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Handbook of School Improvement

Handbook of School Improvement
How High-Performing Principals Create High-Performing Schools

Forewords by William D. Greenfield, Jr., Joseph Hunter, and Susan M. Usry

March 2010 | 240 pages | Corwin

"A practical, useful, easy-to-read resource that I will keep on the edge of my desk as a reference. The book is filled with excellent and useful information and serves as both a concise summary of focal points for principals as well as a resource for additional information."
—Kari Dahlquist, Principal
Creek Valley Elementary School, Edina, MN

"All school administrators who want their school to become a high-performing school have to read this book. It is transformational!"
—Sean Beggin, Assistant Principal
Andover High School, MN

Learn how successful principals make a difference in their school's performance!

Outstanding principals are made, not born. With insights drawn from a ground-breaking study and numerous firsthand accounts, this illuminating book reveals how principals develop the leadership qualities that support schoolwide achievement.

Written by best-selling authors and respected experts in school improvement, this comprehensive guide captures unique perspectives from 20 successful principals, representing a wide range of urban and rural schools. Presenting real-life strategies and best practices, the authors show how principals use a systems-development approach to build empowered teams and excellent organizations. Designed for school and district administrators as well as staff developers, this resource:

  • Describes the key characteristics of extraordinary principals and high-performing schools, including nine crucial actions that drive positive change
  • Focuses on how principals balance both administrative responsibilities and instructional leadership
  • Shows how to actively involve teachers, staff, and families in school improvement, including individual and group activities
  • Addresses the role of research and data in stronger schoolwide performance
  • Offers tips and suggestions from highly regarded principals, along with recommended resources for further study and team trainings

Learn how the experiences of fellow principals can help you energize your team and realize your school's promise!

About the Authors
The Book in Brief
Foreword by William Greenfield
Foreword by Joseph Hunter
Foreword by Susan Usry
List of Figures
Part I. Administrative Leadership for School Improvement: Action Foci of High-Performing Principals
Introduction to Part One of the Handbook
What Is a High-Performing School?

What Is a High-Performing Principal?

The New Challenge of Leadership for School Improvement

1. Learning: Principals of High-Performing Schools Are Models of Learning
How Did They Learn?

What Did They Learn? High-Performing Principals Learned


Tips and Suggestions

2. Modeling: Principals of High-Performing Schools Are Exemplars of the Field’s Standards of Leadership
Activities for Becoming an Exemplar of Leadership Standards


Tips and Suggestions

3. Focusing: Principals of High-Performing Schools Focus on School and Teacher Practices Associated With Increased Student Achievement
Jigsaw Activity for School- and Teacher-Level Practices Influencing Student Achievement


Tips and Suggestions

4. Leading for Achievement: Principals of High-Performing Schools Lead in Ways That Have Maximum Impact on Student Achievement

Tips and Suggestions

5. Improving Instruction: Principals of High-Performing Schools Work With Teachers on the School Mission: They Engage in On-Going, Collaborative Study of School-Wide Instructional Improvement Efforts

Tips and Suggestions

6. Developing Systems: Principals of High-Performing Schools Use a “Systems development” Approach to Dispatch With Managerial Responsibilities and to Support Instructional Aspects of Work
Use a Systems Development Approach to Create Self-Sustaining Structures

Use Time Wisely

Plan Well

Manage the Budget Efficiently and Effectively

Manage the Physical Plant Efficiently and Effectively

Prevent Problems from Begetting Problems


Tips and Suggestions

7. Empowering: Principals of High-Performing Schools Take an Empowering (Team) Approach to Almost Everything and Create “Learning Communities” in Their School
The Leadership Team


Tips and Suggestions

8. Hiring: Principals of High-Performing Schools Hire Strong People for Administrative, Faculty, and Staff Positions
Know Who You Need

Involve Everyone in Hiring

Establish Hiring Protocols

Correct Hiring Mistakes


Tips and Suggestions

9. Using Data: Principals of High-Performing Schools Insist on Using Data to Inform Instructional Decisions
Questions About Data Use in Your School

Additional Helpful Materials About Data Use


Tips and Suggestions

Suggested Reading for Further Learning: Administrative Leadership
Part II. Instructional Leadership for School Improvement: Goals of High-Performing Principals
Introduction to Part Two

10. Teaching and Learning: To Maintain a Focus on Teaching and Learning

Tips and Suggestions

Culture: To Develop a School-wide Culture That Supports and Sustains Instruction


Tips and Suggestions

12. Dialogue: To Establish a Context for Dialogue About Instruction
Faculty Meetings: A Sea Change

Encouraging Frequent Teacher Dialogue about Collaboration

A Note About the Need for Common Planning Time Among Teachers


Tips and Suggestions

13. Research: To Reference Research-Based Instructional Elements When Observing Instruction and When Talking With Teachers
Element #1: Factors Influencing Achievement

Element #2: Planning for Instruction

Element #3: Standards-Based Instructional Units

Element #4: Components of Instruction

Element #5: Student Abilities That Teaching Strategies Should Enhance

Element #6: Effective Teaching Practices Across Content Areas

Element #7: Ordering and Pacing of Content and Instructional Strategies

Element #8: Addressing Diverse Students’ Needs

Element #9: Use of Technology in Instruction

Element #10: Models of Teaching

Element #11: Classroom Management (Discipline)

Considering the Value of Walk-Throughs

Considering Formal Evaluations


Tips and Suggestions

14. Development: To Provide Effective, On-Going Professional Learning, a.k.a., Staff Development
A Professional Learning Community

The Right Approach

Going Further

A Multitude of Learning Opportunities

A Good Use of Money

The National Staff Development Council Standards

The Special Case of Empowering and Developing Special Education Teachers

Professional Learning for Administrative Teams


Tips and Suggestions

Suggested Reading for Further Learning: Instructional Leadership
Part III. Conclusion: Systems Thinking and the Systems Development Approach in Educational Leadership
Introduction to Part Three

15. The Importance of Systems Thinking and the “Systems Development” Approach for School Improvement
Using the 4C’s Model as a Diagnostic and Prescriptive Tool


16. Afterword: A Summary and A Note About Preparation for Educational Leadership
Research Method and Procedures

"A practical, useful, easy-to-read resource that I will keep on the edge of my desk as a reference. The book is filled with excellent and useful information and serves as both a concise summary of focal points for principals as well as a resource for additional information.”

Kari Dahlquist, Principal
Creek Valley Elementary School, Edina, MN

“All school administrators who want their school to become a high-performing school have to read this book. It is transformational!”

Sean Beggin, Assistant Principal
Andover High School, MN

"An unrelenting study of the factors that contribute to major school improvement. The resources in this book are timeless, and you will find yourself going back to them again and again.”

Roxanne Cardona, Principal
PS 48, Bronx, NY

I have been looking for a new book for this course for awhile. This one is more in line with what I need for this class.

Dr Karen Tankersley
College Of Education, Arizona State University - West Campus
October 14, 2010
Key features
  • Key coverage of nine characteristics that promote the development of school-based "learning systems" that support school improvement- administrative leadership includes managerial and organizational leadership functions, responsibilities, and behaviors that support school improvement.
  • Five primary goals that directly impact teaching and student learning, including (1) maintaining a focus on teaching and learning, (2) developing a culture that supports and sustains instructional improvement, (3) establishing a context for dialogue about instruction, (4) referencing research-based elements when observing and talking with teachers, and (5) providing effective, on-going professional learning.
  • Offers the best resources available for professional learning and school improvement, including books, articles, websites, standards, videos, kits, tools, workbooks, career plans, and interviews.
  • Also includes individual and group activities that can be used by administrators and teachers working together for school improvement.

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