The relationship of the dimensions of distributed leadership in elementary schools of urban districts and student achievement Open Access
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The school principal's role has been expanding since the onset of the standards movement. No Child Left Behind, enacted in 2002, requires principals to be not only managers of the building and staff but also instructional leaders responsible for increasing student achievement. Therefore, the task of being principal has become too extensive; principals need to share their responsibilities. Distributed leadership is an effective way to facilitate the sharing of responsibilities. According to Elmore (2000) and Spillane (2005), it is the most effective way to create leadership throughout the school; according to DuFour (2005), it promotes effective professional learning communities. This study's purpose was to investigate the relationship between leadership, as represented by distributed leadership dimensions, and student achievement at the elementary level in two urban school districts. Four dimensions of distributed leadership were investigated: (a) school's mission, vision, and goals; (b) culture; (c) shared responsibility; and (d) leadership practices. Quantitative research was employed to determine a relationship, either positive or negative, between distributed leadership dimensions and student performance on statewide assessments.Survey research methods and descriptive statistics were used to determine the relationship between distributed leadership dimensions and student reading and math achievement in two urban districts; principals and teachers (N = 122) responded to the Distributed Leadership Readiness Scale (DLRS-1) (Gordon, 2005). Correlational analysis was utilized to determine the relationship between the independent variables (distributed leadership dimensions) and the dependent variable (student achievement).The results revealed no significant relationship, either positive or negative, between distributed leadership dimensions and student achievement as represented in reading and math pass rates on statewide assessments. Conclusions from this study affect the study of leadership in general. In an era when researchers desire to find leadership practices that impact student achievement, they may influence the culture and learning environment of the school; however, quantitative research may not demonstrate a relationship with student achievement due to lack to qualitative substance. Distributed leadership shares the responsibility of decision making and encompasses effective educational strategies beyond the principal's office, within the entire instructional environment.