From Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL), a nonprofit outfit that provides research to help strengthen classroom practices, comes a new report designed to identify the leadership skills and behaviors necessary to raise student achievement. The report, titled “Leading Schools: Distinguishing the Essential from the Important,” builds on findings from McREL’s 2003 research study, (“Balanced Leadership”). This large-scale research study–the largest quantitative study of its kind–not only found a strong link between effective school leadership and student achievement, but also helped define effective leadership by identifying 21 leadership “responsibilities” linked to higher levels of student performance. McREL’s latest report considers additional research conducted in 2004 to determine whether any underlying relationships might exist between these leadership “responsibilities” and the abilities of school leaders to guide their institutions through difficult changes. In all, the report highlights 11 school leadership “responsibilities” that are essential for guiding difficult changes in schools–the kinds of changes that principals may need in their schools “in order to meet the challenges of the No Child Left Behind Act,” according to the web site.