The effects of principals’ instructional leadership on primary school students’ academic achievement in China: evidence from serial multiple mediating analysis

Jiazhe Li, Philip Wing Keung Chan, Yongmei Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


It is essential to reorient education in order to improve student learning outcomes and offer instruction in sustainable development. This reorientation should particularly focus on updating the educational concepts and behaviors of principals and teachers. It is a common practice to see principals’ instructional leadership (PIL) as a crucial aspect that may facilitate the development of teaching and learning in a sustainable manner. This article identified the influence path of principals’ instructional leadership on students’ academic achievement (SAA) through teachers’ teaching practice. In 2016 and 2017, survey data were gathered from 60,419 students and parents, 2232 teachers, and 506 principals from all 231 primary schools in the capital city of a central province in China. This paper uses a structural equation model to examine serial, multiple, mediating effects based on a value-added model to identify effective teachers’ professional development (ETPD). The research findings show that ETPD in Chinese primary schools includes teacher cooperation and communication but not professional guidance, innovation, and individual teaching reflection. PIL does not have a significant direct positive effect on SAA, but teaching strategies (TS), rather than ETPD, can mediate between PIL and SAA. Finally, PIL influences TS through ETPD and ultimately influences SAA. This paper argues that for providing sustainable and high-quality education, not all TPDs are effective for Chinese primary school teachers. Principals can promote SAA by encouraging teacher cooperation and communication to improve teaching strategies. Chinese principals should shift their attention more from administrative matters to the sustainable development of teaching and learning.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2844
Number of pages15
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • students’ academic achievement
  • principals’ instructional leadership
  • teaching strategies
  • teachers’ effective professional development
  • serial multiple mediating effects

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