School leadership and student outcomes: identifying what works and why: Best evidence synthesis

The school leadership best evidence synthesis (BES), 2009, identifies and explains characteristics of school leadership that are linked to improving outcomes for learners.

The synthesis looked at 134 New Zealand and overseas research studies or reviews. The writers identified five leadership dimensions that impact student outcomes and four broad areas of leadership expertise that underpin them.

Leadership dimensions

  1. Establishing goals and expectations
  2. Resourcing strategically
  3. Planning, coordinating and evaluating teaching and the curriculum
  4. Promoting and/or participating in teacher learning and development
  5. Ensuring an orderly and supportive environment

The writers also found that promoting and/or participating in effective teacher learning and development (dimension 4) has twice the impact on student outcomes across a school as any of the other leadership dimensions. 

Leadership expertise

  1. Ensure administrative decisions are informed by knowledge about effective pedagogy
  2. Analyse and solve complex problems
  3. Build relational trust
  4. Open-to-learning conversations

The writers acknowledge that this is not an exhaustive set of the qualities of effective leadership but believe these four are critical in leadership that makes a positive difference to learner outcomes.

Read the report online – Education Counts website

Find out more

School leadership BES – a guide

A presentation from Viviane Robinson on the synthesis approach and the leadership dimensions and leadership expertise identified through it.

Leadership Q&A with Viviane Robinson - Teacher magazine

Viviane Robinson talks about school leadership and principal professional development. 

William Walker monograph – Education Counts website

A monograph from Viviane Robinson on the first of a series of analyses for the leadership BES development.

School leadership BES – background

An interview with Dr Adrienne Alton Lee on the development of the school leadership best evidence synthesis and why it is important for New Zealand education.

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