Distributive Leadership and Student Achievement: A Case Study
Baiza, Randy D.
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The purpose of this case study was to investigate the interactions between leaders who practice distributive leadership and followers within a school which leads to the development of routines and tools that reinforce student achievement. Education is widely held to be essential for the survival and success of individuals and countries in the emerging global market. National leaders of all stripes place education at the center of their policy agendas. Agreement is also evident about the contributions of leadership in the implementation of virtually all initiatives aimed at improving student learning and school quality. It is therefore difficult to imagine a focus for research with greater social justification than educational leadership. Although distributive leadership is widely thought to be a powerful force for school effectiveness, this belief needs to be justified by empirical evidence.
This qualitative study focused on one Texas public secondary school with a majority minority student composition,which received a Blue Ribbon designation. Principal leadership behaviors, campus improvement team perceptions with regard to distributed leadership ideals served as a primary focus. More specifically, the purpose of this case study was to explore in depth relationships exhibited in an exemplary, Blue Ribbon school as identified by the Academic Excellence Indicator System (AEIS), that enable or constrain distributed leadership ideals central to this study. Capturing essential features such as the character of the leader, leadership styles,followers and values that define curricular goals and the contextual rituals or processes used to communicate continuous improvement towards student success provided additional understanding. Multiple sources of information provided a detailed in-depth picture, including observations, interviews, documents and reports which served as criteria for data collection.
The implications of this study's findings are significant. This case study adds further evidence to support research on distributive leadership and its relationship to student achievement. The research participants in particular the school district superintendent, and the school principal did not simply delegate tasks but practiced governance over the school's social and situational contexts. Through the sharing of intellect and opinion, acknowledging and maximizing expertise, teachers were called on to share their expertise in instruction as well as utilize opportunities or time, to dialogue, to share insights regarding students and the curriculum. Working together to improve instruction created shared roles pulling their expertise and initiative directed toward increasing student achievement.