School context, principal leadership, and student reading achievement

Philip Hallinger, Leonard Bickman, Ken Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

273 Citations (Scopus)


In this article, we explore the nature and extent of the school principal's effects on reading achievement in a sample of 87 U.S. elementary schools. Our study responded to prior critiques of the literature in school administration by formulating and testing a multidimensional model of principal effects on student learning. By using principal and teacher questionnaires and student test scores, we examined relations between selected school context variables (student SES, parental involvement, principal gender, and teaching experience), principal instructional leadership (principal activity in key dimensions of the school's educational program), instructional climate (school mission, opportunity to learn, teacher expectations), and student reading achievement. Results showed no direct effects of principal instructional leadership on student achievement. The results did, however, support the belief that a principal can have an indirect effect on school effectiveness through actions that shape the school's learning climate. We also found that principal leadership itself is influenced by both personal and contextual variables (SES, parental involvement, and gender). The study confirmed the appropriateness of viewing the principal's role in school effectiveness through a conceptual framework that places the principal's leadership behavior in the context of the school organization and its environment and that assesses leadership effects on student achievement through mediating variables.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)545-549
Number of pages5
JournalElementary School Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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