By Marta Pellegrini, University of Florence, Italy
Teacher leaders are teachers who influence colleagues, principals, and other school members in an effort to improve teaching and learning practices as well as student outcomes and educational experiences. Moreover, teacher leadership is a process to facilitate whole school change and to promote professional learning and shared decision making.
A meta-analysis by Shen et al. (2020) synthesized studies on the relationship between teacher leadership and student academic achievement. The review included 21 studies carried out in the United States and found a small, positive correlation between teacher leadership and student academic achievement (r = .187, p < .001).
Considering the seven dimensions of teacher leadership – categorized by the authors based on the literature – the dimension of “facilitating improvements in curriculum, instruction, and assessment” (r = .21) and “promoting teacher professional development” (r = .19) have the strongest relationship with student academic achievement. The authors also found that the relationship is stronger for math achievement (r = .24) than for reading (r = .18). In the analysis of other moderators, no significant differences were found in the strength of association between elementary and secondary school, nor was there evidence that the relationship differs between the three types of teacher leadership applied in the studies (teacher leadership, teacher empowerment, and distributed leadership).