Jun 17 2013

Strong educational leadership is essential to a successful school. While a school-defined agenda may vary from school to school, the way that leaders, especially principals, navigate accountability systems is of particular interest to today’s researchers, as we can learn from their successes as well as their failures.

After significant research into how leaders navigated accountability systems, Dr. Michael  Knapp (College of Education Faculty) and Dr. Susan B. Feldman (College of Education Alum, and currently faculty member at Lewis & Clark College) discovered that leaders in schools that serve populations that have historically struggled, found remarkably similar ways of responding to district and state accountability systems, that served internal accountability purposes. Specifically, these leaders found ways to use what the outside world demanded of the school as occasions for advancing the school’s own learning improvement agenda.

Their paper, "Managing the intersection of internal and external accountability: Challenge for urban school leadership in the United States”, updates scholarship on accountability and demonstrates ways educators can work effectively within external systems calling for higher school performance. This work has been honored with the A. Ross Thomas Outstanding Paper Award for 2012 from the Journal of Educational Administration.

Knapp and Feldman found that the most successful leaders internalized external expectations, promoted accountable practice within the school, led through data, and modeled what it meant to learn to lead in a fully accountable way. As they did so, they reshaped the scope of instruction and instructional improvement conversations, and also made teaching and leadership practice more public.

Knapp and Feldman captured data from 15 schools in four urban school districts across the United States through multiple site visits, semi-structured interviews and observations of leadership activity across school and district settings, and a variety of documentary evidence.

Learn more about the design, methodology, and findings in Managing the intersection of internal and external accountability: Challenge for urban school leadership in the United States”, Journal of Educational Administration »