Instructional Leadership and Student Performance

According to research, schools that make a positive difference in the learning levels are led by principals who make a positive contribution to staff effectiveness and students under their charge. In the 1980s, instructional leadership was often depicted as “hands-on” leadership in classroom matters. The majority of recent studies report that the involvement of principals in classroom instruction are indirect, and carried out through building a school culture and leading by example.

However, most scholars now find that a principal’s impact on student learning is small, but has an important place in statistical data. Even marginal impact is vital to acheiving desired outcomes, because policy makers still use these findings to justify their emphasis on the selection and training of school leaders as a strategy for school improvement. The role of the principal in shaping the school’s vision and mission is described as the most influential “avenue of effects.”

School context has been found to have a significant effect on the success of a principal’s instructional leadership. Instructional leadership effectiveness should be viewed as an independent effort, but also as dependent on the learning environment.

Successful instructional leaders work with other stakeholders to shape the school to fit its mission. Instructional leaders directly influence the quality of school outcomes by aligning the school’s academic standards, timetables, and curriculum, with the school’s mission. Leaders are more effective when they are clear about missions, and manage activities that fall in line with practices needed for effectiveness.

The lack of clarity of the role of the principal in instructional leadership has been a problem. Instructional leadership has rarely defined practices and behaviors that the principal should model, making it hard to determine what needs to be considered for effective instructional leadership. Assigning clear duties to principals will help to ensure instructional leadership is carried out properly. Once principals and school leaders understand their roles, they can begin the task of leading their schools toward higher success.


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