Book Review

The Learning Leader: How to Focus School Improvement for Better Results

by Douglas B. Reeves, ASCD, Alexandria, Va., 2006, 220 pp., $26.95 softcover

Leadership is a complicated endeavor without a one-size-fits-all approach. However, leadership can be the determining factor that closes the achievement gap for many needy children.

In his book, The Learning Leader: How to Focus School Improvement for Better Results, Douglas Reeves stresses that strong leadership is based on the idea “We cannot do it alone.” Great leaders need to build on their own strengths while creating teams of diverse individuals who are committed to student and school success. Their collective wisdom and experience can be a powerful tool in designing strategies to improve student achievement.

Reeves defines “Learning Leaders” and “Leading Leaders” as those who make a conscious effort to make a difference in the lives of children. They design accountability systems that are realistic and help teachers and others recognize their role in student success.

He offers strategies for rethinking leadership roles, for motivating more colleagues and for bringing them on board. Designing systems to support student success, he says, is probably the least important variable. Implementation, execution and monitoring are greater determiners of student success than having a well-articulated plan.

Effective educational leaders, Reeves contends, are able to transform resistance to change into a journey that reduces opposition and facilitates student success. His book is an excellent resource for honing skills and developing accountability tools for fostering student and adult success.

Reviewed by Anthony P. Cavanna, school reform scientist, American Institutes for Research, Washington, D.C.