Journal of Educational Change

, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 403–430 | Cite as

No one way: Differentiating school district leadership and support for school improvement

  • Stephen E. AndersonEmail author
  • Blair Mascall
  • Suzanne Stiegelbauer
  • Jaddon Park


This article examines findings from a qualitative investigation of how school district administrators in four mid to large sized urban school districts (10,000–50,000) identify and address differences in school performance. The analysis explores the interaction between district policies and actions that centralize and standardize expectations for teaching, learning, and leadership, and those that lead to the differentiation of district support to schools depending upon their identified needs. The findings demonstrate variability in district orientation and capacity to understand school needs to improve performance, as well as in district strategies for actually differentiating support to schools. Differentiated assistance can focus both on strengthening implementation of district expectations in order to improve school performance, and on supporting experimentation with non-standard solutions to performance challenges that are not solvable through use of established programs and practices.


School district Leadership School improvement Differentiated support 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen E. Anderson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Blair Mascall
    • 1
  • Suzanne Stiegelbauer
    • 1
  • Jaddon Park
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Theory and Policy Studies in EducationOntario Institute for Studies in Education University of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of Curriculum, Teaching and LearningOntario Institute for Studies in Education University of TorontoTorontoCanada

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