In School Leadership that Works, Marzano, Waters, and McNulty discuss their findings of 69 studies on the effects of school leadership on student achievement. Additionally, they share the survey results of over 650 building principals. Based on these findings, they have developed a list of 21 leadership responsibilities, along with a five-point plan that will affect student achievement. Finally, they present a first order and second order of change sequence to facilitate student success.
Marzano, a well-established researcher in the field of education and President of Marzano Associates consulting firm, has teamed with Timothy Waters and Brian McNutly to write this book that combines research with action steps. Waters bring with him his experience of over 23 years as an educator and seven of those years as a superintendent. Currently he serves as CEO of Mid –continent Research for Education and learning (McREL). Brian McNulty also brings many years of experience in education, ranging from Assistant Superintendent to Assistant Commissioner of Education. McNulty is Vice President of Field Services for McREL All three have authored numerous books in the field of education.
The authors take a firm stance against current research rhetoric regarding the correlation of student performance to leadership. These groups suggest that research has not proven that school leadership is important to student achievement (pg 6) and that the research that is presented does not offer guidance on how to be an effective leader (p 12). Marzano and his team take issue. They reviewed and analyzed 35 years of research that disputes the aforementioned belief. In fact, it has led them to believe that a strong school leader actually has ‘a substantial effect’ on student growth and school climate. In areas where student achievement is at its lowest, they found an even higher level of correlation between effective leadership and student improvement. To support this conclusion, they delved further into the leadership/performance relationship and identified the key areas where leadership was the most effective.
To begin their study, Marzano, Waters, and McNulty reviewed studies from 1970 to 2005 when the book was published. They had a cross section of research from Kindergarten to 12th grade in both urban and suburban school districts, choosing a quantitative, meta-analytic approach. This, they felt, allowed them the ability to analyze a large sampling of information. Their results show that the stronger the leadership, the higher and more consistent the student achievement. Specifically, Marzano et. al found a .25 correlation which can increase student achievement up to 22% higher than the starting percentile (2005, pgs. 11-27).
To help make a strong case for the findings, the team utilized the theories and writings of other educational experts. In this part of the book, they briefly touch upon transformative leadership, total quality management, servant and...