What school leaders can do to change academic outcomes for kids?

What school leaders can do to change academic outcomes for kids?

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School leadership values

Finding a school leader who doesn’t recognize the value of enhancing student growth would be challenging. The same goes for every educator who works with students, including teaching assistants, parents, and other stakeholders. However, there is often a debate about how to improve academic outcomes for children. Some prioritize overall health and emotional well-being, while others focus on imparting advanced knowledge.

Successful school leaders and their leadership play a profoundly significant role in how well children learn, although this impact is often underestimated. Two reasons contribute to this underestimation: 

  • Leadership is second only to teaching in its impact on student learning
  • Its influence tends to be greatest in schools where children’s learning needs require significant changes

Internal or External Factors in School that may affect Children’s Academic Outcomes

  • Internal factors include the school’s philosophy, culture, mission, staffing capabilities, curriculum, and other related aspects
  • External factors encompass parental and community support, political issues, and the socioeconomic demographics of the district

With these aspects in mind, it is crucial for school leaders to prioritize effective leadership to provide children with the best chance for success. Here are some methods through which school leaders can impact academic outcomes:

a) Direct Impact on Children’s Achievement

Highly effective school leaders can raise a typical student’s achievement by two or more months of learning within a single academic year, while ineffective principals can lower achievement by the same amount. Research conducted by Dhuey and Smith (2014) using data from British Columbia revealed that a one standard deviation increase in principal quality can lead to a 0.289 to 0.408 standard deviation increase in student performance in reading and mathematics.

b) Indirect Impact on Children’s Achievement

School leader effectiveness indirectly influences children’s learning through its direct effects on school conditions, teacher quality and placement, instructional quality, and its indirect relationship with children’s achievement gains over time. Dutta and Sahney (2016) found that teacher job satisfaction and a conducive learning environment act as mediators between the impact of school leadership and children’s achievement.

c) Leadership Styles and Their Influence on Academic Outcomes

After classroom teaching, leadership style has the second-largest impact on children’s learning. To positively influence academic outcomes, school leaders should adopt two crucial leadership styles:

d) Instructional Leadership

This style focuses on the academic progress of children. It involves setting clear educational goals, designing a curriculum, and evaluating the effectiveness of teachers and their instruction. According to this concept, school leaders should dedicate their efforts to improving children’s outcomes and emphasizing the importance of elevating the standard of classroom teaching and learning.

e) Transformational Leadership

This style aims to establish a school culture and vision that enhances the quality of teaching and learning, develops the school staff, and improves the organization as a whole. School leaders practising transformational leadership define and communicate the school’s mission, lead by example, inspire others, foster a culture of learning, and encourage staff members to pursue professional development.

Also read: Everything you need to know about Strategic Leadership style

What School Leaders Can Do to Improve Academic Outcomes for Children?

School leaders play a crucial role in influencing the learning outcomes of children. To positively impact children’s education, school leaders should focus on the following aspects within their schools:

1. Leadership Behaviour

School leaders should prioritize academic management, teacher autonomy, children’s assessment, teachers’ workload, structured time, teacher support, and implementing teachers’ ideas into practice. By emphasizing these areas, leaders can create a conducive environment for effective teaching and learning.

2. Good Leadership Practices

Effective school leaders should build teamwork, communicate the school’s vision, enhance children’s performance, promote cooperation among staff, make informed decisions, foster information exchange, encourage problem-solving, and establish achievement goals for children. These practices contribute to a supportive and collaborative school culture.

3. School Leader’s Role

School leaders have responsibilities that include setting learning objectives, guiding children’s learning, supervising classrooms, reviewing children’s work, monitoring behavior, and developing effective teaching techniques. By fulfilling these roles, leaders provide guidance and support to both teachers and students.

4. Importance of Instructional Leadership in Student Achievement

School leaders should prioritize creating a clear learning environment, assessing instruction, ensuring curriculum coverage, emphasizing curriculum development, coordinating curriculum implementation, and setting learning goals. Instructional leadership plays a vital role in shaping students’ achievement by focusing on curriculum quality and effective teaching practices.

Also read: How This School Leader is Promoting Quality Education in a Challenging Locale

How School Leaders Can Improve Academic Outcomes for Children?

School leaders have the power to create positive changes and improve academic outcomes for children. Regardless of how the curriculum is organized or the teaching methods employed, incorporating the following strategies into their plans can yield numerous benefits:

1. Assessment:

Regular and comprehensive assessment practices directly impact teaching and learning. Implementing formative assessment techniques can help track progress for both school leaders and individual students, teachers, and parents. Instead of relying on broad end-of-year targets, school leaders should analyze assessment data, identify gaps, and focus on improvement strategies.

2. High-Quality Teaching and Continuous Professional Development (CPD):

Once gaps and areas of difficulty have been identified through evaluation, effective planning and teaching are essential. Improving academic outcomes for children relies on providing high-quality teaching. Offering CPD opportunities to teachers is crucial for their professional growth and to enhance teacher outcomes, which is a crucial step towards improving children’s outcomes.

3. Parental Engagement:

Parental involvement plays a significant role in changing children’s outcomes. In many cases, parents spend more time with their children than teachers do and serve as important role models. However, parents often struggle to determine the best way to support their children. Schools should provide support and tools to parents, going beyond expecting them to merely be present for homework. By empowering parents, schools can enhance their role and enable them to see the positive impact of their efforts on their children’s performance.

4. Learner Ownership:

School leaders should create opportunities for children to take ownership of their learning and improve their performance. When children are actively involved in their own learning, they gain confidence and are more motivated to progress. Breaking down learning into smaller achievable steps along the way can make the process more manageable for children. Celebrating small victories and tracking progress can also be beneficial.

5. Reducing Teacher Workload:

It is crucial to alleviate teacher workload and provide more time for teachers to focus on individual students rather than administrative tasks. Technology can be a valuable tool in streamlining paperwork, such as scoring tests and assignments, creating reports, preparing lessons, and managing student data. By embracing technology, school leaders can enable teachers to dedicate more time and energy to each student.

Improving student learning outcomes requires a synergy among various school factors. School leaders play a vital role in supporting this synergy. It is essential to prioritize future focus and research on enhancing student’s learning outcomes and identifying appropriate leadership styles and techniques for different contexts. By implementing these strategies, school leaders can contribute to meaningful improvements in academic outcomes for children.

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Rahul Saxena / July 26, 2023

What school leaders can do to change academic outcomes for kids? is a compelling article that sheds light on the pivotal role of school leaders in shaping students’ academic success. The blog thoughtfully discusses strategies to create a positive and conducive learning environment, empower teachers, and foster a culture of continuous improvement. With a focus on student-centric approaches, it highlights how effective leadership can transform educational outcomes and unlock the full potential of every child. A must-read for educators and school administrators!

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