Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning's (McREL) research meta-analysis examines the effects of leadership practices on student achievement. After analyzing studies conducted over a 30-year period, McREL identified 21 leadership responsibilities that are significantly associated with student achievement

Listed below are the 21 leadership responsibilities, followed by the extent to which the principal is involved:
1. Culture: Fosters shared beliefs and a sense of community and cooperation.
2. Order: Establishes a set of standard operating procedures and routines.
3. Discipline: Protects teachers from issues and influences that would detract from their teaching time and focus.
4. Resources: Provides teachers with materials and professional development necessary for the successful execution of their jobs.
5. Curriculum, instruction, and assessment: Is directly involved in the design and implementation of curriculum, instruction, and assessment practices.
6. Focus: Establishes clear goals and keeps those goals in the forefront of the school's attention.
7. Knowledge of curriculum, instruction, assessment: Is knowledgeable about current curriculum, instruction, and assessment practices.
8. Visibility: Has quality contact and interactions with teachers and students.
9. Contingent Rewards: Recognizes and rewards individual accomplishments.
10. Communication: Establishes strong lines of communication with teachers and among students.
11. Outreach: Is an advocate and spokesperson for the school to all stakeholders.
12. Input: Involves teachers in the design and implementation of important decisions and policies.
13. Affirmation: Recognizes and celebrates school accomplishments and acknowledges failures.
14. Relationship: Demonstrates an awareness of the personal aspects of teachers and staff.
15. Change agent: Is willing to and actively challenges the status quo.
16. Optimizer: Inspires and leads new and challenging innovations.
17. Ideals/beliefs: Communicates and operates from strong ideals and beliefs about schooling.
18. Monitors/evaluates: Monitors the effectiveness of school practices and their impact on student learning.
19. Flexibility: Adapts leadership behaviors to the needs of the current situation and is comfortable with dissent.
20. Situational awareness: Is aware of the details and undercurrents in the running of the school and uses this information to address current and potential problems.
21. Intellectual stimulation: Ensures that faculty and staff are aware of the most current theories and practices and makes the discussion of these a regular aspect of the school culture