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Jsl Vol 17-N6

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The Journal of School Leadership is broadening the conversation about schools and leadership and is currently accepting manuscripts. We welcome manuscripts based on cutting-edge research from a wide variety of theoretical perspectives and methodological orientations. The editorial team is particularly interested in working with international authors, authors from traditionally marginalized populations, and in work that is relevant to practitioners around the world. Growing numbers of educators and professors look to the six bimonthly issues to: deal with problems directly related to contemporary school leadership practice teach courses on school leadership and policy use as a quality reference in writing articles about school leadership and improvement.

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Teacher Retention Issues: How Some Principals Are Supporting and Keeping New Teachers

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KATHLEEN M. BROWN
SUSAN R. WYNN

ABSTRACT: Beginning teachers continue to exit the classroom in alarming numbers, despite numerous recruitment and retention strategies. High teacher turnover rates result in a deficit of quality teachers and instruction; a loss of continuity and commitment; and time, attention, and funds devoted to recruitment versus support. The purpose of this empirical inquiry of teacher retention issues is to better understand the leadership styles of principals who lead schools that have low attrition and transfer rates. Through the use of semistructured interviews with 12 principals, as well as focus group interviews with 4 to 6 new teachers (i.e., teachers with 1 to 3 years of experience) at each of the 12 schools (n = 61), data were triangulated, and some common characteristics and successful strategies that principals use to support and retain teachers were identified and analyzed through the lens of professional learning communities. Findings indicate that the following principals are retaining teachers at a rate higher than that of their peers: principals with a keen awareness of issues affecting new teachers; principals with a proactive versus reactive approach in supporting new teachers; and principals with a commitment to professional growth and excellence for themselves, their students, and their teachers (new and veteran alike).

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Visioning Parent Engagement in Urban Schools

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SUSAN AUERBACH

ABSTRACT: Parent involvement has increasingly been mandated as a key component of school reform, and school–community relations courses (as well as standards for administrators) call for collaborating with diverse families and communities. Yet the role of school leaders in engaging parents is underdeveloped in the literature and in preparation programs. How do leaders envision parent engagement and construct their role in promoting it in a large urban district? What contextual factors enable and constrain leadership for parent engagement? This qualitative study of 12 urban administrators known for their commitment to parent engagement shows how their leadership style promoted a family-friendly climate but fell short of the comprehensive partnerships and shared leadership models envisioned in the literature. Implications for preparation programs are discussed.

Over the past 20 years, government initiatives, private foundations, comprehensive school reform models, and standards for educators have required schools to promote family and community involvement (Epstein & Sanders, 2006). In the 1990s, for example, Goals 2000 and Title I legislation called for home–school partnerships to increase achievement and required parent participation in Title I school governance councils, while some state departments of education created parent involvement policies and staff positions. Building on previous mandates, a little-enforced provision of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 stated that schools must devise parent involvement plans and offer a range of parent activities. With research showing an association between parent involvement and student achievement, school–family partnerships have become commonplace on the short list of recommendations for improving schools and addressing achievement gaps (Constantino, 2003).

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District Contributions to School Leaders’ Sense of Efficacy: A Qualitative Analysis

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KENNETH LEITHWOOD
TIIU STRAUSS
STEPHEN E. ANDERSON

ABSTRACT: This study, based on interviews with 31 principals, was undertaken in response to quantitative evidence from a larger mixed-methods project that found school leaders’ collective efficacy to be a crucial link joining district leadership and conditions to school conditions and student learning. Results of this study suggest that districts contribute to building-level leaders’ sense of efficacy by establishing clear, widely shared purposes; awarding priority to the improvement of instruction; and ensuring that teachers and administrators have access to appropriate amounts of meaningful professional development aimed at developing the capacities needed to achieve the shared purposes.

This study is part of a larger mixed-methods Wallace Foundation– funded project aimed at better understanding how successful leadership affects student learning. Because most leadership effects are indirect, our task is to discover those links in the chain connecting state, district, and school leadership to student learning. The qualitative study reported in this article was undertaken in direct response to quantitative evidence from our larger project suggesting that building-level leaders’ collective efficacy is a crucial link joining district leadership and organizational conditions to school conditions and student learning (Leithwood & Jantzi, 2006). That evidence was provided by 96 principal and 2,764 teacher respondents to two separate surveys, along with state-collected student achievement data in language and math averaged over 3 years. Path analytic techniques were used to inquire about the causes and consequences of leader efficacy.

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School Structure and the Identity of Teacher Leaders: Perspectives of Principals and Teachers

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PAMELA S. ANGELLE
JESSIE B. SCHMID

ABSTRACT: This qualitative study examines the concept of teacher leadership from the perspective of those who practice it. Viewed through the lens of identity theory, analysis yielded five categories that define and describe a teacher leader—namely, as a decision maker, an educational role model, a positional designee, a supra-practitioner, and a visionary. Findings reveal that the social structure where leadership is practiced shapes the definition of teacher leadership. Role identification within the social structure can assist principals in developing a healthy work climate that promotes distributed leadership.

The concept of leadership has been recognized as being critical to school improvement in studies of school reform (Hallinger & Heck, 1996; Leith-wood et al., 2004). As an understanding of the role of leadership has expanded, so, too, has the definition of leadership. In recent years, the role of the teacher as a leader in school reform has increased in prominence in the literature (Crowther, Kaagan, Ferguson, & Hann, 2002; Frost, Durrant, Head, & Holden, 2000; Katzenmeyer & Moller, 2001; Murphy, 2005). The recognition that teachers are critical to school improvement leads to the conclusion that “teacher leadership appears to be inseparable from successful school reform as it is currently envisioned” (Crowther et al., 2002, p. xix). Although there is general agreement among scholars that teacher leadership is an essential component of school improvement, there is a pronounced lack of agreement about what identifies a teacher leader. This is particularly true from the perspectives of building-level administrators whose long-held beliefs reflect the principal-centered model for school leadership (Hart & Bredesen, 1996).

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