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In Search of School Leadership by Marzano

The passing and failure rates

Millions of students enroll in schools each year hoping that after completion, the process will increase their chances of succeeding in life, especially financially. This state of hope which is tagged on education has indeed been supported by statistics. The U.S reports released in 2001 touching on the earning ability of individuals revealed that the earning potential is directly proportional to the level of education, that is, a high school graduate will earn less than one who has graduated with a master’s degree. Hence, this calls for the need for effective schools to be put in place. Students who are in effective schools have higher chances of passing than their counterparts in ineffective schools. For instance, Marzano points out that there is a difference of 44 percent in terms of passing rate between effective and ineffective schools in a case whereby the passing rate is 50 percent. This implies that 72 percent of students who are in effective schools are more likely to pass a test compared to 28 percent of students in ineffective schools. The manner in which schools are run will determine the rate at which students will merit in their learning process.

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Ancient and modern beliefs on leadership

Leadership is an important ingredient in the running of a school community. It has been assumed for many ages as one instrument which is highly needed for any institution to achieve its endeavors or goals. The conviction that leadership is very momentous in achieving success dates back from ancient times. In fact, great ancient artists like Plato and Caesar mentioned leadership in their works and several other theories were put forward to explain the significance of leadership. For instance, the “great man” theory pointed out that it was through effective leadership that Israelites were able to move out of Egypt. Both the traditional and contemporary beliefs on leadership have a common striking point; that no single institution can merit in the absence of leadership which is vibrant. In the context of schooling, modern leadership attributes have also been considered to be vital tools for success. For instance, leadership will ascertain that there are clearly defined goals and objectives, the presence of an enabling climate within the school, the ability to build the attitudes of teaching staff, classroom practices of the teaching team, curriculum development, and the opportunities available for students to learn.

The Meta-analysis methodology

This research methodology employs a wide array of data that is gathered, synthesized, and analyzed. It is considered to be very thorough and can be used to investigate the effect of leadership on school performance. This quantitative research technique involves the building of several generalizations and has been used to create research analytical figures which were not available sometimes back. However, there are some questions that come into mind with the use of the Meta-analysis quantitative research method. Firstly, why was it necessary to use the technique of sampling and analyzing other researched works instead of carrying out independent research as far as school leadership and performance is concerned? Using an independent study would have generated its own margin of error unless the research conducted is near perfection, which is an ideal situation almost impossible to achieve. Hence, Meta-analysis attempts to address the need for precision and accuracy. Additionally, the use of the traditional narrative approach is often prone to errors because the researcher makes use of the already sampled studies in compiling new research. This is the case with a master’s thesis or dissertations for doctoral studies. The initial error created is compounded by the new research being conducted. Hence, Meta-analysis remains to be a more accurate choice.

A study involving 69 cases on how school leadership can influence the academic performance of students was carried out. The study found out that there was a correlation of 0.25 between the two parameters that is, leadership behavior of a school principal and students’ academic performance. This meant that if an average principal was posted in a school with averagely performing students, then it would be possible to boost the performance of students in that school if the leadership style was equally improved. These were quantitative deductions based on figures synthesized from the meta-analysis technique.

Finally, is it is imperative to note that for an organization to perform well, there must be effective leadership in place that is mandated with policy formulation and implementation on a day-to-day basis. Of great importance is the school as an institution of learning which relies heavily on the leadership style of a principal imparting directly on academic performance of students. Nevertheless, there are claims by some theorists and research specialists that leadership in school and its correlation to the academic performance of students is equivocal. Moreover, they assert that student performance has no relationship with leadership whatsoever. On the contrary, the Meta-analysis research carried out for 35 years indicated that school leadership significantly affects the academic well-being of learners (Marzano, Waters & McNulty, 2006).


Marzano, J. R., Waters, T. and McNulty., A. B. (2006). School leadership that works: from research to results, Alexandria: Hawker Brownlow Education.

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