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District Leadership That Works: Striking the Right Balance Perfect Paperback – April 20, 2009

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District Leadership That Works: Striking the Right Balance + Leaders of Learning: How District, School, and Classroom Leaders Improve Student Achievement + School Leadership That Works: From Research to Results
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Editorial Reviews


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/CEO, State Board of Education and the Public Schools of North Carolina

About the Author

Dr. Robert Marzano is cofounder and CEO of Marzano Research Laboratory in Centennial, Colorado, and Senior Scholar at Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning in Denver, Colorado. He is the author of thirty books, one hundred and fifty articles and chapters in books, and one hundred sets of curriculum materials for teachers and students in grades K-12. During his forty years in public education, Dr. Marzano has worked in every state and in many countries in Europe and Asia. The central theme in his work has been translating research and theory into practical programs and tools for K-12 teachers and administrators. His works include: The Art and Science of Teaching, Classroom Assessment and Grading That Work, What Works in Schools: Translating Research Into Action, School Leadership That Works, Building Background Knowledge for Academic Achievement, Classroom Management That Works, Classroom Instruction That Works, Transforming Classroom Grading, and A Different Kind of Classroom. Dr. Timothy Waters is executive director of Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) and has been with the organization since 1993. Prior to joining McREL, Dr. Waters was superintendent of schools in Greeley, Colorado, where he led a seven-year effort of systemic reform to ensure the success of every student. This standards-based effort resulted in dramatic achievement gains for students and, in particular, for minority students and disadvantaged children. Dr. Waters has expertise in the theory and application of systemic change processes in educational systems and in the implementation of effective reform. Previous positions also include special adviser for education to the governor of Arizona, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, principal, assistant principal, dean of students, and teacher.

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Product Details

  • Perfect Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Solution Tree (April 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935249193
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935249191
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 7 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #122,857 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dr. John Merks on October 23, 2011
Format: Perfect Paperback Verified Purchase
In this study, Marzano and Waters (MW) used meta-analysis to investigate the relationship between district leadership and student achievement at the school building level. Their study found that there were positive effects between school district leadership and student achievement. Meta-analysis has many critics. Some describe the process as mixing apples and oranges to discover how tomatoes grow. MW provides technical notes from pages 117 to 139. These notes were inscrutable since I have not yet acquired the specific research skills to understand them.

Their research has led them to advance five district responsibilities (or initiatives). They are: ensuring collaborative goal setting, establishing nonnegotiable goals for achievement and instruction, creating board alignment and support of district goals, monitoring achievement and instructional goals, and allocating resources to support goals for achievement and instruction (p. 6).

MW also made a perplexing finding, called Defined Autonomy. "Defined autonomy means that the superintendent expects building principals and all other administrators in the district to lead within the boundaries defined by the district goals (p. 8). How Defined Authority should be implemented takes up the rest of the book. MW advocates that school districts become high reliability school districts by tight coupling regarding achievement and instruction (p. 18).

The authors draw on the model of high reliability organizations (HROs). A HRO is an organization that has succeeded in avoiding catastrophe in an environment where normal accidents are expected due to risk factors and complexity (Wikipedia). MW cites organizations such as electric power grids, commercial aircraft maintenance, air traffic control, and nuclear power plants.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Marzano and Waters text, District Leadership that Works: Striking the Right Balance is a healthy balance between research and application for educators in leadership positions. This professional book interprets the results of a meta-analysis on the correlation between student achievement related to both district and building level leadership, identifies and describes action steps school districts can take, and explains how building and district level leadership intertwine.

In this text, Marzano and Waters go into detail about five specific leadership behaviors, and how they can be supported by building and district level leadership. These behaviors and action steps are concise and multiple examples are provided.

School improvement teams, as well as individuals in building/district level leadership would enjoy reading and reflecting on Marzano’s research and ideas when determining action steps in cultivating system-wide change while supporting the need for autonomy.
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Our district is using this, and with this as their bible, they have destroyed our community and educational structure. We have over 70% of the teachers dissatisfied with the direction and management, parents up in arms and holding protests, and there is even talk of attempting to recall the Board. I'm aghast at how poorly this book guided our leadership.

It completely discounts involvement of teachers. Even worse, it predicts that change may cause teachers to express unhappiness, and because this is provided as a warning, they just stomp over us.

Having managed corporate change many times before in my prior life, I know there are better ways to handle this. This book relies upon meta-analysis of studies that use "data" from 1950s.

As a teacher for over 15 years, I give the content a C (some of the progression is good) and the implementation an F.
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