LSA Theory of Action

Four paths of leadership influence on student learning


Practices and


School-wide experience

Student Learning
and Well-being

Classroom Experience

Academic Emphasis

This is the degree to which there is a school-wide focus on student achievement. In schools with academic press, staff set high but achievable academic goals and standards, and believe their students are able to achieve those standards. Students value these goals, respond positively, and work hard to meet the challenge.

  • Alig-Mielcarek, J. M. (2003). A model of school success: Instructional leadership, academic press, and student achievement. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. The Ohio State University, the United States.
  • Shouse, R. C. (1996). Academic press and sense of community: Conflict, congruence, and implications for student achievement. Social Psychology of Education, 1(1), 47-68.
  • Ma, X. (1999). Dropping out of advanced mathematics: The effects of parental involvement. Teachers College Record, 101, 60-81
  • Ma, X. (2003). Measuring up: Academic performance of Canadian immigrant children in reading, mathematics, and science. Journal of International Migration and Integration, 4(4), 541-576.
  • Ma, X. & Crocker, R. (2007). Provincial effects on reading achievement. The Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 53 (1), 87-109.
  • Ma, X. & Klinger, D. A. (2000). Hierarchical Linear Modelling of student and school effects on Academic achievement. Canadian Journal of Education, 25(1), 41-55
  • Murphy, J. F. and others. (1982). Academic press: Translating high expectations into school policies and classroom practices. Educational Leadership, 40(3), 22-26
  • Goddard, R. D., Sweetland, S. R., & Hoy, W. K. (2000). Academic emphasis of urban elementary schools and student achievement in reading and mathematics: A multilevel analysis. Educational Administration Quarterly, 36(5), 683-702.
  • Lee, V. E., & Bryk, A. S. (1989). A multilevel model of the social distribution of high school achievement. Sociology of Education, 62(3), 172-192.
  • Lee, V. E., & Smith, J. B. (1999). Social support and achievement for young adolescents in Chicago: The role of school academic press. American Educational Research Journal, 36(4), 907-945.
  • Lee, V., Smith, J. B., Tamara, P. E., & Smylie, M. A. (1999). Social support, academic press and student achievement: A view from the Middle Grades in Chicago. Improving Chicago's schools. A Report of the Chicago Annenberg Research Project. Eric document (ED 439213)
  • Raudenbush, S. W., Fotiu, R. P., & Cheong, Y. F. (1998). Inequality of access to educational resources: A national report card for eighth-Grade Math. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 20(4), 253-267.
Back to the chart.

Disciplinary Climate

There is a collective belief on the part of the staff and students about the importance of minimizing indiscipline, violence or other disruptive behaviour. A sense of collective responsibility exists across the school for preventing distractions to the academic priorities of the school.

  • Benda, S. M. (2000). The effect of leadership styles on the disciplinary climate and culture of elementary schools. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Widener University, the United States.
  • Hoy, W. K., Hannum, J., & Tschannen-Moran, M. (1998). Organizational climate and student achievement: A parsimonious and longitudinal view. Journal of School Leadership, 8(4), 336-359.
  • Hirase, S. K. (2000). School climate. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. The University of Utah, the United States.
  • Hoy, W. K., & Sabo, D.J. (1998). Quality middle schools: Open and healthy. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
  • Jacob, J. A. (2004). A study of school climate and enabling bureaucracy in select New York City public elementary schools. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. The University of Utah, the United States.
  • Willms, J. D., & Ma, X. (2004). School disciplinary climate: characteristics and effects on eighth grade achievement [Electronic version]. Alberta Journal of Educational research, 50 (2), 1-27.
Back to the chart.

Classroom Instruction

The implementation of cognitively challenging student experiences designed to accomplish explicit learning objectives and including close monitoring of student progress, provision of timely informative feedback, differentiated in response to student needs and building on the power of peer to peer collaboration.

  • Leithwood, K., McAdie, P., Bascia, N., & Rodrigue, A. (Eds.). (2006). Teaching for deep understanding: What every educator should know. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
  • Hattie, J. (2010). Visible Learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. London: Routledge (chapter 10 and 11, pages 200-261)
  • Louis, K.S., Dretzke, B., Wahlstrom, K. (2010). How does leadership affect student achievement?: Results from a national survey, School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 21, 3, 315-336.
  • Cooper, K.S., (2013). Eliciting Engagement in the High School Classroom: A Mixed-Methods Examination of Teaching Practices
Back to the chart.

Collaborative Inquiry Processes

Such processes may take several different forms (Teaching-Learning Critical Pathways and Professional Learning Cycles are examples) but all include an effort by groups of staff to improve the design of lessons, analyze student work and create meaningful ways of diagnosing and monitoring student learning. These processes are often the content of the work that takes place in PLCs.

Back to the chart.

Knowledge Building (KB)

is a theoretically rich and highly developed approach to instruction aimed at developing deep understanding of big ideas and complex problems. This approach is most effectively supported by the online technology, Knowledge Forum, which makes thinking visible and provides a space for ideas to live and grow, by creating a learning community committed to collective responsibility for idea improvement. A key defining feature of KB is its commitment to community - as well as individual - knowledge building.

Back to the chart.

Collective Efficacy

Teachers across the school perceive that their efforts, as a whole, will have positive effects on student achievement. Teachers organize and implement whatever educational initiatives are required for students to achieve high standards of achievement.

  • Armstrong-Coppins, D. R. (2003). What principals do to increase collective teacher efficacy in urban schools (urban education, teacher efficacy). Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Cardinal Stritch University, the United States.
  • Bandura, A. (1993). Perceived self-efficacy in cognitive development and functioning. Educational Psychologist, 28(2), 117-148.
  • Barr, M. F. (2002). Fostering student achievement: A study of the relationship of collective teacher efficacy and student achievement. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. The College of William and Mary in Virginia, the United States.
  • Garcia, H. (2004). The impact of collective efficacy on student achievement: Implications for building a learning community. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Loyola University Chicago, the United States.
  • Goddard, R. D., Hoy, W. K., & Hoy, A. W. (2000). Collective teacher efficacy: Its meaning, measure, and impact on student achievement. American Educational Research Journal, 37(2), 479-507.
  • Goddard, R., Hoy, W. K., & Woolfolk Hoy, A. (2000). Collective teacher efficacy: Its meaning, measure and impact on student achievement. American Educational Research Journal, 37(2), 479-507.
  • Herman, P. (2000). Teacher experience and teacher efficacy: Relations to student motivation and achievement. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the United States.
  • Hylemon, L. V. (2006). Collective teacher efficacy and reading achievement for Hispanic students in reading first and non-reading first schools in southwest Florida. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. The University of Central Florida, United States.
  • Larrick, C. S. (2004). Collective teacher efficacy and student achievement (Virginia). Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of Virginia, the United States.
  • Leithwood, K., & Jantzi, D. (2008). Linking leadership to student learning: The role of collective efficacy. Educational Administration Quarterly, 44(4), 496-528.
  • Ross, J. A., & Gray, P. (2006). School leadership and student achievement: The mediating effects of teacher beliefs. Canadian Journal of Education, 29(3), 798-822.
  • Ross, J. A., & Gray, P. (2006, June). Transformational leadership and teacher commitment to organizational values: The mediating effects of collective teacher efficacy. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 17(2), 179-199.
  • Tschannen-Moran, M., & Barr, M. (2004). Fostering student achievement: The relationship between collective teacher efficacy and student achievement. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 3(3), 189-209.
  • Tschannen-Moran, M., Hoy, A. W., & Hoy, W. K. (1998). Teacher efficacy: Its meaning and measure. Review of Educational Research, 68(2), 202-248.
  • Goddard, R. D., LoGerfo, L., & Hoy, W. K. (2004). High school accountability: The role of perceived collective efficacy. Educational Policy, 18(3), 403-425.
  • Cybulski, T., Hoy, W., & Sweetland, S., (2005). The roles of collective efficacy of teachers and fiscal efficiency in student achievement, Journal of Educational Administration, 43, 4/5, 439.
  • Somech, A., & Bogler, R. (2002). Antecedents and Consequences of Teacher Organizational and Professional Commitment, Educational Administration Quarterly, 38, 4, 555-577.
  • Nguni, S., Sleegers, P., & Denessen, E. (2006) "Transformational and Transactional Leadership Effects on Teachers' Job Satisfaction, Organizational Commitment, and Organizational Citizenship Behavior in Primary Schools: The Tanzanian case", School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 17, 2, 145 – 177.
Back to the chart.

Trust in Others

A belief or expectation on the part of teachers that their colleagues, students and parents support the school's goals for student learning and will work toward achieving those goals.

  • Bryk, A. S., & Schneider, B. (2003). Trust in schools: A core resource for school reform. Educational Leadership, 60(6), 40-44.
  • Goddard, R. (2003). Relational networks, social trust, and norms: A social capital perspective on students' chance of academic success. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 25(1), 59-74.
  • Goddard, R. D., Tschannen-Moran, M., & Hoy, W. K. (2001). A multi-level examination of the distribution and effects of teacher trust in students and parents in urban elementary schools. Elementary School Journal, 101(1), 3-19.
  • Handford, T., Leithwood, K. (2013). Why teachers trust leaders, Journal of Educational Administration, 51, 2, 194-212.
  • Goddard, R.D. (2003). Relational Networks, Social Trust, and Norms: A Social Capital Perspective on Students' Chances of Academic Success. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 25(1), 59–74.
  • Goddard, R.D., Tschannen-Moran, M., & Hoy, W.K. (2001). A Multilevel Examination of the Distribution and Effects of Teacher Trust in Students and Parents in Urban Elementary Schools. The Elementary School Journal, 102(1), 3-17.
  • Tschannen-Moran, M. & Hoy, W.K. (1998). Trust in schools: A conceptual and empirical analysis. Journal of Educational Administration, 36(4).
  • Tschannen-Moran, M. & Hoy, W.K. (2000). A multidisciplinary analysis of the nature, meaning, and measurement of trust. Review of Educational Research, 70(4).
  • Tschannen-Moran, M. (2001). Collaboration and the need for trust. Journal of Educational Administration 39(4).
Back to the chart.

Teacher Commitment

This type of commitment is about an individual teacher’s strong belief in the school organization, identification and involvement in the organization, and a strong desire to remain a part of the organization.

Back to the chart.

Organizational Citizenship Behaviour

OCB’s are discretionary behaviors not formally part of a person’s formal job description or contract that contributes to the effective functioning of the organization

Back to the chart.

Principal Learning Teams

A group of school leaders in a district, usually including at least one system leader, as well, with same purposes as professional learning communities but with a focus on improving their own leadership. PLTs often also help guide district as well as school-level decisions.

Back to the chart.

Professional Learning Communities

A group of teachers and school leaders, often in the same school, who meet together regularly to learn from one another, share their challenges and successes, and to work on improving their instruction.

  • Lomos, C., Hofman, R., Bosker, R. (2011). Professional communities and student achievement – a meta-analysis, School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 22, 2, 121-148.
  • Louis, K.S., & Marks, H.M. (1998). Does professional community affect the classroom? Teachers' work and student experiences in restructuring schools. American Journal of Education, 106, 532–575.
  • Stoll, L., Bolam, R., McMahon, A., Wallace, M., & Thomas, S. (2006). Professional learning communities: A review of the literature, Journal of Educational Change, 7, 221–258.
  • Toole, J., Louis, K.S. (2002). The role of professional learning communities in international education. In K. Leithwood and P. Hallinger (Eds.). Second international handbook of educational leadership and administration (pp. 245-279). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
  • Wiley, S.D. (2001). Contextual effects on student achievement: School leadership and professional community, Journal of Educational Change, 2, 1–33.
Back to the chart.

Instructional Time

School schedules, timetables, structures, administrative behaviours, and instructional practices are all designed to ensure that students are engaged in meaningful learning as much of their time as possible. Distractions from meaningful learning are minimized.

  • Ben Jaffer, S. (2006). An alternative approach to measuring opportunity to learn in high school classes." Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 52, 2.
  • Carroll, J. (1963). A model of school learning. Teachers College Record, 64, 723-733.
  • Gump, S. (2005). The cost of cutting class attendance as a predictor of student success." College Teaching, 53, 1,
  • Marburger, D. (2006). Does mandatory attendance improve student performance?, Journal of Economic Education, 37, 2.
  • Roby, D. E. (2004). Research on school attendance and student achievement: A study of Ohio schools. Educational Research Quarterly, 28(1), 3-14.
  • Tornroos, J. (2005). Mathematics textbooks, opportunity to learn and student achievement studies. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 31, 315-327.
  • Tornroos, J. (2005). Mathematics textbooks, opportunity to learn and student achievement, Studies in Educational Evaluation, 31, 315-327.
Back to the chart.

Interactive Technologies

The LSA project provides several types of interactive technologies to support the work of principals and their colleagues. LSA has a website and provides a number of web-based resources for project participants and regularly hosts virtual learning sessions.

Back to the chart.

Parent Expectations

These are the parents’ expectations about their children’s success at school.

Back to the chart.

Parents' Social Capital

This consists of the connections with others that provide information about schools that increase parents’ ability to advocate on behalf of their children.

Back to the chart.

Parent-child Communications in the Home

This is associated with role parents adopt with their children, the most effective allowing for considerable discretion for children’s decisions within firmly established and well understood boundaries.

Back to the chart.

A project developed by the provincial principals' associations (ADFO, CPCO and OPC)
in partnership with and funded by the Student Achievement Division, Ministry of Education of Ontario, and supported by Learnography.