Powerful Principals & Culture

An article in The Sydney Morning Herald reports on findings in a recent study conducted through the University of Wollongong. Entitled Students’ academic success can be a matter of principal, it highlights that

Good principals were identified as those who were open to change, were informed risk takers, and were friendly and approachable. Their leadership was highly influential in the development of a positive school culture.

This brings up research that I am using in a study we will be conducting through the Association of Independent School – Victoria in 2007. One of the components is based on the work of Wayne Hoy and others who have identified what they call “Academic Optimism.” It is a school-wide measure that recognizes three interwoven criteria: “academic emphasis,” “collective efficacy,” and “parent and student support.” When these three aspects are strong, the culture of the school is a stronger predictor of academic success than socio-economic status. This is a powerful finding: more important than home income and all it reflects (parental education levels, enriched environment, etc.), is the culture of the school that says, we value learning, we can help children learn and we are trusted by parents and students as professional educators. If you want a terrific study, Hoy’s research study can be downloaded from his Web site at Ohio State University.

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