In This Article 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: 01 July 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 22 April 2013
  • 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 is coming 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 bibliography, 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. Murphy and Vriesenga’s Research on Preparation Programs in Educational Administration (Murphy and Vriesenga 2004, cited under General Overviews), an analysis of over two thousand articles published between 1975 and 2002 in the leading journals in the United States on school leadership, found that less than 3 percent (fifty-six in total) of them were empirically anchored investigations of leadership preparation. When available, empirically based research studies were selected for inclusion in this bibliography. An effort also was made to include international perspectives on leadership preparation, but much of the available literature comes from the United States. This weakness in the research base is being addressed by collaborative efforts such as the one which produced the first International Handbook on the Preparation and Development of School Leaders (Lumby, et al. 2008, cited under Handbooks). 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. Most of the research has been conducted in the United States, but similar efforts are being mounted around the globe. Murphy and Vriesenga 2004 was a catalyst for precipitating this surge in interest; Murphy and Vriesenga summarized the existing research on leadership preparation, finding it sparse and often weakly designed. Smylie, et al. 2005 provides more of a descriptive summary of what is known about developing school leaders, and it lays out a clear research agenda for the future. Murphy, et al. 2009, the introduction to the 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. 2010 adds to this research base with a systematic study of principal preparation and development programs, and it also offers a model for future research. Other articles focus more on the practice side of leadership development. Conley and Cooper 2011 addresses the ways in which leaders need to be supported throughout their professional careers, from initial recruitment to upper-level leadership roles and, in some cases, the superintendency. Björk and Kowalski 2005 offers a collection of analyses specifically on the preparation and development of candidates for the superintendency. Augustine, et al. 2009 describes the concerted efforts of school districts to offer meaningful leadership development opportunities for their administrators through coherent, systematic efforts. Lastly, Jean-Marie and Normore 2010 compares the efforts of EdD programs to redesign themselves and better meet the needs of educators for academic preparation for school leadership.

  • Augustine, Catherine H., Gabriella Gonzalez, Gina S. Ikemoto, et al. 2009. Improving school leadership: The promise of cohesive leadership systems. Santa Monica, CA: RAND.

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    Study of seventeen US school districts, large and small, that attempted to enhance instructional leadership by principals by creating more cohesive and supportive district policies and structures. With Wallace Foundation funding, districts established leadership standards, high-quality professional development, and district conditions to enhance school-level leadership.

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

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    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.

  • Conley, Sharon C., and Bruce S. Cooper, eds. 2011. Finding, preparing, and supporting school leaders: Critical issues, useful solutions. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

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    Examines the leadership pipeline in the United States from a career perspective, emphasizing the formal and informal learning that is necessary to enhance leadership capabilities. Chapters focus on how to develop, support, and retain school leaders and enhance their leadership capabilities throughout their professional careers, from preparation to the superintendency.

  • Darling-Hammond, Linda, Debra Meyerson, Michelle LaPointe, and Margaret T. Orr. 2010. Preparing principals for a changing world: Lessons from effective school leadership programs. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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    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.

  • Jean-Marie, Gaetane, and Anthony H. Normore, eds. 2010. Educational leadership preparation: Innovation and interdisciplinary approaches to the Ed.D. and graduate education. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

    DOI: 10.1057/9780230113480E-mail Citation »

    Seven descriptions of and reflections on leadership preparation programs at the doctoral level in the United States that have undertaken intensive redesign work, in part due to their involvement with Carnegie Foundation’s Project on the Education Doctorate, which has spearheaded efforts to improve the quality and relevance of doctoral programs.

  • Murphy, Joseph, and Michael Vriesenga. 2004. Research on preparation programs in educational administration: An analysis. Columbia, MO: Univ. Council for Educational Administration.

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    Authors did a systematic analysis and assessment of the knowledge base on leadership preparation programs. Research studies were identified and classified based on type of article, focus, and conclusion. They found limited scholarship in the area of administrator preparation, but the quantity was increasing, and only 3 percent of the literature was empirically anchored.

  • Murphy, Joseph, Michelle D. Young, Gary M. Crow, and Rodney T. Ogawa. 2009. Introduction: Exploring the broad terrain of leadership preparation in education. In Handbook of research on the education of school leaders. Edited by Michelle D. Young, Gary M. Crow, Joseph Murphy, and Rodney T. Ogawa, 1–22. New York: Routledge.

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    Current overview of policy and political forces driving reform in leadership preparation for school administrators in the United States, and the resulting demands for an evidence base to guide the change process. Useful orientation for graduate students and researchers alike.

  • Smylie, Mark A., and Albert Bennett, with Pamela Konkol and Carol R. Fendt. 2005. What do we know about developing school leaders? A look at existing research and next steps for new study. In A new agenda for research in educational leadership. Edited by William A. Firestone and Carolyn Riehl, 138–155. New York: Teachers College Press.

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    Concise overview of existing research on developing school leaders, addressing individual capacities for leadership, the processes for learning and development, and the effectiveness of these strategies. Authors outline areas for future study, especially empirical research that explores the link between leadership development and subsequent changes in practice.

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