Skoleledelse og utdanningspolitikk : Hvordan beskrives skoleledelse etter 1990?
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- Department of Education 
This study examines how school leadership has been described in educational policy documents, by politicians, school leaders and teachers after 1990 when Management by Objectives (MbO) was introduced in the Norwegian education sector. Several researchers have described school leaders as crucial for both students’ learning outcomes results and school development. However, what ‘crucial’ means, has varied, over time and with shifting policy contexts. The thesis builds on three articles that have investigated, from different angles, how school leaders are described in education policy documents after 1990 and how politicians, school leaders and teacher refer to school leadership in interviews. The following research questions are answered in the three articles: (1) How is school leaders described in two education policy documents? (2) How do teachers and school leaders describe school leadership within schools with an alternative leadership organization? (3) How are school leaders described, positioned and ascribed responsibility in Norwegian educational policy from 1990-2017? The three research questions from the articles contribute to answering the overarching research question: How are expectations of school leaders described after 1990? Historically, school leadership in Norway has been the principal as primus inter pares. A teacher with ‘sufficient’ seniority and the trust of the peer group was elected to take on the daily operational responsibility for the school. Today school leaders are trained, expected to update their competence on leadership, and responsible for improving school results, implement national education reforms and to regularly report on the status of their school. The purpose of the first article was to gain a deeper understanding of how school leadership is described in two policy documents. The empirical data consisted of text extracts that contributed with perspectives on individual and collective/distributed school leadership models. The findings indicate blurry and sometimes incoherent descriptions and policy arguments. The documents use abstract language and argue both descriptively and normatively for different perspectives on school leadership. In one document, the dichotomy explicit versus docile is strategically used to describe the kind of school leadership politicians favour and what kind of leadership they position as outdated and unwanted. The second article draws on interviews with teachers and school leaders and analyses two different approaches to organizing school leadership. The study shows that how school leaders are organized profoundly impacts how teachers (and school leaders) think about the school organisation, such as recruitment, training and shared visions. However, the organization of leadership itself does not necessarily predict results. The third article investigates and discusses how school leaders are described, positioned and ascribed responsibility in policy documents from 1990-2017. It also presents excerpts from interviews with former Norwegian top-level politicians. The study shows diverging descriptions of the school leaders’ role, and how they are positioned in relation to teachers and the district level. The descriptions are generally normative, vague and shifting. The article finds that more recently, the school leader is perceived as part of the teaching profession, less as administrator and not as employer. The thesis is theoretically anchored in research on school leadership and education policy. My findings indicate that descriptions of school leadership are generally vague and somewhat incoherent. In the early 1990s, school leaders were described as employers, around 2004, they were identified as responsible for the students’ learning outcomes, and more recently they are positioned closer to the teaching profession. The thesis also shows that policy-descriptions around 2004 were based on selected research findings and policy-ideas internationally circulation that were borrowed and adapted to national purposes. Also, generic problems were fabricated (Ball, 2003), some coupled with ‘magical solutions’, for instance the binary between docile and explicit school leaders (White paper no. 30 (2003-2004)), and the ‘cosy’ versus the ‘rotelearning’ school. Throughout the period investigated, Norwegian education policy can be described as consensus-oriented and gradually more research informed. My research contributes to the research on school leadership and education policy by expanding existing knowledge about how descriptions of school leadership change over time, and how the descriptions are influenced by internationally circulating ideas that are borrowed and introduced at the national policy level.
Består avPaper I: Valle, R. (2006a). Tydelighet og føyelighet – Et diskursivt blikk på norsk skoleledelse i utdanningspolitiske dokumenter. Nordic studies in Education, 26(03), 243- 257. The article is not available in BORA due to publisher restrictions. The published version is available at: https://doi.org/10.18261/ISSN1891-5949-2006-03-04
Paper II: Valle, R. (2006b). Organisering av ledelse i skolen. Norsk pedagogisk tidsskrift, 90(2), 145-157. The article is not available in BORA due to publisher restrictions. The published version is available at: https://doi.org/10.18261/ISSN1504-2987-2006-02-06
Paper III: Valle, R. & Lillejord, S. (2022). A new regime of understanding? School leadership in Norwegian educational policy discourse (1990-2017). The article is not available in BORA.