Executive Summary of The Impact of Leader in Me on the School Climate and Student Behaviors: A Meta-Analysis

Author: Dr. Eve Miller
December 1, 2023

A newly published meta-analysis highlights the Leader in Me schoolwide process to foster a supportive learning environment, benefiting both educators and students. Utilizing twelve studies encompassing 198,176 students and 522 teachers, this research followed rigorous inclusion criteria and systematic review protocols to ensure comprehensive and reliable findings.
Key Findings

The effect size for each measured impact is reported in the table below as well as the Improvement Index which is What Works Clearinghouse’s (WWC) statistical translation of the effect size “to help readers judge the practical importance of an intervention’s effect” (WWC, p. 18 or PDF p. e21). In the case of the current study, the Improvement Index score tells a reader the increase in percentile points a control school can expect to gain by implementing Leader in Me.

Measure Outcome Effect Size (Cohen’s d; see below to learn more) Improvement Index (WWC translation of effect size for practical 
Overall Effectiveness of Leader in Me

Indicates overall differences in the measured outcomes between Leader in Me Schools and control schools 

d= 0.20 7.9 percentile points 
Teachers’ perceptions of school climate 

Indicates the level of impact Leader in Me has on teachers’ perceptions of working in a positive, supportive environment.

d= 0.34 13.3 percentile points
Student Behavior

 Indicates the overall level of impact Leader in Me has on students’ attendance, life skills and discipline (Each analyzed and reported below).

d= 0.13 5.2 percentile points
Student Behavior: Attendance  d= 0.24 9.5 percentile points
Student Behavior: Life Skills  d= 0.07 2.8 percentile points
Student Behavior: Discipline d= 0.115 4.4 percentile points
Potential Educational Implications of this Research

Teacher Attrition: In an era of unprecedented teacher turnover due to stress and burnout, a school-wide intervention that fosters a supportive learning environment supports teacher retention, satisfaction, and well-being. This meta-analysis revealed that Leader in Me significantly improves teachers’ perceptions of their school environment. Research suggests that a positive school culture is a significant factor that contributes to teacher retention, ultimately decreasing the likelihood of teachers to leave. (See: Shuls, V. J., & Flores, M. J. (2020). Improving Teacher Retention through Support and Development. Journal of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, 4(1), 1-19. 

Chronic Absenteeism: The post-pandemic chronic absenteeism levels are staggering and pervasive. To counter chronic absenteeism, a supportive learning environment results in increased student attendance.

Student Behavior Incidents: Student behavior incidents negatively impact students, teachers, schools, and districts. A supportive learning environment resulting from a school-wide intervention like Leader in Me leads to a decrease in student misbehavior and increases access to valuable instructional time.

Student Leadership: To equip students to be successful in school and beyond, the Leader in Me results in improved personal and interpersonal leadership skills.


Additional Information

Who conducted the statistical analysis of the research in the meta-analysis on Leader in Me

Elizabeth Villares, Ph.D., independently conducted and wrote up the results of the meta-analysis. Dr. Villares is a professor in the Department of Counselor Education at Florida Atlantic University. Her research agenda focuses on developing evidence-based school counseling interventions and instrument development. She is also involved in conducting school-based outcome research studies. Much of her work has been dedicated to examining the social, academic, and emotional needs of historically underserved students

Dr. Villares’s work has been published in over 40 national peer-reviewed journals, two books in prestigious national publishing houses, and in four book chapters. Dr. Villares has earned many honors at the FAU College of Education including COE Scholar of the Year (2022, Professor level; 2016, Associate Professor level) and Researcher of the Year at the Associate Professor level in 2017.  She is also the recipient of the Association of Small Group Work, Al Dye Award for Outstanding Article in 2021; Association for Assessment in Research and Counseling, Outstanding Research Article of the Year in 2017; Center for School Counseling Outcome Research and Evaluation Fellow in 2016; and Association for Assessment in Counseling and Evaluation, Outstanding Outcome Research Article of the Year in 2011.

What is a meta-analysis? 

A meta-analysis is considered the gold standard for estimating the impact of interventions across a broad range of contexts because of its ability to statistically combine the results from many studies into a single analysis. Like a big puzzle, each study provides a piece, and a meta-analysis puts all these pieces together to see the bigger picture. By pooling data from different sources, a meta-analysis can provide a clearer, more reliable understanding of a topic or question.

What is an Effect Size? 

This is a measure used to indicate the magnitude of a treatment or intervention’s impact. In education, it helps quantify the effectiveness of programs like Leader in Me. Smaller effect sizes are meaningful, especially in school-wide interventions where broader factors come into play.

What is the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) Improvement Index?

The WWC improvement Index helps gauge how much better the intervention group performs compared to a typical group not receiving the intervention. It essentially shows the difference in percentile ranks between these two groups, with the average rank of the comparison group being set at the 50th percentile. This index provides a more intuitive understanding of the study’s practical significance. Read more in the WWC Handbook (pp. E-10-E12 or PDF pp. 58-60)


 Villares, E., Miller. A. E., Chevalier, J. A. (2023). The Impact of Leader in Me on the School 

Climate and Student Behaviors: A Meta-Analysis. International Journal of Education 

Policy and Leadership, 19(2), 1-16.

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