An elusive search: a study investigating the link between instructional leadership and school effectiveness
The purpose of this study was to explore the perceived instructional leadership behaviors of principals in schools in Alabama and to investigate the relationship between instructional leadership and school effectiveness. This study determined the extent of the relationship between principals' perceptions of their instructional leadership practices, specifically the instructional leadership functions and dimensions identified by the Principal Instructional Management Rating Scale ([PIMRS] Hallinger, 1983/1990), and school effectiveness as described by the Alabama State Department of Education determinant of student achievement, the ACT Aspire. Perceptions of principals were gathered from 94 principals in elementary, middle, and high schools in Alabama. This study used a non-experimental, descriptive, and cross-sectional research design that examined principals' leadership behaviors and determined the degree to which these could be linked with indicators of school effectiveness. This study sought to answer the following research questions: (1) To what extent do principals demonstrate instructional leadership behaviors characterized by PIMRS framework? (2) What are the levels of performance of schools as indicated by their ACT Aspire achievement data, and do these vary by socioeconomic status or community setting? (3) What is the relationship between the instructional leadership behaviors of principals and the performance of schools? (4) Do the perceptions of principals regarding instructional leadership behaviors characterized by the PIMRS framework vary by: (a) total of years of experience in educational leadership, (b) years of experience as principal at the current school, (c) level of education, (d) the grade span of the school, (e) indicators of school socioeconomic status? Findings indicated that a small, but significant positive relationship existed between the instructional leadership dimension Defining the School Mission and the proficiency rates of schools in both Reading and Mathematics. The school's socioeconomic context was a significant variable related student achievement as was the school's community setting. School principal's emphasis on instructional leadership varied by their experience both in terms of years of experience at the current school as principal and total years in educational leadership overall. This study provides administrators and policy makers in Alabama with a confirmation of the widely held assumption that principals are difference makers in the achievement of schools. Further, this study adds to the body of literature linking specific instructional leadership behaviors and increased student achievement.