribution to the leadership field. They provide a rich and authoritative evidence base that demonstrates clearly just why school leadership is so important and how it promotes successful student learning."—Pamela Sammons, Ph.D., Professor of Education, Department of Education, University of Oxford, Oxford

"This ambitious, groundbreaking, and thought provoking treatment of the link between school leadership and student learning is a testament to the outstanding work of these exemplary scholars. This is a 'must read' for academics and practitioners alike."—Martha McCarthy, President's Professor, Loyola Marymount University, and Chancellor's Professor Emeritus, Indiana University

"The question is no longer whether school and district leader's impact student learning, but rather how they do it. The authors provide a convincing answer, one that recognizes the crucial interaction between leader and locality."—Daniel L. Duke, Professor of Educational Leadership, University of Virginia


Kenneth Leithwood is professor emeritus at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto.

Karen Seashore Louis is Regents Professor of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development, and Robert H. Beck Chair in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota.


Figures and Tables ix

Acknowledgments xiii

About the Authors xv

About the Contributors xvii

Foreword xix
Michael S. Knapp

Preface xxiii

1 Leadership and Learning: The Critical Connection 1


2 Collective Leadership: The Reality of Leadership Distribution Within the School Community 11
Kenneth Leithwood and Doris Jantzi

3 Shared and Instructional Leadership: When Principals and Teachers Successfully Lead Together 25
Karen Seashore Louis and Kyla Wahlstrom

4 Distributed Leadership in Action: A Complex Pattern of People, Tasks, and Goals 42
Stephen E. Anderson

5 Core Practices: The Four Essential Components of the Leader’s Repertoire 57
Kenneth Leithwood

6 An Up-Close View of Instructional Leadership: A Grounded Analysis 68
Kyla Wahlstrom


7 How to Harness Family and Community Energy: The District’s Role 89
Molly F. Gordon and Karen Seashore Louis

8 Confidence for School Improvement: A Priority for Principals 107
Kenneth Leithwood, Blair Mascall, and Doris Jantzi

9 Principal Effi cacy: District-Led Professional Development 119
Kenneth Leithwood, Stephen E. Anderson, and Karen Seashore Louis

10 Succession: A Coordinated Approach to Leadership Distribution 142
Blair Mascall and Kenneth Leithwood

11 Data Use: An Exploration from the District to the School 158
Stephen E. Anderson, Kenneth Leithwood, and Karen Seashore Louis

12 The “District Difference”: A New Perspective on the Local Challenges for Improvement 181
Stephen E. Anderson and Karen Seashore Louis

13 Case Studies: District Responses to State Leadership 203
Karen Seashore Louis, Stephen E. Anderson, and Emanda Thomas

Conclusion 227

Appendix A: Scale Reliability for Variables 237

Appendix B: Additional Evidence Related to Chapter Seven 241

Notes 247

References 257

Index 275



P.1 Leadership Infl uences on Student Learning xxvii

2.1 The Indirect Effects of Collective Leadership on Student Achievement 16

2.2 Relationships Between Sources of Collective Leadership Influence and Student Achievement 22

3.1 Race/Ethnicity, Poverty, Focused Instruction, and Achievement in 138 Schools 29

3.2 Leadership and Focused Instruction in 138 Schools 32

3.3 Professional Community, Focused Instruction, and Student Learning in 138 Schools 34

3.4 Effects of Principals’ Leadership Behavior on Teachers and Student Achievement 36

7.1 Relationship Between District Support for Community Involvement and School-Level Engagement, as Measured by Principal’s Perceptions of Parent Influence 101

7.2 Shared Leadership and Student Achievement 103

9.1 Principals’ Views of District Actions to Support Professional Growth 137

10.1 Testing the Mediated Effects of Principal Turnover on Student Achievement 151

11.1 How District Approaches to Data Use Influence Student Achievement 164

12.1 Principal Perceptions of District Actions Related to Improved Teaching and Learning 188

C.1 Source of Ideas About Integrative Leadership in Education 234


2.1 Sources of Infl uence on School Decisions Ranked from Weakest to Strongest 18

2.2 Correlations Between Sources of Leadership, Mediating Variables, and Achievement 19

3.1 Relationship Between Survey Variables and Student Achievement: Correlation Coefficients 35

4.1 Sample School Characteristics 45

5.1 Core Leadership Practices and Practices Deemed Helpful by Teachers and Principals 65

6.1 Top vs. Bottom 20% Mean Teacher Ratings per Building on Factor 1 71

6.2 Top vs. Bottom 20% Mean Teacher Ratings per Building on Factor 2 73

6.3 Teachers’ Ratings of Principals in the Top 20% vs. Bottom 20% by Building Level 79

6.4 Relationships Between Instructional Leadership, School Level, and Student Achievement 82

8.1 District Antecedents of School Leader Efficacy: Correlation Coefficients 112

8.2 Leader Effi cacy Relationships with School Leader Practices and School and Classroom Conditions 114

8.3 Leader Effi cacy Relationships with Mean Achievement Gain and Percentage of Students at State Proficiency Level 115

9.1 District Conditions Associated with Principal Efficacy 121

10.1 Summary of Survey Results 150

10.2 Relationships Among the Variables 150

11.1 Relationship Between Principal and District Data Use 166

11.2 Extent of Principal Data Use 170

11.3 Principals’ Attention to Conditions Affecting Data Use 176

13.1 Characteristics of a Sample of Smaller and Medium-Size Districts 221

B.1 Factors Associated with Diversity of Membership on School-Site Councils 243

B.2 Factors Associated with Principals’ Openness to Community Involvement 243

B.3 Principal Survey: Factors Associated with 2005–2006 Student Achievement Scores in Math at the Building Level 244

B.4 Teacher Survey: Factors Associated with 2005–2006 Student Achievement Scores at the Building Level 245