Sustainable Leadership: Impact of an Innovative Leadership Development Program for School Principals in Palestine

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Journal Title, Volume, Page: 
American Journal of Educational Research v 40 pp 37-42
Year of Publication: 
Louis Crestilo
first Auther
Current Affiliation: 
AMIDEAST, Ramallah, Palestine
Nuha Atair
second auther
Current Affiliation: 
Palestine Technical University - Khadorie, Tulkarem, Palestine
Alia Assali
Third Auther
Current Affiliation: 
An-Najah National University, Nablus, Palestine
Preferred Abstract (Original): 
Since its establishment in 1994 following the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO, Palestine’s Ministry of Education and Higher Education has undertaken the formidable task of developing a full-fledged educational system. From its beginnings, and with funding support from international and bilateral donors, a key pillar of the Ministry’s policymaking has been the ongoing professional development of school principals. In 2008, the Ministry launched the Palestinian Education Development Strategic Plan/2008-2012 (EDSP), a comprehensive reform package aimed at shoring up gaps in the educational system, with a particular emphasis on improving the quality of school leadership and instruction. USAID, in response to the EDSP, contracted AMIDEAST, a US-based nonprofit organization with a long history of cultural exchange and educational development in the MENA region, to pilot a teacher and principal professional development program, the Model Schools Network (MSN). The program began with 17 private schools in the West Bank and then expanded in 2009 to 40 public schools, and a year later added 12 private schools in Gaza. The program ended in 2012. The centerpiece of MSN’s leadership training was the Leadership Diploma Program, a 340-hour school-based professional development initiative comprised of monthly face-to-face sessions and learning circles, job-embedded assignments linked to authentic issues facing principals in their daily work, and reflective inquiry through action research. The program was framed by knowledge and competences grounded in principles of shared leadership and international standards aligned with research on effective schools. Now three years after the close-out of MSN, our study sought to find out whether MSN has had a sustainable impact on the attitudes and practices of principals as leaders of their school communities in general and as instructional leaders in particular. Results from a survey and in-depth interviews with former MSN principals offer promising evidence that the MSN model of shared leadership appears to have had a sustained impact on the attitudes and practices of principals in three key domains: technology and community building; results-based decision-making; and, instructional supervision.