Characteristics of Instructionally Effective School Districts

Joseph Murphy, Philip Hallinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)


In this article we present findings from our exploratory study of 12 instuctionally effective school districts (IESD) in California. Districts were identified on the basis of their ability to promote high levels of student achievement on standardized tests (aggregated to the district level) after controlling for socioeconomic status, previous achievement, and language proficiency. Studies on school improvment and organizational control and coordination provided the theories and frameworks that informed the study. The primary emphasis was on analysis of organizational structures and coupling mechanisms rather than on cultural linkages. Results are based on interviews with superintendents and analyses of selected documents. Seventeen themes or characteristics found in these IESD are discussed under the categories of (1) conditions, (2) climate factors, (3) characteristics of curriculum and instruction, and (4) organizational dynamics. Information about variations in these themes is also presented. We found a higher than anticipated degree of coordination between district, school, and classroom in the areas of curriculum and instruction. We also discovered that superintendents were actively engaged in technical core operations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-181
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Educational Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1988
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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