In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Leadership Training with an Emphasis on the United States

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Handbooks
  • Reports
  • History of Leadership Training
  • Leadership Training within School Systems
  • Global Perspectives

Education Leadership Training with an Emphasis on the United States
Pamela D. Tucker, Frank Perrone
  • LAST REVIEWED: 19 November 2019
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 August 2020
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0058


Due to a growing body of empirical research on the influence of quality leadership in schools, the role of school leaders continues to come under the policy spotlight as an important catalyst for school improvement and reform. While classroom teachers have the most direct impact on student learning, educational leaders are able to support and optimize learning through their indirect effect on school and classroom conditions. Critical theorists would challenge these instrumental functions of school administrators and posit a more humane, moral, and democratic view of leadership, which in turn would suggest different forms of training and program evaluation. Despite wide-ranging definitions of leadership, there is a growing awareness and appreciation of leadership effects, and a resulting surge in the scholarship and research focused on leadership training. For the purposes of this article, leadership training has been interpreted to mean the learning process by which individuals are prepared to demonstrate leadership skills and develop those skills over the course of their professional careers. Preparation refers to learning that takes place prior to selection for a formal leadership position, and development refers to learning that takes place while an individual is in a formal leadership position. Both preservice and in-service aspects of training are addressed in the references; however, most of the research addresses aspects of leadership preparation versus leadership development. The body of research on leadership training has been growing substantially since the early 1990s, but it was quite limited prior to this time period. When available, empirically based research studies were selected for inclusion in this article. An effort also was made to include international perspectives on leadership preparation, but the majority of the available literature comes from the United States. Qian, et al. 2017 (cited under General Overviews) notes this dearth of international research in the authors’ overview of the non-US leadership preparation field. As a result of the heavy emphasis on research from the United States, there is a disproportionate sampling of publications focused on university-based training, where most of the administrative preparation takes place due to licensing regulations. Although leadership training is taking place in a variety of venues outside of universities, there is little systematic assessment of its impact on the practices or beliefs of participants.

General Overviews

As the evidence base supporting the importance of school leadership grows, there is a new urgency surrounding the preparation of high-quality school and district-level leaders who can improve the learning environment for students. As a result, there has been a dramatic increase in the thinking, research, and experimentation regarding leadership preparation. Crow and Whiteman 2016 provides a thorough review of what is known about effective practices for developing school leaders, and it lays out a clear research agenda for the future. The literature review in Perrone and Tucker 2019 provides a concise overview of the current state of research on preparing school-level leaders. Young and Crow 2017 (cited under Handbooks), the introduction to the authors’ Handbook of Research on the Education of School Leaders, describes the broader policy context, in which pressures continue to grow, and sets the stage for the handbook’s comprehensive review of research on leadership preparation and development in the United States. Darling-Hammond, et al. 2009 is central to the current research base with a systematic study of principal preparation and development programs, and it also offers a model for continued research. Björk and Kowalski 2005 offers a collection of some of the only analyses specifically on the preparation and development of candidates for the superintendency. As noted in Qian, et al. 2017, the vast majority of the research has been conducted in the United States.

  • Björk, Lars G., and Theodore J. Kowalski, eds. 2005. The contemporary superintendent: Preparation, practice, and development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

    Leading scholars examine the changing role and practices of contemporary superintendents in the United States, and the implications for their selection, preparation, and development. Three chapters specifically address professional preparation and development, based on educational reform reports, learning theory and research, and the conception of superintendent as instructional leader.

  • Crow, Gary M., and Rodney S. Whiteman. 2016. Effective preparation program features: A literature review. Journal of Research on Leadership Education 11.1: 120–146.

    Thorough literature review provides an update of Young, et al. 2009 (cited under Handbooks) by examining research on aspects of school leadership training found effective from 2006–2007 to August 2013. The authors additionally evaluate the quality of research and chart directions for future leadership training research.

  • Darling-Hammond, Linda, Debra Meyerson, Michelle laPointe, and Margaret T. Orr. 2009. Preparing principals for a changing world: Lessons from effective school leadership programs. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

    Based on the research conducted for the School Leadership Study, this book offers a thorough, empirically based analysis of eight innovative principal development programs in the United States, focusing on qualities of effective programs, program outcomes, and the context of high-quality programs. Extensive appendices elaborate upon methodology.

  • Perrone, Frank, and Pamela D. Tucker. 2019. Shifting profile of leadership preparation programs in the 21st century. Educational Administration Quarterly 55.2: 253–295.

    Examination of school leadership training program and graduate figures from 2000 to 2014. Large increases in the number of programs offering leadership preparation degrees and degrees conferred were largely driven by increased preparation in less-resourced institutions across this time period.

  • Qian, Haiyan, Allan Walker, and Darren A. Bryant. 2017. Global trends and issues in the development of educational leaders. In Handbook of research on the education of school leaders. 2d ed. Edited by Michelle D. Young and Gary M. Crow, 53–73. New York and Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

    Reviews the literature on global influences that are shaping leadership development and discusses three key themes of globalized competition, widespread use of Internet-based technologies, and emerging global edu-business. The possibilities and potential problems of these three trends are explored from a perspective outside of the pervasive Anglo-American one.

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