Exploring the Principal's Contribution to School Effectiveness: 1980-1995

Philip Hallinger, Ronald H. Heck

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

697 Citations (Scopus)


This article reviews research from 1980-1995 exploring the relationship between principal leadership and student achievement. The focuses is on the substantive findings that emerged from the review. Earlier reports focused on conceptual and methodological issues. The general pattern of results drawn from this review supports the belief that principals exercise a measurable, though indirect effect on school effectiveness and student achievement. While this indirect effect is relatively small, it is statistically significant and supports the general belief among educators that principals contribute to school effectiveness and improvement. Moreover, the review suggests that previously described discrepancies in research results may be explained by the conceptual and methodological tools employed by researchers. We also emphasize the limitations of these studies. Even taken as a group they do not resolve the most important theoretical and practical issues concerning the means by which principals achieve an impact on school outcomes and how contextual forces influence the exercise of leadership in the schoolhouse. It is concluded that while substantial progress has been made over the past 15 years in understanding the principal's contribution to school effectiveness, the most important scholarly and practical work lies ahead. In addition to this qualified, we assert that scholars are better equipped conceptually and methodologically to address these challenges than in 1980.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-191
Number of pages35
JournalSchool Effectiveness and School Improvement
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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