It is known that education plays an important role in the life of any individual in our society. Today it is necessary to pay special attention to school standards as school education is compulsory and provides the basis for the further development of any personality. According to the Institute for Educational Leadership, today many schools have serious problems “ranging from random outbreaks of violence and crumbling facilities to staff shortfalls and chronically low academic expectations for students”¯ (Leadership for Student Learning: Reinventing the Principalship, 2000, p.1). The key input factors in effective schools are leadership, teaching and learning and the curriculum. Each of the above mentioned factors has enormous impact on the quality of education in schools. It is clear that leadership is closely connected with the professionalism of teachers, and the curriculum is closely connected with teaching and learning processes. It means the key input factors should be taken into consideration by the specialists who evaluate the effectiveness of this or that school. The major goal of this paper is to justify the impact of leadership, teaching and learning and the curriculum as key input factors in effective schools. Special attention will be paid to the impact of the curriculum as key input factor in Jamaican schools. The paper identifies some common weaknesses in the delivery of this provision and some appropriate recommendations for its improvement.
THE IMPACT OF LEADERSHIP, TEACHING AND LEARNING AND THE CURRICULUM AS KEY INPUT FACTORS IN EFFECTIVE SCHOOLS
As leadership, teaching and learning and the curriculum play an important role in the development of effective schooling, it is necessary to pay attention to the delivery of the above mentioned provisions. Without strong and initiative leaders schools have no chance to succeed in today’s environment that requires the use of new technologies and high-quality specialists. Moreover, today schools are changing in response to different pressures, including the complaints of parents concerning the quality of education, the demands of labor market that requires only highly skilled workers, new technological advancements, as well as “the growing popularity of public school alternatives such as charter schools and advocacy for vouchers for private education”¯ (Leadership for Student Learning: Reinventing the Principalship, 2000, p.1). According to the Educational Research Service, “good school principals are the keystone of good schools”¯, and without the effective principal’s leadership, it is very difficult to raise student achievement (Leadership for Student Learning: Reinventing the Principalship, 2000, p.6). That is why today special attention is paid to the implementation of effective leadership programs that are specially designed to provide the appropriate standards for school leadership and create a continuum of training, to improve leadership preparation through the accreditation process in schools and built a reliable infrastructure for ongoing professional development of leaders (Cohen et al., 2006, p.3).Ā In the research report conducted by Kenneth Leithwood, the author discusses the meaning of accountability and some alternative approaches to accountability in schools. It is found that at the present time, the most ambitious approach to accountability is in England. The author states that “tools for accountability in that country are an integral part of nation-wide reform efforts aimed at significantly improving student achievement”¯ (Leithwood, 2005, p.5).
In addition, it is very important to pay attention to teaching and learning processes and the curriculum as key factors for effective schools. West Virginia State Department of Education has developed a special program that improves the quality of teaching and learning. The program contains basic fundamentals of quality classrooms, the major elements of which include “teacher characteristics, environmental characteristics, classroom managements, effective instruction, individualize instruction and collaborative teaming”¯ (Instructing for Success: Maximizing Learning Opportunities for All Students, 1995, p.1). Effective teaching gives an opportunity to create a positive learning environment. According to Jo Anne Anderson, there are three types of accountability systems that guarantee effectiveness of school education. They include “compliance with regulations, adherence to professional norms and results driven”¯ (Anderson, 2005, p.9). The curriculum in effective schools should be well developed and comply with the world standards of education.