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LEADING A SCHOOL FOR IMPROVED STUDENT OUTCOMES Professor Stephen Dinham Research Director – Teaching, Learning and Leadership ACER CURRICULUM CORPORATION.

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Presentation on theme: "LEADING A SCHOOL FOR IMPROVED STUDENT OUTCOMES Professor Stephen Dinham Research Director – Teaching, Learning and Leadership ACER CURRICULUM CORPORATION."— Presentation transcript:

1 LEADING A SCHOOL FOR IMPROVED STUDENT OUTCOMES Professor Stephen Dinham Research Director – Teaching, Learning and Leadership ACER CURRICULUM CORPORATION Melbourne 11 th November 2008

2 Dinham CC 11/11/082 WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT?  Schools do make a difference  The teacher is the major in-school influence on student achievement  How teacher expertise develops  What works in teaching  Leadership matters

3 Dinham CC 11/11/083 The Effects of Quality Teaching ~5-10% ~50% ~5-10% > 30% Hattie (2003, 2005) (Findings from meta-analytic research)

4 Dinham CC 11/11/084 It’s the Teacher … ‘... the most important factor affecting student learning is the teacher.... The immediate and clear implication of this finding is that seemingly more can be done to improve education by improving the effectiveness of teachers than by any other single factor’. Wright, S.; Horn, S. & Sanders, W. (1997). 'Teacher and Classroom Context Effects on Student Achievement: Implications for Teacher Evaluation', Journal of Personnel Evaluation in Education, 11, pp

5 Dinham CC 11/11/085 Four Fundamentals of Student Success (Dinham, 2008)* FOCUS ON THE STUDENT (Learner, Person) LEADERSHIP QUALITY TEACHING PROFESSIONAL LEARNING

6 Dinham CC 11/11/086 Unpacking Leadership (Dinham, 2008)*

7 Dinham CC 11/11/087 PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER: WHAT SUCCESSFUL EDUCATIONAL LEADERS DO*  They make students, as learners and people, the central focus of the school.  They make teaching and learning the central purpose of the school.  They ensure that student welfare policies and programs are integrated with and underpin academic achievement.  They have a vision for where they want their school to go and for what they want it to be.

8 Dinham CC 11/11/088 PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER: WHAT SUCCESSFUL EDUCATIONAL LEADERS DO*  They are effective communicators at all levels.  They are able to balance the big picture with finer detail.  They possess perspective and can prioritise.  They place a high priority on and invest in the professional learning of themselves and others.  They are informed, critical users of educational research.

9 Dinham CC 11/11/089 PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER: WHAT SUCCESSFUL EDUCATIONAL LEADERS DO*  They continually seek to improve the quality of teaching in their school.  They seek ways for every student to achieve and experience success.  They act as talent spotters and coaches of talented teachers and release individual and organisational potential.  They question and push against constraints.  They seek benefits from imposed change.  They are informed risk takers and encourage others to do the same.

10 Dinham CC 11/11/0810 PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER: WHAT SUCCESSFUL EDUCATIONAL LEADERS DO*  They have a positive attitude and seek to drive out negativity.  They model the values they expect in others such as integrity, altruism and self-growth.  They build a climate of trust, mutual respect, collegiality and group identity.  They believe in education for the benefit of the individual and society.  They work for students, staff, the school and community, rather than for themself.

11 Dinham CC 11/11/0811 PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER: WHAT SUCCESSFUL EDUCATIONAL LEADERS DO*  They can read and respond to people and build relationships.  They have high professional standards and expect high levels of professionalism in return.  They possess courage and demonstrate persistence and resilience.  They build productive external alliances with parents, the community, government agencies, business and the profession.  They entrust, empower and encourage others through distributed leadership and engage in productive team building.

12 Dinham CC 11/11/0812 PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER: WHAT SUCCESSFUL EDUCATIONAL LEADERS DO*  They provide timely and constructive feedback, good and bad.  They are approachable and good listeners; they can read and reach people.  They create an environment where people strive to do their best and where they are recognised for their effort and achievement.  They emphasise and use evidence, planning and data.

13 Dinham CC 11/11/0813 PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER: WHAT SUCCESSFUL EDUCATIONAL LEADERS DO*  They are constantly concerned with lifting school performance; nothing is permitted to get in the way.  They see themselves and their school as being accountable for student achievement.  Overall, they are authoritative, being highly responsive and highly demanding of individuals, teams and groups, and above all, themselves.

14 Dinham CC 11/11/0814 Implications  If we hope to promote student achievement, we need to begin by understanding the research evidence, particularly meta-analytic effect size research, about what influences student learning.  The classroom teacher is the major in-school influence on student achievement. The differences we see in student achievement are larger within schools than between schools.

15 Dinham CC 11/11/0815 Implications  Many of the changes we see in schooling consist of ‘fiddling around the edges’ - changes to the conditions of teaching, which have small measured effect sizes - rather than changes to the quality of teaching, which has a large effect size.  We now have a fairly accurate picture of what quality or effective teaching looks like. The challenge is to ‘spread’ and ‘upscale’ such teaching.

16 Dinham CC 11/11/0816 Implications  Teacher quality can be improved under the influence of leadership and through professional learning.  The challenge for educational leaders is to penetrate the classroom door and to help teachers change their knowledge, thinking and practice.  The most effective schools have a central focus on students as learners and people. Student welfare and student achievement are not dichotomous but are mutually reinforcing. The best teachers and schools emphasise each.

17 Dinham CC 11/11/0817 Implications  Likewise, the teaching of highly effective teachers is both teacher-directed and student-centred – again, the two are not dichotomous.  Student welfare is not an end in itself but a means to enhance the learning and development of every student. The best way to boost student self-esteem is through achievement. Every student can be successful.

18 Dinham CC 11/11/0818 Implications  Socio-economic status does have a large effect on student learning, but only as far as it determines advantage/disadvantage. SES does not indicate innate learning capacity. Effective teachers and successful schools overcome or reduce such disadvantage.  Effective educational leaders help create a climate where teachers can teach and students can learn.  Successful school leaders (and teachers) are both highly responsive and highly demanding of others, i.e., they are authoritative, rather than permissive, authoritarian or uninvolved.

19 Dinham CC 11/11/0819 Implications  Successful school leaders set high professional standards for themselves and others and model and invest in professional learning. They are risk takers and empower others to do the same.  While we largely know what effective educational leadership looks like, the challenge is to attract new leaders and develop their leadership capacity, along with that of our current leaders.  There are no quick fixes or recipes for success, but there are useful frameworks for reflection, planning, action and evaluation.

20 Dinham CC 11/11/0820 Implications  Context is important. School history and context must be taken into account, but context can also act as a ‘swamp’, in that failure to improve can be rationalised and schools can be too internally focussed.  ‘Turning around’ and ‘lifting up’ a school isn’t easy, but it can be done. The research shows us how. It can’t, however be accomplished alone and educational leaders need to build teams and increase capacity through distributed leadership and professional learning to accomplish this task.  Teachers and educational leaders are not born. Every teacher and school leader is capable of improving his or her knowledge and practice.

21 Dinham CC 11/11/0821 Implications  Principals are not the only leaders, but they are the key leaders.  I have yet to see a successfully ‘turned around’ or ‘lifted up’ school where there wasn’t a change in leadership at or near the ‘top’.  It is possible to have quality teaching in some classes without effective leadership, but it is impossible to have a successful school without effective leadership.  While the measured effects of school leadership on student achievement are small compared with those for the classroom teacher, they are nevertheless significant.

22 Dinham CC 11/11/0822 Leadership “While leadership explains only three to five per cent of the variation in student learning across schools, this is actually about one quarter of the total variation (10-20 per cent) explained by all school-level variables.” (Leithwood, et al, 2004).

23 Dinham CC 11/11/0823 FINALLY  At the school level, the challenge for educational leaders is to initiate change that penetrates the classroom door. Once again, research tells us what effective educational leadership look like, but attracting, preparing and supporting suitable leaders and spreading and increasing leadership expertise across more educators and schools is difficult.  Research also tells us that quick fixes are a mirage and that intensive, strategic, collaborative work under the influence of leadership are needed turn around and lift up a school. The good news is that it can be done. The bad news is that it isn’t easy.

24 Dinham CC 11/11/0824 Finally  We need to learn from the experiences of successful teachers, successful educational leaders and successful schools but it is a mistake to reduce this understanding to a series of points or a recipe for an ‘instant pudding’.  Achieving quality teaching, school improvement and student success is more an ongoing journey than arriving at a destination, with the most successful teachers and schools always striving to move forward. This attitude helps explain their success.

25 Dinham CC 11/11/0825 *(2008) ACER Press

26 Dinham CC 11/11/0826 Contact Details Professor Stephen Dinham Research Director – Teaching, Learning and Leadership ACER Private Bag 55 Camberwell Vic Phone: Website:


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