The crisp fall weather that hangs in the air signals that we are several weeks into a new school year and that a new issue of Research in Brief has been released! The latest issue is all about leadership—head of school and board chairperson relationships, principal priorities and preparation, shared leadership practices between heads of school and teachers, and the leadership of Christian schools in the education sector.

We encourage you to download and peruse the full issue here.

Here are the highlights:

  1. Lessons in Innovation and Sustainability. Todd R. Marrah, chair-elect of ACSI’s Board of Directors, and I take a look at some trends in the latest Tuition & Salary Survey member report. Now with three years of data in hand, we can glean some helpful clues as to how COVID affected Christian schools. One major change, particularly in the state of Ohio where Dr. Marrah serves as superintendent of Tree of Life Christian Schools, was the meteoric rise of school choice revenues. We also discuss some new innovations and how they may be part of a more sustainable future for Christian education. For more on the Tuition & Salary Survey, check out this recent blog post.


  1. Head of School and Board Chairperson Relationships. Heidi A. Smith, adjunct professor at Columbia International University, explores the relationships between heads of school and board chairpersons, a critically important topic to which research has not paid sufficient attention. Which relationship characteristics are most important to heads of school and board chairpersons? Through her research, Dr. Smith identifies the six characteristics heads of school and board chairpersons reported to be most important: accountability; communication; mutual respect; shared vision; time spent together; and trust.


  1. Principal Priorities and Preparation. In theory, if Christian education truly serves a distinct purpose by teaching distinct content and applying unique pedagogical practices, Christian school leaders should prioritize student learning and prepare for their responsibilities differently than their counterparts in other education sectors. Do we see evidence that this is the case? In this article, I summarize my research with Albert Cheng, Cardus senior fellow and assistant professor at the University of Arkansas. We utilize a nationally representative dataset and find suggestive evidence that leaders of Protestant schools do in fact emphasize distinct learning goals and prepare for their leadership roles differently than principals of public, Catholic, and private secular schools.


  1. Shared Leadership. One of the most meaningful leadership reforms of the 21st century is shared leadership, a “dynamic, interactive influence process” through which individuals “lead one another to the achievement of group or organizational goals.” But implementing shared leadership can vary widely from one setting to another. What are some common characteristics of shared leadership in Christian schools? To answer this question, Patrick Stuart, head of schools at Cathedral Academy in Charleston, SC, identifies five common themes through his research: collaboration; empowering teachers; trust; support; and partnership.


In addition to these four research articles, you will notice two brand new sections of Research in Brief. Work in the broader education research community often touches on various aspects of ACSI’s Flourishing School Culture Model (FSCM), which is why we’re delighted to introduce “The Latest in Education Research.” In this section, we’ll give you a brief finding from recent research as it relates to a particular domain and construct within the FSCM.

In our second new section, “Insights from Flourishing Schools Research,” we hope to bring you updates from Flourishing School Culture Instrument (FSCI) data. This research is made possible by your participation in FSCI and designed to provide feedback to help Christian schools flourish. In this issue, we highlight findings from three constructs in particular: Responsiveness to Special Needs; Community Engagement; and Supportive Leadership.

Have you seen the latest issue of Research in Brief? ACSI member schools in the United States receive a free copy in the mail as part of their membership benefits. You can also download a free digital copy of our publication here.

About the Author

Matthew Lee - ACSI AuthroMatthew H. Lee is Director of Research at ACSI. He can be reached via email at and followed on Twitter @hmatthewlee.



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