Enhancing Instructional Leadership

Lessons from the California School Leadership Academy
David D. Marsh
University of Southern California


Current thinking about reform in American education emphasizes the need for school principals to serve as instructional leaders. Support for this position is derived from several research bases: site-based management and restructuring; school change; school improvement; policy implementation; staff development; the administrator as instructional leader; and school/district effectiveness. A common element in these bodies of research is the potential power of the administrator as a significant force in the improvement of the organizational conditions and instructional forces that affect student outcomes.

Most site administrators, however, are not effective instructional leaders and major revisions in administrator training are needed to transform the role of the site administrator. There are also other pressures to reform administrative training including (a) an emerging belief that new models of school organization, governance, and management are needed; (b) a growing disenchantment with the theory movement in administrative training; (c) an increasing disgruntlement with the prevailing university training model; and (d) a growing perception that little has changed in administrative training in the last 30 years.

Researchers have analyzed traditional patterns of administrator training and found that innovations are needed in both the content and process of the training. They have identified five content and five process criteria for defining innovative administrative training. Recently, many innovative administrative training programs have been es­tablished across the country which meet this criteria. Several of the most significant of these have been state­-sponsored efforts that serve sizable populations of administrators and are linked in some way to reform efforts in the state.

It is now possible to examine the results of one of the most prominent of the innovative programs designed to help site administrators become better instructional leaders. The California School Leadership Academy (CSLA) serves aspiring and practicing site administrators in a three-year program em­phasizing the instructional leadership dimensions of site leadership in the context of a comprehensive state-initiated school reform strategy.

This article was originally published in Education and Urban Society by the SAGE Publications.

Suggested citationMarsh, D. D. (1992, May). Enhancing instructional leadership: Lessons from the California School Leadership Academy [Article]. Policy Analysis for California Education.