Does principal leadership matter in implementing meaningful school change and school improvement?
A pilot study of school-community partnerships in the U.S. and Canada focused on effective school improvement efforts. The evaluation identified nine levers that catalyzed significant change in the culture of participating school communities. The most effective sites demonstrated all of these levers to a great extent with the levers working in concert to support sustainable change.
What was the #1 lever of school change? Planning teams should be principal-led. The role of the principal was the most critical piece of the puzzle. The other elements were crucial but these pieces more often than not arose through the influence and role the principal took in the implementation of the healthy school community.
Much has changed in schools. Leaders will be required to adapt to the new realities. Guidance will be needed on how to navigate effectively through many complex challenges. Adapting by adopting a comprehensive school health strategy, if not already in place, is needed more than ever and will help with the process of change.
The Principal Holds the Key
In many ways the school principal is the most important and influential individual in any school. — U.S. Congress, 1972, pg. 56
In the school reform movement the vital role of school leadership and particularly the role of the school principal, has garnered increasing attention. (Davis, Darling-Hammond, LaPoint & Myerson, 2005)
Research has shown that school health initiatives that have the most effect on the school and its participants often begin with and are sustained by effective leadership and strong administrative support. (Houle et al., 2008; Rosas, Cade & Tholstrub, 2009; St. Leger, Kolb, Lee, McCall & Young, 2007; Valois & Hoyle, 2000)