Critique of Article: Leading for Low-Income Students
You summarized effectively the research design of the quantitative study by Brown (et al., 2017), which linked the presence of high-performing school leaders to high-performing schools that better served the needs of low-income and minority students. All schools in the study derived 75% of the population from low-income students. The survey comprised 25 questions, which were then submitted to teachers. Confidence and trust emerged as the key factors in teacher confidence in their principals. You also highlighted a limitation of the study, namely there was no attempt to link teacher perception with actual student performance. Even if teachers may feel positively about their principals, this does not mean that their feelings actually translate into students education gains. There may be a correlation between liking the principals and the schools higher performance, but the principals may not be the main causes. The study did not identify specific actions of principals, but characteristics.
Overall, I think the critique did an excellent job of highlighting how the study supported the important influence of principals upon schools, without giving the findings too much weight. I agree it supports the importance of leadership in low-income schools and the potential in school leaders enabling teachers and students to succeed through creating a positive educational atmosphere and instilling confidence in teachers.
The only potential weakness I might find is that it did not give enough attention to discussing the weaknesses of the article, specifically the lack of consideration of student achievement, although I acknowledge the importance of teachers feeling that the principal is fostering a positive school environment that enables them to do their job well. It could also have done a better job summarizing the elements of the survey, to better convey to the reader the respondents assumptions regarding the characteristics of positive educational leadership. The study could not conclusively support sweeping statements regarding school leadership, but the study could be an important element of a literature review.
Brown III, G., Bynum, Y., & Beziat, T. (2017). Leading for low-income students: Results from a
study on school leaders in low-income elementary schools. Education, 138 (1), 68-74.
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