Leadership and Literacy Improvement
Strong school leadership is key to any improvement cycle. Research showing improved outcomes in underachieving schools highlights five key areas that are relevant to leading literacy improvement (See Dempster, 2009; Fullan, 2001-2010 Masters, 2011; and Robinson et al; 2009 for a fuller discussion of leadership as it relates to schooling improvement and student outcomes.)
Leadership teams function more effectively when they
• share common goals and values about literacy improvement and effective teaching and learning.
• work in networks of schools held to common goals and which are committed to a specific mission consensus.
• are trained in aspects of ongoing literacy assessment and progress monitoring on valid and reliable measures.
• manage the inquiry process in their schools in ways that distribute leadership for collective responsibility as part of an inclusive professional learning community.
• value and resource teacher professional learning.
The success of any change initiative is to a large degree dependent on the quality of leadership that is leading the change. School leaders need to be trained in rigorous inquiry methods, to develop skills in fostering open discussion about problem-solving for change and how to support teachers throughout the change process.
Getting to Grips with Literacy Improvement
If success in any learning area depends on being able to use the significant, identifiable and distinctive literacy skills that are important for learning, then effective classroom practices for the teaching of literacy are important to all members of a school community. In schools facing significant challenges in creating success around literacy outcomes, efforts for improvement should rest with the whole school and not just those teachers at school entry or those at critical assessment junctures. Effective schools do more than tinker with instruction, they create supportive conditions for ongoing inquiry. In essence, they become problem-solving systems focused on improvement.