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Toronto Catholic District School Board

​​Leading Student Achievement 

About Us

The Purpose

Leading Student Achievement (LSA): Networks for Learning is a project developed by the provincial principals' associations, l'Association des directions et directions adjointes des écoles franco-ontariennes (ADFO), the Catholic Principals' Council of Ontario (CPCO), and the Ontario Principals' Council (OPC), in partnership with and funded by the Student Achievement Division, Ontario Ministry of Education (EDU), and supported by Curriculum Services Canada.
The project began with an elementary focus, however, in the last three years it has been extended into the secondary panel and now has a K–12 focus.
The project is based on a tri-level approach providing support to district and school leaders as they:
  • improve learning and well-being for all students;
  • collaborate in Principal Learning Teams to improve instructional leadership;
  • build effective Professional Learning Communities within schools and across districts and the province thereby establishing effective networks at all levels;
  • engage in Collaborative Inquiry Processes, Knowledge Building with a focus on the evolving LSA Theory of Action (2013);
  • share promising practices;
  • contribute to educational research.

LSA Framework: Tri-Level Collaborative Leadership

Venn diagram for Leading Student Acheievement

The LSA framework in the figure above represents the capacity building role of principals/vice-principals as they establish Professional Learning Communities in the context of their own schools. Participants collaborate in Principal Learning Teams, and access the support of their districts, principal associations, and the Student Achievement Division (EDU), and are supported by Curriculum Services Canada in order to improve classroom instruction. The three circles overlap, acknowledging the collaborative roles of principals, teachers, and system leaders as they work to increase their capacity to meet the provincial student achievement targets.

Objectives to Guide LSA

The LSA project continues to offer participants support to:
  • Focus the content of the conversations within district Principal Learning Teams (PLT) and school Professional Learning Communities (PLC) on Collaborative Inquiry and Knowledge Building Processes, and the key learning conditions nested in the four paths of leadership influence which robust evidence tells us have the most powerful direct effects on student learning (LSA Theory of Action).
  • Deepen participants' understanding of effective collaborative learning team processes and refine their skills in managing such processes in their own PLCs/PLTs.
  • Develop system leader, principal and teacher capacities for effective instruction.
  • Integrate LSA goals and actions with district and Ministry initiatives.

LSA Theory of Action

Four Paths of Leadership Influence on Student Learning

Flow Chart showing Leithwood's Theory of Action
"LSA's Theory of Action begins with a number of initiatives intended to stimulate and support leadership development among principals participating in the project. Engagement with these initiatives significantly increases the leadership capacities of principals, most of which are described in some detail in the Ontario Leadership Framework (OLF), to positively influence the status of key conditions in their school communities, conditions which have both direct and indirect effects on the experiences of students. These key conditions are located on four 'paths' along which principals' influence flows." (Digging Deeper into LSA's Theory of Action, Leithwood, November 2012).
School Paths and Conditions with Powerful Direct Effects on Student Learning:
  • Rational Path
    • Academic Emphasis
      This is the degree to which there is a school-wide focus on student achievement. In schools with academic press, staff set high but achievable academic goals and standards, and believe their students are able to achieve those standards. Students value these goals, respond positively, and work hard to meet the challenge.
    • Disciplinary Climate
      There is a collective belief on the part of the staff and students about the importance of minimizing indiscipline, violence or other disruptive behaviour. A sense of collective responsibility exists across the school for preventing distractions to the academic priorities of the school.
    • Focused Instruction
      Very active engagement of the teacher with whatever instructional approaches the teacher uses in the classroom. Focused instruction speaks to the explicitly goal-directed nature of what a teacher is intending to accomplish, the constant monitoring by the teacher of what students are doing and interventions by the teacher to help ensure that students are actively engaged in meaningful learning as much as possible.
    • Collaborative Inquiry Processes
      Such processes may take several different forms but all include an effort by groups of staff to improve the design of lessons, analyze student work and create meaningful of ways of diagnosing and monitoring student learning. These processes are often the content of the work that takes place in PLCs.
  • Emotions Path
    • Efficacy
      Teachers across the school perceive that their efforts, as a whole, will have positive effects on student achievement. Teachers organize and implement whatever educational initiatives are required for students to achieve high standards of achievement.
    • Trust
      A belief or expectation on the part of teachers that their colleagues, students and parents support the school's goals for student learning and will work toward achieving those goals.
  • Organizational Path
    • Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)
      A group of teachers and school leaders, often in the same school, who meet together regularly to learn from one another, share their challenges and successes, and to work on improving their instruction.
    • Instructional Time
      School schedules, timetables, structures, administrative behaviours, and instructional practices are all designed to ensure that students are engaged in meaningful learning as much of their time as possible. Distractions from meaningful learning are minimized.
  • Family Path
    • Family Educational Culture
      Families contribute directly to their children's success at school, for example, when they hold high but realistic expectations for their children's learning, demonstrate positive attitudes toward school, provide a suitable space for homework, engage their children in discussions about learning in school, model the value of learning themselves, limit TV time, and the like.