SCHOOL DISTRICT LEADERSHIP: A PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN CENTRAL OFFICE AND SCHOOL LEADERSHIP
Snell, Jeffrey Robert
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School reform efforts and accountability movements have shifted the responsibilities of central office leadership toward teaching and learning (Johnson & Chrispeels, 2010; Leithwood & Jantzi, 2012). Those responsibilities have encouraged central office leaders to take a more active role in ensuring improved outcomes for students (Center for Education Policy, 2004; Honig & Rainey, 2015). Recent research has investigated practices related to supporting teaching and learning from a central office level, and some common themes have emerged. They include leadership practices and structures that develop a shared focus on teaching and learning, an emphasis on ongoing staff development, processes for continuous growth, and alignment of resources to a teaching and learning mission (Honig & Rainey, 2015; Leithwood & Louis, 2011; Louis, Leithwood, Wahlstrom, & Anderson, 2010). The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the working relationships between school and district leaders by investigating the research question: How can central office administration connect to schools in ways that support teaching and learning? The study took place in a school district that recently established a partnership model in which each school principal was assigned a central office partner for the school year. Professional learning was structured to help central office leaders better understand schools and also provide opportunities for leaders to gain insight into each others’ leadership roles to support a district continuous improvement process. Based on interviews three themes emerged: The partnership model helped build relationships between leaders through shared learning experiences; conditions that support relationships between leaders could lead to increased collaboration; and leaders need structures to help them develop and sustain the type of relationships that could affect student learning.
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