The Leadership Challenge: Preparing and Developing Catholic School principals/Les Difficultes Posees Par le Leadership: Preparation et Developpement Personnel Des Chefs D'etablissements catholiques/El Reto del Liderazgo: Preparacion Y Desarrollo De Directores De Escuelas Catolicas

By Boyle, Michael J.; Haller, Alicia et al. | Journal of Catholic Education, May 2016 | Go to article overview

The Leadership Challenge: Preparing and Developing Catholic School principals/Les Difficultes Posees Par le Leadership: Preparation et Developpement Personnel Des Chefs D'etablissements catholiques/El Reto del Liderazgo: Preparacion Y Desarrollo De Directores De Escuelas Catolicas


Boyle, Michael J., Haller, Alicia, Hunt, Erika, Journal of Catholic Education


May 2016

From Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC), Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), Educational Leadership Constituent Council (ELLC), to various state leadership standards, university principal preparation programs are increasingly responsible for creating programs that use a standards-based approach to form principals. However, "ever-rising accountability standards, limited authority over key decisions, and mediocre pay make the job more and more demanding and less and less attractive to talented leaders" (Doyle & Locke, 2014, p. 2).

In Catholic and other faith-based schools, the challenge of finding qualified principals is compounded by the simultaneous responsibility of the principal as spiritual leader and as educational instructional and managerial leader (Ciriello, 1996). As lay leaders replace religious women and men in Catholic schools dioceses, Congregational sponsors can no longer assume that principal candidates will possess working knowledge of the Catholic faith and Catholic school governance structures or the skills needed to build a faith community within the educational community (NCEA, 2009). Central to the mission of the Church is the work of Catholic schools. The National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Catholic Schools (NSBECS) has stated, "An excellent Catholic school has a qualified leader/leadership team empowered by the governing body to realize and implement the school's mission and vision." While the challenges faced by Catholic schools are great, they are exacerbated by the fact that principal preparation programs for a long time did not adequately prepare candidates for the challenges of the principalship. While reform efforts ushered in over the last 15 years have begun to demonstrate more positive results, more improvements are needed--particularly for institutions that wish to meet the needs of those who want to lead Catholic schools.

The Need for Improvements in Principal Preparation

Quality school leadership is a key component in any reform effort directed at improving student achievement. Empirical evidence demonstrates that principals can create school environments conducive to teaching and learning (Clotfelter, Ladd, Vigdor, & Wheeler, 2007; Seashore-Lewis, Dretzke, & Wahlstrom, 2010), and attract, support, and retain high-quality teachers (Branch, Hanushek, & Rivkin, 2013; Clotfelter et al., 2007). In fact, leadership is second only to teaching among school influences on student success, and the impact of leadership is greatest in schools with the greatest needs (Branch, Hanushek, & Rivkin, 2009; Hallinger & Heck 1998; Leithwood, Seashore Louis, Anderson, & Wahlstrom 2004). Studies by Leithwood et al. (2004) and Waters, Marzano, and McNulty (2003) indicate that a principal's influence accounts for about one-quarter of school-level variation in student achievement. A meta-analysis by Waters et al. (2003) revealed that increasing leadership effectiveness by one standard deviation could lead to a 10-percentile point gain in student achievement. Another meta-analysis exploring the relationship between leadership and student outcomes identified three leadership domains that had moderate to strong effects on student outcomes (Robinson, Lloyd, & Rowe, 2008). Cosner and Jones (2016) described the leadership domains found to be effective in improving low-performing schools: (a) Setting organization goals and monitoring goal attainment using school-wide data and a cycles of inquiry process for continuous improvement; (b) Promoting teacher learning by building professional development systems that grow teachers' effective practice knowledge and skills; and (c) Serving directly as instructional leader by coordinating and evaluating teaching and curriculum.

Scholars have found that quality instruction throughout an entire school building, rather than isolated pockets of excellence, is rare without the leadership of an effective principal (Hallinger & Heck, 1996; Institute for Educational Leadership, 2000; Leithwood, Anderson & Wahlstrom, 2004; Waters et al. …

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The Leadership Challenge: Preparing and Developing Catholic School principals/Les Difficultes Posees Par le Leadership: Preparation et Developpement Personnel Des Chefs D'etablissements catholiques/El Reto del Liderazgo: Preparacion Y Desarrollo De Directores De Escuelas Catolicas
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