Categories for Quality Leadership

Are there disparities between the treatment of white students and students of color when addressing disciplinary infractions?

December 16, 2019

Examining racial/ethnic disparities in school discipline in the context of student-reported behavior infractions. Research strongly supports the existence of bias in human beings. Discrepancies between how teachers handle behavior management incidents for students of color and white students has been a concern of education researchers for well over a decade. This paper looks at the disproportionality of consequences for disciplinary infractions between these groups of students. The researchers were interested in determining whether students of color would show similar rates of suspensions, office referrals, personal warnings from a teacher, or warnings about their behavior sent home based on ethnicity, as is the case for white students. Wegman’s study finds that African American students are less likely to receive warnings for behavior infractions than white peers, resulting in escalating consequences for students of color. The unequal handling of disciplinary actions reflects a pressing need for schools to address issues of implicit and explicit bias as a means to address this central issue in education.

Citation: Wegmann, K. M., & Smith, B. (2019). Examining racial/ethnic disparities in school discipline in the context of student-reported behavior infractions. Children and Youth Services Review103, 18-27.




What roles are essential for school principals to be successful?

December 5, 2019

The Effect of Principal Behaviors on Student, Teacher and School Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Empirical Literature. This meta-analysis finds a positive relationship between school principals spending time on five commonly assigned roles and student achievement. These principal responsibilities are instructional management, internal relations, organizational management, administration, and external relations. The study finds that a principal cannot focus on a select few of the categories, but must carve out adequate time for each role. The need to be proficient across all leadership categories offers little comfort to U.S. principals who report average work-weeks of 58.6 hours (U.S. Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics, 2017). The paper recommends school principals be provided with additional resources if they are to adequately meet the needs of the students, teachers, and the community. Although these roles differ from the responsibilities researched by Viviane Robinson (goal expectations, strategic resourcing, teaching and curriculum, teacher development, and supportive environment), there does appear to be a significant overlap with those identified in the Liebowitz meta-analysis (Robinson, Lloyd, & Rowe, 2008).

Citation: Liebowitz, D. D., & Porter, L. (2019). The Effect of Principal Behaviors on Student, Teacher, and School Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Empirical Literature. Review of Educational Research89(5), 785-827.




Teacher Retention Strategies (Wing Institute Original Paper)

October 22, 2019

Teacher turnover is an enormous burden on education systems, both in terms of student achievement and dollars. High turnover necessitates the recruitment of large numbers of novice teachers, whom research shows are less skilled. This situation is exacerbated by a steady exodus of veteran teachers opting to move from challenging assignments in poorer performing schools with higher percentages of lower socio-economic students to preferred assignments more affluent areas. The high rate of turnover destabilizes the system, forcing diversion of valuable resources from ongoing improvements to recruitment, hiring, and training of novice instructors. Teachers seem to be particularly at risk for higher turnover at the beginning of their careers. Nearly half of teachers leave within 5 years of entering the profession. Efforts to improve retention have been inadequate as evidenced by steadily increasing departures from the profession. This tendency toward turnover is even more striking in private schools than in public schools. Turnover represents a major obstacle to long-term stability, diverts valuable resources, and derails many efforts at reform.

Citation: Donley, J., Detrich, R., States, J., & Keyworth, R. (2019). Teacher Retention Strategies Overview. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute.




Teacher Turnover Impact (Original Wing Institute Paper)

October 7, 2019

Decades of data attest to high rates of teacher turnover. Almost half of new teachers leave the profession within 5 years. For the past 10 years, turnover has leveled off at a disconcerting 16% per year. High turnover impedes student performance and diverts resources away from efforts to improve schools. It places large numbers of inexperienced, less effective teachers in classrooms, resulting in increased recruiting, hiring, and training budgets. With effective retention, the United States could save a meaningful portion of the $2.2 billion spent annually on replacing teachers. Research shows that increases in teacher turnover consistently correspond with decreases in achievement in core academic subjects. Attrition disproportionately affects schools with the greatest needs, low-achieving and high-poverty schools. Chronic turnover also negatively impacts a school’s culture, increasing student disciplinary problems and principal turnover. It damages collegiality, adding chaos and complexity to schoolwide operations and perpetuating new cycles of turnover. Effective interventions can remediate this situation, but they require administrators’ long-term commitment to improve the learning environment and working conditions.

Citation: Donley, J., Detrich, R, Keyworth, R., & States, J. (2019). Teacher Turnover Impact. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute.




A look at John Hattie’s latest work

September 27, 2019

Visible Learning Insights. This book by John Hattie and Klaus Zierer is written for teachers, education researchers, and anyone interested in the latest research on the efficacy of education practices. This research offers an overview of 1,400 meta-analyses and continues to build on the work John Hattie began with his book, Visible Learning, published over a decade ago that provided educators with a synthesis of 800 meta-analyses. 

Citation: Hattie, J., & Zierer, K. (2019). Visible Learning Insights. Routledge.




Informal Teacher Evaluation (Original Wing Institute Paper)

September 3, 2019

Research on informal teacher evaluation reveals the predominant evaluation method is the walk-though, which ranges from a brief 2- to 3-minute snapshot to longer observation. Studies support the important role principals play in instructional leadership but also suggest that principals are not good at identifying which teachers are the best instructors. Research finds that principals overwhelmingly understand the need to sample teacher performance but that they are rarely trained in how to accomplish this. 

Citation: Cleaver, S., Detrich, R., & States, J. (2019). Informal Teacher Evaluation. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute. Retrieved from




Performance Feedback Overview (Wing Institute Original Paper)

April 16, 2019

Performance feedback is a practice used to improve performance. Principals give feedback to teachers to clarify expectations and to provide information for increasing administrative, instructional, behavior management, and personal competency skills. More than seven meta-analyses conducted since 1980 support feedback as one of the most powerful tools for improving performance. To deliver useful feedback, principals need current and accurate information on student performance and a teacher’s instructional skills. Research finds that principals depend on unreliable sources of data such as “walk-throughs,” brief informal observations that provide snapshots of classroom activities but are not designed for performance improvement. Principals should replace traditional walk-throughs with more effective feedback practices, such as coaching, that are better suited to improving specific teaching skills. For the best results, feedback must meet these four conditions: (1) It is objective, reliable, measurable, and specific; (2) it provides information about what was done well, what needs improvement, and how to improve; (3) it is delivered frequently and immediately following performance; and (4) it is about performance rather than personal characteristics.

Citation: Cleaver, S., Detrich, R. & States, J. (2019). Overview of Performance Feedback. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute.




Evaluation of a Principal Development Model: the Principal Pipeline

April 11, 2019

Principal Pipeline:  A Feasible, Affordable, and Effective Way for Districts to Improve Schools. The Rand Corporation just released its report evaluating the impact of the Principal Pipeline Initiative (PPI),a project supported by the Wallace Foundation to create and implement a strategic process for school leadership talent management.  PPI was operated from 2011 to 2016 in six large school districts. It was composed of leadership standards, pre-service preparation opportunities for assistant principals and principals, selective hiring and placement, and on-the-job induction, evaluation and support.  The Rand Study evaluated PPI’s feasibility, effectiveness, and affordability.  It concluded that the model was feasible as each participating district was able to implement all components of the model at scale in different ways depending on the unique aspects of the district. From an effectiveness standpoint, newly placed principals in PPI districts had a greater statistically significant impact on student reading and math scores than non-PPI principals, they were more likely to stay ion their schools for at least two years, and the novice principals rated the program’s hiring, evaluation, and support process higher than non-participating principals rated the baseline model. And finally, the study found the model affordable at $ 42 per student per year, which represented a significant return on investment.  Note:  It is hoped that future studies will include outcome measure such as teacher retention, effectiveness, and satisfaction in the context of principal development.  

Citation: Gates, Susan M., Matthew D. Baird, Benjamin K. Master, and Emilio R. Chavez-Herrerias, Principal Pipelines: A Feasible, Affordable, and Effective Way for Districts to Improve Schools, Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND Corporation, RR-2666-WF, 2019. 




An examination of one program designed to increase teacher praise.

February 26, 2019

Increasing Teachers’ Use of Behavior-Specific Praise with the Teacher vs. Student Game. Research has long supported the importance of teacher behavior specific praise in the classroom. This study examines the impact of a Teacher Versus Student Game, a program that is based upon The Good Behavior Game (GBG). GBG has been in use since 1967 and is an evidence-based behavioral classroom management strategy that helps children learn how to work together to create a positive learning environment. Pressure for teachers to show academic results is hindered by challenging student conduct. Maintaining control of student behavior is a critical factor in teacher’s ability to effectively deliver instruction that results in increased student academic outcomes. Using group contingencies found in the Teacher Versus Student Game provides teachers another program designed to accomplish this important goal. This paper found that the game increased teachers rates of praise; however, the teachers gradually decreased their use of BSP over time.

Two additional papers on practices to increase teacher praise are identified under citations.

Citation: Lastrapes, R. E., Fritz, J. N., and Hasson, R. C., (2019). Increasing Teachers’ Use of Behavior-Specific Praise with the Teacher vs. Student Game. Retrieved from Researchgate:

Gage, N. A., MacSuga-Gage, A. S., & Crews, E. (2017). Increasing teachers’ use of behavior-specific praise using a multitiered system for professional development. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions19(4), 239-251.

White, K. (2018). Increasing Teachers’ Use of Behavior Specific Praise Via a Smart Watch.




How important are teacher-student relationships? (Wing Institute Original Paper)

December 18, 2018

Teacher-student Relationships. Research shows skills commonly referred to as soft skills (personal competencies) have a powerful impact on teacher effectiveness. Mastery results in beneficial teacher-student relationships. Evidence finds teachers who create a positive relationship have a substantial effect on student learning; they also have fewer discipline problems, office referrals, and related conduct issues. Even more importantly, these skills can be taught in pre-service and in-service training.

Citation: States, J., Detrich, R. & Keyworth, R. (2018). Teacher-student Relationships Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute. Retrieved from