The following excerpt is from an article I wrote for Principal magazine. It appeared in the 2013 May/June edition on closing the achievement gap.
It would be difficult to imagine any school succeeding at eliminating the achievement gap without a philosophy centered in the values of collective responsibility. Leadership that is shared is exponentially more effective than leadership that comes from position. Principals must be willing to share leadership with teachers, staff members, and parents if they truly seek to have all students succeed.
The relationship between shared leadership and student achievement is clear. In 2010, a study by Seashore-Louis et al. and funded by the Wallace Foundation found solid relationships between the level of shared leadership in schools and the achievement of students. In Investigating the Links to Improved Student Learning, the researchers noted that they were unable to find a single case of student achievement improving without talented leadership in place. Their key finding suggests that when teachers and principals work collaboratively, and relationships are strong, student achievement is higher.
The principalship is too big to expect that one heroic leader can be the sole reason a school makes gains toward eliminating the achievement gap. Principals must find ways to value and include the perspectives of everyone who has a stake in the growth of the students. When principals seek support from teachers, students, staff members, parents, and the community, they start a cycle of empowerment that can be a catalyst toward true academic success.