The Four Paths of Leadership Influence and Surveys
Leadership matters. The decisions and actions that campus and district leaders make daily shape what happens in the school and in the classroom. However, it seems the industry standard is to try to measure principal effectiveness via student achievement scores on standardized tests. Low test scores must mean a principal is not impactful in a positive way; high test scores must mean the principal is doing many things well and may be seen as positively impactful. In a broad, general sense, this may be true. However, it turns out that principals do not directly impact learning and achievement; this occurs indirectly over four paths of influence.
This model has been researched and developed over the last 15 years by Dr. Ken Leithwood, (University of Toronto) and more recently researched by Dr. Jing Ping Sun (University of Alabama). This is called the The Four Paths Model, and it is summarized in the figure above. Each path is tied to deeply researched variables that impact learning and achievement AND that principals can directly impact. Once leaders know which variables need improvement, steps can be taken to problem solve with precision, saving valuable time and resources. The thirteen essential variables and how they underpin the four paths can be seen below.
Teachers’ uses of instructional time
Teachers’ trust in others
Teachers’ collective efficacy
Safe and orderly environment
Collaborative structures and cultures
Organization of planning and instructional time
Parents’ expectations for their children’s success at school and beyond
Parents social and intellectual capital about schooling
Forms of communication between parents and children
Remember, these variables have powerful impact on learning and achievement AND are the variables school and district leaders can directly influence.
Does your school or district suffer from “survey fatigue”? Leadership Partners collaborates directly with Drs. Leithwood and Sun to use a highly-specialized survey to measure how these variables are working in schools, and, what to do with the survey data to improve learning and achievement in schools. A similar district survey is available that principals take that informs district leaders what they can do to better support principals, which in turn impacts learning and achievement in schools.
These two surveys may replace the many surveys often given by districts and focus on what research says matters most in schools. This allows principals and district leaders to diagnose and design with precision, which saves valuable time, money and other resources. Please contact us here for more information about using the surveys and the support we offer concerning the results.
What school leaders are saying:
The survey information is very helpful for me to plan my next steps, especially with professional development. It has given me the insight to develop more teacher leadership on the campus. This survey, in my opinion, gives better data driven evidence than some of the other surveys that are based on opinion or perceptions. I am thankful to have access to this information. Elementary Principal, Fort Bend ISD
This survey provides both staff AND leadership feedback, which often we only have staff input. This also seeks to gather information that is more focused but also on more aspects of the school. The questions are broken down into the different main categories [The Four Paths] so that certain areas may be strong and other areas may need growth. With specific questions, it allowed us to really think about each part of the school and not let one feeling about an aspect of the school dominate the entire survey. Elementary Principal, Cy Fair ISD
The survey helped to strengthen and clarify that missing piece in improving our students’ academic achievement…parent involvement. This survey was different because it was more concise about the various areas that a school can impact student performance. It helped to narrow our focus in regard to parent Involvement. Though we were doing activities for parents, this survey clarified the need to give our parents the tools they need to help their children learn and to have a more active voice/role in our school. Elementary Principal, Spring Branch ISD
This survey allowed me to see the perspective of not only what my direct supports see on campus but also my leadership team. It allows us to compare our perspective of the same topics. Other surveys group them all in one. This separates them, allowing us to clearly see how sometimes looking at the same situation can be viewed so differently and allowing us to start to intentionally make changes. This survey was very intentional, like truly identifying essential components to work on, on campus. Parental involvement was a big one for me, which my staff started to instantly want to address based on these data. The good thing was that we all saw it as a concern, rather than just one group. Elementary Principal, Fort Bend ISD
I really enjoyed reviewing the Four Paths Survey. I shared it with my staff earlier this year along with the Employee Perception Survey from our district. The teachers shared that the survey provided more valuable data as far as school improvement. I agree. There is much research behind this survey. This survey is based on pure data: standard deviations/means. I feel that it is much more reliable. Elementary Principal, Cy Fair ISD