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Top Publications that Connect Leadership to Learning

Frederick Brown image
Frederick Brown

Last week, The Wallace Foundation released a list of most popular publications downloaded from its website in 2013.  This list includes a mix of perspectives, groundbreaking research reports, and insightful publications from multiple organizations that connect leadership to teacher and student learning.

I applaud the foundation for posting this list and blog it here for two reasons. First, if you are just beginning your journey into issues of leadership, I invite you to explore these and other reports on the foundation's website. I believe these resources will provide you with a great overview of school and district leadership and ways systems can better identify, induct, and support leaders. Second, if you have read one or more of these reports before, I invite you to see which publications others in the field are downloading the most. Seeing them listed this way may push you to explore a report you hadn't considered reading or didn't know existed.

At the top of this list is How Leadership Influences Student Learning, the 2004 report authored by the University of Toronto and the University of Minnesota. Many in the field remember this report for its assertion that "leadership is second only to teaching among school influences on student success, and its impact is greatest in schools with the greatest needs." This report contributed to the field's focus on the importance of leadership as a key lever for school improvement and system redesign. The 2010 update to this report, Learning from Leadership: Investigating the Links to Improved Student Learning, went further in describing some of the specific activities in which principals engage that build "professional community" in their schools.

There are also several publications on the list that highlight the practices of effective principals and the roles districts can play in both training and supporting them. The 2012 article, "The effective principal," and the 2013 The School Principal as Leader: Guiding Schools to Better Teaching and Learning both examined the foundation's decade-long engagement in leadership research and practice and offered five pivotal practices that shape effective leadership. Learning Forward took the key practices from this report and used it as the basis for Meet the Promise of Content Standards: The Principal, a document that explores how a leader engaging in these key practices can support the effective implementation of Common Core.

As you explore these and other reports on the foundation's website, consider how they can help you better identify, induct, and support learning leaders in your school or system.

Frederick Brown 
Director of Strategy and Development, Learning Forward

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