"The chance of any reform improving student learning is remote unless district and school leaders agree with its purposes and appreciate what is required to make it work."

(Learning from Leadership Project, How Leadership Influences Student Learning)


Strong, effective, instructional leadership is critical for successful implementation of RTI.  In order to establish an effective RTI system, leaders and leadership teams must create and maintain several critical practices.  Among these are establishing a vision for the school culture and effective practices, developing standards of practice, effectively allocating resources, installing effective communication loops, and creating leadership team structures.  “Leadership” is not a person but a group of people working in concert to establish effective programs and sustain them as circumstances change over time.  Therefore, it’s imperative for all leaders, from superintendent and cabinet members to principals and teacher leaders, to be aligned and steadfast in their beliefs and actions in order to increase student achievement. 



District and Building Teams

A comprehensive structural school reform effort requires clear guidance at all levels in order to be successful. For larger districts, ORTIi recommends establishing three types of teams:

  • District Leadership Team (DLT)
  • District Implementation Team (DIT)
  • Building Implementation Team (BIT)

ORTIi has developed a District Teaming Structures document to assist with constructing these teams. It includes a description of the purpose and functions of each team, as well as recommendations for team membership.

Long-Term Vision For RTI

The leaders at each level must clearly communicate a long term vision for successful implementation to occur. This includes a vision of a positive, growth oriented district/school culture, as well as an outline(s) of the structural features of the system that is being created.

Standards of Practice

Standards of Practice are a set of expectations that districts should develop to ensure that all schools have a clear understanding and alignment of instructional and assessment practices and meeting structures.  The standards of practice will be supported and monitored by the District Leadership Team to improve and refine practices.  The ORTIi District Installation Matrix can be used to help develop these standards of practice. 

“Leadership” is not a person but a group of people working in concert to establish effective programs and sustain them as circumstances change over time. 

Instructional Leadership

Effective instructional leadership requires that principals and other school leaders establish clear expectations for practice, support knowledge and skill development needed to perform the expected tasks, and then “inspect what they expect” and provide constructive feedback that supports further practice development (i.e; core reading walkthrough protocol).  In order to accomplish this, principals need to be present at RTI and data team meetings, observe instruction in the classroom on a regular basis, and establish a culture of embedded and ongoing professional learning.

The Wallace Foundation has produced a monograph titled, The School Principal as Leader Guiding Schools to Better Teaching and Learning that describes many of these practices.

Resources                                                                                                                                  Sample Core Reading Walkthrough Form                                                                    Professional Development



Culture and Leadership - power point presentation

This is a PPT presentation used to outline and describe some of the salient features of effective instructional leadership.


SAM I AM: Making the Time for Effective Instructional Leadership (video)

The national School Administration Manger (SAM) Project helps principals understand how they use their time, gives them a staff person (the "SAM") to help carry out operations responsibilities and works with the principal on strategies to lead instruction.

Building a Better Pipeline to the Principalship: The SABLE Story (video)

In response to a shortage of qualified leaders, the Atlanta Public Schools developed the Superintendent's Academy for Building Leaders in Education (SABLE), which prepares aspiring principals with the specific standards, core values, knowledge and skills required to lead the district's schools. This video vignette looks at SABLE through the experiences of participants, district leaders and graduates, and demonstrates the benefits it has brought to the district.