Educational Leadership by the National SAM Innovation Project

Posted by Sarah Jones on December 23rd, 2022

The role of a principal is not just about performing managerial tasks. The foremost role of a principal is educational/instructional leadership. The National SAM (School Administration Manager) Innovation Project is about improving schools by facilitating principals to indulge in educational leadership tasks rather than managerial tasks. The project has supported principals across the country for the past several years. The project models rely on a system of precise documentation of the time utilized by the principals. Each school has the provision of appointing a SAM to track time usage. Furthermore, the SAM will assist the principal in necessary activities. The SAM is expected to take on the managerial tasks of the school and have daily discussions with the principals regarding time use.

In short, the SAM project provides all the required coaching, data analysis, and other tools to assist the principals. Principals have to perform precise documentation of all their activities with the help of a time-tracking system. So this tool gives them a weekly or monthly report of how their time was spent. Moreover, it helps the principals to contemplate their practice. Additionally, the project demands a monthly meeting between the principal and the time change coach. Usually, a former school administrator becomes SAM and receives the training of a time change coach. The job of this coach is to talk through the progress and pinpoint further training requirements. A trained data collector arrives at an interval of 12 months to record the principal's activities. After that, the preparation of the analysis report takes place.

SAM Project Models

The National SAM Innovation Project uses specific jargon to position the staff members. The 2006-07 SAM model was the initial design of this project. A SAM had to devote their entire work schedule to time-tracking and school managerial tasks in this model. The term used for this arrangement is Model 1. Eventually, SAM Innovation came up with an alternative model to reduce the cost of operations. It comprised the idea of selecting and training an existing school staff as SAM. In addition, the concerned school staff member was receiving a stipend for handling the SAM responsibilities. The Model 3 had all similar specifications except the stipend.

As per the records, around two-thirds of the SAM principals have followed the Model 1 arrangement. One-fourth of the principals chose to have a job position of SAM included in their school staff and followed Model 3. And the rest decided to follow Model 2 or 4. Eventually, the number of schools following Model 3 increased from 2007 to 2010. Many schools that chose Model 1 and 2 earlier switched to Model 3.

Impact on time use by the principals

The National SAM Innovation Project has exceptional documentation of the time usage records of the participating school principals. Also, there was a study by Policy Study Associates Inc. (PSA) in 2011. Let us read what it tells us about the progress of the principals who participated in this project.

A team of qualified data collectors had to track the participating principals. Based on the documentation from 181 participants with post and pre-test data, they calculated an increase in the time spent on instructional work. An average of 32% of their time was utilized for instructional tasks. The average time spent mounted up to 46% within a year. Regarding time measurement, the increment in time utilization for instructional work was around 71 minutes. After that, they calculated a further increase after two years. The time spent on instructional work surged up to 52%.

Feedback from the participating principals

Seventy percent of the principals found a benefit of a rise in time spent on instructional leadership. It was followed by a section comprising 69% of the principals who found a benefit of efficient time management. On the other hand, 36 percent of the participant principals reported that this project helped enhance student achievements. The percentage of principals reporting work/life balance as an advantage was lower. This was also one of the most important goals of the SAM project. The interviewers asked the principals, to what degree did you observe an increase in your concentration on learning and teaching? Around 83 percent of them said, “Greatly."

Further, the interviewer asked, to what degree did you observe the SAM project bringing positive classroom changes? Forty-one percent of the participants said, “Little bit." On the contrary, forty-four percent said, "massively."

Advantages for Students

In this process, the participating principal has to spend more time with the students in their classrooms. SAMs reported that one of the advantages of this process is having a principal with instructional leadership in the classroom. As a result, there is an improvement in the scores.


SAM project notes increasing time spent on educational leadership is necessary for ongoing development. As a result, there will be an improvement in the school's overall performance along with the principal skills.

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Sarah Jones

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Sarah Jones
Joined: December 12th, 2019
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