Book Review

School Leadership that Works

by Robert J. Marzano, Timothy Waters and Brian A. McNulty, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Alexandria, Va., 2005, 194 pp., $27.95 softcover

School Leadership that Works, by Robert J. Marzano, Timothy Waters and Brian A. McNulty, includes a correlation of categories of leadership behavior with student achievement. These categories of behavior, labeled by the authors as responsibilities of school leaders, was based on data derived from a meta-analysis of 69 studies completed or published from 1978 to 2001.

Contained within these studies were 2,802 schools of various levels along with approximately 14,000 teachers and 1.4 million students. All were K-12 schools located in the United States. Student achievement was measured by standardized achievement and/or state tests.

Twenty-one responsibilities ranging from situational awareness (correlation 0.33) to relationships (correlation 0.18) were identified. These were framed by what the authors described as first-order change, those found to be the most apparent, and second-order change, those found to be striking departures from the predictable.

The text also discusses personalizing school improvement through five steps: (1) developing a strong leadership team; (2) distributing responsibilities throughout the leadership team; (3) selecting the right work; (4) identifying the order of magnitude implied by selected work; and (5) matching the management style to the order of magnitude of the change initiated.

This is one of only a handful of publications that makes the connection between leadership and student achievement based on proven research data. As such, its significance to school leaders cannot be overstated.

Reviewed by Ronald A. Styron Jr., interim associate dean, College of Education and Psychology, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, Miss.