Leadership in an age of accountability: an instrumental case study

The purpose of this study was to explore the type of leadership practice being utilized by district leaders to affect change and encourage accountability in their districts in response to California's Public Schools Accountability Act of 1999 and the Federal government's No Child Left Behind Act. To accomplish this, a qualitative study was designed to examine the experiences of three superintendents working in San Diego, California. The data were collected through an instrumental case study. In addition to a comprehensive literature review on accountability in education and the aspects of effective leadership practice in education, the study includes a detailed analysis ofthe types of leadership practice district leaders are utilizing to improve accountability in their districts. In attempting to translate state accountability mandates into meaningful district and site-level programs aimed at improving organizational effectiveness, district leaders must implement certain types of leadership practice. This study identified a general pattern related to the types of effective leadership practice being implemented by district leaders in San Diego in order to promote improved accountability, including strategic planning, district emphasis on improved curriculum and pedagogy, and the implementation of meaningful professional development for staff. Furthermore, effective leadership practice entails both creating an organizational culture in which employees are willing to make the necessary changes that encourage outcome-based accountability and building the appropriate organizational capacity necessary to achieve improved accountability.