Academic journal article New Waves

From Managerial to Instructional Leadership: Barriers Principals Must Overcome

Academic journal article New Waves

From Managerial to Instructional Leadership: Barriers Principals Must Overcome

Article excerpt

In the past few years, much has been written concerning the future of public education. Individuals and groups of all persuasions have speculated on methods to reform public education making it more responsive to the needs of students. Pseudo-educators and politicians have built a reputation on reforming public education and supposedly making it more meaningful. However, responsibility and accountability are nothing new to school leaders.


The educational reform barrage "spurred on by business groups, school enthusiasts, conservative think tanks, and culture-war pundits, state governors and legislatures" (Zemelman, Daniels, & Hyde, 2005, p. viii) suggest that "almost all subscribe to the more-is-better school of rulemaking, generating hundreds of standards, targets, benchmarks, goals and procedures" (p. 8- 9). Targets for student achievement have been addressed through the implementation of accountability in the form of assessing teacher quality (Hanushek & Raymond, 2005). Less importance has been attached to principal performance.

Policy makers are now taking notice of the research studies confirming the importance of the building-level principal in making lasting and meaningful change as well as noting that school leadership is second only to teacher quality (Darling-Hammond, LaPointe, Meyerson, Orr & Cohen, 2007; Davis, Darling-Hammond, LaPointe, & Meyerson, 2005; Institute for Educational Leadership, 2000; Knapp, Copland, Ford, Markholt, McLaughlin, Milliken & Talbert, 2003; Leithwood, Louis, Anderson, & Wahlstrom, 2004; Louis, Leithwood, Wahlstrom & Anderson, 2010; Mendels, 2012; Wallace Foundation, 2007; Zemelman, Daniels, & Hyde, 2005).

Principals have traditionally been administrative managers and not the instructional leader in the school (Hallinger, 2005). Principals had myriad roles to handle: building and resource manager, handling public and community relations, fund-raisers, administering busing and meals, and managing discipline, while tending to school finances (Pierce, 1935). The most radical change advocated by reformers is the transformation of the principalship from a management role to an instructional leadership role (Hallinger, 2003; Loeb & Horng, 2010). Principal leadership expectations are different; instructional "leadership has overtaken management" (Hoyle & Wallace, 2005, p. viii).

Principals are expected to establish a vision; to recruit and hire teachers; to motivate teachers and students through establishing high expectations; demonstrate instructional leadership skills with academic content and pedagogical techniques; and to provide professional development (Elmore, 2002) while facilitating the collection and analysis of data and ensuring teachers use data to drive student achievement (Branch, Hanushek & Rivkin, 2009), and ultimately, to ensure that all school operations run smoothly (Knapp, Copland, Plecki & Portin, 2006; Leithwood, Louis, Anderson & Wahlstrom, 2004).

The principal has a critical role in working with teachers, students, and parents to provide a better education for students (Avolio, 2011). It is, therefore, imperative that reformers, governors, legislators, educators and others, consider the importance of the principal's role when attempting change (Cheney, Davis, Garrett, & Halleran, 2010; Hitt, Tucker, & Young, 2012). Current educational reforms demand the principal's participation in their implementation (DarlingHammond, LaPointe, Meyerson, & Orr, 2007). However, before the change to instructional leadership can be accomplished, five barriers must be addressed: societal factors, the dichotomy of principal roles, expectations of the principalship; knowledge of curriculum and instruction; and human relations (Grissom, Loeb, & Master, 2012; Leithwood & Beatty, 2007; Louis et al., 2010).

Societal Factors

Principals are bombarded with demands from all segments of society and confront a variety of influences imposed upon the school from outside sources (Aud, Wilkinson-Flicker, Kristapovich, Rathbun, Wang, & Zhang, 2013). …

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