Master of Arts in Educational Leadership (MAEL)

Educational Leadership Program


The Need for Exemplary Educational Leaders: What the Research Tells Us

Current research overwhelmingly supports the claim that educational leadership is an essential ingredient in any school reform effort, as well as improving student achievement. In fact, much of this research demonstrates that school leadership is second only to teacher instruction among such school related factors (Leithwood, Louis and Wahlstrom, 2004). Therefore, schools, specifically those that are deemed underperforming, are very unlikely to improve without talented leadership.

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The skills that our students will need to thrive in our 21st century global economy are vastly different than that of the Industrial Age – an age for which our schools were built. While the research certainly justifies the need for high quality educational leadership, it comes at a time when the school principal has increasingly become one of the more challenging and stressful leadership positions in contemporary society. The challenges confronting the educational leader are most daunting. School communities are faced with unprecedented societal forces and challenges including, but not limited to:

  • a rapidly changing global economy that requires a different skills set of its laborers;
  • increased performance standards, accountability and academic expectations;
  • increased parental demands for quality education and alternative school choices;
  • a changing, more diverse, and increasing student population;
  • increased incidents in school violence and demands for student safety;
  • inadequate facilities and budgetary shortfalls;
  • an overall lack of teacher quality; and
  • the exponential growth of knowledge and the ongoing emergence of new technologies.

It is difficult to accurately project how the school community of this new era will be different from that of the Industrial Age. However, it is certain that the educational communities, and the schools that comprise them, will require leadership that is vastly different than that which has been typically required of the administrator. Therefore, ensuring exemplary instructional leadership for our schools will be evermore critical.


Brian Chinni
Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership, Teacher Education
Office Address: E-232
Phone: (201) 684-7613