The Book: About School Leadership that Works

McREL’s book, School Leadership that Works: From Research to Results (Marzano, Waters, & McNulty, 2005), describes our approach to balanced leadership. This approach was developed from three key bodies of knowledge:

The meta-analysis uses quantitative techniques to synthesize principal school leadership studies in a given domain. In this regard, we considered any and all available studies from 1970 to the present that met the following conditions:

Sixty-nine studies met these criteria and included 2,802 schools, approximately 1.4 million students, and 14,000 teachers.

In addition to the meta-analysis (based on teacher perceptions of leadership), McREL conducted a factor analysis to answer the questions that resulted from the meta-analytic findings, specifically, understanding the differential impact of principal leadership.

The factor analysis consited of a 92-item survey, designed to be taken by building principals, was constructed with multiple items for each responsibility. A 5-point response format was used for each item. In addition to items that addressed the 21 responsibilities, the survey also was designed to examine the relationship between leadership responsibilities and change.

The results of the factor analysis supported the findings from the meta-analysis: all 21 of the leadership responsibilities (factors) are essential when leading first-order changes (i.e., changes perceived as congruent with existing norms, practices, or knowledge). Four of the leadership responsibilities were negatively associated with second-order changes (i.e., changes perceived as being a break with the past or requiring new knowledge or skills) and seven responsibilities were positively associated with second-order changes.

McREL’s research team applied insights from their own professional wisdom and an extensive review of the literature—including change, collective efficacy, distributed leadership, leadership, institutions, organizational capacity, organizational learning, supervision, and systems—to help school leaders understand how to effectively carry out the 21 leadership responsibilities identified in the study. Thus, the findings represent an integration of quantitative research, theoretical insights, and professional wisdom about effective leadership.

For a complete description of the meta-analysis and the factor analysis outlined here, please consult Technical Notes. To purchase the book, please visit ASCD’s website at