Leadership for Learning in the US

  • David Imig
  • South Holden
  • Dale Placek
Part of the Palgrave Studies on Leadership and Learning in Teacher Education book series (PSLLTE)


Over the past half century, school leadership in the US has undergone a major paradigm shift, changing focus from exclusively managerial (hiring teachers and ensuring school buses run on time) to instructional leadership (leading student learning with the subject matter and pedagogical knowledge). Since at least the beginning of the standards movement in US education, that student learning has been the central responsibility of the school principal. This chapter explores federal- (Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015), state- (ESSA implementation plans), and district-level (principal evaluation standards) conceptions of school leadership and ultimately argues that while many practitioner and policy organizations in the US are promoting ideas associated with Leadership for Learning as new foci for school leaders, our nation’s overall conception of school leadership remains rooted in more traditional forms of instructional leadership.


  1. Bossert, S. T., Dwyer, D. C., Rowan, B., & Lee, G. V. (1982). The instructional management role of the principal. Educational Administration Quarterly, 18(3), 34–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bridges, E. (1967). Instructional leadership: A concept re-examined. Journal of Educational Administration, 5(2), 136–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Canole, M., & Young, M. (2013). Standards for school leaders: An analysis. Washington, DC: Council of Chief State School Officers. Retrieved from
  4. Cuban, L. (1988). The managerial imperative and the practice of leadership. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.Google Scholar
  5. Edmunds, R. R. (1979). Effective schools for the urban poor. Educational Leadership., 37(1), 15–24.Google Scholar
  6. ESSA. (2015). Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, Pub. L. No. 114-95 114 Stat. 1177 (2015–2016).Google Scholar
  7. ESSA Implementation Begins. (2016, March). Retrieved July 31, 2016 from
  8. Hallinger, P., & Murphy, J. (1985). Assessing the instructional leadership behavior of principals. Elementary School Journal, 86(2), 217–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Herman, R., Gates, S., Chavez-Herrereasm, E. R., & Hares, M. (2017). School leadership interventions under the ESSA: Evidence review. Washington, DC: RAND.Google Scholar
  10. Hirsh, S. (2018). Personal Communication, May 17.Google Scholar
  11. Honig, M. I., & Rainey, L. R. (2014). Central office leadership in principal professional learning communities: The practice beneath the policy. Teachers College Record, 116(4), 48.Google Scholar
  12. Kelley, C., & Halverson, R. (2014). CALL one page. Retrieved from Comprehensive Assessment for Leadership for Learning:
  13. Knapp, M. S., Copland, M. A., Honig, M., Pleki, M. L., & Portin, B. S. (2010). Learning-focused leadership and leadership support: Meaning and practice in urban systems. Seattle, WA: University of Washington, Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy.Google Scholar
  14. Los Angeles Unified School District. (2016, May 20). Retrieved May 2018, from LAUSD School Leadership Framework v4:
  15. MacBeath, J., & Cheng, Y. C. (2008). Leadership for learning: International perspectives. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. MacBeath, J., Dempster, N., Frost, D., Johnson, G., & Swaffield, S. (2018). Strengthening the connections between leadership and learning: Challenges to policy, school and classroom practice. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  17. Maxwell, L. A. (2014, April 12). National board votes to end principal-certification program. Retrieved June 2018, from Education Week:
  18. Murphy, J., Elliott, S., Goldring, E., & Porter, A. (2006). Learning centered leadership: A conceptual foundation. Nashville, TN: Learning Science Institute, Vanderbilt University.Google Scholar
  19. Murphy, J., Elliott, S. N., Goldring, E., & Porter, A. C. (2007). Leadership for learning: A research-based model and taxonomy of behaviors. School Leadership and Management, 27(2), 179–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Murphy, J., Seashore-Louis, K., & Smylie, M. (2017). Positive school leadership: How professional standards for education leaders can be brought to life. Phi Delta Kappan, 99(1), 21–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. (2010). National board certification for educational leaders: Accomplished principal standards. Retrieved June 2018, from
  22. National Center for Education Statistics. (2016). Table 215.30: Enrollment, poverty, and federal funds for the 120 largest school districts, by enrollment size in 2014: Selected years, 2013–14 through 2016. Retrieved from National Center for Education Statistics:
  23. National Commission on Excellence in Education. (1983). A nation at risk: The imperative for educational reform. The Elementary School Journal, 84(2), 113–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. National Policy Board for Educational Administration. (2015). Professional standards for educational leaders 2015. Reston, VA: Author.Google Scholar
  25. NCLB. (2001). No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, Pub. L. No. 107-110, 20 U.S.C. 6319 (2002).Google Scholar
  26. Schlechty, P. P. (2009). Leading for learning: How to transform schools into learning organizations. San Francisco: Wiley.Google Scholar
  27. Seashore-Louis, K., Leithwood, K., Wahlstrom, K. L., & Anderson, S. E. (2010). Learning from leadership: Investigating the links to improved student learning. St. Paul, MN: University of Minnesota, Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement.Google Scholar
  28. Shipman, N., & Murphy, J. (1996). Interstate school leaders’ licensure consortium: Standards for school leaders. Washington, DC: Council of Chief State School Officers.Google Scholar
  29. US Department of Commerce. (2015, June). Public education finances: 2013. Retrieved from United States Census Bureau:
  30. Van Meter, E., & Murphy, J. (1997). Using ISLLC standards to strengthen preparation programs in school administration. Washington, DC: Council of Chief State School Officers.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Imig
    • 1
  • South Holden
    • 1
  • Dale Placek
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

Personalised recommendations