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This Wallace Perspective summarizes a decade of foundation research and

work in school leadership that identifies what effective school principals do.
“Principals can no longer function simply as building managers tasked with
adhering to district rules, carrying out regulations and avoiding mistakes,” the
report suggests. “They have to be (or become) leaders of learning who can
develop a team delivering effective instruction.”

The report concludes that principals who are effective leaders practice five
key actions particularly well:

1. They shape a vision of academic success for all students.

2. They create a climate hospitable to education.
3. They cultivate leadership in others.
4. They improve classroom instruction.
5. They manage people, data and processes with the goal of school

Each of these five tasks needs to interact with the other four for any one to
succeed. When all are well executed, leadership is at work.

An expanded edition of a report originally published in 2012, the Perspective

includes an interview with Linda Darling-Hammond, an authority on
education policy and teaching, about the connection between strong school
leadership and strong teaching.

Points of Interest
A range of leadership patterns exists among
principals, assistant principals, and both formal and
informal teacher leaders. But principals remain the
central source of leadership influence.

 Effective principals create an environment that

includes basics, such as safety and orderliness, as
well as less-tangible qualities: a supportive,
responsive attitude toward students and teachers
feeling that they are part of a community of
professionals focused on good instruction.

 High expectations for all, including clear and public

standards, is one key to closing the achievement gap
between advantaged and less advantaged students
and for raising the overall achievement of all

 Effective principals endeavor to draw valuable

information from statistics and evidence. They ask
useful questions, display data in ways that tell
compelling stories and use information to promote
collaborative inquiry among teachers. They view
data as a means not only to pinpoint problems but
also to understand their nature and causes.