This study revealed that there are significant challenges to a superintendent’s and principals’ ability to effectively practice instructional leadership. These challenges to instructional leadership are categorized into five themes: vision/mission; teaching and planning time; managing classroom instruction; student success/progress; and positive atmosphere. Of these five themes the superintendent and principals effectively demonstrated instructional leadership except in the area of student success/progress. More focused attention and professional development is required in this area. Dealing with emergent issues, ensuring stakeholder input, working with reluctant staff members, financial limitations, and accountability requirements were found to be the most significant challenges to instructional leadership practices.
This exploratory case study was conducted using semi-structured interviews and document analysis to collect data. The units of analysis were a superintendent, fifteen principals, and sixteen teachers from a high performing school district in Alberta.
This study also describes eight recommendations related to superintendent and principal instructional leadership practices and five suggestions for future research. Recommendations for policy-makers (reduce the number and scope of accountability requirements), superintendents and principals (developed a comprehensive school district strategic plan), trustees and community stakeholders (provide training to ensure that roles and responsibilities are understood), and superintendent and principal preparation programs (establish mentoring and support) are specifically mentioned.