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District Leadership That Works

Striking the Right Balance

District Leadership That Works

Publisher: Solution Tree
Publication date: April 14, 2009

Page count: 176

In stock


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Bridge the great divide between distanced administrative duties and daily classroom impact. This book introduces a top-down power mechanism called defined autonomy, a concept that focuses on district-defined, nonnegotiable, common goals and a system of accountability supported by assessment tools. Defined autonomy creates an effective balance of centralized direction and individualized empowerment that allows building-level staff the stylistic freedom to respond quickly and effectively to student failure.


  • Initiate second-order change to promote student achievement.
  • Set nonnegotiable district-defined goals for achievement and instruction through a collaborative process with stakeholders.
  • Create defined autonomy that allows teachers creative freedom while ensuring student achievement.
  • Monitor progress through formative assessment tools.
  • Counteract any resistance to second-order change.

Additional Info

Product Code: BKF314

ISBN: 9781935249191

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“Bob Marzano and Tim Waters have made sense of a vast amount of research on the impact of school leadership at the district level. They have proven that clear direction and focused leadership through ‘defined autonomy’ have a positive impact on student achievement. Marzano and Waters have an uncanny ability to translate theory into action, and they have done it again in District Leadership That Works. This book can guide the ongoing efforts at the district level to support the work going on in schools.”

Bill Harrison, chairman and CEO, State Board of Education and the Public Schools of North Carolina

“The book addresses the strength of the relationship between district-level administrative actions and average student achievement and what the specific district leadership behaviors are that appear to be associated with affecting student achievement.

“[The] book uses a technique called meta-analysis, which allows researchers to synthesize the results of separate quantitative studies to achieve a synergistic effect. As a result, this statistical method produces an extremely rigorous result, enabling valid and reliable cause-and-effect inferences. The results of the meta-analysis refute [former US Education Secretary William J.] Bennett’s and others’ claim that leadership at the school level and the district level has no impact on student achievement. Quite the contrary! Second only to the impact of the teacher is the principal, and, in this book, the superintendent and other district leaders make a significant impact on achievement.”

Perry Berkowitz, associate professor and chair of education leadership and counseling, College of Saint Rose, New York, for The School Administrator, February 2010