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Article
Publication date: 18 June 2019

Kenneth Leithwood, Jingping Sun and Catherine McCullough

The purpose of this paper is to test the effects of nine district characteristics on student achievement, explored the conditions that mediated the effects of such…

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1161

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to test the effects of nine district characteristics on student achievement, explored the conditions that mediated the effects of such characteristics and contributed to understandings about the role school-level leaders play in district efforts to improve achievement.

Design/methodology/approach

Data for the study were provided by the responses of 2,324 school and district leaders in 45 school districts to two surveys. Student achievement evidence was provided by multi-grade provincial measures of math and language achievement. The analysis of these data included calculation of descriptive statistics, confirmatory factor analysis and regression mediation analysis.

Findings

Seven of nine district characteristics contributed significantly to student achievement and three conditions served as especially powerful mediators of such district effects. The same three conditions, as well as others, acted as significant mediators of school-level leader effects on achievement, as well.

Practical implications

District characteristics tested in the study provide a powerful framework for guiding the district improvement work of senior educational leaders. The organizational improvement efforts of both district and school leaders would be substantially enhanced by a better understanding of how to diagnose and improve the status of those conditions acting as significant mediators of the effects of both district and school leadership on student achievement.

Originality/value

This is one of a very few large-scale quantitative studies examining the extent to which characteristics frequently identified by district effectiveness research explain variation in student learning. It is also one of the very few studies identifying classroom, school and family variables that mediate district effects on such learning. The study also adds to a growing body of evidence about variables which mediate school leaders’ effects on such learning.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 57 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

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Article
Publication date: 11 April 2018

Kenneth Leithwood and Jingping Sun

This study is a quantitative exploration of a new construct the authors label as “academic culture (AC).” Treating it as generalized latent variable composed of academic…

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1377

Abstract

Purpose

This study is a quantitative exploration of a new construct the authors label as “academic culture (AC).” Treating it as generalized latent variable composed of academic press (AP), disciplinary climate (DC), and teachers’ use of instructional time, the purpose of this paper is to explore the potential of this construct to be a key mediator of school leaders’ influence on student learning. The study is guided by three hypotheses.

Design/methodology/approach

Responses by 856 elementary teachers from 70 schools to an online survey measured the three components of AC along with school leadership (SL). Provincial tests of writing, reading, and math were used as measures of student achievement (SA). Social economic status (SES) was used as control variable for the study. Data were summarized using descriptive statistics and correlations were calculated among all variables. Analyses included intra-class correlation analysis, regression equations, confirmatory factor analysis, and structural equation modeling.

Findings

Evidence confirmed the study’s three hypotheses: first, AP, DC, and instructional time formed a general latent construct, AC; second, AC explained a significant proportion of the variance in SA, controlling for student SES; and third, AC was a significant mediator of SL’s influence on SA. Concepts and measures of academic optimism (AO) and AC are compared in the paper and implications for practice and future research are outlined.

Originality/value

This first study of AC explored the relationship between AC and SA. Although at least two AO studies have included measures of distributed leadership, minimal attention has been devoted to actually testing the claim that AO is amenable to the influence of explicit leadership practices (as distinct from enabling school structures) and is a powerful mediator of SL effects on student learning. Addressing this limitation of AO research to date, the present study included a well-developed measure of leadership practices and assessed the value of AC as a mediator of such practices.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 56 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

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Article
Publication date: 1 December 2005

Kenneth Leithwood

To synthesize the results of the seven country reports covered in the special issue of JEA on successful school principalship.

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4857

Abstract

Purpose

To synthesize the results of the seven country reports covered in the special issue of JEA on successful school principalship.

Design/methodology/approach

Presents the main themes of the articles with their main implications and benefits. Examines the different models.

Findings

The country reports provide encouraging signs of progress in addressing this limitation. Such progress seems primarily due to the development of multiple cases, over time, within each country. This allows for ongoing refinement of ideas and data collection techniques, eventually resulting in the cross‐case reports appearing in this issue. These reports provide some indication, as well, that researchers are beginning to learn from their colleagues in other countries.

Originality/value

Summarizes multiple case studies of successful principal leadership in seven countries.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 43 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

Keywords

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Abstract

Details

Leading Education Systems
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80071-130-3

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Article
Publication date: 1 April 1990

Kenneth A. Leithwood, Paul T. Begley and J. Bradley Cousins

Growing appreciation for the potential impact of principals ontheir schools has stimulated a significant body of research concerningthe principalship. While many aspects…

Abstract

Growing appreciation for the potential impact of principals on their schools has stimulated a significant body of research concerning the principalship. While many aspects of the principalship have been the object of study, it is often difficult to determine the relationship among these studies and how these studies, as a whole, contribute to a better understanding of the principalship. It is also difficult to judge which aspects of the principalship would provide the most productive focus for subsequent research. The review reported in this article addressed both sets of difficulties by analysing a total of 135 empirical studies conducted between 1974 and 1988; 60 of these studies were reported between 1985 and 1988 and received more attention than the earlier 75. Results of the analysis identify aspects of the principalship about which much is known, approaches to research which appear to have exhausted their usefulness and areas in which further study seems likely to be of most value. One major conclusion from the analysis is that we know most about effective principal practices and least about how such practices develop.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 28 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

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Article
Publication date: 1 December 1999

Kenneth Leithwood, Doris Jantz and Rosanne Steinbach

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1486

Abstract

Details

International Journal of Educational Management, vol. 13 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-354X

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Article
Publication date: 1 August 2002

Huen Yu, Kenneth Leithwood and Doris Jantzi

The effects of principals’ transformational leadership practices on teachers’ commitment to change are examined in this study in Hong Kong primary schools. Mediating…

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6917

Abstract

The effects of principals’ transformational leadership practices on teachers’ commitment to change are examined in this study in Hong Kong primary schools. Mediating variables in the study included school culture, strategies for change, school structure, and the school environment. Results suggest strong significant effects of transformational leadership on mediating variables and weak but significant effects on teachers’ commitment to change. In comparison with other relevant evidence, it is suggested that the pattern of transformational leadership effects is similar in both North America and Hong Kong, but the magnitude of these effects is far less in Hong Kong.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 40 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

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Article
Publication date: 1 May 2000

Kenneth Leithwood and Doris Jantzi

Most school restucturing initiatives assume significant capacity development on the part of individuals, as well as whole organizations; they also depend on high levels of…

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21322

Abstract

Most school restucturing initiatives assume significant capacity development on the part of individuals, as well as whole organizations; they also depend on high levels of motivation and commitment to solving the substantial problems associated with the implementation of restructuring initiatives. Transformational approaches to leadership have long been advocated as productive under these conditions, and evidence suggests that transformational practices do contribute to the development of capacity and commitment. Much less evidence is available, however, about whether these socio‐psychological effects actually result in organizational change and enhanced organizational outcomes. Survey data from an achieved sample of 1,762 teachers and 9,941 students in one large school district were used to explore the relative effects of transformational leadership practices on selected organizational conditions and student engagement with school. Results demonstrated strong significant effects of such leadership on organizational conditions, and moderate but still significant total effects on student engagement.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 38 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

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Article
Publication date: 1 October 1997

Kenneth Leithwood and Doris Jantzi

What factors influence teachers to attribute leadership qualities to some principals and not others? In particular, what accounts for attributions of transformational…

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2086

Abstract

What factors influence teachers to attribute leadership qualities to some principals and not others? In particular, what accounts for attributions of transformational school leadership? Guided by an information processing perspective to explain teachers’ attributions, answers to these questions were explored through data provided by an achieved sample of 1,253 elementary and secondary teachers from a single large school system. Replicating the framework and design of an earlier study by the same authors, this, as well as the previous study, found that teachers’ leadership attributions were largely explained by alterable rather than unalterable variables.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 35 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

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Article
Publication date: 1 December 2005

Stephen L. Jacobson, Lauri Johnson, Rose Ylimaki and Corrie Giles

This study aims to examine seven challenging schools in the US and the practices their principals employed in leading these schools to a measure of success in terms of…

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3148

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to examine seven challenging schools in the US and the practices their principals employed in leading these schools to a measure of success in terms of student performance.

Design/methodology/approach

Uses a case study methodology, a two‐stage framework is used to analyze the data. First, uses Leithwood and Riehl's three core leadership practices to determine whether these leaders were demonstrating the necessary practices for success, then develops and describes three principles that enabled these leaders to translate their core practices into school success: accountability, caring and learning.

Findings

The principals formed a diverse group, varying in gender, race, experience and education. But they shared some common characteristics, most notably, all seven demonstrated facility with the core leadership practices of direction setting, developing people and redesigning the organization. They were leaders who managed to set and maintain a sense of purpose and direction for their schools and generally exerted a positive influence on people's willingness to follow their lead, even in the face of challenging conditions.

Originality/value

Provides recommendations for the preparation and practice of school leaders.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 43 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

Keywords

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