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Article

Learning leadership matters:


The influence of innovative
school leadership preparation
on teachers experiences
and outcomes

Educational Management
Administration & Leadership
2014, Vol. 42(5) 680700
The Author(s) 2013
Reprints and permission:
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DOI: 10.1177/1741143213502187
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Stelios Orphanos and Margaret Terry Orr

Abstract
School leadership has been shown to exert a positive but mostly indirect influence on school and
student outcomes. Currently, there is great interest in how quality leadership preparation is
related to leadership practice and improved teacher outcomes. The purpose of the study was to
understand the moderating influence of leadership preparation on leadership practices and
teachers job collaboration, leadership and satisfaction. The study features a non-experimental
design that combined data from a US study of exemplary leadership preparation and a nationally
representative sample of elementary school principals. The sample consists of 175 teachers whose
principals were prepared in an exemplary leadership program and 589 teachers whose principals
were traditionally prepared. Data were analyzed with structural equation techniques and results
have shown that innovative leadership preparation exerts a statistically significant direct effect
on principalship leadership practices and a significant indirect effect on teacher collaboration and
satisfaction. The results provide important policy implications. Investments in leadership preparation influences leadership practices that yield more positive teacher work conditions, which are
essential for improve student learning and as a result leadership preparation program design and
improvement can play an important role in district reform and school improvement.
Keywords
leadership effects, leadership preparation, program evaluation teacher outcomes

Introduction
In the USA and elsewhere, educators and policymakers strive to make a connection between leadership preparation and school outcomes (Shelton, 2009; Wallace Foundation, 2006). The reason is
to consider whether investments in preparation through policy requirements, guidelines and

Corresponding author:
Stelios Oprhanos, Department of Primary Education, Frederick University, Cyprus.
Email: stelios.orphanos@gmail.com

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funding can be instrumental, along with other related policies, in improving schools and student
learning. In recent years, many new US federal policies, often aimed at improving low-performing
schools, focus attention on the quality and effectiveness of leadership preparation (US Department
of Education, 2009, 2010).
As discussed below, a large and growing body of research demonstrates how effective leadership practices influence teacher effectiveness and, together, how these influence school outcomes. To unpack the influence of leadership preparation on improved school outcomes, the
ways in which leadership preparation influence the principalteacher relationship must be investigated first.

How School Leaders Influence Teachers


Various researchers have tried to sort out the influence path in the principalteacherstudent
achievement relationship to identify essential principal practices and teacher experiences, as
well as to identify potential moderating and mediating factors (Bryke et al., 2010; Leithwood
and Jantzi, 2008; Thoonen et al., 2011). Critically, such research identifies how leader practices influence teachers and, together, how teachers and leaders influence school outcomes.
Over the past 20 years, research in the USA and elsewhere has consistently shown that school
leaders, by exercising instructional and transformational leadership practices, have a positive
but indirect influence on school and student outcomes (Hallinger and Heck, 1996; Hoy et al.,
2002; Jacobson and Bezzina, 2008; Leithwood and Jantzi, 2008; Marzano et al., 2005; Robinson et al., 2008). Specifically, effective instructional and transformational leadership practices
are strongly associated with improved teacher engagement and commitment and organizational culture and effectiveness, which in turn are positively associated with improved student
outcomes. While the size of this effect has been debated among these studies, the existence of
leaderships contribution to student outcomes has not. While measured in different ways,
there is strong agreement that principal practices combining transformational and instructional
leadership direction-setting, individual teacher support and encouragement and organizational support are most influential for teacher engagement and effectiveness (Geijsel
et al., 2001; Leithwood and Jantzi, 2008; Thoonen et al., 2011). Among the teacher outcomes
and experiences most commonly affecting student learning and influenced by leadership quality are teacher collaboration, professional learning, distributed leadership, efficacy, instructional practices and satisfaction.
Leithwood and Jantzi (2008), drawing on a large-scale study of principals, teachers and student
outcomes, explored the influence of leadership practices on teachers and student outcomes. Their
findings validate the nature of effective transformational leadership practices, their direct effect on
school (which includes teacher decision-making, opportunities for professional development, and
a collaborative culture, among other factors) and classroom conditions, and their indirect influence
on student achievement outcomes.
Geijsel et al. (2001) conducted a survey of Dutch teachers about conditions fostering the implementation of large-scale innovation, focusing on the principalteacher relationship. They found
that teachers perceptions of their principals transformational leadership, their participation in
decision making, their sense of uncertainty and professional development activities influenced
how much they changed their practices. Similarly, Thoonen et al. (2011), in a study of Dutch teachers, examined the relationship between these teacher factors and teachers use of constructivist and
differentiated instructional practices, and the mediating influence of transformational leadership
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practices. Their results were positive, demonstrating that transformational leadership practices
directly affect teachers professional learning, teacher collaboration and teacher participation in decision making, and through these, teachers sense of well-being and quality instructional practices.

The Role of Leadership Preparation


To improve leadership quality, policymakers, researchers and educators have turned to leadership preparation in order to understand how and in what ways preparation programs are influential. In the USA, licensure for public school leaders (typically termed principals) usually
requires completion of an approved advanced degree program in educational leadership, a
teaching degree and at least three years teaching experience (Anthes, 2004). Other countries
vary widely in the nature of their school leader requirements (Huber, 2004). In recent years,
concern has grown internationally over how best to define quality leadership preparation and
improve its effectiveness, as a means of developing better school leaders (Huber, 2004; Jacobson et al., 2002, 2011; Wallace Foundation, 2003).
While policymakers and educators have been frustrated by the limited research on exemplary
leadership preparation and its impact on leadership practices and schools (Lumby et al., 2008;
McCarthy and Forsyth, 2009), recent results have been promising. First, researchers have documented innovative program models (Bush and Jackson, 2002; Copland, 2001; Earley and Evans,
2004; Glasman, 1997; Jacobson et al., 2011; Twale and Kochan, 2000; Walker and Dimmock,
2006), and synthesized research on quality program features (Davis et al., 2005; Jackson and Kelley, 2002). Such research has shown that exemplary, innovative programs share common features.
These include: having a well-defined theory of leadership for school improvement that frames and
integrates the program features around a shared vision, philosophy or set of principles; being
standards-based; recruiting and selecting candidates based on leadership potential; having a coherent curriculum that addresses effective instructional leadership and school improvement; using
adult learning theory, developmental learning principles or active learning strategies; offering
quality internships and other field-based experiences that provide intensive leadership development; using cohort structures or other supports to enhance learning; utilizing assessments for
candidate and program continuous improvement; engaging knowledgeable faculty with relevant
field-based experiences; and engaging in collaborations or partnerships with local districts in program development and delivery.
Until recently, only scant research existed on program outcomes (Orr, 2009). The investigation
of the relationship between leadership preparation and graduate and school outcomes has been
methodologically challenging, primarily because of the time lag between preparation, career
advancement to a principalship position and school change. Moreover, programs typically prepare
small numbers of candidates who become dispersed across different districts as they advance to
principal positions. Finally, most programs lack resources to track graduates and compile evidence
of their graduates effects on their schools or to compare the effects of different preparation
approaches (Orr, 2009). Available research has been promising, showing positive relationships
between innovative, research-based leadership preparation approaches and graduate outcomes
(Darling-Hammond et al., 2010; Milstein and Kruger, 1997; Orr, 2011; Orr and Barber, 2007),
principal hiring practices (Fuller et al., 2011), and principal practices and school improvement
work (Orr and Orphanos, 2011). Such studies, however, have been based on principals perceptions
of both their preparation and their leadership practices and school improvement.
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A recent promising body of work has begun to examine the relationship between principals
graduate preparation and teachers perceptions of their leadership practices (Korach et al., 2011;
Leithwood et al., 1996; Newman and Osterman, 2011). Leithwood et al. (1996) were able to
positively associate teacher feedback with selected preparation program features, where their principals had been prepared. Specifically, they found that some innovative program features instructional strategies, cohort membership and program content were most predictive of teacher
perceptions of principals leadership effectiveness. The other studies used teacher ratings of principals as feedback on leadership preparation program features and design, and found similar positive results. Korach et al. (2011) and Newman and Osterman (2011) similarly found that teachers
perceptions of areas of effective principal practices were positively associated with the principals
perceptions of the strengths of their preparation content and experiences. Thus, from the perceptions of both principals and teachers, preparation appears to positively influence the nature of leadership practices.

Other Influences on Teacher Outcomes


While principal leadership has a strong, direct influence on teacher collaboration and job satisfaction, other in-school factors, which principals can influence, have been found to contribute to these
outcomes as well. These are opportunities for professional development and teacher leadership
(Leithwood and Mascall, 2008). These relationships have been studied in a variety of ways, both
for how they influence each other and how they contribute to student learning. In their large-scale
study of schools influence on student achievement, Leithwood and Mascall (2008) found that collective leadership engaging teachers, parents and students as well as principals explained a significant proportion of variation in student achievement across schools. Hallinger and Heck (2010)
also found in their large-scale study in one USA state that there were significant direct effects of
collaborative leadership (defined as both principal leadership and distributed teacher leadership)
on change in the schools academic capacity and indirect effects on rates of growth in student reading achievement. Wahlstrom and Seashore-Louis (2008), in their US national study of teachers and
schools, found that the presence of shared leadership (among teachers and their principal) and professional community (reflecting teacher cooperation and collaboration) explains the strength of
effective teacher practice (based on three types of instructional behavior). Similarly, based on surveys of secondary school teachers in Belgium, Hulpia et al. (2011) found that teachers commitment was strongly influenced by the quality of supportive leadership, cooperation within the
leadership team and opportunities for participative decision making. How principals structure professional learning opportunities for teachers also contributes to their improved effectiveness
(Youngs and King, 2002). In their qualitative study of urban elementary schools, Youngs and King
(2002) found that effective principals can sustain high levels of capacity by establishing trust, creating structures that promote teacher learning, and supporting learning by engaging external expertise or helping teachers work cooperatively. Finally, Pashiardis et al. (2011), in their multi-case
study analysis of five effective rural Cyprus principals, found that successful principals both
strongly promoted professional learning and networked leadership for school improvement.

Parental Support
The role of parents in the principalteacherstudent relationship is less well understood in research
on school improvement and in-school factors that influence student learning. In his review of
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research on effective school correlates, Edmonds (1979) drew attention to the quality of parental
involvement (among other factors) for improving schools, as confirmed in other correlational studies (Lezotte, 1991). Recent large-scale Chicago school research found that the quality of parent and
community relationships positively complements other school-related supports in improving student achievement (Bryk et al., 2010; Sebring et al., 2006). Specifically, Sebring et al. (2006) found
that schools with strong parent involvement were much more likely to improve in students math
and reading performance than were schools weak on this measure.
Other researchers have begun to explore how the quality of parental involvement contributes to
teacher and leader effectiveness. For example, in surveying teachers from 80 mid-Atlantic schools,
Tschannen-Moran (2009) found that their perceptions of colleagues professionalism were influenced by perceptions of principal trust and professionalism moderated in part by their trust in parents.

Implications
Given the importance of school leadership to improving teacher quality and effectiveness for
improved student learning, closer study is needed of the relationship between quality leadership
preparation, leadership practices and improved teacher outcomes. Prior research points to the positive influence of the positive relationship among teacher engagement in professional development, teacher collaboration, teachers role in decision making and job satisfaction all of
which are likely to be influenced by quality leadership practices. Drawing on the above research,
it appears that quality leadership preparation programs would have a positive, but indirect influence on teacher participation in professional development, teacher collaboration, participation
in decision making and job satisfaction in schools led by program graduates, as mediated through
principals greater use of transformational leadership practices. It is also likely that the quality of
teacher-perceived parental involvement would have a separate, mediating influence on the principalteacher relationship.

Study Purpose, Conceptual Model and Hypotheses


The purpose of this study was to understand the moderating influence of leadership preparation on
leadership practices and teachers cooperation, distributed leadership and job satisfaction. The
hypothesized model is shown in Figure 1.
This investigation is adapted from two earlier studies. One is Leithwood and Jantzis (2008)
mediating-effects framework for transformational leadership, in which specific leadership practices influence student learning outcomes through their effects on teachers, specifically teacher
engagement and commitment; the other is Thoonen et al. (2011) model, as applied to teacher
instructional practices. We limited our investigation to two teacher outcomes: job satisfaction and
teacher collaboration. Drawing on the work of Geijsel et al. (2001) and Thoonen et al. (2011), we
modified our investigation further to include, as mediating effects, leadership influences on these
two teacher outcomes through the extent of teacher-distributed leadership and teacher engagement
in professional development. We extended this model to include the moderating influence of innovative leadership preparation, as shown in the early research of Leithwood et al. (1996) on principal practices and the principalteacher relationship. Finally, we extended the model further to
include the external influence of parent support of teachers work, as suggested by previous
research (Bryk et al., 2010; Sebring et al., 2006; Tschannen-Moran, 2009), suggesting that it would
influence principal leadership practices as well as teacher satisfaction.
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PDEV

INNOV

685

DISLEAD

TSAT

PLEAD

PSUPP

TCOLL

Figure 1. Hypothesized model of the relationship between participation in an innovative leadership preparation program and teacher satisfaction.
Notes: INNOV participation in an innovative preparation program; PLEAD principals perceived leadership; PSUPP parental support to school; PDEV extent of teachers participation of teachers in professional development opportunities; DISLEAD teachers distributed leadership; TCOLL teacher
collaboration; TSAT teacher satisfaction.

Taken together, this investigation tested four research hypotheses.


Hypothesis 1: The more positive teachers rating of principal leadership, the greater their
perceived job satisfaction and teacher leadership and collaboration.
Hypothesis 2: Whether principals had innovative preparation experiences will have a moderating influence on the effects of perceived leadership practices on selected teacher outcomes (teachers perceived job satisfaction and teacher leadership and collaboration).
Hypothesis 3: The extent of participation in different types of professional development and
of distributed leadership in the school will mediate the effects of perceived leadership practices on teachers perceived job satisfaction and collaboration.
Hypothesis 4: The extent of positive working conditions (parental support) will mediate the
effect of perceived leadership practices on teachers perceived job satisfaction, engagement,
and collaboration.

Method
We used a nonexperimental research design, drawing on quantitative survey research methods and
structural equation modeling techniques. Data were collected as part of a national study of leadership preparation and its impact on leadership practices and school improvement (DarlingHammond et al., 2009). The study (referred to here as the Stanford Leadership Study) documented
six exemplary preparation and in-service programs and used national samples of principals and
national survey data of teachers as comparisons for programs graduates and their teachers.1 The
teacher survey data provided an opportunity to investigate and compare the experiences of the sample of the graduates teachers with other teachers nationally on how their principals preparation
and development impacted their work and professional experiences.
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Sample
This study integrated three groups of teachers collected from two different studies to investigate
the leadershipteacher outcome relationship. The first two groups were drawn from all teachers
in 16 schools selected four cities and one rural (but population-dense) area as part of the Stanford
Leadership Study. These schools were selected based on their principals recent completion of one
of six innovative leadership preparation program or leadership development programs (or ones that
reflect a continuum of preparation and development). The leadership programs had been selected
based on their professional reputation for having the quality program features described above, the
existence of which were confirmed by the study (Darling-Hammond et al., 2010), and program
effectiveness information. Principals who completed these programs were more likely than a
national sample of principals to rate their preparation highly for having purposeful, targeted
recruitment; a coherent curriculum; active, problem-based learning; a cohort structure and mentoring and advising to support candidate learning; well-designed and supervised internships; and
strong relationships between local districts and universities.
The innovative in-service programs were selected through a similar process, with attention to
programs that were part of a district-supported continuum of leadership preparation and development and the availability of information on program effectiveness. Study results showed that new
and experienced principals who had participated in these programs were more likely than a
national sample of principals to report improved organizational outcomes and teacher effectiveness, and to have a stronger commitment to the principalship (Darling-Hammond et al., 2010).
The principals at the selected schools also had at least one years experience as principal; only
elementary schools were included. Some had participated in only the innovative preparation program and some only the innovative in-service leadership development program. The teachers at
their schools were surveyed in 2005 during faculty meetings or other means of distributing surveys
on site. Based on the schools estimates of the number of teachers in these schools and our response
rates, the majority of classroom teachers had responded. The first group of teachers in the Stanford
Leadership Study consisted of 165 teachers in schools led by graduates of an innovative preparation program, while the second group consisted of 75 teachers in schools led by graduates who only
had innovative in-service leadership development (see Table 1).
The third group of teachers was drawn from the 19992000 teacher survey of the federal School
and Staffing Survey (SASS) (NCES, 2006). SASS uses a stratified probability sample design based
on teachers race, teaching assignment, and professional experience. In all, there are 8432 schools
and approximately 42,000 teachers in the SASS sample, selected to represent all schools and teachers nationwide. To make this sample comparable to our study sample (based on school type, location and principal experience), we significantly restricted this sample further to teachers employed
in urban elementary schools (of the five states from which the Stanford sample was drawn), who
taught full-time and had at least a temporary teaching credential, and whose principals had no more
than five years principalship experience. This yielded an SASS sample of 524 teachers from 14
schools. The combined sample of this study was 764 teachers, which was appropriately weighted
during the analysis using the SASS weights provided by NCES.
Table 2 shows the demographic and educational characteristics of the three groups of teachers.
The Stanford sample teachers were primarily female (8588%), White (6567%), with a masters
degree or higher (6577%). They averaged 3842 years of age, with 1113 years teaching experience overall. The SASS sample teachers were primarily female (92%), White (93%), with a masters degree or higher (33%). They averaged 38 years of age, with 11 years teaching experience
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524

240

774

51
23
22
73
47
24

14

14

28

2
3
2
3
4

Total
number of
teachers

3
1
1
2
3
0

10

n/a

Number of principals in
innovative pre-service
preparation

0
2
1
1
2
0

n/a

Number of principals
in innovative inservice only

51
0
8
46
47
13

165

n/a

Number of teachers whose


principals had pre-service
innovative preparation

0
23
14
27
0
11

75

n/a

Number of teachers whose


principals had in-service
innovative preparation

Notes: M-DR Mississippi Delta Region; H-CT Hartford, Connecticut; JC-KY Jefferson County, Kentucky; NYC New York City; SD San Diego; UC University of
Connecticuts Administrator Preparation Program (UCAPP).
Source: The Stanford University School Leader Study teacher survey files, ND; School and Staffing Survey (NCES, 2006).

SASS
sample
SLS
sample
Total
Programs
in SLS
sample:
M-DR
H-CT
JC-KY
NYC
SD
UC

Number of
elementary
schools

Table 1. Number of schools and teachers by location, Stanford Study sample and SASS teacher sample.

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Table 2. Teachers demographic and educational characteristics, by sample.

Characteristic
Female
Percent White
Age
Total teaching experience
Percent of postgraduate degree holders

SLS: Innovative
Preparation
(n 165)

SLS: In-service
only innovative
preparation
(n 75)

Traditional
Preparation
(SASS)
(n 524)

0.88b
0.67b
42.8b
13.4b
0.65b

0.85a
0.65a
38.8
11.6
0.77a

0.92
0.93
38.4
10.7
0.33

Notes: aDifferences between traditional (SASS) and innovative preparation are significant at the 0.05 level of significance.
b
Differences between traditional (SASS) and innovative preparation are significant at the 0.05 level of significance. SLS:
Stanford Leadership Study.

overall. The comparison of the two samples via t-tests showed that the three teacher groups differed somewhat demographically. The two groups of Stanford teachers were statistically different
(0.05 level of significance) in terms of race and teacher credentials: teachers in the Stanford Leadership Study were more likely to be non-White and somewhat more likely to have a postgraduate
degree (possibly reflecting state certification requirement differences in the samples).
We combined all three groups of teachers in this analysis and only differentiated the teachers
principals based on whether or not they had been in an exemplary leadership preparation program.
Consequently, for teachers whose principals only had an innovative in-service preparation, we
decided to include the Stanford in-service only group of teachers with the SASS group of teachers;
the benefit of this was reducing some of the sample-related differences due to school district
affiliation, particularly with regard to teachers gender, race and credentials.

Instruments
The sample teachers were surveyed through two different but parallel survey instruments. The
study sample teachers were asked to complete the Stanford University School Leader Study survey. This survey has 115 items designed to assess teachers assessments of: (1) the principals leadership practices; (2) their school improvement practices and recent accomplishments; (3)
organizational contexts in the schools; and (4) their own demographic and educational experiences. Survey items were drawn heavily from the federal SASS (NCES, 2006) and Leithwood and
Jantzis (1999, 2000) studies of effective school leadership practices. The comparison sample
teachers completed the SASS survey conducted in 19992000. The School Teacher Questionnaire
contained information about general employment, certification and training, teachers classroom
organization, teachers resources and student assessment, working conditions, and decision making and the principals leadership practices.
This article drew only on those common survey items, restricting the extent to which leadership
practices and school outcomes can be investigated to only those measures included in the SASS
survey. These common items were about teachers demographic characteristics (gender, race/ethnicity, age, teaching experience, advanced preparation); their principals leadership practices; their
schools improvement climate (based on extent of teachers role in decision making, extent of professional development experiences in the last 12 months and parental support); and teacher
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Table 3. Survey items used in the study.


On a scale from No influence (1) to A great deal of influence (5), how much actual influence do you think
teachers have over school policy AT THIS SCHOOL in each of the following areas?
Items Description
q7b
q7c
q7d
q7e

Skewness Kurtosis

Influence of teachers in establishing curriculum


Influence of teachers in determining the content of in-service professional
development programs
Influence of teachers in evaluating teachers
Influence of teachers in hiring new FT teachers

0.12
0.01

2.11
2.15

1.09
0.85

3.28
2.58

On a scale from Not at all effectively (1) to Extremely effective (5), indicate how effectively the school
principal performs each of the following at your current school.
Items Description
q9a
q9b
q9c
q9d
q9e
q9f
q9g
q9h

Skewness Kurtosis

Principal communicates respect to teachers


Principal encourages teacher to change teaching methods
Principal works with staff to develop and attain curriculum standards
Principal encourages professional collaboration
Principal works with teaching staff to solve school or department problems
Principal encourages staff to use student evaluation results in planning lessons
Develops broad agreement among the teaching staff about the schools or
departments mission
Principal develops broad agreement among the teaching staff about school goals

0.72
0.59
0.75
0.82
0.62
0.78
0.64

2.76
2.87
2.98
2.99
2.50
3.08
2.82

0.76

2.96

On a scale from Strongly disagree (1) to Strongly agree (5), to what extent do you agree or disagree with each
of the following statements?
Items Description
q8l
q8i
q8k

Skewness Kurtosis

In this school, staff members are recognized for a job well done
Most of my colleagues share my beliefs and values about school mission
Great deal of cooperative effort among staff

0.52
0.74
0.77

2.51
3.63
3.05

outcomes (teacher collaboration and job satisfaction). Table 3 presents the survey items used in
this study along with normality statistics for each item.
Both surveys were linked to their schools principal survey data (the Stanford Principal Survey
[Darling-Hammond et al., 2007] and the SASS Principal Survey [NCES, 2006], respectively) to
identify which teachers schools were associated with principals who had completed an innovative
preparation program, to eliminate the teachers from high schools in the samples, and in the SASS
sample to eliminate teachers from nonurban schools whose principals had more than five years
experience.

Dependent Measures
The study used two dependent measures: (1) teacher job satisfaction; and (2) teacher cooperation.
Using five-point Likert agreement rating scales, teachers rated the degree of cooperation at their
school, based on three items. The survey items asked teachers to indicate whether colleagues
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shared beliefs and values about the schools central mission, the extent of collaborative effort
among staff members in this school and if staff members are recognized for a job well done. Teachers job satisfaction was based on a single item, which asked teachers about their level of satisfaction with being a teacher at their school.

Independent, Moderating and Mediating Measures


The study used one independent measure principal leadership. Teachers rated the extent of their
agreement on eight statements about their principals, using a five-point Likert agreement rating
scale (1 strongly disagree to 5 strongly agree). These statements reflect highly recommended
attributes of transformational/instructional leadership of direction setting, support and encouragement, and organizational support. Their scale reliability was very satisfactory (alpha 0.86).
The study used three mediating measures: (1) teacher-distributed leadership; (2) teacher participation in different types of professional development; and (3) extent of parent support. To measure teacher-distributed leadership, teachers were asked to rate the extent to which teachers had
influence in five school policy areas (setting performance standards, establishing curriculum, evaluating teachers, budget, and content of in-service professional development). The alpha coefficient
for the perceived teacher influence construct was 0.773.
Teachers were asked to indicate participation in six types of professional development (university
courses for re-certification or advanced certification, observational visits to other schools, individual
and collaborative research, regularly scheduled collaboration with colleagues, mentoring and attending workshops). The extent of professional development participation was the summation of participation in the various types of professional development. Perceived parental support was measured
using a single item: I receive a great deal of support from parents for the work I do. In all, approximately 20% of sample teachers agreed or strongly agreed that parents support the work they do.
The study used one moderating measure: whether the principal was in an exemplary leadership
preparation program. Here, 23% of the teachers in the combined sample had principals who had
participated in one of the innovative leadership preparation programs. The five innovative leadership preparation programs2 were similarly strong by having: (1) a comprehensive, standards-based
and coherent curriculum; (2) a philosophy and curriculum emphasizing leadership of instruction
and school improvement; (3) active, student-centered instruction that integrates theory and practice
and stimulates reflection; (4) knowledgeable faculty and practitioners; (5) targeted recruitment and
selection to seek out expert teachers with leadership potential; and (6) well-designed and supervised internships that give candidates leadership responsibilities for substantial periods of time.
The Stanford Leadership Study also included teachers whose principals had participated in one
of the five innovative in-service training programs, which were primarily district-led and combined seminars, mentoring, coaching and other forms of leadership development, but had not participated in the innovative preparation program. The comparison principals also included the
national SASS sample, for whom preparation and in-service program information was unavailable
and assumed to be primarily conventional in nature.

Evaluating the Quality of the Data


The relationship among the measures was investigated using structured equation modeling (SEM)
techniques, which allow the simultaneous testing of relationships among multiple variables. Thus,
we were able to study indirect effects (mediating variables), moderating effects as well as direct
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effects (independent variables) on multiple outcome variables of interest. First, we assessed the
quality of the data set by evaluating the scale items for individual and joint normality because the
validity of the SEM approach rests on first meeting the assumption of multivariate normality of the
variables used. We found that the assumption of univariate normality was rejected for all variables,
and therefore the assumption of multivariate normality did not hold either. However, the data
exhibited moderate non-normality since skewness was less than 2.0 for all variables while kurtosis
was less than 4.0 for all but one variable (see Table 3). According to the literature, this normality
assessment showed moderate non-normality that was not very problematic. Therefore, we concluded that we should use an estimation method that would take the moderate non-normality of
the variables into consideration. We first estimated the model with the asymptotic distribution free
(ADF) method, which is a form of weighted least squares and makes no assumption of joint normality. However, since the data were moderately non-normal, we also estimated the SEM model
with the maximum likelihood (ML) method. The conclusions drawn from the estimates from the
two methods were very similar in the sense that all designated relationships were of the same sign
and, in some cases, magnitude (even though individual estimates for certain paths of the structural
model naturally differed). Therefore, given the familiarity of most readers with ML, we present
estimates from both methods, but make use of the estimates from the ML solution.
Specifying and Testing the Measurement Model: Confirmatory Factor Analysis. Before fitting and estimating the statistical model, we tested the hypothesized measurement (factorial) model using confirmatory factor analysis with STATA 12.0. Fifteen indicator variables were loaded on three
different latent variables that were left to be freely correlated (see Table 4). According to the confirmatory factor analysis results, the data fitted the model well.
Validity of latent variables was measured in two different ways: standardized loadings and average variance extracted per latent variable. According to Bollen (1989), the indicator loadings for
each latent variable can serve as a measure of validity. The standardized loadings in Table 3 represent the correlation between each observed variable and the corresponding latent variable. The
loadings for the latent variable principal leadership (PLEAD) ranged from 0.76 to 0.87. The loadings for the latent variable teachers distributed leadership (DISLEAD) ranged from 0.60 to 0.69
and the range of loadings for the latent variable teacher collaboration (TCOLL) were in the range
of 0.51 to 0.89. All loadings were statistically significant. The composite reliability value is an
overall measure of each latent variables reliability. According to Table 3, the reliability for the
three latent variables was satisfactory because all three latent variables had composite reliability
values well above 0.60, which is considered the lowest acceptable value (Bagozzi and Yi,
1988). The average variance extracted (AVE) value shows the amount of variance captured by the
latent variable in relation to the amount of variance due to measurement error (Fornell and Larcker,
1981). As such, it served as a second appropriate measure of construct validity. AVE values should
exceed 0.50, which means that the underlying latent variable accounts for a greater amount of variance in the indicators than does the measurement error (Diamantopoulos and Siguaw, 2000). The
AVE value for the PLEAD was 0.75, while the AVE for DISLEAD and TCOLL were very close to
the 0.50 threshold. The information garnered from the indicator loadings and the AVE values
showed an adequate, but not ideal, validity for the latent variables in the study.
To assess the fit of the measurement model as a whole, we used a number of fit indexes. The x2
statistic (87, n 764) as a measure of absolute fit was equal to 415.33 (p < 0.01) and significant
enough to reject the model. Using a cut-off rule of 0.90 for all indexes (Hu and Bentler, 1999), it
was found that adjunct fit indexes indicated a good fit to the data: the RMSEA was 0.072 with a
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Table 4. Measure analysis of measurement model.


Measured variables

Items
q7b
q7c
q7d
q7e
q9a
q9b
q9c
q9d
q9e
q9f
q9g
q9h
q8l
q8i
q8k

Factor
loading
0.60
0.69
0.67
0.61
0.82
0.82
0.87
0.86
0.87
0.76
0.86
0.82
0.51
0.56
0.89

Latent variables

z-value

Std
error

Item
reliability

18.85
23.45
21.99
19.35
61.68
61.36
86.08
79.19
88.44
45.82
79.37
61.07
13.58
14.71
19.39

0.03
0.03
0.03
0.03
0.01
0.01
0.01
0.01
0.01
0.02
0.02
0.02
0.04
0.04
0.05

0.36
0.48
0.44
0.37
0.67
0.66
0.76
0.74
0.76
0.58
0.74
0.66
0.26
0.31
0.79

Composite
reliability

Average
Variance
extracted

Distributed leadership

0.75

0.43

Principalship leadership

0.95

0.75

Teachers collaboration

0.70

0.46

Name of variable

Notes: Q7b influence of teachers in establishing curriculum; q7c influence of teachers in determining the content of inservice professional development programs; q7d influence of teachers in evaluating teachers; q7e influence of teachers
in hiring new FT teachers; q9a principal communicates respect to teachers; q9b principal encourages teacher to change
teaching methods; q9c principal works with staff to develop and attain curriculum standards; q9d principal encourages
professional collaboration; q9e principal works with teaching staff to solve school or department problems; q9f principal
encourages staff to use student evaluation results in planning lessons; q9 h principal develops broad agreement among the
teaching staff about school goals; q8 l in this school, staff members are recognized for a job well done; q8i most of my
colleagues share my beliefs and values about school mission; q8 k great deal of cooperative effort among staff.

90% confidence interval of (0.065, 0.078), the comparative fit index 0.948, and the Tucker
Lewis index 0.938.

Results: Assessing the Structural Equation Model


The relationships among the measures were investigated using structural equation modeling (SEM).
We investigated model fit using selected goodness-of-fit statistics which collectively showed a satisfactory model fit. All fit indexes (excluding x2) were above the recommended cut-off points. The
RMSEA was under 0.05 (0.065 with a 90% confidence interval of 0.0660.077), while comparative fit index and TuckerLewis index were are above 0.90 (0.92 and 0.91, respectively). At this
point, it should be noted that even though the model fit was satisfactory, we cannot claim that this
model is a totally accurate representation of the data, nor that it is the only possible model that
fits with the structure of the data. Given the fit assessment, we can safely say that our proposed
model could be one model that possibly explains the structure of the survey data (Bollen, 1989).
Also, we decided against modifying the model based on modification indexes because any
changes in a structural model should be grounded on theoretical considerations and not on fit
statistics.
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Orphanos and Orr: Learning leadership matters

PDEV

.09
INNOV

.14

693

.14

DISLEAD
.26

.25

TSAT

.23

PLEAD
.28
.12
PSUPP

.52

.19
TCOLL

Figure 2. Completely standardized weighted least squares solution for the structural model. All estimates
shown are statistically significant at the 0.05 level of significance.
Note: see Figure 1.

Parameter Estimates
The completely standardized solution for the structural portion of the model is given in Figure 2.
The estimates measure the expected change in a dependent variable in standard deviation units that
accompanies a one standard deviation change in an explanatory variable while holding constant the
other explanatory variables. Direct, indirect and total effects are given in Table 5. All reported
effects were statistically significant at the 0.05 level of significance. The signs of the estimates
were in the expected direction based on what theory and prior literature suggests.
According to the estimates, innovative leadership preparation appeared to positively influence
the perceived quality of leadership practices. Principals who were trained through an innovative
leadership preparation program (INNOV) were rated more highly on positive leadership practices
than principals who went through a conventional preparation program or had innovative in-service
training coupled with their conventional preparation. Participation in an innovative leadership preparation program was associated with a 0.14 standard deviation increase in the quality of perceived
leadership practices. Parental support towards teachers also had a positive effect on PLEAD. A one
standard deviation increase in parental support was associated with a 0.12 of a standard deviation
increase in teacher-perceived quality of leadership practices. Such an effect may be in part capturing the overall supportive climate of the larger school community which reinforces principal leadership practices for school improvement. However, it should be noted that parental support, along
with innovative program participation, as the two direct effects on principal leadership explain
only a small (as expected) portion of variation in leadership practices (around 9%). Parental support was also positively associated with teachers satisfaction, with 0.24 standard deviation
increase in satisfaction for a one standard deviation increase in parental support. This finding is
consistent with other school improvement research (Sebring et al., 2006) that underscores the contributing influence of parent support on teachers work.
According to our model, principalship leadership had positive and significant effects on teachers degree of professional development, teachers influence on school policies (distributed leadership), teachers collaboration and satisfaction. The area of showing leadership practices greatest
impact was teacher satisfaction and collaboration. A one standard deviation increase in the
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Note: *p < 0.05.

Innovative preparation
Innovative preparation
Innovative preparation
Innovative preparation
Principalship leadership
Principalship leadership
Principalship leadership
Principalship leadership
Parental support
Parental support
Professional development
Professional development
Distributed leadership
Teacher satisfaction

Independent variables

Principalship leadership
Distributed leadership
Teachers collaboration
Teacher satisfaction
Teachers collaboration
Distributed leadership
Teacher satisfaction
Professional development
Teacher satisfaction
Principalship leadership
Distributed leadership
Teacher satisfaction
Teacher satisfaction
Teachers collaboration

Dependent variables

Table 5. Direct and indirect effect analysis.

0.28*
0.25*
0.29*
0.09*
0.24*
0.12*
0.14*
0.04
0.23*
0.52*

0.14*

Direct effect
(ML)
0.12*
0.08*
0.33*
0.05
0.12
0.13

Indirect effect
(ML)
0.14*
0.12*
0.08*
0.33*
0.23*
0.37*
0.42*

Overall effect
(ML)

0.22*
0.32*
0.16*
0.17*
0.20*
0.02
0.14*
0.02
0.29*
0.59*

0.21*

Direct effect
(ADF)

0.09*
0.10*
0.27*
0.00
0.05*
0.14*

Indirect effect
(ADF)

.21*
.09*
.10*
.27*
.22*
.37*
.30*

Overall effect
(ADF)

Orphanos and Orr: Learning leadership matters

695

perceived quality of leadership practices was associated with 0.29 of a standard deviation increase
in teachers satisfaction and 0.28 of a standard deviation increase in teacher collaboration. It should
be noted that leadership practices, parental support and, to a lesser extent, degree of professional
development accounted for 16% of the variation in teachers satisfaction.
Teacher collaboration seemed to be dependent on overall teacher satisfaction. A one standard
deviation increase in teachers satisfaction was associated with 0.52 of a standard deviation
increase in teachers collaboration. Taken together, perceived leadership practices and teachers
satisfaction explained almost half of the variation (44%) in teacher collaboration. Finally, the more
that teachers participate in professional development activities, the more distributed leadership
they seem to experience at their schools, which is consistent with prior literature (Geijsel et al.,
2001). A one standard deviation increase in the professional development participation was associated with 0.14 standard deviation increase in distributed leadership.

Discussion
Major findings
Based on the results, we can answer the research questions as posed by hypotheses 14. For
hypothesis 1, we found that the more positive the perceptions of their principals leadership practices, the greater the teachers job satisfaction and perceived collaboration. Specifically, more
effective leadership practices have a strong influence on teachers job satisfaction and on their collaboration. Principal leadership practices also have a strong indirect influence on teacher collaboration through their influence on job satisfaction. These results confirm prior research
(Thoonen et al., 2011) that similarly found a positive relationship between transformational leadership practices and these teacher outcomes. Like Thoonen et al., we also found a strong, positive
relationship among the teacher outcome measures, showing the reinforcing effects when improving them.
For hypothesis 2, the results confirmed that the type of preparation the principals had was a
moderating influence on the principal leadershipteacher outcome relationship. Teachers whose
principals had participated in one of the innovative leadership preparation programs under study
were more likely to rate their principals leadership practices highly, and, through that, had higher
job satisfaction and teacher collaboration ratings. When we substituted conventional leadership
preparation as an alternative hypothesis, the model did not fit as well, further confirming this
hypothesis. Such findings confirm similar research findings drawn from principals perspectives
(Orr and Orphanos, 2011).
For hypotheses 3 and 4, the addition of three school improvement conditions the extent of
teacher-distributed leadership, teacher participation in professional development and perceived
parental support provide a fuller account of the variance in teacher job satisfaction. However,
perceived parental support fit better as a moderating influence on principal leadership, rather than
as a mediating influence between principal leadership and teacher job satisfaction. Given this, we
concluded that this measure of perceived parental support may be serving as a measure of district
and community culture, particularly given the size of its influence, as was found in other school
improvement research (Bryk et al., 2010)
Finally, the test of the hypothesized SEM model confirmed that innovative leadership preparation has a small but statistically significant influence on teacher collaboration and job satisfaction
through its influence on effective leadership practices, even when other factors are taken into
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consideration. Such results were quite positive and confirmed earlier research on innovative preparation and teacher perceptions (Leithwood et al., 1996). More important, these findings underscore the importance of investing in quality leadership preparation. Better preparation yields
demonstrable benefits for the schools and teachers whom graduates eventually lead as principals.

Limitations of the Investigation and Directions for Future Research


The results should be interpreted in light of the studys context and possible biases. First, we should
keep in mind that the two samples were surveyed at somewhat different time periods (early 2000
and 2005) and this may have biased the results in two possible ways. The first is the policy climate.
Strong US accountability policies (NCLB) were implemented between these two time periods and
led to changes in schools accountability and press for academic improvement, particularly for
urban schools in the Stanford sample we are using. The second possible bias is that the innovative
preparation programs, in which 6 of the 16 principals participated, are in three settings Jefferson
County, New York City and San Diego and the programs were part of larger district reforms. By
adding the Stanford in-service-only sample (which included teachers from these same districts) to
the SASS comparison sample, we tried to reduce possible sample bias.
Second, measurement conditions limited the degree to which we could explore the relationship
between innovative preparation and leadership and teacher outcomes for this investigation, suggesting that the relationship is probably significantly stronger than could be modeled here. For this
study, we could only use a dichotomous measure of innovative preparation. Moreover, we could
not account for the extent of innovative leadership preparation of the principals in the SASS
teacher sample. Within both samples, the extent to which their leadership preparation featured
most of the exemplary program features found to be influential on principals reports of their leadership practices (Darling-Hammond et al., 2010) is likely to vary. Future analyses that can take this
variation into account may explain more of the variations in leadership and teacher outcomes. As
well, such analyses could provide insight into which innovative program features contribute most
to these outcomes.
Third, as the sample was purposefully restricted to newer principals, the overall relationship
may differ when examined among all principals as a whole. The difficulty in modeling the relationship, however, illustrates how much it is contextualized. Restricting comparison samples to
similar settings helps to isolate the effects, but limits the scope to which the findings can be generalized to other settings. Here, the sample was restricted to urban and small city school districts
with large numbers of low-performing schools where there is often significant focus, support, and
opportunity for change.
Fourth, the analysis is limited to just measures available in both survey samples, which in turn
limited the reliability of certain latent variables. As shown in Table 3, the latent variables of distributed leadership, teacher collaboration, parental support and teachers participation in professional development can be better constructed in future research if different and additional
variables are used (in the present study, parental support and teachers participation in professional
development were single-item variables). Other explorations of the Stanford teacher sample provide a broader scope of how different intensities of leadership preparation and development contribute to leadership practices and, in turn, to teacher and school improvement outcomes.
Despite these limitations, the findings confirmed the hypothesized relationships between preparation and teacher outcomes, as had been modeled from related prior research. How leaders are
prepared particularly through the collaborative university-district programs used in this study
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makes an important difference in the quality of leadership practiced and, through that, in improving teachers working conditions and collaboration and satisfaction with their work. Finally, the
present findings serve as an important model for future research in evaluating the effects of leaders preparation on improving the work and working conditions of their staff and their school
improvement outcomes.

Implications for Policy and Practice


The results provide both theoretical and methodological implications. First, they demonstrate that
more innovative principal preparation has a small but discernible and significant influence on
teacher outcomes. This confirms the importance of quality leadership preparation as a school
reform strategy for policymakers to consider. Second, the results confirm that more effective leadership practices are influenced by the nature and quality of leadership preparation. These findings
are highly consistent with prior research that was foundational to this work and suggested that such
a relationship exists, based on the relationship between exemplary preparation and leadership practices (Leithwood et al., 1996; Orr and Orphanos, 2011), and the relationship between transformational/instructional leadership practices and teacher outcomes (Geijsel et al., 2001; Leithwood and
Jantzi, 2008; Thoonen et al., 2011). These results also importantly show that how principals are
prepared influences the extent to which they positively support and develop their staff and broadly
distribute leadership responsibilities in their schools. Through testing the effectiveness of the traditional program as an alternative hypothesis, the results also show that adding innovative inservice program participation to a traditional preparation experience does not yield the same
positive effects.
Given the fields advancement of better leadership preparation approaches (Jackson and Kelley,
2002; Orr, 2006) and current policy emphasis on developing quality leaders for better schools
(Bottoms et al., 2003; Commission on No Child Left Behind [NCLB], 2007), such findings are
very encouraging and provide important policy direction. The positive benefits for teachers
improving collaboration, participation in decision making, and job satisfaction show that investments in leadership preparation influences leadership practices that yield more positive teacher
work conditions, which are essential for improving student learning (Berry et al., 2010)
Related findings by Darling-Hammond and others (2010) provide an in-depth examination of
the innovative preparation programs used in this study. A related article (Orr and Orphanos,
2011) provides a statistical analysis on the relationship between preparation program features and
graduate career outcomes and, as school leaders, their practices and school improvement work,
thus demonstrating the strong moderating influence of program content, active student learning
experiences and internship quality. Together, these findings underscore the benefits of a highquality, coherent preparation focus on the leading-learning work of school leaders for school and
teacher outcomes. Such results provide strong directions for leadership preparation program design
and improvement, and stress the role that leadership preparation plays in district reform and school
improvement work.
Notes
1. Descriptions of the six programs and findings on the graduates and principals experiences are presented
in the final report (Darling-Hammond et al., 2007).
2. Three of the five that were developed as university-district partnerships were tailored to address district
reform priorities and leadership expectations.
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Author biography
Stelios Orphanos is a lecturer of educational leadership and administration at the School of
Education at Frederick University. His main research interests lie in the areas of educational
management and leadership, teacher and school effectiveness.
Margaret Terry Orr is a faculty member of Bank Street College of Education (NY) preparing
school and district leaders. She has conducted numerous studies on leadership preparation and
assessment and school reform, and published widely in books and peer-reviewed journal articles.
She is currently Division A-Vice President of the American Educational Research Association.
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