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Journal of Education and Development in the Caribbean

Leadership Strategies for Turning Around Underperforming Schools: An Examination of the Experiences of Two Schools in Jamaica

Publication Date: 
August 2017

The problem of underperforming schools has been a feature of the educational landscape of Jamaica for decades. The scientific literature on school leadership is consistent in the view that the quality of leadership is one of the two most critical factors in determining the performance of a school. This study seeks to explore what specific elements of leadership were responsible for the turnaround that two non-traditional high schools in Jamaica have experienced. The study found six themes in the strategies which were used by the principals to realize turnaround in their schools. The study goes on to recommend that, among other things, policy makers should:
1. provide intensive training in turnaround strategies for those persons interested in becoming the principal of an underperforming school;
2. hire principals who show competencies in school turnaround;
3. introduce mechanisms to support accurate data collection and storage, easy retrieval, and systems for analysis of the data;
4. implement a system of performance contracts for principals hired to lead schools that are underperforming, and establish that the initial period of such contract not exceed three years.

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