01 SES 17 A, Leadership Development and Principalship
In recent years, education researchers across the world have debated the factors that go into an effective school. The role of the principal, according to McKinsey, is the second most important factor in its effect on student achievement (Barber and Murshed, 2008). Recent studies that have looked at trends in the training and development of school leaders found that priorities are shifting from general management and personnel practices towards instructional leadership. It is precisely this strategy for preparing school leaders that turns out to be the most effective in terms of student outcomes (Leithwood et al. 2004; Stewart 2012).
The most recent set of reforms in Russia has mirrored international trends in its move toward accountability and imposition of standards for student outcomes (Day et al. 2009). An important moment came when the results of Russia’s participation in the international PISA assessment program were published (Froumin et al. 2012). A steady stream of disappointed expectations began in the year 2000. While they did show some improvement, the test results of the Russian 15-year-olds were underwhelming, well below OECD averages. In this light, various reform initiatives - from the countrywide launch of the Unified State Exam to a new plan for fixing certain socio-economic problems - could all be viewed as the reformers’ answer to Russia’s low scores relative to the developed nations. The introduction of Federal State Educational Standards for Basic General Education (FSES) signaled that the modern school principal, in Russia, has greater responsibility for school transformation and change than ever before. The FSES demands not only certain educational results - including subject knowledge, inter-subject knowledge, and social growth — but also, for the first time in Russia’s history, provides a framework for the basic structure of school education and the conditions necessary for success. The introduction of autonomous schools in Russia (Federal Law dated November 3, 2006 N 174-FZ "On autonomous institutions") gave far greater financial power to principals, allowing them, along with their Governing Council, to determine how to generate additional funds, how to allocate resources and how to spend their budget.
Recent years have also seen changes in the core competencies required of school principals, as well as in the criteria by which they are evaluated. The federal package of legislation, “On Education in the Russian Federation”, cements the role of the school principal as overseer of all the operations of a school: educational, social, scientific, and those related to facilities and budgeting (article 8, section 51). In 2014 a project was launched to develop professional standards for school principals. Headed by the Ministry of Education and Science, the ongoing efforts are intended to produce a set of performance indicators and a framework for the accreditation process, as well as a system for evaluating principal training programs. All this has played an important role in transforming the ways in which school principals are trained, hired, placed, accredited, and developed professionally.
While the volume of recent research in Russia on professional development programs for principals is substantial (Sidenko 2011; Kuznetsova 2011), the majority of the studies were done in the context of the FSES roll-out. These are mostly interested in how principal training programs are implementing the new standards. Several researchers have also done broader analyses of principal training programs, but within the limits of a single region (Korostelev 2011), or in a broader theoretical attempt to design a model for professional development (Lutsenko 2005). Thus far, no empirical studies in Russia have attempted to correlate the training of school principals with their leadership practices.
Consequently, this research outlines findings from empirical study the Seven System Leadership Study (7SLS) that illuminate firstly, how principals in Russia currently view their role and secondly, how far the preparation and training that principals receive shapes their day-to day practice. The 7SLS compared principal preparation systems in seven countries, tracing their impact on the instruction and leadership style of their graduates. The Russian portion of the study took a mixed-method design approach, combining anonymous online polling of school principals with qualitative data from loosely structured interviews. It also analyzed school-related regulatory documents. The study presented data from a quantitative survey of 300 principals from four regions of Russia, including 120 respondents from St. Petersburg (40%), 39 from Nizhny Novgorod (13%), 78 from the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania (26%) and 63 from the Khabarovsk region (21%). The analysis used elements of descriptive statistics such as median (M), standard deviation (SD), and frequency. Variance analysis, or ANOVA, was used to establish differences in the use of a set of leadership practices, dependent on factors such as age, preparation, years on the job, and others.
A common practice around the world is to train principals in basic management and leadership skills before they are eligible for a posting. However, our study reveals that the majority of school principals (64%) undergo the required managerial training only after they have already taken up their positions. Only 15-18% of respondents took up their post after already having undergone formal training, whether in the form of postgraduate qualification, professional retraining of professional development programs. The participating principals indicated that postgraduate programs in management or public administration (57%) were the most useful. According to respondents, legal aspects of school administration were given the most attention (53%) across all types of programs, followed by management of educational institutions (51%), budgetary principles (48%), and assessment of learning outcomes (45%). On the other hand, the respondents said that issues of managing and collaborating with personnel got significantly less attention (30%). A majority of respondents saw themselves as having developed skills during training that helped them seek out innovations, become more proactive, to experiment, and to take risks. However, it was precisely these practices that proved to be the most inconsistent in the long run (Bysik N. et al. 2015). Although a majority found the preparation useful overall, but the data said that only the types of practices that fell under the rubric of “Encourage the Heart”—motivating and praising teachers, supporting their individuality—were successfully honed during the training courses [F(3. 293)=2.791, p>0.05)]. As we see from our study despite attempts to reform the Russian system in the 2000s, it is still poorly developed in terms of the connectivity between preparation, retraining, professional development, and developing the pool of potential candidates. The training programs for school principals we see in Russia today remain focused on improving managerial skills rather than leadership ones.
1.Barber, M., and Murshed M. 2008. Kak dobit'sja stabil’no vysokogo kachestva obuchenija v shkolah.[How to achieve stably quality training at schools]. Uroki analiza luchshih sistem shkol'nogo obrazovanija mira.[Lessons of the analysis of the best systems of school education of the world]. Voprosy obrazovanija.[Education Issues], (3), 7-60. 2.Bysik, N., Evstigneeva, N., Isaeva, N., Kukso, K., Harris, A., & Jones, M. 2015. A missing link? Contemporary insights into principal preparation and training in Russia. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 35(3), 331-341. 3.Day, C., Hopkins, D., Harris, A., & Ahtaridou, E. 2009. The impact of school leadership on pupil outcomes. Final report. 4.European Synopsis on Educational Leadership. 2011 Germany: OECD. 5.Froumin, I., Kuznetsova, M. I., Kovaleva, G., Melnikov, A., Pinskaya, M., Timkova, T., Tyumeneva, Y. A., & Zuckerman, G. (2012). The impact of PIRLS in the Russian Federation. In Knut Schwippert and Jenny Lenkeit (Eds.), Studies in international comparative and multicultural education, Issue 13: Progress in reading literacy in national and international context. The impact of PIRLS 2006 in 12 countries (pp. 183–197). Berlin, NY, Muenchen, Muenster: Waxmann Verlag. 6.Harris, A., and Jones, M. 2015. Transforming education systems: comparative and critical perspectives on school leadership. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 35(3), 311-318. 9.Leithwood, K., Seashore, K., Anderson, S., & Wahlstrom, K. 2004. Review of research: How leadership influences student learning. 10.Lutsenko, L. I. 2005. Kompetentnostnaya model' povysheniya kvalifikatsii direktora shkoly. [Competence model for the improvement of the qualification of school principal]. Pedagogika, (3), 61-68. 11.Mann, D., and Briller, V. 1996. Shkol’nye administratory Rossii: glazami amerikanskikh issledovatelei [School administrators in Russia: through the eyes of American researchers]. Direktor shkoly (1) 12.Ogawa, R. T., and Bossert, S. T. 2000. Leadership as an organizational quality. Jossey-Bass reader on educational leadership. San Francisco: Jossey- Bass, 2000: 33-58 13.Sidenko, A. S. 2011. O modeli vnutrifirmennogo povysheniya kvalifikatsii po podgotovke shkol k realizatsii FGOS vtorogo pokoleniya. [On the model of in-house advanced training in the preparation of schools for the implementation of GEF second generation]. Innovatsionnyye proyekty i programmy v obrazovanii, (4). 14.Stewart, T. 2012. Classroom teacher leadership: service-learning for teacher sense of efficacy and servant leadership development. School Leadership & Management, 32(3), 233-259.
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