How does leadership affect student achievement?1 Results from a national US survey

Karen Seashore Louis, Beverly Dretzke, Kyla Wahlstrom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

294 Scopus citations


Using survey responses from a national sample of US teachers, this paper provides insight into 2 questions: (1) Do 3 specific attributes of leadership behavior - the sharing of leadership with teachers, the development of trust relationships among professionals, and the provision of support for instructional improvement - affect teachers' work with each other and their classroom practices? and (2) Do the behaviors of school leaders contribute to student achievement? We tie this investigation of school leader behaviors to 2 additional factors that have also received increasing attention in research because they have been shown to be related to student achievement: professional community and the quality of classroom instruction. Our analysis provides an empirical test of the notion that leadership variables are positively related to student learning. It also suggests that both shared and instructionally focused leadership are complementary approaches for improving schools.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-336
Number of pages22
JournalSchool Effectiveness and School Improvement
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Data for this study are from 2005 and 2008 teacher surveys developed for a US research project funded by the Wallace Foundation. Begun in December of 2004, this mixed-methods project aims to further our understanding about the nature of successful educational leadership and how such leadership at the school, district, and state levels eventually influences teaching and learning in schools. The research design called for the collection of quantitative data at either end of the 5 years work with three rounds of qualitative data collection in between. The quantitative data are provided by surveys of teachers and administrators, along with student achievement and demographic data available from the district or state.

Funding Information:
1. This analysis was supported by a grant from the Wallace Foundation. The funding agency bears no responsibility for the contents of this paper.

Copyright 2010 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Instruction
  • Leadership
  • Student achievement
  • Trust


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