Jennifer Gill

 
Jennifer Gill is a freelance journalist who reports on a number of topics, including data and its use in public education as well as learning and enrichment.

 Blog Posts

 

 

Managing Nonprofit Finances During the Coronavirus CrisisGP0|#c8879bc7-c75a-44d8-b58e-3c9131218ffc;L0|#0c8879bc7-c75a-44d8-b58e-3c9131218ffc|Nonprofit Financial Management;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​​​Nonprofit organizations face unprecedented financial challenges because of the COVID-19 pandemic. With <span></span>nationwide restrictions on public gatherings, theatres have gone dark, schools and afterschool programs have shuttered their doors indefinitely, and spring galas, often the biggest fundraiser of the year for many nonprofits, <span> <span> <span> <span> <span></span></span></span></span></span>have been canceled. Hilda Polanco is the CEO of Fiscal Management Associates, a national capacity-building firm that advises nonprofits on strategic financial management. Her organization helped develop much of the content <span> <span> <span></span></span></span>for a Wallace-supported website—<a href="/knowledge-center/resources-for-financial-management/SFM2013/Pages/default.aspx">strongnonprofits.org</a>—providing free guidance on nonprofit financial management. Recently, Polanco discussed how organizations can best assess and work to maintain their financial health in such uncertain times. The interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity. Also, watch FMA's recent webinar, <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/navigating-covid-19-for-nonprofits-from-financial-triage-to-scenario-planning.aspx">Navigating COVID-19 for nonprofits</a>.<span><span><strong><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><img class="wf-Image-Right" alt="hpolanco.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Managing-Nonprofit-Finances-During-the-Coronavirus-Crisis/hpolanco.jpg" style="margin:5px;width:224px;height:335px;" /></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></strong></span></span></p><p> <strong>What should nonprofits be doing right now to weather the current crisis?<span><span><span><span><span><span><span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></strong></p><p>They should be taking three steps: </p><ul><li>Understand your financial position in terms of net assets and liquidity;</li><li>Identify implications on revenue and expenses;</li><li>And finally, manage your cash flow.</li></ul><p>Net assets are those you’ve accumulated and that are available for current and future operations. Look at what you own and how quickly you can make them liquid and flexible. Net assets may come with or without restrictions. You may also have board-designated funds that have accumulated over time. What is the purpose of those funds—would the board be willing to redirect them? A nonprofit might also have liquid unrestricted net assets, or LUNA, which are available and have no specific earmark. A calculator on <a href="/knowledge-center/resources-for-financial-management/SFM2013/Pages/default.aspx">strongnonprofits.org</a> can help you determine your LUNA balance and how many months’ worth of operating expenses it will cover. [<em>The calculator is within this <a href="/knowledge-center/resources-for-financial-management/SFM2013/Pages/The-Key-to-Long-Term-Financial-Health.aspx">page</a>; scroll down to see the link under the piggy bank image.</em>] Nonprofits may <span></span>also have temporarily restricted assets, such as grants from funders. It is important to understand the funder expectations around these restricted funds and assess whether you are in a position to meet these expectations. If you aren’t, speak to your funder and explore possibilities around releasing or loosening these expectations, in order to make these available for ongoing operations. </p><p> <span> <span> <span> <span> <img class="wf-Image-Left" alt="Strongnonprofitsshot.png" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Managing-Nonprofit-Finances-During-the-Coronavirus-Crisis/Strongnonprofitsshot.png" style="margin:5px;width:334px;height:225px;" /></span></span></span></span> <strong>How can nonprofits deal with uncertainty in revenue?</strong></p><p>Nonprofits have two significant sources of revenue: contributed, such as donations from individuals and corporations, and earned, such as program service fees. Regarding contributed revenue, this is the time to turn to relationships with existing donors. In addition to releasing restrictions on current grants, some foundations are considering reserve grants to replenish resources that nonprofits are draining right now. In addition, emergency relief funds are starting to come through, both from government-funded stimulus packages and philanthropic efforts. A summary of emergency funds across the country can be found <a href="https://givingcompass.org/coronavirus-covid19" target="_blank">here</a>. It is extremely critical that leaders stay aware of these funds in their communities. Lastly, engage your community through new fundraising strategies, like crowd-source funding. People want to help even if the events aren’t there. </p><p>Your organization may also have some earned revenue potential right now. Do you have a valuable product for this new operating environment? For example, organizations that have been delivering programming online are at a competitive advantage right now. Maybe they can offer their online learning product to other organizations that need this capacity in order to meet their mission.</p><p>Create best, moderate and worst case scenarios based on likely revenue and compare each one to projected expenses. This <a href="/knowledge-center/resources-for-financial-management/SFM2013/Pages/Revenue-Analysis-Worksheet.aspx">scenario planning tool</a> can get you started.</p><p> <strong>What are the implications on expenses? </strong></p><p>When reviewing expenses, group them into three categories: fixed, variable and semi-variable. Thinking of them in this way will help you make decisions. Take a look at variable expenses first because they’re the ones based on particular programming, which might be reduced if programming is reduced. Semi-variable expenses are ones that you can’t totally do without, but you might be able to curtail, such as utilities. Expenses like rent and insurance are fixed because they’re incurred regardless of programming. Still, you might be able to work with your landlord on rent. Banks have deferred mortgage payments for 90 days, so keep that in mind when you’re negotiating.</p><p>Workforce-related expenses make up 70 to 80 percent of most organizations’ budgets. The two most critical are salaries and related benefits. Reviewing salaries also means reviewing any accrued paid-time-off that may be due employees. Which are your core operations that must remain at this time? Can staff be redeployed to where current core operations require? If given the option, would certain team members opt for less than full time schedules? This <a href="https://hbr.org/2020/03/the-coronavirus-crisis-doesnt-have-to-lead-to-layoffs" target="_blank">Harvard Business Review article</a> suggests alternative to deep layoffs. </p><p>As you weigh your options, explore federal and state programs that can help maintain your current workforce; what is your state’s department of labor unemployment program at this time? Keep in mind, too, that there’s life after the crisis. Think strategically about retaining capacity. And, as you make these difficult decisions, I urge you to apply an equity lens. </p><p> <strong>How can a nonprofit better manage cash flow in such difficult times?</strong></p><p>The ebb and flow of your cash flow will tell you when you’ll need to draw on your reserves or when you need to start planning for contingencies. Develop cash projections for the week, month and quarter (this <a href="/knowledge-center/resources-for-financial-management/SFM2013/Pages/Cash-Flow-Projections-Template.aspx">template</a> on strongnonprofits.org can help). Look closely at each of your revenue sources to understand which ones might be at risk. Delay non-essential payments and ask vendors you owe if they’re open to revisiting payment terms. Review your accounts receivable but understand that these balances may be slower to pay. You may also want to approach funders about accelerating grant payments. </p><p>Financing is another option. If you have a credit line, now may be the time to use it. The Small Business Administration is making loans available to nonprofits [<em>find the federal agency’s information on disaster assistance in response to the pandemic <a href="https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance" target="_blank">he​re</a></em>]; some foundations are considering bridge loans; and there are also low-interest loans from community development financial institutions. My word of caution is that this is debt. You have to understand how you’re going to pay it back, as part of the decision to draw on this debt.</p><p> <strong>If it looks like an organization must choose among difficult financial options, whom should decision-makers consult for a clear-headed picture of considerations and trade-offs? Board members might be one source, but are there others? </strong></p><p>Speak to your funders, especially those who are trusted long-time partners and want to help. Many foundations have told me they’re reaching out to grantees to understand their needs. Still, there may be some funders who haven’t had a chance to do that yet but want to be a thought partner for you. </p><p>When you do reach out, be as clear as you can as to your current financial situation, and where you feel your risks will be. I did a webinar recently and a funder asked, <em>I have limited resources. I have many grantees whose reserves have been eroded. How do I best decide how to respond? </em> As hard as I know this is for all nonprofit leaders, my response focused on gaining clarity as to the grantee’s current position. It’s important that the grantee has a sense of where it is financially, and what it needs to turn the corner. In writing those additional checks, funders want to understand your plan as part of investing those dollars. </p><p>Another source of support might be other leaders in your community. Peer exchange is often a powerful source of ideas. If you’re a member of an association or advocacy group, now’s the time to get together and hear what other nonprofits are doing and learning.</p><p> <strong>Managing through a crisis is stressful. Are there any positive aspects? Can a nonprofit emerge stronger?</strong></p><p>The sudden push to working from home is helping organizations prioritize automation and technology, which is a great first step toward more efficient financial operations. </p><p>Leaders coming together to make difficult decisions creates a stronger team, a team that’s looking to a successful outcome for the whole organization. For organizations that have drifted from their mission and have found themselves delivering services outside of their core, this may be the jolt that might make them ask: What is our real core and how do we do that the best? It’s a time for recognizing that, in certain cases, rather than delivering a particular service or program, maybe they should be strengthening partnerships with other groups in the sector to carry it out.</p><p>I also hope this is an opportunity for nonprofits to strengthen relationships with long-term funders, and for funders to identify ways to support nonprofits from an enterprise perspective, rather than one program at a time. </p>Managing Nonprofit Finances During the Coronavirus Crisishttps://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Managing-Nonprofit-Finances-During-the-Coronavirus-Crisis.aspx2020-03-25T04:00:00ZManaging Nonprofit Finances During the Coronavirus Crisis
On-the-Job Support Helps New Principals Build Skills—and ConfidenceGP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p> <em>​A principal pipeline is an approach to school leader development that can have major benefits for school districts, as indicated in <a href="/knowledge-center/school-leadership/pages/principal-pipeline-implementation.aspx">groundbreaking research</a> we published recently. Pipelines have four parts—rigorous job standards, high-quality pre-service preparation, selective hiring, and aligned on-the-job support and evaluation. In an occasional series, we examine each of these components by talking to principals in districts that, with Wallace support, tested the pipeline idea. In the <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/effective-school-leaders-learn-how-to-solve-problems.aspx">first post</a>, we found out how <em>pre-service training had prepared a Georgia principal to improve the graduation rate at his high school. Today, we explore how on-the-job support helped a newcomer to the principalship in North Carolina gain the skills and confidence he needed to succeed.     </em></em></p><p>“We weren’t sure we wanted you here.” </p><p>“We didn’t think you would make it.” </p><p>Recalling these comments transports Mike Miliote back to 2010, when he was a novice principal at Matthews Elementary School in Matthews, N.C., about 12 miles from downtown Charlotte. With only 13 months under his belt as an assistant principal, Miliote had little administrative experience compared with other first-time principals—and his staff recognized it. In his first year on the job, Miliote avoided difficult conversations, he remembers. He also kept teachers out of the decision-making loop. </p><p>Even the best pre-service training can’t fully prepare new principals for the realities of their difficult and often lonely jobs. Yet in too many districts, novices are left to fend for themselves, an indication of “a longstanding ‘sink-or-swim’ mindset toward principals: ‘You’re supposed to be a leader, so lead!,’” in the words of one <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/getting-principal-mentoring-right.aspx">Wallace report</a>. </p><p>Fortunately, this was not the situation that Miliote encountered, as he found when he progressed through a multiyear induction program with other novice principals offered by his employer, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. The district started the program not only to help new principals sharpen their instructional leadership skills, but also to provide them with a network of peers they can lean on for support. “With a district approaching 180 schools, getting to know 10 to 20 other principals really well makes the district seem smaller and helps them feel more supported,” says Jevelyn Bonner-Reed, the district’s director of grant innovation.</p><p>For the first two years of the program, novice principals are paired with a high-performing veteran principal who mentors them during their transition into school leadership. In year three, principals study different leadership styles and how they apply to running a school at the Educational Leadership Institute at Queens University in Charlotte. They also take a time-management course to learn how to maximize their time spent on instructional leadership efforts.</p><p>The program culminates in the fourth year with a capstone project in which principals reflect on their leadership practice by interviewing their teachers and other staff members about what it’s like to work with them. The interviews “helped me gain an understanding of strengths and weaknesses from those I lead, regardless of how they perceived me,” Miliote says. His faculty members were candid, acknowledging their initial worries in comments like those above, but noted that he was now someone they wanted to stand behind.</p><p>Miliote credits the induction program for this transformation. As a principal, “you have to have confidence in yourself,” he says. “I don’t think I would have developed that without going through the program.” Miliote’s growth was reflected in the changes in how he carried out the job. He no longer ran away from conflict, instead encouraging staff members to tell him their concerns so they could find solutions together. He also started putting teachers in charge of school initiatives, something he would have never considered early on. </p><p>The students at Matthews turned out to be the ultimate beneficiaries of the collaborative working relationship between Miliote and his staff. The school’s academic achievement was just barely meeting growth expectations when he arrived. By the time he left in 2014, the school was exceeding it.   </p><p>Miliote is now principal of Jay M. Robinson Middle School in Charlotte, which is also surpassing growth expectations under his leadership. In the future, he expects to take on an additional role: Mentor to novice principals in the induction program. </p><p><em>Photo of Mike Miliote by Claire Holt</em></p>On-the-Job Support Helps New Principals Build Skills—and Confidencehttps://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/On-the-Job-Support-Helps-New-Principals-Build-Skills-and-Confidence.aspx2019-07-23T04:00:00ZAn induction program guided a novice school leader through his early years on the job
Systematic Approach to Principal Development Can Benefit StudentsGP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​​​​​The RAND Corporation’s new groundbreaking report, <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/principal-pipelines-a-feasible,-affordable,-and-effective-way-for-districts-to-improve-schools.aspx"><em>Principal Pipelines: A Feasible, Affordable, and Effective Way for Districts to Improve Schools</em></a>, presents strong evidence that student achievement benefits when large districts invest in hiring, developing and supporting high-quality principals. But what does it take for a school district to build a sturdy pipeline of talented principals and sustain it? Superintendents from four districts shared insights during a panel discussion marking the publication’s launch at Baruch College in New York City. </p><p>The panelists—Richard Carranza, chancellor of the New York City Department of Education; Jeff Eakins, superintendent of Hillsborough County Public Schools, Florida; Monica Goldson, interim CEO of Prince George’s County Public Schools, Maryland; and J. Alvin Wilbanks, CEO and superintendent of Gwinnett County Public Schools, Georgia—engaged in a lively conversation moderated by Sonja Santelises, chief executive officer of Baltimore City Public Schools. The panelists’ districts, along with Denver Public Schools and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, North Carolina, participated in Wallace’s Principal Pipeline Initiative, which helped fund their pipeline-building activities from 2011 to 2016. The RAND report examined the results of the effort and found that across the districts, student math and reading achievement in schools with new principals outpaced achievement in similar comparison schools elsewhere in the districts’ states. The impact was notable. “We found no other comprehensive district-wide initiatives with demonstrated positive effects of this magnitude on student achievement,” RAND’s lead research on the project, Susan Gates, has said.</p><p>The panel discussed the importance of building all four components of a comprehensive principal pipeline—rigorous leadership standards, effective pre-service training, selective hiring and placement, and on-the-job support—to see results. Here are a few key takeaways from their conversation:</p><p><strong>Creating a principal pipeline takes a village.  </strong> <br> Every district department has to get behind the work, and to succeed “all parts of the pipeline have to be in alignment, from beginning to end,” Eakins said. In Hillsborough, this has meant examining the work of principal supervisors, the district staff members who support and evaluate principals. The district created standards for supervisors and re-interviewed everyone in the position to ensure they were the right fit to develop principals as instructional leaders. </p><p>These efforts resonated with Valerie Wanza, chief school performance and accountability officer for Broward County Public Schools, Florida, who attended the event. Broward (as well as Santelises’ Baltimore) is one of six schools districts in Wallace’s Principal Supervisor Initiative, which aims to refashion the supervisor job so it focuses less on administration and more on work with principals  to boost instruction. “As a supervisor of principal supervisors, what was reported today reaffirms that we’re going in the right direction,” she said.  </p><p><strong>Principal burnout is real. On-the-job support combats it.</strong> <br> The RAND report found that pipeline activities had a profound effect on retention, with new principals in the Pipeline districts more likely to stay in their jobs for at least three years than new principals in comparison schools. On-the-job support is critical to reducing turnover, the panelists noted, especially for principals leading schools in disadvantaged communities. “We just don’t pat them on the back and tell them, “Oh, you have the tools in your toolkit to handle that,” said Goldson from Prince George’s County Public Schools. Instead, the district figures out how to help. One strategy: Staff at-risk schools with a community resource advocate who can address students’ social and emotional needs, allowing the principal to stay focused on improving instruction. </p><p><strong>Be a data-driven matchmaker.</strong> <br> New York City’s Carranza likened hiring a principal to online dating. “Look at it as an eHarmony moment,” he suggested. “You have to match the right leader with the right community, and couple that with the right types of support.” <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/leader-tracking-systems-turning-data-into-information-for-school-leadership.aspx">Operating a leader tracking system</a>, essentially an electronic collection of profiles of aspiring and current principals, has made finding the best qualified candidate much easier for the Pipeline districts. It also ensures that great people don’t slip through the cracks. Not every graduate of Gwinnett’s internal training program becomes a principal immediately, noted Wilbanks. Using the leader tracking system, the district can review the skills and experiences of all potential candidates when a position opens. </p><p><strong>Your future principals are in the classroom.</strong><br> The panelists also noted that the pipeline work has made them more attentive to their leadership pools. Gwinnett, for instance, recognized it had few male principals and assistant principals who are African American. In response, it plans to launch a formal program to identify high-potential African American male teachers who might step up to the job. Hillsborough actively mines its classrooms, too—a big departure from pre-pipeline days when the district typically waited for individuals to express interest in school leadership. Today, it seeks out talented teachers, gives them opportunities to demonstrate leadership, and then gets “in their ear” about becoming a principal, said Eakins. </p><p><strong>Take advantage of partnerships.</strong> <br> University partnerships, too, have proven beneficial to Hillsborough’s pipeline, added Eakins. After recognizing that the district lacked principals with the skillset to lead struggling schools, it worked with the University of Tampa and the University of South Florida to develop a master’s degree in educational leadership for turn-around schools. Four years later, nearly 50 Hillsborough principals are now graduates of the program.  </p><p><strong>Federal dollars could be available to build principal pipelines.</strong> <br> An independent analysis of the RAND report found that RAND’s research about student achievement and principal retention is of sufficient quality to meet evidence standards required (or encouraged) for certain pockets of funding under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, including the major Title I funding stream.  Will Miller, president of The Wallace Foundation, took note of that at the event. <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/essa-evidence-review-of-the-principal-pipeline-initiative.aspx">Evidence from the RAND study</a>, he said, “suggests that the creation of principal pipelines, aligned with the evidence base, deserves serious consideration by large districts, understanding that they can adapt the approach to their local context and use Title I funds to do so.” </p><p>Goldson advised districts to examine their system data to make the case for change, then use RAND’s research to show why building a pipeline is money well spent. “For $42 per child [per year], you have an opportunity to invest in human capital that will deliver improvements in student achievement,” she said.   </p><p><strong>Learn from your peers.</strong>  <br> Wilbanks offered advice to districts starting to build their pipeline: Don’t do it alone. Reach out to other districts, learn from them, then share you own strategies. In fact, he plans to call on fellow Pipeline districts that are excelling in particular areas to find out “how I can catch up with them.” After all, the RAND report confirms that they’re on to something. The findings, he added, are “proof positive that the efforts and cost in both human resources and physical resources can and does make a difference to student achievement.” </p><p>And for those who missed the official report launch, fear not. You can catch the recorded livestream<a href="/knowledge-center/school-leadership/pages/principal-pipeline-implementation.aspx"> here</a>. You can also see more behind-the-scenes coverage of the event in this <a href="https://www.facebook.com/376102262278/posts/415103819282029">Facebook Live video</a>. </p>Systematic Approach to Principal Development Can Benefit Studentshttps://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Pipeline-Event-Blog.aspx2019-04-09T04:00:00ZSuperintendents discuss what leads to success in building principal pipelines
Keeping Current on the State of Knowledge About Principals and APsGP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​​The amount of research on education leadership is staggering. Plug “school leadership” into Google Scholar, a search engine that indexes scholarly literature, for example, and you’ll find more than 90,000 books, studies and reports published on the topic since 2000. Fortunately, a group of prominent education researchers is sifting through the mountain of literature for the benefit of the rest of us. </p><p>This summer, we announced the commissioning of reports from three research teams that will examine the state of knowledge in critical areas of education leadership. Two of these research syntheses will offer a fresh analysis of topics explored in previous Wallace reports. The first will focus on the impact of leadership on student achievement, providing an update to the landmark <em> <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/how-leadership-influences-student-learning.aspx">How Leadership Influences Student Learning</a></em>, published in 2004 and still one of our most popular publications. The second will examine the characteristics of effective principal preparation programs, revisiting a topic that was first covered in <em> <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/preparing-school-leaders.aspx">Preparing School Leaders for a Changing World: Lessons from Exemplary Leadership Development Programs</a></em>, published in 2007. The third report will explore the role of the assistant principal, a new area of inquiry that has emerged from our school leadership work over the past 15 years.</p><p>“Having reliable, high-quality reports that identify and analyze key findings across different research sources in a systematic way is very useful both for the field and for us at the foundation,” says Elizabeth Ty Wilde, senior research officer at Wallace. As important, she adds, the teams will also pinpoint areas where research is lacking and that could benefit from future study. </p><p>A number of developments justify taking a fresh look at how school leaders influence student learning, notes Jason Grissom, associate professor of public policy and education at Vanderbilt University and leader of the team investigating the topic. For one, the research base has exploded since our 2004 report by Kenneth Leithwood, Karen Seashore Louis and other scholars, who reviewed the research literature of the time and found that leadership is second only to instruction among school-related factors contributing to student achievement. The rigor of the research has improved as well. Thanks to the advent of state-level longitudinal data systems, scholars can now track the impact of school leadership on student outcomes over time, an analysis that wasn’t as feasible back in 2000. The job of a school principal has changed too, with a greater focus on instructional improvement, which has opened new avenues of research in recent years. </p><p>“This project is an opportunity to take stock and look across all the studies to determine the consistent findings regarding the connection between school leadership and student outcomes, and which attributes of leaders are most important to that connection,” says Grissom, who is collaborating with Constance Lindsay of the University of North Carolina and Anna Egalite of North Carolina State University on the synthesis.</p><p>The team examining principal preparation programs is taking a multi-faceted approach to its work. In addition to reviewing the research on pre-service training, the team will study the evolution of state policies on principal preparation and survey principals nationwide about how well their training prepared them for the job. The analysis “will give us a sense of how big of a mountain we have yet to climb” to prepare effective school leaders, says Linda Darling-Hammond, president and CEO of the Learning Policy Institute and co-principal investigator of research team. Darling-Hammond, who co-authored the 2007 report on principal training, is joined by Tina Trujillo of the University of California, Berkeley, and two colleagues at the Learning Policy Institute, an independent research organization dedicated to improving education policy and practice, co-PI (principal investigator) Marjorie Wechsler and Stephanie Levin.  </p><p>Spending time as an assistant principal is a common route to the principalship, but how can the experience best prepare aspiring leaders? That’s one of the central questions guiding the analysis by Vanderbilt education professors Ellen Goldring and Mollie Rubin, along with Mariesa Herrmann of Mathematica Policy Research. The team will analyze state and national data as well as existing research to explore the characteristics of assistant principals, their preparation and the support they get on the job, among other topics. They’ll also investigate issues of equity, such as whether assistant principals have equal opportunities to become principals. The team doesn’t expect to find all the answers. “Because the literature on assistant principals is less robust, in terms of rigor and replication, this particular synthesis will help the field begin to think about future areas of research,” says Goldring.</p><p>While each team is working independently, all of the researchers are sharing ideas and advice as they dive deeper into the project. Darling-Hammond and her team, for example, called Grissom to pick his brain about his research on principal preparation programs. Grissom for his part has wandered down the hall to talk with his Vanderbilt colleague Rubin about ways to extract data from qualitative research. “So often, researchers operate in a vacuum,” says Rubin. “It’s been very helpful to talk out loud about the decisions we’re making.” </p><p> Wilde hopes the collaboration continues after the three reports come out next summer. “I jokingly told everyone at our first meeting, ‘At the end of this project, I hope that you can email anyone in this room and they’ll email you back—soon.’”<br></p> <br>Keeping Current on the State of Knowledge About Principals and APshttps://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Keeping-Current-on-the-State-of-Knowledge-About-Principals-and-APs.aspx2019-10-22T04:00:00ZScholars Dig Into Latest Research on Three Crucial Topics in School Leadership
Performance Reviews Become a Tool for Developing Effective PrincipalsGP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p> <em>​​​​​​​​A principal pipeline is an approach to leader development that can have major benefits for school districts, as indicated in <a href="/knowledge-center/school-leadership/pages/principal-pipeline-implementation.aspx">groundbreaking research</a> we published recently. Pipelines consist of four parts—rigorous job standards, high quality pre-service preparation, selective hiring, and strong on-the-job support and evaluation. In an occasional series, we are examining these components by talking to principals in the school districts that, with Wallace support, tested the pipeline idea. Today, we meet a principal from Hillsborough County Public Schools in Florida who benefited from the district’s revamped evaluation system.</em></p><p>Some people run from change, but Rachael O’Dea thrives on it. When she was appointed in 2015 as a first-year principal to Lanier Elementary School in Tampa, Fla., just 42 percent of the students were proficient in reading and math. Garbage littered the campus, making the school feel like “a forgotten place,” she recalls. </p><p>O’Dea wasted no time in leading the Title I school’s turnaround, creating multiple job-embedded professional development opportunities for teachers. She scheduled weekly hourlong sessions for teachers to meet with reading and math coaches, review the standards they were teaching to and collaborate on lesson plans. She implemented a schoolwide leadership program—modeled after Stephen Covey’s book <em>The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People</em>—that includes goal-setting for both teachers and students. The school campus also received a makeover, thanks to a new event O’Dea established that enlists parent volunteers to spruce it up. </p><p>Around the same time, O’Dea’s employer, Hillsborough County Public Schools, was in the midst of a makeover too. It was revamping the way principals are evaluated. For O’Dea, the new process fostered a stronger partnership with her supervisor and led her to rethink the way that Lanier engaged its most important ally in raising student achievement: parents. </p><p>Nationally, most principals are reviewed annually, but research indicates that few find the process useful to improving their practice. Hillsborough County and the other pipeline districts sought to change that, believing that evaluations could be a key  tool to developing effective leaders. </p><p>In Hillsborough, the first step was analyzing and modifying the district’s professional standards for principals, which outline what school leaders are expected to know and do. A committee of school leaders, district administrators and others then developed a standards-based evaluation system that supports principals’ professional growth. In addition to student achievement, Hillsborough principals are now evaluated in five realms aligned to the standards: achievement focus and results orientation; instructional expertise; managing and developing people; culture and relationship building; and problem solving and strategic management.</p><p>Principal supervisors base their assessment on concrete evidence collected throughout the school year as they interact with the principals they oversee. To determine instructional expertise, for instance, the evaluation examines how well a principal conducts classroom observations, uses data to boost student learning and ensures that curriculum, instructional strategies and assessments are in sync. Supervisor feedback to principals on how they are doing in the various realms is ongoing—one Hillsborough principal <a href="/knowledge-center/Documents/Building-a-Stronger-Principalship-Vol-4-Evaluating-and-Supporting-Principals.pdf">described</a> it to researchers as a “pulse check”—so that school leaders get the targeted support they need. </p><p>The district has found, for example, that many novice principals struggle with strategic change management. In response, principal supervisors and leadership coaches work with new principals to identify the root causes of the problems at their schools and narrow possible solutions to a few they can do well. They also help principals manage their time, so they stay focused on what matters. “With the demands of the job, it is very easy to become scattered and surface-level with implementation,” says Tricia McManus, Hillsborough’s assistant superintendent for leadership, professional development and school transformation. “Regular on-site coaching provides novice principals with the support needed to be successful.”   </p><p>Like Hillsborough, the other five districts in the Principal Pipeline Initiative refurbished their principal evaluations, and overall, novice principals across the six districts expressed enthusiasm for the new approach. At least 75 percent of respondents to a survey of novice principals working in the pipeline districts agreed that their evaluations accurately reflected both their performance and the complexity of their jobs. A large majority who were told they needed to improve in at least one practice area reported getting help in that area. </p><p>O’Dea says Hillsborough’s current evaluation process begins at the start of the school year, when she meets with her supervisor to review data and set annual goals that are aligned with the school’s needs. “It is more than an evaluation,” she says. “It is about reflection and planning for the school community you are leading.” </p><p>While she excelled in her evaluations at Lanier, O’Dea found that the process helped her recognize that she could do more to engage school families, an aspect of culture and relationship building. “It’s hard to get parents in the door, especially at a Title I school,” she says. After brainstorming with her supervisor, she scrapped science day, which historically hadn’t drawn much interest, and replaced it with a leadership day for students to showcase their leadership skills and how they incorporate the 7 Habits in their daily life. Attendance at the event was strong. “When I started thinking differently about how to engage families, beyond academics, it really changed things,” she says. </p><p>Last year, district managers asked O’Dea to lead Forest Hills Elementary School, one of Hillsborough’s lowest-performing schools. By then, Lanier students had made significant academic gains: In the 2017-2018 school year, 57 percent were proficient in math and 50 percent in reading. O’Dea left the school in good hands. Her former assistant principal, whom she mentored through the district’s principal training program, is now in charge.<br></p><p> <em>Photo of Rachel O’Dea (above, right) by </em><em><a href="http://claireholtphotography.com/">Claire Holt</a></em><a href="http://claireholtphotography.com/"><br></a></p><p><br></p><h3 class="wf-Element-H3"> Previous posts in this series include:​<br></h3><p> <a href="http://claireholtphotography.com/">“</a><a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/new-hiring-approach-helps-district-make-the-right-match-between-principal-and-school.aspx">New Hiring Approach Helps District Make Right Match Between Principal and School</a>” </p><p>“<a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/leader-standards-let-principals-know-what-to-strive-for.aspx">Leader Standards Let Principals Know What to Strive For</a>”</p><p>“<a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/on-the-job-support-helps-new-principals-build-skills-and-confidence.aspx">On-the-Job Support Helps New Principals Build Skills—and Confidence</a>”</p><p>“<a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/effective-school-leaders-learn-how-to-solve-problems.aspx">Effective School Leaders Learn How to Solve Problems</a>”​<br><br></p>Performance Reviews Become a Tool for Developing Effective Principalshttps://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Performance-Reviews-Become-a-Tool-for-Developing-Effective-Principals.aspx2019-11-26T05:00:00ZYour source for research and ideas to expand high quality learning and enrichment opportunities. Supporting: School Leadership, After School, Summer and Extended Learning Time, Arts Education and Building Audiences for the Arts.
Leader Standards Let Principals Know What to Strive ForGP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p> <em>​​A principal pipeline is an approach to school leader development that can have major benefits for school districts, as indicated in <a href="/knowledge-center/school-leadership/pages/principal-pipeline-implementation.aspx">groundbreaking research</a> we published recently. Pipelines have four parts—rigorous job standards, high-quality pre-service preparation, selective hiring, and aligned on-the-job support and evaluation. In an occasional series, we examine each of these components by talking to principals in six urban districts that, with Wallace support, tested the pipeline idea. In previous posts, we found out how <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/effective-school-leaders-learn-how-to-solve-problems.aspx">pre-service training</a> prepared a Georgia principal to improve the graduation rate at his high school, and <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/on-the-job-support-helps-new-principals-build-skills-and-confidence.aspx">how on-the-job support</a> helped a new principal in North Carolina gain the skills he needed to succeed. Today, we explore how job standards shaped the leadership development of a principal in Denver. </em></p><p>When Pam Kirk became an assistant principal in 2008, she had a meeting with her new boss at Force Elementary School in southwest Denver. Her principal asked which leadership skills Kirk wanted to work on that year. Kirk wasn’t sure how to answer. As a former third grade teacher, she had never held any leadership positions, let alone given thought to what her leader strengths and weaknesses were. “I came straight out of a classroom to being an AP,” she says. “I was like, ‘I don’t know what I’m supposed to work on. You tell me.’”</p><p>Fast-forward more than a decade and conversations about goals and professional growth sound very different in Denver Public Schools. In 2012, the district unveiled its School Leadership Framework, a set of job standards that outlines expectations for principals in six leadership realms and identifies indicators that demonstrate competency in each. Today, the framework informs all aspects of the district’s talent management strategy for school leaders, from training to recruitment, from performance evaluation to succession planning. “It anchors everything we do,” says Mikel Royal, director of school leader preparation and development for Denver Public Schools. </p><p>Leader standards may strike observers as the most mundane of the four pipeline components, but the six pipeline districts found them of singular importance, according to <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/building-a-stronger-principalship-vol-5-the-principal-pipeline-initiative-in-action.aspx">research about the implementation</a> of the pipeline effort. This is in part because of how the standards guided the development of the other pipeline components and helped the pipeline as a whole cohere. The new standards replaced what the researchers described as “a loose patchwork of language about school leadership that did not communicate what the district really wanted principals to know and do.” Then, the new standards were often themselves revised, as districts observed the standards in use and saw gaps in them or lack of clarity about important matters, or lists that needed trimming to a few absolute essentials. “Living documents in use” is how the researchers characterized the standards. Moreover, developing standards proved to be by far the least expensive of the pipeline components, according to an initiative <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/what-it-takes-to-operate-and-maintain-principal-pipelines-costs-and-other-resources.aspx">cost study</a>. They carried a per-pupil price tag of about 41 cents a year—“remarkably inexpensive” for something so significant, the researchers said.  </p><p>Kirk’s entry into the principal pipeline coincided with the launch of Denver’s standards’ framework. In 2012, she was among the district’s first educators to participate in Learn To Lead, a yearlong residency program in which aspiring principals work alongside veteran leaders in schools. The program is rooted in the framework, with residents identifying two to three indicators as growth goals for the year. The framework was so new that Kirk had to explain it to her mentor principal. </p><p>After her residency, Kirk applied to the hiring pool for principals, a process also closely aligned to the framework. To gauge her readiness as an instructional leader (standard two), for example, Kirk was asked to watch a video of classroom instruction and describe the feedback she would give to the teacher. To assess her skills as a community builder (standard six), district leaders had her role-play a scenario in which upset parents confronted her. </p><p>The framework influenced Kirk’s professional growth after she became principal of Asbury Elementary School in south Denver. At a workshop in 2015, she and other school leaders unpacked each standard and reviewed the types of evidence that their supervisors would use to evaluate their performance on a four-point scale: not meeting, approaching, effective and distinguished. That year, principals also set professional goals tied to the framework. Kirk chose to concentrate on creating a more supportive workplace for her staff. “I’m not a warm and fuzzy principal—it’s not a strength of mine,” she says. “The framework makes me focus on it and ensures that I’m bringing those values to my building.”</p><p>In 2017, Denver revised the framework with input from principals to define expectations for all members of a school’s instructional leadership team—principal, assistant principal, deans and teacher leaders. Previously, everyone had been evaluated against the principal standards. In the area of instructional expertise, for example, teacher leaders are expected to develop a team of teachers who deliver “joyful, rigorous instruction,” while the principal is tasked with building and empowering the instructional leadership team to ensure engaging instruction for all students. By showing the competency progression, the framework has become a powerful tool for leaders at all levels to “self-assess their progress and have conversations with their supervisor about their growth,” says Royal.  <br></p><p>Earlier this year, Kirk used the framework for the first time to evaluate Asbury Elementary’s dean of culture. She was surprised by all the evidence she needed to collect to make an informed assessment. Still, the effort led to a more meaningful conversation with her dean. Rather than a perfunctory review of his evaluation scores, she says, “we focused on the data behind the decision and his next steps moving forward.” Kirk recently took a step forward in her career too. In September, she became the new principal of Southmoor Elementary School in Denver.<br></p><p><em>​Photo of Pam Kirk by Sam Adams/Adams Visual Communications</em></p>Leader Standards Let Principals Know What to Strive Forhttps://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Leader-Standards-Let-Principals-Know-What-to-Strive-For.aspx2019-10-29T04:00:00ZA Denver principal reflects on how district standards influenced her growth and practice
Getting the Most Out of Data Collection for Out-of-School-Time SystemsGP0|#b804f37e-c5dd-4433-a644-37b51bb2e211;L0|#0b804f37e-c5dd-4433-a644-37b51bb2e211|Afterschool;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61​<p>​​Collect reliable data, mine it for insights and act wisely on the information: That’s a recipe for continuous improvement for any organization. Out-of-school-time intermediaries, the organizations that oversee communitywide systems of afterschool, summer and other out-of-school-time (OST) programs, recognize the value of effective data analysis. But deciding what data to collect, how to collect it and, most importantly, how to use it to drive improvement can be overwhelming. </p><p>A new tool—<a href="/knowledge-center/pages/framework-for-measurement-continuous-improvement-and-equitable-systems.aspx"><em>Putting Data to Work for Young People: A Framework for Measurement, Continuous Improvement, and Equitable Systems</em></a><em>—</em>aims to help. The tool updates an earlier version from 2014 and was developed by <a href="https://www.everyhourcounts.org/" target="_blank">Every Hour Counts</a>, a national coalition of citywide OST organizations that seeks to increase access to high-quality learning opportunities, particularly for underserved students. The framework itself consists of 11 desired outcomes for an OST system at the systemic, programatic and youth level. Each outcome features a set of indicators to measure progress toward it and the types of data to collect along the way. The data-collection efforts of three OST intermediaries—<a href="https://www.bostonbeyond.org/" target="_blank">Boston After School & Beyond</a>, <a href="https://www.mypasa.org/" target="_blank">Providence After School Alliance</a>, and <a href="https://www.sprocketssaintpaul.org/" target="_blank">Sprockets in St. Paul</a> —informed the updated tool, as well as an accompanying guide written by RAND Corp. researchers Jennifer Sloan McCombs and Anamarie A. Whitaker, who led an evaluation of how the intermediaries used the framework. </p><p>Recently The Wallace Blog spoke with McCombs and Jessica Donner, executive director of Every Hour Counts, about the framework and the experiences of the intermediaries. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.<br> </p><p><strong>How did you determine the updated framework’s 11 outcomes and the related data indicators?<br> <br> Donner:</strong> The selection of outcomes was driven by the on-the-ground experiences of the three intermediaries, the Every Hour Counts network, the knowledge brought to bear on the project by research partners and the existing literature on effective practice. The data indicators were developed by RAND based on their research expertise, the experience of the three intermediaries and RAND’s criteria to minimize burden on providers, intermediaries, staff and students, and efficiency for data collection and utility. This framework builds on prior iterations, specifically one developed with American Institutes for Research in 2014.<br> </p><p><strong>What did you learn from the three intermediaries as they used the 2014 framework?<br> <br> Donner: </strong>We worked with these intermediaries because they had the bandwidth and expertise to hit the ground running with the framework. What we learned is that even highly accomplished intermediaries face tremendous challenges with data collection and use—staff capacity, research expertise, how to narrow down a host of outcomes and indicators to measure those outcomes. Where did they start? We had this framework, but the process was very overwhelming.<br> </p><p>We undertook the framework update and intentionally designed a tool that would make the data collection and use process more digestible, such as tips for staging the work and previewing a menu of options. We also infused racial equity questions throughout the framework. These questions are especially critical now as communities grapple with missed learning opportunities, particularly for students of color. The updated tool helps communities be efficient, effective and strategic with data, all in the service of high-quality programs for young people, particularly those who lack access due to structural inequities. That’s what we’ve always been about—recognizing inequities in opportunities and forwarding that agenda.<br> </p><p><strong>What did the intermediaries find were the framework’s key benefits?</strong><br> </p><p><strong>McCombs:</strong> The core benefit was that the framework focused system leaders on data use, not just data collection. It really provides a roadmap to assess and align the goals and activities of an OST system and how to measure the outputs of those activities—not just for the sake of measuring progress toward goals, but also to drive systems improvement.<br> </p><p>Systems are constantly evolving. Very often, they get bogged down collecting data that once had a clear purpose but is now no longer utilized. In some cases, using the framework led the intermediaries to measure less but utilize more. It’s a bit like cleaning out your closet. Letting go of something you haven’t worn in a long time makes room for something else. Not using data that’s collected is a waste of resources and an opportunity cost for other activities. There’s also the burden of data collection on programs and youth. It’s very important that everything that systems ask of programs and youth has value that can be communicated back to them. <br> </p><p><strong>What are the toughest challenges for effective data collection and analysis?</strong><br> </p><p><strong>McCombs:</strong> One challenge for OST systems leaders is the development of data systems and protocols that allow for the collection and safe storage of accurate data. This is easily forgotten by people who don’t have a background in research or data science. It’s not intuitive. To help system leaders overcome this, we wrote <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/putting-data-to-work-for-young-people.aspx"><em>Putting Data to Work for Young People: A Ten-Step Guide for Expanded Learning Intermediaries</em></a> in 2019.<br> </p><p>OST systems also don’t tend to be robustly funded. System leaders have to make choices on a continuous basis about where to invest monetary and human capital resources. And that leads to difficult decisions. I don’t know any OST system that’s able to do everything it wants.           <br> </p><p><strong>In addition to using surveys and management information systems, the framework suggests low-budget options for gathering data, such as interviews with program leaders and youth representatives. Was this deliberate?</strong><br> </p><p><strong>McCombs:</strong> It was an intentional choice. The goal of the framework is for systems to collect data that they can use to inform decision making. Some indicators are very expensive and time-consuming to measure well. But systems don’t have to measure everything that they do. There are other mechanisms that give people an opportunity to reflect on their work in a way that can drive future activities. System leaders can use touchpoints with community stakeholders to learn the extent to which their work is meeting the intended objectives. Some activities, like talking with youth council representatives, have benefits beyond measuring progress toward a particular goal. They build voices into the system and improve equity. <br> </p><p><strong>Donner:</strong> When Jennifer and the team at RAND worked with the three intermediaries, they steered them toward open-source, free and accessible data-collection tools so they wouldn’t face a funding cliff later. They were realistic with their recommendations so systems would not need a massive grant to sustain their data collection work. <br> </p><p><strong>McCombs:</strong> Because we’re researchers, I think people expected that we would push them to measure more and at the highest level of rigor for everything. That was not our approach. We really wanted to help them build processes that were sustainable and that they could implement themselves over time.<br> </p><p><strong>The</strong> <strong>sample worksheets in the guide suggest that OST intermediaries don’t need to measure everything to track progress and make informed decisions. How can they make smart choices about the data they do collect and analyze?</strong><br> </p><p><strong>McCombs:</strong> It's far better to measure three things reliably and use it to drive improvement, than to measure 10 things not particularly well and not have the capacity to use any of it. As system leaders go through the framework and want to measure this and this and this, they should really think about where they can derive the greatest value and what they have the capacity to accomplish well. What pieces of data are highest leverage? How can they make the most out of every data point so that stakeholders can make decisions that advance goals and continuous improvement processes? We encourage system leaders to ask themselves: what do you have the capacity to collect, store, analyze and use right now?​<br> </p><p><strong>How did the framework help the three intermediaries improve their data efforts? And how will it continue to be used in the field?</strong><br> </p><p><strong>McCombs:</strong> Intermediaries in the study used the framework in many different ways. As small examples, Sprockets [in St. Paul] used data to more explicitly communicate with various stakeholders, including community members, funders, and policymakers.​ For Boston After School & Beyond, the framework propelled how it communicates data with programs in its network, and therefore, how programs utilize data themselves for their own improvement. Providence Afterschool Alliance really took stock of the data they needed, the data they didn’t, and how to share data back to providers.<br> </p><p><strong>Donner:</strong> Every Hour Counts is forming a learning community with a cohort of city organizations who will work intentionally with the tool over the next year to use data to drive improvement. Intermediaries come in many shapes and sizes, but there is a common through line of the importance of system indicators, program indicators and youth indicators, which all intersect with each other. The framework is designed to meet communities wherever they are in the process. We’re eager to see how it helps them move from point A to B.  </p>Getting the Most Out of Data Collection for Out-of-School-Time Systemshttps://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Getting-the-Most-Out-of-Data-Collection-for-Out-of-School-Time-Systems.aspx2021-10-06T04:00:00Zafterschool systems; cities; citywide systems; research; education research; OST
Assistant Principals, Overlooked No MoreGP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​​They go by many titles—assistant principal, vice principal, associate principal—and their ranks are growing. The number of assistant principals has increased nearly six times faster than the number of principals in the last 25 years, surging 83 percent to more than 80,000. Roughly half of U.S. public schools today have at least one AP, up from one-third in 1990. As it proliferates, the AP role has the potential to promote racial and gender equity in school leadership and contribute to better outcomes for students.</p><p>That is a key finding of <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/the-role-of-assistant-principals-evidence-insights-for-advancing-school-leadership.aspx"><em>The Role of Assistant Principals: Evidence and Insights for Advancing School Leadership</em></a>, a major new research review that synthesizes the findings of 79 studies about APs published since 2000 and includes fresh analyses of national and state data. The report was written by researchers Ellen Goldring and Mollie Rubin of Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development, and Mariesa Herrmann of Mathematica. They presented their findings at a recent <a href="https://zoom.us/rec/play/h1I-3eOj2LMRaJ7JTzQ10qvI_3i3ATzPY65aWDcYZuRoeQ4KXPuQBlelMcWkHByRGGBDlnolsM-KcWXU.AKzSK_iq6zUg3gsa">webinar</a> that also featured a panel discussion among education experts moderated by Nicholas Pelzer, a senior program officer in education leadership at Wallace.</p><p>Principals are more likely than ever to spend at least some time in their career as an AP, making the role an important “stepping stone” to leading a school, the authors found. The job varies considerably, with most APs engaging in a mix of instructional leadership, management and student discipline tasks. “APs wear many hats,” said panelist Debra Paradowski, an associate principal of 22 years who was named Assistant Principal of the Year in 2020 by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). </p><p>Yet despite being one​​ chair away from the principal’s seat, APs are often overlooked for opportunities that would develop and strengthen essential skills needed to lead a school. “In short, assistant principals are not given systematic, sequential or comprehensive leadership-building opportunities or ongoing evaluative feedback in preparation for the principalship,” said Rubin. </p><p>School districts must think of APs as “principals-in-training” and encourage principals to assign challenging, hands-on leadership work that will best prepare them, said panelist Beverly Hutton, chief programs officer at NASSP. The shift to remote learning during the pandemic—and the many new leadership challenges and responsibilities it presented—underscored the fact that the job of running a school effectively is often simply too big and complex for one person. “Distributing leadership and allowing others to stretch, grow and contribute is the formula for success for everybody,” Hutton said. “It’s the key to succession, preparation, equity and even longevity in the [principal] role—you just can’t do it alone anymore.”</p><p>The research synthesis also found uneven opportunities for advancement in the school leadership pipeline. Across six states examined by the authors, 24 percent of APs were people of color compared with 19 percent of principals and 34 percent of students. Women accounted for 77 percent of teachers but only 52 percent of both principals and APs. Some research suggests that hiring discrimination and less access to mentoring may contribute to racial and gender disparities in advancement. Many educators are “tapped” for administrative jobs by school and district leaders, noted Hutton, and that could result in inequitable outcomes. “You don’t tap people that you can’t see,” she said. </p><p>A lack of mentors is common among APs working in urban schools, said panelist Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, which represents larger urban school districts. A survey of APs by the organization a few years ago “found that there was very little coaching and mentoring for assistant principals, little professional development for principals on how to mentor assistant principals,” he noted. Hutton pointed out that the Professional Standards for Education Leaders (PSEL), which outline job expectations, clearly state that principals have a responsibility to develop staff members, including APs. Principals need to fulfill that mentoring role, she said, and APs must advocate for it. </p><p>The report’s authors suggested several ways to design the AP role as a stop along the way to the principalship, including developing job standards specifically for the position. Rather than creating separate standards, Hutton suggested that districts gather input from practitioners and further define PSEL to address the nuances of being an AP. “We need the voices of APs to help define their rightful place in the educational ecosystem,” she said. </p><p>There’s also the need for more research on APs to inform policy and practice. The authors cited numerous areas for deeper study, including how APs are assigned to schools, how well preservice programs prepare them, and which AP roles are most related to improved student and school outcomes. Paradowski said she hopes the new report brings heightened attention to the integral role that she and her peers play in schools. “We’re not the principal’s assistant but rather an assistant principal to help lead, guide and serve the community.”</p>Assistant Principals, Overlooked No Morehttps://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Assistant-Principals-Overlooked-No-More.aspx2021-04-20T04:00:00ZLively panel discussion follows release of new findings on APs and how to make the most of the role
Effective School Leaders Learn How to Solve ProblemsGP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p> <em>​​​​​​​​​​​If you keep up with goings-on at Wallace, you know that we recently published a RAND </em><a href="/knowledge-center/pages/principal-pipelines-a-feasible,-affordable,-and-effective-way-for-districts-to-improve-schools.aspx"><em>research report</em></a><em> with a groundbreaking finding: A systematic approach to developing school principals can have a notably positive impact on student achievement and principal retention. RAND researchers examined what happened after six large school districts adopted this approach—known as building a principal pipeline.</em></p><p> <em>Principal pipelines consist of four components: rigorous principal job standards, high-quality pre-service preparation, selective hiring, and aligned on-the-job support and evaluation. In occasional blog posts, we single out a different pipeline component and explore it through the eyes of one of the pipeline districts’ principals. Today, find out how pre-service preparation helped a high school principal in Georgia tackle a difficult problem.  </em><br></p><p align="center">​*****<br></p><p>When Al Taylor became principal of Berkmar High School in 2013, one in three freshmen at the school in Lilburn, Ga., about 35 miles from Atlanta, was being held back. Taylor knew the research about ninth grade. Studies out of the University of Chicago have shown that performance in ninth grade is more predictive of a student’s odds of graduating than all other factors, including race and socioeconomic status, combined. If Taylor hoped to move the needle on Berkmar’s graduation rate—then 55 percent—the work needed to start in ninth grade.</p><p>To begin to solve the problem, though, Taylor had to first step back and draw on a lesson he had learned years before as a participant in the principal training program run by his employer, the Gwinnett County (Ga.) Public Schools. That program, which was set up in 2007, seeks to ensure that the district has a steady supply of high-caliber professionals ready to take on the top job. The instruction is based on the district’s job standards for principals and gives aspiring leaders an opportunity to sharpen the critical skills they’ll need to make a positive impact in schools.</p><p>The lesson that came back to Taylor in his first year at Berkmar? An effective school leader empowers other to lead. </p><p>It was something Taylor learned by seeing it firsthand. As part of his yearlong training, Taylor had spent a month shadowing an experienced principal to observe leadership in action. Going into the training program, Taylor had thought a principal should be all knowing, all doing. Yet the principal he observed gave significant autonomy to his assistant principals. He was always available to guide them, but he let them make key decisions. As important, he didn’t berate them if their decisions didn’t pan out. His leadership style cultivated a spirit of trust and collective ownership of the school. </p><p>Remembering that experience as a trainee, Taylor concluded that improving ninth grade performance was not a task he should undertake alone. “I didn’t come in to save the day,” he recalls. “I came in to bring individuals together so that we could save the day.” </p><p>Taylor organized a committee of teachers and other staff members to study the ninth grade experience at Berkmar. The group reviewed data on achievement, attendance and other indicators. “They saw how their input could shape what Berkmar was to become,” Taylor recalls. He, meanwhile, worked on convincing the school’s strongest teachers that being asked to teach ninth graders instead of twelfth graders wasn’t a demotion but a recognition of their talents and importance at Berkmar. </p><p>In 2015, Berkmar implemented a redesigned ninth grade academy and introduced career-themed academies for upperclassmen. The changes apparently have been effective. Last year, Berkmar’s ninth-grade promotion rate was 78 percent, up from 67 percent in 2013. The graduation rate, meanwhile, reached 71 percent. Some of the biggest gains were among students with disabilities, whose graduation rate rose from 19 percent in 2014 to 41 percent last year. Taylor, now in his ninth year as a principal and his sixth at Berkmar, no longer qualifies as a novice, but he still looks for ways to improve his practice. “I thought I’d walk out of the training program with a how-to manual, but it doesn’t exist,” he says. “Every day, there’s a new challenge, a new opportunity.”</p>​ <img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Effective-School-Leaders-Learn-How-to-Solve-Problems/190405_WallaceFoundation_PrincipalPipeline_final%20for%20ppt.jpg" alt="190405_WallaceFoundation_PrincipalPipeline_final for ppt.jpg" class="wf-Image-Left" style="margin:5px;color:#555555;font-size:14px;" /> <p> <em><br></em></p> ​ <em>Top ​photo of Al Taylor by Claire Holt</em> <p></p> <br>Effective School Leaders Learn How to Solve Problemshttps://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Effective-School-Leaders-Learn-How-to-Solve-Problems.aspx2019-06-04T04:00:00ZSee how one Georgia principal used his leadership training to increase graduation rates.
Why should school districts invest in principals?GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61​​<p>T​hey are items on every school district’s to-do list: Reduce chronic absenteeism. Improve teacher satisfaction and retention. Bolster student learning. Now a major new research review points to the person who can have a positive impact on all of these priorities—the school principal. The groundbreaking study, <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/how-principals-affect-students-and-schools-a-systematic-synthesis-of-two-decades-of-research.aspx"> <em>How Principals Affect Students and Schools: A Systematic Synthesis of Two Decades of Research</em></a>, finds that replacing a below-average principal at the 25th percentile of effectiveness with an above-average principal at the 75th percentile increases the average student’s learning by nearly three months in math and reading annually. Schools led by strong principals also have higher student attendance and greater teacher retention and satisfaction, according to the report. </p><p>Recently, the Wallace Blog caught up with the report’s authors, Jason A. Grissom, the Patricia and Rodes Hart professor at Vanderbilt University; Anna J. Egalite, associate professor at North Carolina State University; and Constance A. Lindsay, assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, to discuss their findings and implications for the field. The interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity. </p><p> <strong>After the release of the report, some people were asking on social media if a great principal is more important than a great teacher and you had a great response. Can you share it with us? </strong></p><p> <strong>Grissom:</strong> You can’t directly compare the effects of teachers and principals because the effects of a principal are largely through their work to expose kids to great teachers. It’s helpful to think about it from different points of view. From the student’s point of view, the teacher is clearly the most important person because he or she has the most direct effect on what I learn and my other outcomes. For the life of a school, the principal is certainly among the most important people, maybe the most important person, in part because principals are the ones who hire great teachers, ensure that great teachers stay in the building, and set the conditions for teachers to be able to teach to their full potential. </p><p>The report tries to emphasize how large the impacts of principals are and also what the scope of those effects are. Even if you just focus on student test scores, the report uses this size-plus-scope-of-effect to argue that we really should be investing in principal leadership. We’d go so far as to say that if you could only invest in one adult in the school building, then that person should pretty clearly be the principal. </p><p> <strong>Given the research evidence showing the positive effects that a principal can have on student learning and other important outcomes, how can the field help less-effective principals improve? </strong></p><p> <strong>Egalite:</strong> That’s the question we tried to answer in the second part of the report, which identifies the four leadership behaviors of great principals: engaging in instructionally-focused interactions with teachers, building a productive school climate, facilitating collaboration and professional learning communities, and managing personnel and resources strategically. If you were designing professional development for below-average principals, these are the four areas you could lean on that the evidence shows are associated with better outcomes in the long run. </p><p> <strong>Which instructionally-focused activities appear particularly effective—and which ones not so much?</strong></p><p> <strong>Egalite:</strong> One effective activity is the use of data. Principals can encourage teacher buy-in by using data to monitor student progress and demonstrate changes in student achievement. Another is teacher evaluations, which have become more sophisticated in recent years. They no longer just analyze student test scores to say if someone is a good teacher or a bad teacher, but marry that information with other data points collected through classroom observations and other measures. </p><p> <strong>Grissom:</strong> We tried to highlight engagement with instruction as separate from a more general, and maybe ill-defined notion, of what it means to be an instructional leader. Some principals have internalized the message that instructional leadership means being in classrooms. But simply being present is not associated with greater student growth. It may even have negative effects because having the principal in the classroom is distracting for both the students and the teacher. Maybe that distraction is worth it if the principal follows up with support for the teacher’s work and uses data from the observations to help drive the instructional program. But on its own, it’s not enough to move the needle. <br> </p><p> <strong>The report found that principals can have an important impact on marginalized populations, including students from low-income households and students of color. How does an equity-focused principal exhibit the four leadership behaviors?</strong></p><p> <strong>Lindsay:</strong> They infuse all the activities they usually do with an equity focus. With regard to instruction, it would mean working with teachers to adopt a more culturally responsive pedagogy. It means making sure that teachers are engaging in practices that are relevant to all students in the school. In building a productive school climate, it means working with families and thinking about the community context. </p><p> <strong>Grissom:</strong> Thinking about how equity can be infused into these domains of behavior is clearly an area we need to know more about. The report offers lots of examples from the research base that exists, but the evidence is still developing.<br></p><p> <img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Why-should-school-districts-invest-in-principals/FIGURE-7-2-Emerging-Framework-Connecting-Equity-in-Principal-Leadership-to-Equitable-Outcomes-ch.jpg" alt="FIGURE-7-2-Emerging-Framework-Connecting-Equity-in-Principal-Leadership-to-Equitable-Outcomes-ch.jpg" style="margin:5px;" /> <br> </p><p> <strong>You also found widening racial and ethnic gaps between principals and the students they serve. What are some tactics that districts can use to diversify the principal workforce? </strong></p><p> <strong>Lindsay:</strong> The key is diversifying the teacher workforce, because principals start as teachers. In terms of district actions, there are strategies like “grow your own” programs where districts identify and develop individuals in-house who are well-suited to meeting the needs of their community. Districts can also examine different stages of the educator human capital pipeline to identify places where people of color drop out and then work to shore up those stages. </p><p> <strong>Grissom:</strong> We’ve had concerns for a long time that access to the principalship in a lot of areas is driven by who you know within a district. That likely disadvantages people who are not in power. In response, districts are increasingly formalizing leadership programs with predefined selection criteria, ensuring that people are getting into the principal pipeline on the basis of their capacity for leadership. And at the end of the pipeline, there has to be an equitable hiring and selection process. Diversifying the pipeline is an area we have to learn more about—where is it happening successfully and how, so that those practices can be taken to other places to ensure greater principal diversity. </p><p> <strong>Based on your report’s findings, what aspect of school leadership would you study right now if money and time were no object?</strong></p><p> <strong>Lindsay:</strong> A lot of the research on equity that we drew from is very localized and context specific. I would study equity in a more systematic way. Just as we have rubrics for other things, I think it would be nice to have one about culturally responsive pedagogy that’s been tested and validated at a wide scale. </p><p> <strong>Egalite:</strong> I’d like to know more, from a measurement perspective, about defining effective principals. I went through a Catholic teacher training program and for a brief moment considered its leadership training program. Their approach to leadership training is very much centered on building the school culture. Test scores are a much later part of the conversation. Private Catholic schools are obviously a different context than public schools, but how a principal sets the tone in a school and gets everyone rowing in the same direction is still relevant. How do you measure that? We rely on test scores to gauge principal effectiveness because they are easily collected by states, but it’s really just one piece of the pie. A more multidimensional view of principal effectiveness would be helpful.</p><p> <strong>Grissom:</strong> I’m interested in how to measure capacity for the skills and behaviors we discuss in the report, so that we can do a better job identifying future leaders, developing their capacities and ensuring they are ready to lead when they enter the principalship. Historically, we have not done a great job of assessing people’s future potential. Maybe this is because we didn’t have the opportunities to develop the tools that measure those capacities. The same tools could also be used once a person is in leadership to identify areas for growth and target professional learning. They could also help us identify excellent leaders so we can draw on their excellence to help other people behind them in the principal pipeline. There are a lot of opportunities to think about how we identify, measure and assess both potential and strength at all phases of the pipeline. </p><p> <strong>Your report is the first of three research syntheses to be released by Wallace this year. A second will examine the role of the assistant principal and a third will look at the characteristics and outcomes of effective principal preparation programs and on-the-job development. How does it feel to be first out of the gate?</strong></p><p> <strong>Grissom:</strong> We’ve done a few presentations about our report and people have asked how our findings apply to assistant principals and the implications for pre-service preparation and in-service professional learning. </p><p>It will be very interesting to see the conversations following the release of the other two reports and how they build on the conversation we’ve been having with the release of ours. Stay tuned. </p>Why should school districts invest in principals?https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Why-should-school-districts-invest-in-principals.aspx2021-03-23T04:00:00ZYour source for research and ideas to expand high quality learning and enrichment opportunities. Supporting: School Leadership, After School, Summer and Extended Learning Time, Arts Education and Building Audiences for the Arts.
New Hiring Approach Helps District Make the Right Match Between Principal and SchoolGP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p> <em>​​​​​A principal pipeline is an approach to school leader development that can have major benefits for school districts, as indicated in <a href="/knowledge-center/school-leadership/pages/principal-pipeline-implementation.aspx">groundbreaking research</a> we published recently. Pipelines have four parts—rigorous job standards, high-quality pre-service preparation, selective hiring, and aligned on-the-job support and evaluation. In an occasional series, we examine each of these components by talking to principals in six urban districts that, with Wallace support, tested the pipeline idea. In previous posts, we found out how <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/effective-school-leaders-learn-how-to-solve-problems.aspx">pre-service training</a> prepared a Georgia principal to improve the graduation rate at his high school, <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/on-the-job-support-helps-new-principals-build-skills-and-confidence.aspx">how on-the-job support</a> helped a new principal in North Carolina gain the skills he needed to succeed, and how job standards <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/leader-standards-let-principals-know-what-to-strive-for.aspx">shaped the leadership development​</a> of a principal in Denver.</em><em> Today, we examine how selective hiring led to a perfect match for a first-time principal and her new school in Prince George’s County, Md., just outside Washington, D.C.</em></p><p>A decade ago, hiring a principal in Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland typically meant screening hundreds of applications with little guarantee that the laborious process would turn up someone with the right skills and experience for the job. That’s because anyone with the state-required certification could apply, resulting in a deluge of résumés each time a vacancy was advertised.  </p><p>But last spring district administrators didn’t have to comb through stacks of submissions to find Adelaide Blake. She was already on their radar. That’s thanks to the way Prince George’s County has changed its approach to principal hiring and placement in recent years so that the district draws job candidates almost exclusively from among a group of professionals who have already been screened to show they are qualified for the job. </p><p>Blake was one of those pros. She began her career in the district as a special education teacher in 2007, helping develop a program for children with autism at Seat Pleasant Elementary School in Seat Pleasant, Md. The program flourished under Blake’s leadership, and over time she made a transition into the school’s administration, first as chair of its special education department and later, in 2014, as its assistant principal. </p><p>In 2018, Blake was one of four assistant principals in the district selected for a yearlong residency program that pairs would-be principals with experienced leaders in schools. Blake learned the ropes from a veteran principal at Chapel Forge Early Education Center, a preschool in Bowie, Md., where 75 percent of the students have physical or learning disabilities. At first Blake shadowed her mentor, then gradually took charge of running the school. (Her mentor, meanwhile, interned in the central office to explore alternate career paths should she ever decide to step down as principal.) As her residency drew to a close, Blake received a call from district leaders about a principal opening at C. Elizabeth Rieg Regional, a K-12 school for students with special needs in Mitchellville, Md. Blake interviewed and got the job, which she describes as an excellent fit based on her experience and the school’s needs. “Working with so many people over the years—special educators, general educators, paraprofessionals, parents, special-ed service providers—prepared me to be the leader that I am today,” she says. </p><p>Blake got the call from district officials because she was “in the pool,” lingo used by the pipeline districts to describe a group of aspiring school leaders who are eligible for principal jobs. The districts found that instituting a hiring pool served two important purposes. First, it ensures that only high-quality candidates who’ve demonstrated readiness to be effective principals are considered for openings. Most applicants to Prince George’s talent pool have completed one of the district’s leadership programs for aspiring principals, but that alone does not secure entry. They still must pass a range of practical exercises aligned to the district’s leadership standards, such as writing a 90-day “entry plan” as the principal of a hypothetical school to show how they would prioritize needs and draw upon district resources. They’re also asked to watch videos of classroom instruction and explain the feedback they would give to the teacher. Because Blake was already an acting principal, her assessment wasn’t based on fictional scenarios but on the real work she was doing in her residency. Candidates who ace the practical demonstrations advance to step two, an interview with a panel of principal supervisors and coaches who determine eligibility. </p><p>Prince George’s talent pool has also streamlined the hiring process. Rather than posting a vacancy and waiting to see who applies, district managers proactively contact candidates in the pool who are a good match. Sometimes, the process sheds light on areas of expertise that are lacking. While the district usually interviews four candidates for each opening, it only considered Blake and one other person for the principalship at Rieg because they were the only ones with a background in special education. “It’s been an eye opener to see the gaps we have, in areas like language immersion, special education, charter school operations,” says Melissa Ellis, district supervisor of school leadership programs. “We have to address how we’re going to identify the talent to work in these specific types of schools.”</p><p>While the right experience is critical, so too are the soft skills that an incoming principal needs to build strong relationships with a school community. To assess that ability, the new superintendent of Prince George’s recently reinstated a community interview as part of the hiring process. Candidates meet with a panel of up to 10 to 12 community members, including teachers, support staff, parents and business partners, to discuss their vision for the school and how to best meet its needs. The top two candidates then sit down individually with the superintendent, who makes the final hiring decision. Blake was nervous about meeting the Rieg community, but says it sent a powerful message that hiring a principal is a collaborative effort. She has emphasized that spirit of collaboration in her work as principal. “I’ve made it very clear that I’m not making decisions alone,” she says. “We as a community are working together to define the mission and core values of our building.”   <br></p><p> <em>​Photo of Adelaide Blake (above right)​ by Colby Ware</em></p>New Hiring Approach Helps District Make the Right Match Between Principal and Schoolhttps://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/New-Hiring-Approach-Helps-District-Make-the-Right-Match-Between-Principal-and-School.aspx2019-11-12T05:00:00ZSee How Prince George’s County, Md., Taps Its Talent Pool for More Efficient—and Effective—Principal Placement
Bringing Out the Best in Principals During the COVID-19 CrisisGP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p class="wf-Element-IntroParagraph">“When I look back, it feels like a year ago,” says Jill Baker, deputy superintendent of Long Beach Unified School District, reflecting on the district’s response in the days following its March 13 decision to close its 85 schools owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. Long Beach Unified is California’s third largest school district, serving nearly 72,000 children from diverse backgrounds. Baker began her career in the district as a teacher 28 years ago and is scheduled to take over as its superintendent on August 1, succeeding Christopher Steinhauser, who is retiring. Baker brings a unique perspective to the job, having directed the district’s participation in a Wallace Foundation initiative aimed at reshaping the principal supervisor job to focus less on administration and more on principal growth. Recently, Baker spoke about the district’s efforts to support principals during the closure, its summer plans for school leadership development and what school may look like in September. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.    </p><p> <strong>How has your district supported principals during the school closures? </strong></p><p> <img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Bringing-Out-the-Best-in-Principals-During-the-COVID-19-Crisis/Jill-Baker-headshot.jpg" alt="Jill-Baker-headshot.jpg" class="wf-Image-Left" style="margin:5px;width:160px;height:241px;" />We are very fortunate that over the last five years, we’ve built a strong coaching model for our <a href="/knowledge-center/school-leadership/pages/principal-supervisors.aspx">principal supervision practices</a>. Why is that important now? Because the relationship between our principal supervisors and principals has a coaching foundation, it is easy for them to move into unknown territory when faced with a crisis. Our principal supervisors have been right on the frontlines with principals, coaching them, asking good questions, advocating for them and bringing the lived experience of principals back to central office. </p><p> <strong>Can you describe that lived experience? </strong></p><p>Principals were immediately faced with a set of questions that they had never experienced before, just as we were at central office. They were faced with families asking for resources that they had not asked for before, their students had technology needs, Internet needs. [The school closures] tossed up into the air every system that a principal typically manages, from teacher evaluations to nutrition services in their building.</p><p>Because of how we’ve built our principal supervision practices, principals quickly looked to their supervisors for direction, for comfort, for answers. It was a huge pivot for a system that’s pretty directing, in terms of our expectations for schools, but also gives principals a lot of latitude to make specific decisions for their building. I would say that the lived experience for principals right away was: We need you to lead us. We trust you as our supervisors to help us.</p><p> <img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Bringing-Out-the-Best-in-Principals-During-the-COVID-19-Crisis/LBUSD-Barton-39.jpg" alt="LBUSD-Barton-39.jpg" style="margin:5px;" /> <br> </p><p>Personally, I’ve never underestimated the whole idea of coaching and strengthening a trusting relationship between a principal and a supervisor, but I think the field may have. When you go through a crisis like this, it underscores why you have relationships. It is a foundational aspect of having to do really hard work. I hesitate to use the word “thrive” because this is such a sad time, but [the crisis] really has brought out the best in our school leaders. It has been a very rich opportunity for them to step up, try things they’ve never done before, be vulnerable and learn with others. </p><p> <strong>What inequities have been brought to the forefront because of the crisis? Has the district been able to address them, and if so, how? </strong></p><p>On the afternoon that we closed schools, we gathered at central office and literally said, “What do we need to focus on first?” In the back of my mind was Maslow’s hierarchy. Our first decision was that, on Monday morning, we were going to offer food at every school in our district. We did that, and we continued doing so until we could look at the data after the first week to see where our highest-need areas were. Some areas were obvious, but frankly every school has children with a need to eat. Our response has continued in a way that is so respectful to our community. We’re providing breakfast, lunch and dinner in our highest-need areas. There are almost 30 locations, and the meals are accessible to anyone. There are no requirements, no applications. </p><p>We also faced the same connectivity problems that other districts faced. One of our first purchases, literally days after the closure, was for 5,000 six-month-term hotspots because we estimated that about 10 percent of our students, or about 7,000, were potentially not connected to the Internet. In addition to giving away 20,000 older-generation Chromebooks, we came up with a system to loan more than 10,000 [newer] Chromebooks to families within two weeks of the closure. </p><p>The other needs have been sadly not surprising. Students in low-income families lack supervision as their parents go out and work as essential workers. They may be living with multiple families in one residence and are facing COVID spread because of essential workers coming in and out. We’re offering counseling digitally and are partnering with faith-based and race-based community agencies, like the NAACP, to ensure they are able to put out really good information on behalf of the district. </p><p>We’re using all of our existing programs to continue to focus on issues of equity. For example, we run a Saturday education program for students from migrant families. During the crisis, a coordinator from that program has done outreach to families. High-school teachers who work with newcomers who are English language learners have continued to connect with families, too.</p><p> <strong>Summer is a time when school districts hire and train principals. How will that be handled in Long Beach this year? </strong> <br> <strong> </strong><br> Last year, we had 80 principal promotions or changes. This year it will be 20. Five of those are first-time principals, all of whom have gone through the district’s “pipeline” programs [which provide training for aspiring school leaders]. We’re only making changes that are of necessity, such as because of a retirement. Normally, we would move around many more principals because they’re ready to transition to another school, but we’ve paused that because we want to create as much stability as possible.</p><p>Literally the day after a person finds out that they’ve been appointed principal or that they’re transitioning to another school, we launch a transition process that involves a facilitated change-of-principal workshop. The workshop engages members of the school staff to establish what’s working and what they’d like to see improved. It’s really important, and we’ll do a version of it this summer, too. </p><p> <strong>How has the district involved principals in the planning for when school resumes in September? </strong></p><p>Our principals have been an important part of our initial planning. I say initial because we’re really tracking on the health data. We’re trying to move fast enough but not too fast. Over the last month, our principal supervisors asked principals to explore all kinds of scenarios for the fall. Middle school principals, for example, considered 16 different models and in small groups worked through each one’s plusses and minuses. We went from a lot of brainstorming and testing of ideas, to now moving into a formalized planning process. We have task forces, and principals from every level are represented on them. </p><p> <strong>What might school look like in the fall, based on your initial plans?</strong></p><p>Our aim is to bring back as many students to a building as possible, especially at the elementary school level. That’s causing us to seek additional space in our city, through partnerships with local colleges and universities who will be providing distance learning/instruction.  </p><p>We’re also talking about blending learning. A middle school student, for example, might not come to school every day. He might come Monday and Tuesday, then do distance learning Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Based on distancing requirements, we know that we can only have about 15 students in a classroom. That is about half the size of a traditional class and even less when you think about a class like chorus. Chorus might only exist in a distance environment because students can’t all be in one room at the same time. </p><p>We already have an independent study program in our high schools, which we will continue, and we’ll also be launching some new distance academies. How we’re going to do all of this—in-class learning, blending learning, distance academies—we’re still figuring out. But we imagine publishing the options and letting parents make a choice. If they don’t, we’ll likely default to expecting their student to come to a building.* </p><p> <strong>Like school districts everywhere, Long Beach Unified is facing a massive budget cut because of the pandemic. I’ve read that the reduction will be 10 percent, or about $70 million, this year. How do you stay focused on equity as you make cuts?</strong></p><p>We’re in a better position than other districts because of great fiscal management. Our superintendent and the district’s budget office built up a reserve over time, knowing the rainy day would come. The reserves won’t save us from future cuts, but it allows us time to make the best decisions given what’s coming from the state. We also have in our favor that we’ve worked really hard to build internal capacity. We don’t rely on a lot of consultants or outside companies. Because of our internal capacity, we can pivot quickly, change strategy and work together in a way that doesn’t happen in a lot of places.</p><p> <img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Bringing-Out-the-Best-in-Principals-During-the-COVID-19-Crisis/IMG_0660-2.jpg" alt="IMG_0660-2.jpg" style="margin:5px;" /> <br> </p><p>Our focus on equity is at a deep level. During this time, we’ve not stepped back from our equity agenda, but we’ve had some public outcry over things that have been perceived to be “taken away” from students as we navigated through the school closure and made decisions based on our equity philosophy. This meant that we were not privileging students who were not struggling during the school closure. When we closed schools, for example, we decided that grading for high-school classes would be credit/no credit, even if you’re a junior taking five Advanced Placement classes. There was a public outcry, and our school board had to entertain an item on its agenda to uphold the district’s stance on grading and not give an opt-in for parents who wanted their students to get an A. [These parents] had to accept that credit/no credit was good for <em>all </em>students, even if their student wasn’t going to get the extra bump they would have liked. When you really get down into the details of equity, it is not equitable to privilege a student when another student doesn’t have the opportunity for that same experience. However, we do have to pay attention to the voices that are coming out about grades. We don’t want families to walk away from our district and go to a private school because they are frustrated about grades at a time when we’re already facing huge cuts.    </p><p> <em>*After we published this post, Jill Baker <a href="https://www.lbschools.net/Asset/Videos/external.cfm?videoID=2575#anchor_2575" target="_blank">announced</a> that for the coming school year, the Long Beach school district would delay in-person instruction until at least October 2020.</em></p> Bringing Out the Best in Principals During the COVID-19 Crisishttps://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Bringing-Out-the-Best-in-Principals-During-the-COVID-19-Crisis.aspx2020-07-07T04:00:00ZJill Baker, incoming chief of a large California district, discusses education priorities—and why principal supervision matters now
Once Focused on System Problems, Principal Supervisors Now Drive SupportGP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>In 2014, Des Moines Public Schools was one of six urban school districts selected to participate in Wallace’s Principal Supervisor Initiative, a four-year effort to overhaul a central-office position from its traditional focus on administration to a focus on developing principals’ skills at supporting effective teaching. Des Moines, which serves 33,000 children across more than 60 schools, was eager to get to work. </p><p>A year earlier, newly appointed superintendent Thomas Ahart had increased his staff of supervisors, known in the district as directors, to five from three, thereby reducing the number of schools each supervisor oversaw. At the time, a single director managed all of the district’s 39 elementary schools. Over the course of the effort, Des Moines made substantial changes that allowed principal supervisors to spend more time working alongside principals to strengthen their instructional leadership practices. A new report, <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/changing-the-principal-supervisor-role-to-better-support-principals.aspx"> <em>Changing the Principal Supervisor Role to Better Support Principals: Evidence from the Principal Supervisor Initiative</em></a>, describes the experiences of Des Moines and the other districts, as well as the impact of the work. In early March, Ahart sat down with us to discuss how the supervisor effort had unfolded in Des Moines and his plans to keep the momentum going. The interview has been edited for length and clarity. </p><p> <strong>One of the key components of the Principal Supervisor Initiative (PSI) was to strengthen central office structures to support and sustain changes in the principal supervisor’s role. How did you accomplish this in Des Moines? </strong></p><p>Prior to the PSI grant, we had a central-office structure that supervised schools, not principals. In theory, our principal supervisors evaluated principals, but what they really did was help principals solve problems with the system, whether it involved facilities, business and finance, human resources. Then at the end of the year, they did an evaluation that, from my own experience as a principal, was of very little value.</p><p>Frankly, it just checked a box. </p><p>When we started to break down how to better support our schools, the big challenge was: How do we take care of the things currently on the principal supervisor’s plate that detract from coaching around student growth? That was the driver in shifts made holistically at central office. Rather than principal supervisors brokering resources from the district for their principals, we needed a system that allowed that to happen organically. </p><p> <strong>So what changes did you make? </strong></p><p>We created a cadre of five principal supervisors called directors and put each in charge of a network of schools. They [originally] reported to two executive directors who served as a go-between between the rest of the central administration and the schools. I’m embarrassed that I didn’t figure this out earlier, but we soon recognized a problem with this solution. Why were we relegating executive directors, bright people with years of experience in the district, to this type of work? It was true that they knew the system inside and out, and had relationships to navigate it, but their work wasn’t contributing to a more powerful system. </p><p>That’s when we created a structure in which each principal supervisor has a district support team for their school network. Each of them has one point of contact in human resources, business and finance, operations and other central-office departments. These [central-office] individuals now hear the whole range of questions, frustrations and wants from principals relative to their department, and they’re going back to their [department heads] with really good thinking about how to make their department work better. This is a paradigm shift in how the central office functioned. In the past, departments like business and finance never felt connected to what was happening in schools. The new structure makes them feel like, hey, I’m not just pushing numbers. I’m a critical piece of making this work at the classroom level. They’re motivated and highly engaged. Interestingly, we now have principals inquiring about openings in human resources. We’ve never had that before, so I think that’s a positive development. </p><p> <strong>The job description of a principal supervisor has been completely rewritten in Des Moines. How did you manage the change in expectations for the role? </strong></p><p>I became associate superintendent for teaching and learning in 2011, and 10 months into it, I was named interim superintendent. By the time I was appointed superintendent in 2013, I already had been working on a different organizational strategy. I drafted a new org chart and showed it to the three directors who were supervising schools at the time. Their eyes got really big and they said, what about us? I said, great question, tell me what you do right now. They said they supported schools and described the brokering role I mentioned earlier. Then I showed them the monitoring reports I submit to the board of education every year and asked them to which ones they contributed. They looked at each other and said none. That’s the problem, I told them. These guys were working really hard, feeling like they were doing everything for our schools and principals, but it didn’t show up anywhere on paper. They didn’t own anything, and that actually did them a great disservice in terms of how the position was viewed by the rest of the organization.</p><p>After I became superintendent, I hired two more directors and gave them each smaller networks of schools. Both had been sitting principals, both were dedicated to students, but they had no idea what they were doing as supervisors. In terms of coaching, they had a lot of work to do. Shortly after, the grant application for the PSI came about. It was perfect timing. The PSI provided us the resources to put in place a leadership framework and an instructional framework, and to develop shared language and shared expectations. It allowed us to support our principal supervisors so they can coach effectively and take a different coaching disposition based on the problem of practice they’re trying to solve. </p><p> <strong>According to the </strong> <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/changing-the-principal-supervisor-role-to-better-support-principals.aspx"> <strong>report</strong></a><strong>, over the course of the PSI initiative principals reported that the quality of the evaluation feedback they received from their supervisors improved. How has the culture around evaluations changed in Des Moines? </strong></p><p>A number of big changes have happened. First, our principals now receive a meaningful evaluation, whether they like it or not. It’s much more integral to their work with their supervisors. They also have much more clarity about their job and the system’s expectations for them. They’re not flying blind and then worrying at the end of the school year when someone goes through an exhaustive checklist to determine if they’re doing an okay job. Our principals see their supervisor at least once a week all year. In most cases, they’re spending several hours together each week. So even if they don’t like something in their evaluation, they can’t say it’s not an informed assessment of their practice. </p><p> <strong>Do you think a principal supervisor can be both coach and evaluator? </strong></p><p>We’re still wrestling with that question. I do think an evaluator should have coaching skills. We want the evaluation process to be one of growth and improvement, not punitive. But if my only coach is my evaluator, while he may do a wonderful job in supporting me, I think there are some inherent limits to that when ultimately he has to judge my performance. Right now, we’re working to build coaching capacity in the folks who serve on our network support teams.   </p><p> <strong>The PSI researchers recommend that districts embed the principal supervisor role within the broader work of the central office to sustain the changes they’ve implemented. What’s your plan in Des Moines?</strong></p><p>Currently, our principal supervisors report to the associate superintendent, but we may have them report up through our executive director of teaching and learning instead. Her department is responsible for curriculum and works closely with principals to implement it. We’re at a place now where we’re asking, how many voices do we want in our principal’s ear? By better integrating our work at central office, we can eliminate the number of at least perceived demands on our principals. It would also be further doubling down on the principal supervisor’s ownership of executing district-wide priorities. </p><p> <em>A number of other reports about the principal supervisor job, including </em> <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/leading-the-change-a-comparison-of-the-principal-supervisor-role.aspx">Leading the Change</a><em>, a look at the role in larger districts nationally, can be found </em> <a href="/knowledge-center/school-leadership/pages/principal-supervisors.aspx"> <em>here</em></a><em>.</em></p>Once Focused on System Problems, Principal Supervisors Now Drive Supporthttps://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Once-Focused-on-System-Problems-Principal-Supervisors-Now-Drive-Support.aspx2020-07-28T04:00:00ZDes Moines schools chief Thomas Ahart discusses how his district re-made the principal supervisor job
Summer Books, Research and Beloved Pigs of Children’s LiteratureGP0|#ff9563e3-b973-45a7-8ac3-c9f4122f9a13;L0|#0ff9563e3-b973-45a7-8ac3-c9f4122f9a13|Summer Learning;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>The idea seems simple—give low-income kids books over the summer and their reading will improve. As Harvard education professor <a href="https://www.gse.harvard.edu/faculty/james-kim" target="_blank">James Kim</a> knows, there’s a lot more to it than that. </p><p>Kim is the key person behind READS for Summer Learning, a school-run, home-based program shaped by 10-plus years of research and experimentation. Over time, Kim and his colleagues developed a program which, through a combination of instructional support, family engagement and books carefully matched to the reading levels and interests of young readers, helped its participants in high-poverty elementary schools gain nearly 1.5 months of reading skills on average compared to non-participants. A <a href="http://www.wallacefoundation.org/knowledge-center/pages/reads-helping-children-become-summer-bookworms.aspx">new Wallace report</a> describes READS, which received support from the foundation.<em> (Click on the thumbnail below to view the infographic.) </em></p><p> <a href="http://www.wallacefoundation.org/knowledge-center/Documents/READS-Helping-Children-Become-Summer-Bookworms-infographic.pdf"> <img class="wf-Image-Left" alt="Asset_Infographic.png" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/summer-books-research-beloved-pigs-of-childrens-literature/Asset_Infographic.png" style="margin:5px;width:290px;" /></a>The READS research was all-consuming. Kim even packed and hand-delivered boxes of books to schools participating in his studies. Still, the hard work was worthwhile, considering its purpose, according to Kim. “READS is designed to impact a child’s head, heart and hands,” he says. “It helps kids read for understanding, inspires their love of reading and causes them to want to get their hands on more and more books.” <br> <br> Now, educators want to get their hands on READS. Kim has fielded inquiries from school district leaders to classroom teachers. This past year, he conducted webinar training with a group of school literacy facilitators in Michigan. A colleague ran a similar workshop with librarians in Massachusetts. Interest has also come from nonprofit organizations that bring services to schools, such as tutoring and book fairs. </p><p> <img class="wf-Image-Left" alt="jk2-cropped.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/summer-books-research-beloved-pigs-of-childrens-literature/jk2-cropped.jpg" style="margin:5px;width:210px;" />Kim’s work follows him home: His three kids are entering second, third and fourth grade. What’s one of their favorite books to read together? Kate DiCamillo’s <em>Mercy Watson</em> series, starring a hilarious pig. “While we’re on the theme of pigs, I love <em>Charlotte’s Web</em> too!” Kim adds. </p><p>Below, he talks more about his research and summer learning.<br><br><strong>You started your career in education as a middle-school history teacher in the 1990s. How did that experience spark your interest in researching summer reading loss and possible solutions?</strong></p><p>At my school, kids learned about colonial history to the Civil War in sixth grade. I covered Reconstruction to the present in seventh grade. When kids returned to school in September, some clearly knew a lot about history and some seemed to have forgotten much of what they learned about the Civil War, which was covered just three months ago. As I probed, it became clear that many of my disadvantaged students did not have enriching summers. They read few books and lost a lot of ground academically. This first-hand experience gave me the initial burst of inspiration to think of a low-cost solution to summer learning loss.</p><p> <strong>Your research on READS spans more than a decade. There was a trial-and-error approach to your work as you figured out the key components of the program. What surprised you most</strong>? </p><p>I call the trial-and-error approach the fusion of “strategic replication” and “heroic incrementalism.”  That is, I wanted to stick with a program of research long enough to build on what worked and to make changes to what didn’t. This approach yielded a lot of surprises, but that’s what makes science fun—having your assumptions challenged and continually building knowledge.</p><p>One surprise was disappointing. In an early READS study with my colleague Jon Guryan, an economist at Northwestern University, we let kids select their own books rather than matching them with books based on their reading level and book tastes. Too many kids picked really hard books. They did no better on a follow-up reading test than their peers who hadn’t been part of READS. We shouldn’t think of this as a failure, though, because it’s critical to know what doesn’t work. </p><p>A second finding is more optimistic. In our last RCT [randomized controlled trial] of READS, we compared core or traditional READS with adaptive READS. In the core READS program, we instructed teachers to implement the core components with fidelity. In the adaptive READS model, we allowed for structured adaptations so teachers could make changes to help make the program work better with their kids. The adaptive READS program worked better, improved student engagement and ultimately students’ reading comprehension outcomes. We were surprised and gratified to see that the adaptive READs model could work well in high-poverty schools (75 percent to 100 percent of students eligible for free lunch) particularly when teachers had implemented core READs for at least one year.</p><p> <strong>Summer seems to be an under-utilized time for learning. Why is that?</strong></p><p>One challenge is that educators already have a crowded agenda. There’s already so much that a superintendent, principal and teacher have to accomplish during the school year. I think summer is a peripheral concern. In addition, educators typically don’t have the same level of accountability or funding for programs outside school, especially during the summer. My hope is that more educators invest in low-cost and scalable solutions, whether READS or some other program, for stimulating learning outside school in the summer. </p><p> <strong>Mobile technology and usage have evolved significantly since you started your research. According to Pew Research, 92 percent of U.S. adults earning $30,000 or less own a cell phone of some kind. Two-thirds carry smartphones. Can you see READS going digital, with kids reading books and answering comprehension questions via a READS app?</strong></p><p>Great question. I’ve always felt that READS should evolve to meet the needs of educators, parents and children. And one great need today is developing digital solutions that are low-cost and effective in promoting summer learning. A READS app is a promising idea because it could provide parents and children more real-time feedback and encouragement. It might include games and incentives to further stimulate summer reading at home. I’d like to develop and try out some of these ideas. Stay tuned for updates on our website as we develop digital tools.</p><p> <strong>As a father, how have you encouraged good reading habits in your children?</strong></p><p>I think the key word is habit. Most nights, I read aloud to my kids, and I typically choose (or at least try) a book that my kids might not read on their own. One of my favorites is a series of biographies for kids by Brad Meltzer called <em>Ordinary People Change the World</em>. My kids wouldn’t, on their own, pick up a book about Albert Einstein or Abraham Lincoln, but I like to read these biographies to them. In many ways, this is exactly what we do in READS. Educators provide lessons about a narrative chapter book and teach kids a simple routine to engage with fun books about animals, natural science and famous people. Ultimately, to form good reading habits, kids need caring teachers and parents to open up new worlds of knowledge that are engaging and fascinating. </p><p class="wf-Element-ImageCaption" style="text-align:left;"> <em>Photos by </em> <a href="http://www.claireholtphotography.com/" target="_blank"> <em>Claire Holt</em></a><em>. Main photo: James Kim reads with his children.</em></p>Summer Books, Research and Beloved Pigs of Children’s Literaturehttps://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Summer-Books-Research-Beloved-Pigs-of-Childrens-Literature.aspx2018-08-01T04:00:00ZHarvard’s James Kim Chats About the Reads for Summer Learning Program
Shining the Spotlight on Assistant PrincipalsGP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61​​ <p>​​​​​​​​​They are second in command in a school, and yet assistant principals often are not given opportunities to strengthen leadership skills that are vital to their effectiveness in the role as well as in the principal post many will assume one day. That is one of the main takeaways of <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/the-role-of-assistant-principals-evidence-insights-for-advancing-school-leadership.aspx"> <em>The Role of Assistant Principals: Evidence and Insights for Advancing School Leadership</em></a>, a major new research review that synthesizes the findings of 79 studies about APs published since 2000 and includes fresh analyses of national and state data. The review found that the number of APs has grown markedly in the last 25 years and that the role has become a more common stop on the path to the principalship. At the same time, the researchers found disparities in the composition of the leadership workforce. Educators of color are less likely to become principals and more likely to become APs than white educators. Women are less likely than men to become either APs or principals.</p><p>Recently, the Wallace Blog spoke with the report’s authors, Ellen Goldring and Mollie Rubin of Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development, and Mariesa Herrmann of Mathematica, about their findings and the implications for district policies and practices. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.<br></p><p> <strong>The number of APs has grown six times faster than the number of principals in the last 25 years. Why do you think that is?</strong> </p><p> <strong>Herrmann</strong>: We looked into whether it was due to an increased number of students in elementary schools and found that explained some but not all of the increase. You’re still seeing an increase in the assistant principal-student ratio in elementary schools over this time period.</p><p> <strong>Goldring:</strong> That’s important, because at least officially, districts might have a funding formula that says if a school is of a particular size, it gets an AP position. But we also surmise that local districts can certainly fund positions differently. They might combine a coaching position with a teacher-leader position and turn that into an AP position. We have no idea why [the increase] is happening, the implications vis-à-vis other staffing decisions and what the rationale might be for a district or principal to think that the AP position is a better role to help fulfill the needs of a school as compared to other positions.</p><p> <strong>The synthesis found uneven opportunities for advancement for educators of color and women in the leadership pipeline. Does the research suggest reasons why? What measures could be taken to promote equitable opportunities?</strong></p><p> <strong>Herrmann:</strong> For educators of color, the research mentions things like differences in access to mentoring, particularly for Black women. It also suggests hiring discrimination, such as people of color not being considered for suburban schools or schools with predominately white student populations. One African American female educator in a study had a nice quote about this; she was not hired and informed that she wasn’t the right “fit.” She said, “Most of the [African American female administrators in our district]…are placed in high-poverty schools. Perhaps this is where we fit?” There’s also some evidence of differences in assigned leadership tasks by race, which could prevent people’s advancement. For women, there are a bunch of explanations—differences in access to mentorship, differences in assigned tasks, family responsibilities and the time commitments of being an assistant principal or a principal, differences in aspirations or confidence, and also discrimination.</p><p> <strong>Goldring:</strong> The point about not being a “good fit” is something to emphasize. There’s probably a lot of both explicit and implicit bias about where leaders of color want to be placed, should be placed and the implications for their career trajectories. We suggest using equity audits and leader tracking systems [which compile data on the backgrounds and careers of potential and sitting school leaders] to bring patterns to light and show how they play out in different types of schools. It’s an important first step but beyond that, districts need to create spaces for people to have really honest and open conversations about the patterns. That is key to addressing them.</p><p> <strong>Hermann:</strong> Besides just understanding the patterns, I think addressing this requires mentoring people of color and women. Someone who is already a principal can help them understand how to be a leader in that particular district. Maybe to the extent that they share similar backgrounds or experiences, they can relate to that person.</p><p> <strong>Rubin:</strong> It’s also about making space to hear the experiences of people who are facing differential outcomes and how they’re experiencing the roles that they’re in. We often assume that we know what we’re trying to fix, but we don’t necessarily understand it at a deep level. </p><p> <img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Shining-the-Spotlight-on-Assistant-Principals/FIGURE-7-2-Emerging-Framework-Connecting-Equity-in-Principal-Leadership-to-Equitable-Outcomes-ch.jpg" alt="FIGURE-7-2-Emerging-Framework-Connecting-Equity-in-Principal-Leadership-to-Equitable-Outcomes-ch.jpg" style="margin:5px;" /> <br> </p><p> <strong>Principals today are more likely to have served as assistant principals than in the past. Many say that the experience was pivotal to their leadership preparation. What makes a strong principal-assistant principal mentoring relationship? </strong></p><p> <strong>Herrmann:</strong> One study mentioned areas where assistant principals found advice and mentoring useful. One was skills development, such as building strong relationships, honing decision-making skills, having strong communications skills. This suggests that principals need to have strong leadership skills themselves, so that they can model them for the assistant principal.</p><p> <strong>Goldring:</strong> We noted in our report that there are no studies on how principals think about or conceptualize the role of assistant principals. We don’t know why an assistant principal might spend more time on task A or task B, or what principals consider when they hire assistant principals. There are gaps in terms of the research as well.  </p><p>Your question brings out the important notion of the relationship between the assistant principal role and their evaluation, and the extent to which there is systematic, competency-based formative feedback that’s built into both the role of and the relationship between the assistant principal and the principal. In most cases, principals and assistant principals are evaluated on the same rubric. The few studies that talk about the assistant principal experience with evaluation note a lot of ambiguity. In one study, the assistant principals did not even know if they were formally evaluated or how. Another study mentioned the complexity of using the same rubric: If I’m an assistant principal and evaluated on the same rubric as the principal, does that mean I can never be exemplary because that’s only for principals? What does this mean for the types of tasks and leadership opportunities that an assistant principal has?  </p><p> <strong>Rubin:</strong> A principal might assign tasks to their assistant principal to fill in for their own weaknesses. Together they make one really powerful team, but when it comes to the assistant principal’s evaluation, what does it say? They may not have the opportunities to do or learn certain things.</p><p> <strong>The pandemic has upended education and created unprecedented challenges for school leaders this year. Has it heightened awareness of the role of assistant principals? Could it lead to lasting change to the job and if so, how? </strong></p><p> <strong>Goldring:</strong> During National Assistant Principals Week, I facilitated a webinar with a panel of four assistant principals about their role during COVID. The most important point they wanted to bring home was that they are school leaders in their own right and that this year highlighted their overall importance as part of the leadership team. They are not assistants to their principals. It was a nice link to the importance of assistant principals having opportunities to really be school leaders and not necessarily be the assistant principal of X—of student affairs, of curriculum and instruction, of a particular grade level. COVID put the focus on the complexity of school leadership and the need for partners in that work. You really need more than one leader.</p><p> <strong>Rubin: </strong>I worry that in some ways, assistant principals may once again slip through the cracks. I keep hearing that assistant principals have become COVID contact tracers. That says a lot about how nebulous the job is. “<em>Who’s going to do contact tracing? Oh, the AP can!”</em> Principals who have lost their assistant principals, perhaps in the last recession, will be the first to tell you how important they are. But at the same time, there seems to be a lack of recognition and attention paid to the role. Perhaps it needs to be more deliberate.</p><p> <strong>Your report found that assistant principals have been seriously under-studied. If money and time were no object, what would you study about the role? </strong></p><p> <strong>Rubin:</strong> I would love to watch the changes that happen when districts decide to invest in the assistant principal position—how they define the role to align with their vision and goals, and how it plays out in schools in terms of interpersonal dynamics, such as the relationships between assistant principals and principals, assistant principals and teacher leaders.</p><p>There’s also a study I want Mariesa to do because I don’t do this kind of work. We don’t know a whole lot about the effects of assistant principals or the effects of serving as an assistant principal on leader performance. I hypothesize that’s because the role is so nebulous. My question is, what are the leadership tasks that lead to the outcomes we’d like to see, both in terms of evaluation performance as an assistant principal and later as a principal, as well as outcomes for students, school and staff. If you could really figure out what matters most, then you could create a model of an assistant principalship that’s constant at a district level.</p><p> <strong>Herrmann:</strong> Mollie did a really good job there! Assistant principal roles vary considerably and I think we need to better understand what aspects are most important for improving student learning and well-being. Are there ways the role can be better leveraged to improve outcomes for students? I don’t know if the role actually has to be constant across a district. I think you could investigate how it should be different, based on the local context, and what to take into account when developing the role.<br> <br> <strong>Rubin:</strong> I wish I could fund you, Mariesa. </p><p> <strong>Goldring:</strong> One of our big problems is that we have very blunt measuring instruments. We say that assistant principals’ tasks vary, but the way in which that has been measured is very unsatisfactory and leading to misunderstanding and misreporting. Researchers typically ask assistant principals how they spend their time, but no two studies ask that question similarly. In some studies, time is reported for a typical week, sometimes it’s not even clear what the timeframe is. We also need to rethink categories of tasks. Why is student disciplinary work not considered instructionally focused? If you’re working with a student to be more focused in class, isn’t that core instruction work? This is deep conceptual work that could greatly enhance the field.</p><p>The second thing that has emerged for me is trying to understand how and why some assistant principals choose to make the role a stepping-stone to the principalship while others choose to stay in the role and make it their own leadership position in its own right, alongside the principal. Is it an individual preference, a district preference, something in the school context and the way that leaders are developing teams? If we understood this, we would be better able to counsel and speak about the options to teachers who are coming up through the ranks. </p>Shining the Spotlight on Assistant Principalshttps://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Shining-the-Spotlight-on-Assistant-Principals.aspx2021-05-18T04:00:00ZAs an increasing presence in schools, APs merit more attention and study, report authors say
School Leaders Keep Eye on Equity as Unusual Year BeginsGP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​Dr. Sonja Brookins Santelises, chief executive officer of Baltimore City Schools, has heard the same concern from parents across her district’s 161 schools since in-person instruction was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. No matter where they live, she says, parents throughout her high-poverty district are worried that their children are losing ground academically during this period. </p><p>They have reason to be concerned: A McKinsey & Company report estimates that if in-person instruction does not fully resume until January, black, Hispanic and low-income students could lose as much as nine to 12 months of learning because they are less likely to have received high-quality remote instruction last spring and now again this fall. </p><p>As Baltimore developed its re-opening plan, some voices in the district argued that schools should focus on students’ social and emotional needs and put academics on the back burner. Santelises refused. Schools must tend to their students’ mental health, she says, but short-changing instruction would only exacerbate learning loss and widen the achievement gap for the most vulnerable groups. Simply put, schools have to do it all.  </p><p>“It is easier in this time period to resonate in a broken-child narrative, to almost let ourselves off the hook for choosing to do one or the other,” she says. “I would argue that…in this crucible, we actually are being charged for the first time to do both-and for children who are not used to having people address their needs both-and.”  </p><p>Approaching the re-opening of schools with a ‘both-and’ mindset was the central theme of Santelises’s keynote address at last month’s convening of Wallace’s Principal Pipeline Learning Community. The virtual event drew more than 270 participants, including 17 superintendents, from 80 districts across the U.S. that are testing a toolkit that guides how they hire, train and match principals to schools. The toolkit is based on lessons learned from the Principal Pipeline Initiative, <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/principal-pipelines-a-feasible,-affordable,-and-effective-way-for-districts-to-improve-schools.aspx">which found a significant improvement in math and reading scores</a> across six districts that took a strategic approach to school leadership. The convening focused on principal pipeline activities in the midst of the pandemic and how districts like Baltimore are ensuring equity as schools re-open.  </p><p><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/blog-plc-post-core-principles-lg-feature.jpg" alt="blog-plc-post-core-principles-lg-feature.jpg" style="margin:5px;" /><br></p><p>Equity is one of five core principles—along with health and safety, high-quality student learning, stakeholder engagement and continuous improvement—guiding Baltimore’s re-opening plan . The district examines every policy and practice with an eye on equity, determining which students may be disparately affected and how to mitigate those effects. Baltimore students started the school year virtually, but if and when schools transition to a hybrid-learning model, struggling students such as English learners and those far behind in reading and math will return to the classroom first. The district is also digging into attendance data during remote learning to expose disparities “so that we can have a response that is not the same for all, but that names without fear or frankly, apology, that there are certain groups of students that actually require more attention,” Santelises says.</p><p>Students aren’t the only ones needing attention as the school year gets under way. The convening also featured a panel of central-office leaders from three districts who described their efforts to support principals as they adjust to ever-shifting policies and lead their school communities during such trying circumstances. Rudy Jimenez, assistant superintendent of North East Independent School District, which serves 64,000 students in San Antonio, Texas, discussed how his district revised its communications strategy with principals after realizing that some were misinterpreting information coming from the central office. District leaders added a second weekly meeting with principals to avoid overwhelming them with too much information at once and shared their talking points after each virtual gathering for principals to review. The pandemic has also amplified the critical role of the district’s four principal supervisors. “They’ve been able to take the pulse of what’s going on in their collective schools and act accordingly,” says Jimenez.</p><p>The first day of school started at 3 a.m. for panelist Sheila McCabe, assistant superintendent for educational services for Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District, with calls from principals who were being evacuated from their homes due to fast-moving wildfires in their region 45 miles north of San Francisco. The district postponed re-opening for a few days and its 21,000 students are currently fully remote. Re-opening has brought heightened attention to principals’ social and emotional wellbeing, says McCabe. After it became apparent that principals were running themselves ragged as they prepared for distance learning, district leaders realized they had to do a better job giving principals the space—and permission—to unplug and take time for themselves. Supporting principals has also meant rethinking how fast to proceed with the district’s pipeline-building efforts. “The question becomes, how much do we push and how much do we back off in helping site leaders move forward with these initiatives while simultaneously recognizing their capacity based on everything that’s taking place?” McCabe says.</p><p>The good news is that the pandemic hasn’t derailed pipeline work in many districts. Plenary attendees described holding virtual boot camps for new principals over the summer, hiring coaches to support school leaders, and implementing leader tracking systems to better manage principals’ career development. Boston Public Schools completely revamped its recruiting website in the midst of the pandemic, adding details about required leadership competencies, profiles of principal mentors and photos of its two most recent cohorts of new principals, 75 percent of whom are minorities. The goal, explains Corey Harris, Boston’s chief of accountability, is to give applicants a sense of who they will work with and what they will experience if they’re hired. Boston’s hiring process had already begun when the pandemic struck, but the district quickly pivoted to an all-virtual experience. Applicants can even do a dry run on Zoom before their interview to check connectivity.  </p><p>While their districts continue adjusting to the new normal, participants in the learning community agreed that collaboration with families, staff, community partners and others is essential to ensuring an equitable response to a school year that will be like no other. Parents, noted Santelises, are counting on them. “Our families have not relinquished their belief in the power of education to give their young people the kinds of agency that oftentimes underresourced communities have not been able to fully experience.”</p>School Leaders Keep Eye on Equity as Unusual Year Beginshttps://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/School-Leaders-Keep-Eye-on-Equity-as-Unusual-Year-Begins.aspx2020-10-13T04:00:00ZRecent convening of leaders from 80 U.S. school districts addresses issues of equity and principal support as schools re-open.
Yes, Principals Are That ImportantGP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​​​Effective principals have an even greater impact than previously thought, benefiting not only student learning and attendance but also teacher satisfaction and retention, according to a major new research review. <em> <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/how-principals-affect-students-and-schools-a-systematic-synthesis-of-two-decades-of-research.aspx">How Principals Affect Students and Schools: A Systematic Synthesis of Two Decades of Research</a> </em>draws on 219 high-quality research studies of K-12 school leadership conducted since 2000 and updates the landmark 2004 literature review by Kenneth Leithwood, et al., that concluded that principals are second only to classroom instruction among school-related factors affecting student achievement. </p><p>​​​​The authors of the new synthesis—Jason A. Grissom, the Patricia and Rodes Hart professor at Vanderbilt University, Anna J. Egalite, associate professor at North Carolina State University, and Constance A. Lindsay, assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—presented their findings at a recent <a href="https://youtu.be/CKrXjvwqxpU" target="_blank">webinar​</a> hosted by Wallace President Will Miller and attended by more than 1,450 people. The event also featured a panel of education experts who shared their reactions to the report, which set out to answer three main questions: How much do principals contribute to student achievement and other school outcomes? Which behaviors are critical to that work? Who are principals today and how have they changed over time?  </p>​​​​​To get at the first question, the researchers dug into six rigorous studies that together followed more than 22,000 principals and the schools they led over time, allowing the authors to assess the impact of the same principal at different schools and the same school under different principals. Principal effects are large, they found. Further, they translated the effect size into months of learning, finding that replacing a below-average principal—one at the 25th percentile in terms of raising student achievement—with an above-average principal at the 75th percentile resulted in nearly three more months of learning a year for students, almost as much as the four months of increased learning generated by a teacher at the 75th percentile. Principal effects are broader in scope than those of a teacher because they are felt across an entire school rather than a single classroom. Still, the effects stem in large part from a leader’s work with teachers, including how principals hire and coach staff members and create a school environment conducive to learning. The report’s authors also found that great principals yield benefits for outcomes beyond achievement, such as student attendance, exclusionary discipline (i.e., suspension), teacher satisfaction and teacher retention.<p></p><p>​The new report identifies four observable behaviors of school leaders that the best-available research suggests produce positive school outcomes:​ </p><p></p><div class="wf-Element-BlueBullet">Fo​cusing on high-leverage engagement in instruction, such as through teacher evaluations and coaching</div><p></p><p></p><div class="wf-Element-BlueBullet">Establishing a productive school climate</div><p></p><p></p><div class="wf-Element-BlueBullet">Facilitating collaboration and professional learning communities</div><p></p><p></p><div class="wf-Element-BlueBullet">Managing personnel and resources strategically </div><p></p><p>As schools gradually reopen for in-person learning, nurturing a positive school climate and helping students reconnect must be a priority for leaders, noted panelist Hal Smith, senior vice president at the National Urban League. During the pandemic, “we’ve seen students report that the loss of relationships has been particularly unsettling…they don’t know where to look for support,” he said. Having a principal who’s attuned to the social-emotional needs of students and staff and thinking about how to “reknit” the school community will be critical in the months ahead, he added. </p><p>State education agencies have a vital role to play in helping current principals strengthen the skills that manifest themselves in these four inter-related behaviors, in addition to ensuring a strong pool of future principals, said Carissa Moffat Miller, chief executive officer of the Council of Chief State School Officers, which represents top-ranking state education officials. Below-average principals can become above-average ones if they have access to the right in-service learning opportunities. The new synthesis provides a “map” of where states might consider directing their investments and their work with partners to support school leaders, she noted. “Sometimes we just think of the [principal] pipeline in terms of recruitment, but it’s also about retention and skill-building,” she said. Panelist Michael Casserly noted that more needs to be learned about improving the skills of current principals. He is executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, which represents larger, urban school districts. “How is that we can move principals from being less effective to more effective?” he asked. “The research is not very clear on that but would be enormously important.” </p><p>The report also calls on principals to embed equity in their leadership practices, given the growing number of marginalized students, such as students from low-income families and English learners. The authors examine emerging research on how equity-focused principals exhibit the four behaviors linked to positive school outcomes. For example, equity-oriented leaders promote a productive school climate by implementing alternative strategies to student expulsions. They use data to identify children who are falling behind and work with teachers to create a plan to get them back on track. They engage families in the life of the school and coach teachers on culturally-responsive instructional practices to better serve marginalized students. Noting that some teachers “simply want to be excused” from tough discussions about equity because they find them uncomfortable, Casserly said it is imperative for principals to push forward with the work and encourage teachers to adopt an equity mindset. </p><p>Principals of color appear especially likely to have positive impacts on students and teachers of color, according to the report, yet the racial and ethnic gaps between school leaders and the students they serve are stark. Nearly 80 percent of principals today are white while the student body is only 53 percent white. Diversifying the principal workforce will require taking a closer look at how emerging leaders of color are identified, noted panelist Mónica Byrne-Jiménez, executive director of the University Council for Educational Administration, a consortium of higher education institutions committed to advancing the preparation and practice of principals and other school leaders. “If you want to diversify the leadership pipeline, we have to diversify the teacher pipeline,” she said. Future leaders of color may begin their studies at community college or start as teacher assistants, she added. Schools and districts need to identify these rising stars early on, give them opportunities to cultivate their budding leadership skills, and provide a viable career path to the principalship. </p><p>Whether they’re aspiring to the role—or already on the job—investing in principals makes sound financial sense given the magnitude and scope of their effects on a broad range of school outcomes. “Principals <em>really </em>matter,” conclude the report’s authors. “Indeed, it is difficult to envision an investment in K-12 education with a higher ceiling on its potential return than impr​oving school leadership.”</p>Yes, Principals Are That Importanthttps://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Yes-Principals-Are-That-Important.aspx2021-02-19T05:00:00ZEducation experts weigh in on findings from new groundbreaking review of research on school leadership—and the implications for policy and practice
Literacy Expert on Why Kids Must Keep Reading During This ‘Unprecedented Moment’GP0|#ff9563e3-b973-45a7-8ac3-c9f4122f9a13;L0|#0ff9563e3-b973-45a7-8ac3-c9f4122f9a13|Summer Learning;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​As schools close in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, educators and parents alike are thinking about how the ways that kids spend the coming months will affect their school readiness in the fall—especially in the development of crucial reading skills. Children living in disadvantaged communities are particularly vulnerable to falling behind, and although a scan of 82 school districts serving some 9 million children by the Center on Reinventing Public Education finds schools making strides in remote learning, there is still a long way to go.</p><p>Harvard education professor James Kim has some guidance to offer amid all this uncertainty. Kim is the key person behind <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/reads-helping-children-become-summer-bookworms.aspx">READS for Summer Learning</a>, a read-at-home literacy program designed to help students sharpen their reading skills when school is out of session. Research has shown that the program, which was developed for use by school districts, helped students in high-poverty elementary schools gain nearly 1.5 months of reading skills on average compared with non-participants. As the likelihood grows that classroom doors may be shuttered for months, Kim is providing all <a href="http://www.readslab.org/" target="_blank">READS resources free online</a> and is adapting them ​for use by parents and caregivers. Recently, he discussed why reading matters so much, what parents can do to encourage more of it, and how educators should be rethinking summer literacy programs.</p><p> <strong>How important is it that children keep reading and learning during this period? </strong></p><p>We’re living in an unprecedented moment in history. For many families, reading is probably a very distal concern. Many are focused on basic necessities. But if you think about why we read, the purpose is not comprehension. We read to escape, to feel less stress in our life, to be entertained, to learn how to make chocolate-chip cookies. Reading can help with some of the deep emotions that we’re feeling right now, like stress, anxiety and isolation. I was a history major in college, and one of the great things about reading history is that it builds, as David McCullough says, empathy and compassion. You feel great compassion for other human beings who lived through events like the Civil War. You realize you’re not alone in all of this, that other people have gone through similar circumstances and survived. Reading teaches you that. It helps you feel connected to the broader human community both today and in the past. </p><p>The other reason for children to keep reading is that many of them, if not all, are going to have a five-month summer break. We’re fairly confident from the research on <a href="/knowledge-center/summer-learning/pages/default.aspx">summer learning</a> loss that this is really going to affect vulnerable children the most, those from low-income families and families in which English is not the primary home language. It’s quite likely that the achievement gap in literacy may expand. </p><p> <strong>What are you hearing from educators? How are they trying to keep children reading while schools are closed? </strong></p><p>Because school closings happened so quickly, some districts took short-term stop-gap measures, like encouraging kids to review and re-read books they had already read in class. Now that we know the outbreak is going to affect schools long-term, there’s an effort to start teaching new literature and content through remote learning tools. The real challenge is the equity issue. If a school used paper books in the classroom, how are kids going to access them at home? Some schools have had creative responses, like using Libby and Overdrive, which are apps that let families check out e-books from their public library. </p><p> <strong>We know that students from low-income households lose ground over the summer compared to their wealthier peers. What are the potential repercussions for children, especially those in disadvantaged communities, who face the real possibility that their school may not reopen until September? </strong></p><p>The summer learning loss literature definitely shows that learning slows down in reading and math for all kids over the summer relative to the school year. I would argue that the repercussions of schools closing for five-and-a-half months will be felt by all children, but it’s going to probably exacerbate the inequalities between wealthy and poor families. We’re already seeing this in terms of food insecurity, housing insecurity. That will probably manifest itself also in literacy learning opportunities and outcomes. Families who have money will buy books for their kids, while families who are more dependent on public services and have less money will not. That is why public schools must be preparing high-quality, evidence-based resources that are free and easy for everyone to access. </p><p> <strong>Should out-of-school-time providers and schools be retooling their summer programs, in light of kids potentially having missed two to three months of instruction?  </strong></p><p>I think it’s inevitable. As schools consider retooling programs, they have to start thinking of home as the context of where a lot of literacy learning is going to happen over the summer. They have to be asking if their program can reach all kids, vulnerable kids in particular, and if <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/investing-in-successful-summer-programs-essa-review.aspx">it’s evidence-based</a>. I’m confident that READS for Summer Learning is, because we ran 10 RCTs [randomized controlled trials] on it. </p><p>The READS program has been a mix of classroom lessons in the spring and at-home reading over the summer, but we’re retooling it to make it completely home-based. Essentially, we’re turning it into a free, easy-to-access program for parents to use. We’re making YouTube videos of practice lessons for grades 2 through 4 that explain the READS reading routine. Our website lists all the books we used for READS with links to Overdrive so parents can borrow e-versions from their public library for free. We’re trying to include simple tips for parents to help them determine their child’s reading level. One is to have the child read 100 words of a book and raise a finger for each word that’s hard to decode. If a child has five or more fingers up, the book might be too hard. Parents can also access all the comprehension activities we created for every book in the READS program. If parents have a smart phone, which most do, they can access all of this for free. Schools and nonprofits can do this, too. Since so many schools are running Zoom classrooms and doing remote lessons, the READS lessons could be done by a teacher and include class-time.  </p><p> <strong>Is this a time that parents and caregivers can use to their advantage? How can they encourage their kids to read—and to get the most from their reading?</strong></p><p>I have three kids in third, fourth and fifth grade. In my home, I practice what I call the three Rs of reading: Read aloud, read and retells. Pick a book that your child likes and read it out loud to them. When you’re done, ask your child to read out loud a section of the book they really liked. Have them read it again and after, encourage them by saying something like, “Wow! You read more smoothly that time and with more expression.” What you’re sneaking in there is fluency practice. Then do a little retell activity. Ask them if the book reminds them of anything that they’ve done before. These activities are simple, fun, and they’re also evidence-based. </p><p>In addition to the 3 Rs, I also encourage my kids to re-read books. The principal determinant of how engaged you are with any text is how much you know about the text. So when kids re-read, they actually know more about it, and they’re more engaged. I also do a lot of compare-and-contrast activities. My daughter loves animals, so we might compare a nonfiction book about polar bears with a fiction book like <em>Polar Bears at Bedtime</em>, a Magic Treehouse book. You can discuss books at mealtime, too. I like to ask my kids, “Tell me something you’re reading, tell me something new you learned.” </p><p> <em>Photo: James Kim reads with his children in 2018.Photo by </em><a href="http://www.claireholtphotography.com/"><em>Claire Holt</em></a><em>.</em> </p>Literacy Expert on Why Kids Must Keep Reading During This ‘Unprecedented Moment’https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Literacy-Expert-on-Why-Kids-Must-Keep-Reading-During-This-Unprecedented-Moment.aspx2020-04-09T04:00:00ZHarvard’s James Kim Re-Tools School-Based Reading Program for Use by Parents Now