Mathematics Benchmarking Report TIMSS 1999–Eighth Grade




CHAPTER 7: School Contexts for Learning and Instruction

What Is the Role of the School Principal?

To better understand the roles and responsibilities of schools across countries, TIMSS asked school principals how much time per month they spend on various school-related activities. Specifically, they were asked how much time they spend on instructional leadership activities, including discussing educational objectives with teachers, initiating curriculum revisions and planning, training teachers, and engaging in professional development activities. They were also asked how much time they spend talking with parents, counseling and disciplining students, and responding to requests from local, regional, or national education officials. Further, they responded to questions about how much time they spend on administrative duties, including hiring teachers, representing the school in the community and at official meetings, and doing internal tasks (e.g., regulations, school budget, timetable). Finally, they were asked how much time they spend teaching.

The results presented in Exhibit 7.3 show that principals reported spending per month, on average across all the TIMSS 1999 countries, 51 hours on administrative duties, 35 hours communicating with various constituents, 33 hours on instructional leadership activities, and 16 hours teaching.(4) Compared with the international profile, principals in the United States reported spending more time communicating with students, parents, and education officials (over 50 hours per month, on average), and very little time teaching. Reports from principals in the Benchmarking jurisdictions generally resembled those of the United States overall. It is interesting to note that principals in Jersey City and Rochester reported spending 72 hours per month communicating with students, parents, and education officials, while principals in Indiana and the Michigan Invitational Group reported spending 74 hours per month on administrative duties.

A number of the comparison countries, such as Canada, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, and Singapore, have patterns of principals’ use of time similar to that of the United States. For example, unlike in most European countries (e.g., the Czech Republic and Russian Federation among comparison countries), principals in these countries spend relatively little time teaching, and most of it on administrative duties, communicating with constituents, and engaging in instructional leadership activities.

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4 Activities reported by principals are not necessarily exclusive; principals may have reported engaging in more than one activity at the same time.

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TIMSS 1999 is a project of the International Study Center
Boston College, Lynch School of Education