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February 2015 | Volume 72 | Number 5
Improving Schools: What Works?
Effective instructional leaders don't just focus on student learning. They relentlessly search out and interrogate evidence of that learning.
Shortly after my research synthesis Visible Learning (2009) was published, many of my colleagues were unhappy with the finding relating to the overall effect of school leaders. Across the 55,000 studies, which represented a quarter of a billion students, the average effect size of all influences was .40, whereas the effect size for leaders was a few notches below, at .36. An effect size is a standardized method to measure the strength or magnitude of a relationship. My col-leagues were disappointed that the effect size for school leaders was below average.
In the meantime, my colleagues Viviane Robinson, Claire Lloyd, and Ken Rowe (2008) conducted a meta-analysis that compared two types of school leaders. They found that transformational leaders focus more on teachers. They set a vision, create common goals for the school, inspire and set direction, buffer staff from external demands, ensure fair and equitable staffing, and give teachers a high degree of autonomy.
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