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School Leadership Contributes To Student Achievement Education Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Education
Wordcount: 5420 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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This makes schools and their leaders under increasing pressure to make them more effective since there is compelling evidence that the school makes a difference in determining the achievement of the students and later, in life. The effort to make schools and educators who manage the education process more effective is a worthwhile goal. For many years now, researchers in the area of educational leadership have attempted to identify links between educational leadership and school effectiveness. This phenomenon is mainly due to the perception that educational leaders, especially school principals, increase school effectiveness.

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The notion of leadership is continually evolving, often moving simultaneously in numerous directions (e.g., leader, manager, and administrator). Goldring and Greenfield (2002) argue that the image of the school leader has changed from "a position that was once ideologically grounded in philosophy and religion in the1800s, to a highly perspective manager concerned with efficiency and focused on functional administrative tasks in the mid 1900s, to a behavioral science perspective in the mid to late twentieth century ". Having reviewed the long-standing debate about the principalship . Sergiovanni (1991) concludes "While distinctions between management, leadership and administration debates may be useful for theorists, the key is the recognition that the principalship involves multiple responsibilities and duties ". As predicted by Laffey (1980), principals are expected to be "all things to all people." They are expected to be effective managers, and currently, with the focus on student achievement, and instructional leaders effectiveness. However, according to Scott (1983), " Principals and other significant groups who work with them have expectations regarding the principals' managerial role but disagree significantly with the principal as an instructional leader".

Reports have noted that principals have resisted changing their role from manager to that of an instructional leader (e.g. Philadelphia School Improvement Project, Kopple, 1985). Moreover, where principals' role transition has been successful, extensive training (Newburg & Glatthorn, 1983) and/or long-term training efforts (Kline, 1987) were necessary. (Cited from School leadership that works, p.23)

Statement of Problem

In the past 20 years, much attention has been given to education leadership and its impact on student's outcome. Recently, at the beginning of the 21st century, school accountability and initiatives have come to the forefront of educational practices more evidently than in the past. Schools now, more than ever, are challenged to improve to the extent that every effort is made to ensure the success of all students. In UNRWA Association where this study was conducted, the department of education has held for a number of years many reform plans for enhancing the school performance. Action by the UNRWA in this study is defined as restructuring ; a process that begins by identifying schools that are not making adequate progress as measured by a series of assessments and attendance rates. Schools under local restructuring are given additional assistance from the UNRWA and are directed to develop annual school improvement plans. Then they are monitored by the UNRWA every two years to check on progress made in each school. Placed at high risk, as a result of these actions, is the school principal.

Efforts to improve education relate directly to the quality of leadership provided in the schools. A past research has focused on the relationship between effective principals and effective schools (Edmonds 1982).In current and future research, student achievement is the key factor in defining effective principals and schools.( No child left behind Act,2001). School leaderships are progressively responsible for education quality based on the belief that students' success or failures are determined by the way a school run (Fullen 2000) .These beliefs for more effective leadership skills and practices are described as a change agent ,manager ,symbolic leader ,instinctual leader, disciplinarian, decision maker and policy maker (Cotton,2003,Morzano,Wale and Mcnully ) .

One impact of the reform movement of the last decade is to involve as many people as possible in local school decision making. This shared decision making reflects a less centralized approach to school leadership and requires a great deal of collaboration and trust (Midgely & Wood, 1993). Collaborative decision making means many things and takes many forms, depending on the people involved; therefore the role of the principal changes as situations and circumstances change.

As a principal of a school under restructuring, he or she must reconcile the demands and initiatives of the UNRWA with those of the local system to bring about school improvement (School focus development in UNRWA).

Therefore, principals in these schools are under pressure to follow up the reforming revolution seeking out a better academic achievement. For that, this study was anchored in perspectives on the principal ship and on factors that shape how principals define and respond to their roles with respect to school reform, and how principals respond to some of the changes and challenges of the position.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is first, to determine Bolman and Deal leadership and management styles of principals as perceived by themselves, and by their principals' assistances and by teachers. Second, to compare the leadership and management styles of school principals at risk to the styles of school principals showed an adequate progress in official exams for Grade nine. Finally, to determine the set of leadership and management behaviors that best describe the degree of principals' performance in their schools, and their effectiveness in school academic achievement.

Significance of the Study

As a teacher, a central question, which requires further analysis is how exactly principals leadership style influence the instructional working of their school and thereby increase student's achievement. My conceptual frame work is done on a Bolman and Deal's four frames of model leadership. I have been through many models, but I found that this model is one of the best models necessary for improving the leadership style of any principal, indirectly increasing the school effectiveness. They classified these tools as frames, which give leaders a clearer view of reality. These include the structural, human resources, political, and the symbolic frame. Moreover, Bolman and Deal (1997) assert that "leaders'effectiveness" emerge when leaders are able to respond to the needs of their organizations by viewing them through more than one frame. In this way they can reach a deeper and better understanding of organizations. As a graduate student in the field of educational administration and leadership, the question of how to practice the educational leadership in our school and how this influence learning outcomes are applied. As I experienced the complexity and diversity of school life through my teaching experience, I realized how confusing and frustrating leadership experiences can be, especially when you lack the tools needed to face these experiences. On the other hand, my teaching experience, through which I felt the impact of Bolman and Deal's leadership techniques on the effectiveness of leaders, had a stimulating effect in the selection of this model, among others, to guide and enrich my study on school leadership. In broader terms, these experiences came to support the belief that leadership is a complex (Hughes, Ginnett, & Curphy, 2002) and multifaceted process (Northouse, 2004), and can be exercised in any situation that requires influencing others. Tannenbaum, Weschler, and Massarik (1961) introduced the idea that leadership is applicable to "all interpersonal relationships in which influence attempts are involved". How to deal with the constantly increasing challenges facing organizational life, how to help organizations improve, grow, or survive, and how to understand and gain insight into leadership as a topic and/or as a process, are some of the questions that have kept researchers and practitioners of leadership engaged. A review of the enormous body of literature on this topic reveals a significant interest in understanding leadership and its leadership effectiveness. Researchers' interest in leadership over the past one hundred and fifty years reveals itself in the vast number of theories, models, and practical guides that have been developed to gain deeper knowledge into this phenomenon, and to improve leadership practices.

In summary, this study is significant in that, it proposes to address the need to document the extent to which leadership behaviors differ among principals in schools "at risk" and principals in schools that have "made adequate progress". There was a need to clarify the daily behaviors and practices of the principal and to provide insight into how the principal makes leadership decisions and judgments about school improvement and how to get the job done (Bolman &Deal, 1997).This study will be useful to all UNRWA organizations wishing to proficiently exploit the leadership styles practiced by the principals as designed by Bolman and Deal. It will provide these organizations with a substantial association between leadership practices and student's achievements as well as it will insight to raise this association, in order to maintain a competitive edge within the other school in the reforming evolutions .

Research Questions and Hypotheses

To gather data for this study, questions were asked to the principal and teachers. The following questions are:

To what extent the principals' frame utilization (structural, human resource, political and symbolic orientations) in schools labeled "at risk" differ from that in schools "making adequate progress"?

- Does the leadership style designed by Bolman and Deal affect the student's academic achievement?

Research Objectives

Examine the different definitions of leadership and styles

Identify the parameters which determine principals' leadership style, schools' organizational culture, and classrooms' learning cultures.

Examine the effects of the principals' leadership style on school's effectiveness.

Identify of Bolman and Deal's model of leadership and examine the effect of having more than one frame on the principal's behavior and students achievement.

List the characteristics of the effective principal activities and their influence on learning outcome.

Definition of terms

School Leadership: The influential behaviors applied by the school administration or principal that facilitate teachers and the wider school community working towards the achievement of the mutually agreed upon organizational goals of the school.( NWREL 1995)

Instructional Leadership: This entails the communication of the school's mission and goals, and the effective management of the instructional program of the school. This is accomplished through the provision of direction, emphasis, and support to the school's central mission of teaching for the success of all children.(NWREL1995).

School Climate: The existing learning environment. This environment can either facilitate effective teaching and be conducive to student learning, or affect the quality of the teaching and be an impediment to student academic progress (NWREL 1995)

Effective Schools: Settings in which students display high levels of academic achievement, satisfaction, morale, and pride in their schools (NWREL 1995) [1] . In this research synthesis, for most of the studies, school effectiveness is measured in terms of student academic achievements indicated by scores on various statewide tests

School effectiveness is defined as student engagement in school .Blank (1987) used, in addition to student academic performance, student attendance in determining school effectiveness.

Frame Utilization: a process by which leaders order their experiences and make informed decisions; framing helps filter out some things and allow others to pass through. Frames represent a "lens" through which principals might view their leadership behavior. (Bolman & Deal, 1995).

Bolman and Deal Frames: Frames represent the manner in which leaders view and process their experiences. Bolman and Deal (2003) identify four frames: structural, human resource, political and symbolic. Each frame has its own specific perspective for viewing a situation. (Bolman & Deal, 1995).

Leadership by Bolman and Deal Frame:"Leadership is thus a subtle process of mutual influence fusing thought, feeling, and action to produce cooperative effort in the service of purposes and values of both the leader and the led. Single-frame managers are unlikely to understand and attend to the intricacies of a holistic process". (Bolman & Deal, 1995).


Literature Review


In the contemporary world, improvements of student achievements are recognized as the foremost objective of school reforms and restructuring efforts. With this objective in mind, many different reform problems are being implemented while key focus of the reforms is more or less the same. They focus on improving student's learning and increasing their achievement (William. G. Kean; 2002).

Student's achievement can be viewed from two perspectives: the first perspective is to view achievement in terms of enrollment, or a number of students who pass a course, and the second perspective examines student achievement in terms of whether they mastered or attained course learning objectives.

Enrollment numbers include the number of students who have passed the course, the number of non-grads, and the final average grade of the class. These enrollment numbers may be used to identify the causes for non-graduation. These numbers may also be compared over time to locate possible problems prior to class convening, such as lack of prerequisite knowledge, student concerns, or overall course concerns. (William. G. Kean ; 2002)

Although the final average grade of a class is recorded to look at overall student performance, the percent of students who mastered, or attained, the individual objectives (terminal objectives and enabling objectives) are also recorded to find which units and/or lessons are the most difficult for the them. The percentages for the individual objectives can provide information about areas in the lesson where students may need extra help and may require modification or extra instruction.

Student enrollment and achievement data can help educators to identify problem areas in the subject and improve it. Nowadays improvement of student achievement has always been one of the main goals of education. (William. G. Kean ; 2002)

There are many factors that influence student's outcome. First, student background characteristics -especially social, economic and cultural background - frequently emerge as the most important source of variation in student achievement. Such student background characteristics cannot be easily influenced by educational policy in the short term. Second, school-related factors, which are more open to policy influence, explain a smaller part of the variations in student learning than student characteristics (Hallinger and Heck, 1996; Leithwood et al., 2006; OECD, 2005b). Third, among school-level variables, the factors that are closest to student learning, such as teacher quality and classroom practices, tend to have the strongest impact on student achievement (Leithwood and Riehl, 2003; OECD, 2005b).

These factors are categorized as following:

External factor such as the gender, race, parent's education background, social state and reinforcement.

Internal factors concerning motivation and self reflection

Social factor includes the student's ability to connect with teachers and students.

Curricular factor includes all the practices done in the school to improve student's outcome as matching teaching style to learning style, engaging material, engaged teachers and learners, collaborative / cooperative learning, instructional strategies, classroom management and classroom curriculum design etc…

Administrative factor that includes all the practices that done by the school leaders to improve student's outcome.

Even through all these factors which are necessary for increasing the students outcomes, school leadership has become a priority in education policy agendas across countries because it plays a key role in improving classroom practice, school policies and connections between individual schools and the outside world. It can encompass people occupying various roles and functions such as principals, deputy and assistant principals, leadership teams, school governing boards and school-level staff involved in leadership tasks.

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The Concept of Leadership

The concept of leadership dates back to antiquity. According to Bass (1981), the study of leadership is an ancient art. Discussions of leadership appear in the works of Plato, Caesar, and Plutarch. Additionally, leadership is a robust concept that "occurs universally among all people regardless of culture, whether they are isolated Indian villagers, Eurasian steppe nomads, or Polynesian fisher folk.

Theories of leadership abound. They include approaches such as the "great man" theory, which suggests that, for example, without Moses the Jewish nation would have remained in Egypt and without Churchill the British would have acquiesced to the Germans in 1940; "trait" theories, which contend that leaders are endowed with superior qualities that differentiate them from followers; and "environmental" theories, which assert that leaders emerge as a result of time, place, and circumstance. Regardless of the theory used to explain it, leadership has been intimately linked to the effective functioning of complex organizations throughout the centuries.

The traditions and beliefs about leadership in schools are no different from those regarding leadership in other institutions. Leadership is considered to be vital to the successful functioning of many aspects of a school. Concerning on school leadership, many definitions involve the process of influence. As YuKI has phrased it "most definitions of leadership reflect the assumption that it involves a social influence process whereby intentional influence is exerted by one person [or group] over other people [or groups] to structure the activities and relationships in a group or organization" (Yukl, 2002). The term intentional is important, as leadership is based on articulated goals or outcomes to which the process of influence is expected to lead. Leadership is a broader concept where authority to lead does not reside only in one person, but can be distributed among different people within and beyond the school.

Peter.G. Northouse also defines leadership as "a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal" and identifies the central components of leadership: "(a) Leadership is a process; (b) leadership involves influence, (c) leadership occurs within a group context, and (d) leadership involves goal attainment" (Northouse, 2004, p. 3).

For the purpose of this study, leadership will be defined, in Bolman and Deal's terms, as "a process of mutual influence fusing thought, feeling, and action to produce cooperative effort in the service of purposes and values of both the leader and the led"(Bolman & Deal, 1997, p. 296 ).

Leadership and Management

The study of leadership and management has a long history. The concept of effective leadership prompts the question: by whose standards?

Historically, school leaders have been portrayed as people in charge of a school who have the sole responsibility for leading those who work for them to success. This kind of school leader has the expectation that when he/she leads, others will follow. More recent views of leadership involve persuading other people to set aside for a period of time their individual concerns and pursue a common goal that is important for the group (Hogan et al., 1999). They express that leadership is persuasion, not domination; persons who can require others to do their bidding because of their power are not leaders. Leadership only occurs when others willingly adopt, for a period of time, the goals of the group as their own.

Research from the last two decades has also shown a strong link between effective leadership and effective organizations (Bolman & Deal, 1994; Boyan, 1988; Griffiths, 1988; Lezotte, 1997; Sergiovanni, 1995). Hogan et al. (1999) assert that a "growing body of evidence supports the common sense belief that leadership matters" (p.34). Fullan (2002) expresses that schools need leaders who can change "what people in the organization value and how they work together to accomplish it" (p.34). Fullan (2002) continues by saying the schools "need leaders who can create a fundamental transformation in the learning cultures of schools and of the teaching profession itself" (p.18). Beach and Reinhartz (2000) note that "leadership is essential to promoting student achievement and creating a vision of success for the total educational program" (p.72).

A causal and definitional link exists between leadership and team performance, Hybels and Hodges (1999), who also note that leadership is about serving and starts on the inside and moves outward to serve others. Such leadership has the interest of others in mind, nurtures growth and development in others, is willing to listen, and thinks less about self while held accountable for performance. Lambert (1998) suggests that leadership involves "learning together and constructing meaning and knowledge collectively and collaboratively to reflect on and make sense of work in the light of shared beliefs and create actions that grow out of these new understandings" (pp.5-6).

One of the most influential calls for educational leaders is to develop a vision suitable with the standard of the district .The school leader develops a vision of learning from the culture of the organization and establishes a mission for the school community. The vision is the primary and major influence on both the mission and the culture. Vision can be defined as foresight and forethought. It is the dream of where the school principal wants the school to be in the future. If it is a shared vision, it exceeds what the principal wants; it is now what the staff, students, parents and community leaders want. Every vision should be followed by a mission. Deal and Peterson (1999) wrote that the mission is "the focus of what people do" (p.23).

The culture in a school reflects the vision and the mission of the school. In defining culture, Deal and Peterson (1999) state that "it consists of the stable, underlying social meanings that shape beliefs and behavior over time" (p.3). The vision is the dream; the mission is how to achieve the dream; and the culture is impacted by the realization of the vision as the mission is accomplished. Culture involves values, beliefs, mores, tools for establishing goals, and the way in which people are valued or devalued. Smith and Andrews (1989) explain that "communication of vision is perhaps the most important way for principals to exert effective leadership-to leave no doubt about school priorities" These principals know what to expect for the school and students and are able to infect others with that dream, a positive and beneficial contagion. Perhaps these principals can do nothing more important for their teachers and staff than to create a process for forging and reworking the vision or mission of the school. Traditionally, schools have not been places where adults can easily share the collegial relationships that are essential to leadership, as distinct from management, and teacher empowerment. An effective school principal "demonstrates a strong interest in promoting collegiality and shared leadership, an interest in shifting the norms of the school's culture from the traditional to more collaborative ways of working together" (Owens, 2004, p. 274).

Powell (2004), in her research on the behaviors and practices of successful principals working with "at risk" schools, found that the school vision, mission and culture are important to the success of the school. She found that it is difficult to separate the three because one supports and affects the others. She also found other research that supports this claim. For example, it is the vision of the school that leads the way to accomplishing the goals of the school (Uchiyama & Wolf, 2002). Dufour and Eaker (1998) state that the shared vision motivates the staff to work together and gives a sense of direction for what they want to accomplish in the future.

The vision of the school principal influences the mission of the school. Papalewis and Fortune (2002) also cited examples of successful schools in which the goals that reflect the mission statement are displayed in every classroom. In these schools everyone knew the direction of the school and the posted goals in the halls and classrooms reflected their knowledge and commitment.

In successful schools, there is a culture that shows everyone focused on teaching and learning. Connell (1999) described these schools as a place where everyone is involved in the work of the school. During Connell(1999) study about high-performing and high-poverty schools, Connell(1999) found that a staff focused on engagement in the school is an important aspect of school success. Connell ( 1999) stated:

"Of primary importance is the principal's engagement in a school. There is no high-achieving school where the staff is not serious about their work and where they are not focused. One can sense that people in a building are moving in the same direction. Everyone knows their job and why they're there... even the lunch-room aide. In low-achieving schools, everyone is an island unto themselves."

Clearly from the research, the vision of the principal is the key element of school leadership. With a vision, the leader is then able to influence the mission of the school and create a culture of learning that will promote success for all students. Hughes (2004) further explains a school's culture. He states "a school's culture is a representation of what its members collectively believe themselves to be: It is their self-concept. It reflects what they value and what they express to others as being 'important around here'". Culture is a shared reality constructed over time; cultures may be cohesive or fragmented, strong or weak, and functional or dysfunctional depending on the degree to which the same reality is shared by organizational members (Morgan, 1986; Sergiovanni, 1990).

It is clear that schooling has reached a turning point and the need for cultivating creative cultures is at hand (Hughes, 2004). The principal has emerged as the energizer and facilitator of this process. Purposeful direction depends on the leader's ability to inspire the creative contribution of all members of the organization.

Leadership must become reciprocal as leaders and followers raise one another to higher levels of moral consciousness and improvement of social order. Creative leaders recognize that excellence is facilitated through a bonding of purposes and values rather than through imposed structures designed to streamline, predict and quantify set objectives. Blumberg (1989) explains that the successful principal applies the "craft of administration" by balancing the art of leadership and the science of management to improve curriculum, instruction, and other important elements of school. He adds that by purposefully adding elements of a specific school setting into the general model, a principal can categorize and assess important site-specific school improvement actions.

School leadership has become increasingly more complicated and vital to ensuring school success and soliciting substantial participation from faculty, staff and students. In responding to higher standards of increased student progress, school leaders recognize that they alone cannot be the sole instructional leaders but must coach, mentor, and empower faculty and staff in the pursuit of reform and renewal. As school leaders continue to adapt to their changing roles, effective leadership skills will be essential and the real challenge is providing the type of leadership skills necessary to assist schools in expanding their traditional boundaries (Green, 2001). Lambert (2002) notes that for decades, educators have understood that they are all responsible for student learning, but more recently administrators have come to realize that they are responsible for their own learning and the learning of their colleagues as well.

School Leadership Contributes To Student Achievement

Since we are focusing on the extent to how the of principal's leadership and management style and behaviors affect the school academic achievements. A number of studies have been conducted to develop effective schools towards the achievement of better student outcomes as well as to identify the relationship between school effectiveness and school improvement. There are two related lines of research demonstrating the influence of school leaders on school improvement. The first line of inquiry is what is known as "school effectiveness research" which identified the characteristics of effective schools that influence the high-achieving schools particularly student's achievement. The second line of research is what is focused primarily on the principal's role in developing instructional programs which have mainly contributed to create more high-achieving schools.

Now, let us focus on the first line of inquiry which primarily emphasizes the features of effective schools movement, leading to increase student's achievement.

The Coleman Report (1966 ) demonstrated that the school had little or no effect on student achievements, concluding that family background was the key factor influencing the student achievements. Following this report, many researchers in the 1970s and early 1980s intensively conducted similar studies and reacted sharply to the report (Edmonds, 1979, Walberg & Scott, 1979; Austin, 1979). In contrast to Coleman report, Edmonds (1979) argued that school leadership behavior is critical in determining the quality of education. Further, on the basis of his research on instructionally effective schools in Detroit and a review of previous studies involving effective schools in New York, California, and Michigan, he has concluded that school factors have predominantly contributed towards the creation of instructionally effective schools. These factors are: (1) strong administrative leadership; (2) high levels of expectations in student achievements; (3) an orderly but not oppressive school climate; (4) a focus on pupil acquisition of basic school skills; (5) conducive atmosphere to the instructional process; (6) means of student progress monitoring; and (7) resources that can be focused on the fundamental learning objectives of the school. In line with these findings, Austin (1979) suggests that an effective school which can promote student outcomes need to provide a climate that stimulates ideas and facilitates the exchange of ideas with colleagues. Purkey and Smith (1985) have identified school leadership as one of the major factors in improving academic performance.

For the purposes of seeking the perceptions of school communities on factors which mostly help the schools to


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