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A Longitudinal Study of Principals’ Activities and Student Performance

Although a substantial amount of research on school leadership has focused on what principals may do to improve teaching and learning, little of this research has explored how principals’ time spent on leadership activities may relate to and possibly affect student performance. This article presents results from a 3-year longitudinal study of principal activities and student performance. A 3-level HLM growth model (with test scores nested within students, and students nested within schools) was employed to determine the degree to which principals’ activities were associated with student performance at baseline, and changes in student performance over time. Results suggest that principals’ activities are remarkably variable over time, that specific leadership activities are more prevalent in some school contexts, and that specific changes in leadership activities over time (e.g., increasing time on instructional leadership) do not predict changes in student performance in a consistent manner across schools.

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Citation: May, H., Huff, J., & Goldring, E. (2012). A longitudinal study of principals’ activities and student performance. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 23(4), 417-439.