Top Dog assignment

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Being Top Dog

In many cases, school boards seem to be quite distant in relation to school classrooms. However, as you have already read, they can retain significant influence on student learning if they focus on the right things! One of the key personnel decisions that school boards make is selecting the superintendent for their school district; the key leader in creating change in their schools. Although elected locally, school board members seldom possess significant knowledge in what constitutes effective schools and school improvement. Locally elected school board officials undertake an enormous responsibility to influence school leadership and improvement when they select the leader of their school district—the superintendent.

The superintendent is the lead position of employment within a school district. As such, this person often acts as both a buffer and a conduit between the school board, the principals, the staff, and the teachers in the schools. The role of the superintendent is significant in a school district’s success or failure, primarily due to the leadership skills that this person possesses and their ability to motivate and create positive change. Even though this person is the one who “steers the ship”, and the person who can make or break a school district, superintendents are not directly mentioned in Edmond’s (1982) work. However, one may look to them for guidance through Edmond’s comments on that of instructional leadership.

You have read two articles about school superintendents, Effective Superintendents, Effective School Boards: Finding the Right Fit (Education Writers Association , 2003) and What Makes a Great Superintendent? (Great Schools, 2015) The first of these articles is focused on the importance of “fit” between the school board and the superintendent. The second article is focused on what it takes to be a “great superintendent”.

As you read these two articles, what did you discover? In a reflective post of about four to five paragraphs, address the following:

  • What are the challenges that superintendents face in their jobs and what motivational and leadership skills do they need to possess, in order to make them effective leaders?
  • In what ways, if any, do superintendents have an impact on school improvement?
  • Think about your current superintendent, or if you are not currently working in schools, think of a superintendent that you have worked with in the past.

Compare your current or former superintendent to the the characteristics described in our readings. Explain which characteristics are exhibited and which could be enhanced. 

Support your statements with evidence from the required studies and your research. Cite and reference your sources in APA style.

Click here for information on course rubrics.


Education Writers Association. (2003). Effective superintendents, effective school boards: Finding the right fit. Retrieved from

Great Schools. (2015, April 2). What makes a great superintendent? Retrieved from…

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