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How Principals (and their Bosses) Can Use Technology for Learning and Management37531GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61​<p>​​​The timing was certainly not intentional, but shortly before the Omicron variant surged late last fall and sent schools across the country into another round of reliance on remote and hybrid learning, Wallace published a study titled <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/principal-leadership-in-a-virtual-environment.aspx"><em>Principal Leadership in a Virtual Environment</em></a>. The report offers early considerations from a field of emerging research on how school districts can develop a large corps of principals adept at employing technology to manage their schools and keep students learning. It centers on the idea that high-quality, equitable education in the digital realm—described as “powerful learning”—emerges through the combination of three essentials&#58; meaningful use of technology; inclusive access to it; and, notably, the leadership of principals with the know&#160;how to implement both.<br></p><p>The report, commissioned by Wallace, was produced by <a href="https&#58;//digitalpromise.org/" target="_blank">Digital Promise</a>, a nonprofit that works with districts and schools nationwide on the effective use of technology. Recently, as the nation began what almost everyone hopes will be an emergence from the worst of COVID-19, the Wallace blog caught up with Stefani Pautz Stephenson, the publication’s lead author and director of educator community partnerships at Digital Promise. Through an email exchange, she discussed how the embrace of technology for learning and school operations during the pandemic may have a lasting influence on school leadership.&#160; <strong></strong></p><p><strong>Wallace Foundation&#58; What have school leaders learned over the last two years about leading in a virtual environment?</strong></p><p><strong>Stefani Pautz Stephenson&#58;</strong> In our report, we share the emerging finding that nimbleness and flexibility are essential traits for both principals and principal supervisors who are leading in a virtual environment. This continues to hold true today. School leaders have learned how to make decisions with limited information, or information that’s rapidly changing. They’ve learned how to be responsive with their own learning, by re-learning or upskilling their own leadership abilities. They’ve also learned a lot about how to lead people who aren’t physically in the same space. Just as teachers have learned to teach students who aren’t in the same classroom, school leaders have learned how to, for example, virtually observe a classroom and virtually model risk-taking and growth mindset.</p><p><strong>WF&#58; In a recent EdWeek Research Center</strong><a href="https&#58;//www.edweek.org/leadership/the-teaching-strategies-educators-say-will-outlast-the-pandemic/2022/03" target="_blank"><strong> survey</strong></a><strong>, principals and other educators listed pandemic-spurred changes that they thought would stick, and at or near the top were technologies, including teaching software and platforms to monitor students’ progress. What innovations do you think are here to stay, and what can principals and/or districts do to ensure they are used effectively?</strong></p><p><strong>SPS&#58;</strong> The survey states that educators believe the digital learning platforms most likely to stay are those that facilitate making assignments and monitoring progress. I think that’s an accurate assessment. Many school districts were already using a learning management system, at least in some capacity, prior to the pandemic. But the pandemic turned it from a<em> nice to have</em> to a <em>must have</em>. The learning management systems that integrate student learning, teacher feedback and communication with families are likely to have the greatest longevity because they support the school-to-home transparency that all stakeholders have grown accustomed to in the last two years.</p><p>To ensure technology is used effectively, school leaders must set clear expectations for use. As with any technology adoption, there will be innovators and early adopters who embrace it and want to use it to its fullest potential. There will also be those who are slower to adopt and want to know what the “must-dos” are. School and district leaders will see more successful implementation if they are clear about how the technology is supportive and set baseline expectations for how it is integrated. It has to be clear that it's not an add-on. Then, it’s critical to provide ongoing, growth-oriented feedback and to make professional learning and coaching readily available.</p><p><strong>WF&#58; EdWeek has also reported that educators who had scurried to learn about and then use digital tools were</strong><a href="https&#58;//www.edweek.org/technology/tech-fatigue-is-real-for-teachers-and-students-heres-how-to-ease-the-burden/2022/03"><strong> </strong></a><a href="https&#58;//www.edweek.org/technology/tech-fatigue-is-real-for-teachers-and-students-heres-how-to-ease-the-burden/2022/03" target="_blank"><strong>experiencing some tech fatigue</strong></a><strong>. How can principals keep the momentum for sound use of technology going?</strong></p><p><strong>SPS&#58;</strong> One strategy is to help teachers manage all of the incoming information, including the amount of technology they’re learning. Focus on a few&#160;critical pieces of technology and look to technologies that serve multiple functions and can be implemented across the board, like a learning management system. Aim for deep learning with those technologies, and give it the time it needs.</p><p>Attending to educators’ social-emotional needs is also essential. The Council of Chief State School Officers published<a href="https&#58;//docs.google.com/document/d/163ZNDs7sZ0FWOT7-1JFxQ9Lbo6zbQNJhaHSs0LbljCE/edit#heading=h.85w6zatiiauu" target="_blank"> guidance on fostering staff wellbeing and connection</a>, highlighting the importance of creating opportunities for staff to reconnect, heal, and feel safe and supported. School leaders can, for example, give staff an opportunity to engage in a community-connection activity prior to formal professional development on technology implementation. Creating those opportunities for connection, coupled with clear and realistic expectations for technology use, can help prevent burnout.</p><p><strong>WF&#58; One lesson from the pandemic seems to be that Zoom or similar conferencing technologies have allowed for more inclusive communications with families, enabling schools to maintain contact with parents and others who had previously found it hard to attend in-person meetings because of work or other circumstances. How do you think this lesson will influence principal-parent interactions once schools fully reopen?</strong></p><p><strong>SPS&#58;</strong> We continue to see positive responses from school administrators to the increased communication with families. Schools have seen the positive effects of conferencing technologies in breaking down barriers to participation, and they want that level of family engagement to continue. Parents have also gained a new insight into what and how their students are learning, and they value that transparency. We’ve heard these things consistently, across the country. This is here to stay.</p><p><strong>WF&#58; The report highlights considerations for districts that want to ensure that their principals can manage schools equitably and well in a virtual environment. Among them&#58;&#160; revising principal standards and updating principal preparation programming to take account of virtual learning and management. Have you seen movement in these areas? </strong></p><p><strong>SPS&#58;</strong> We haven’t seen movement on these fronts yet, and we still believe these recommendations are mission critical if we want to develop better leadership capacity for the virtual environment. There is increased funding going into broadband, and&#160;technologies like augmented reality, virtual reality and artificial intelligence are rapidly advancing in education. We haven’t prepared leaders for this. We need to take action so that school leaders can think both conceptually and practically about these topics and others like them.</p><p>Education officials can begin with advocacy. On the local level, they can start with human resources directors and offices of organizational effectiveness advocating for changes in standards for evaluation and principal preparation. At universities, they can make the case to deans and other officials who are making decisions about programming that leads to licensure. They can work with state departments of education that set certification requirements. Change starts by making people pay attention to the issues. </p><p>The pandemic drew everyone’s attention to virtual learning; now it’s time to draw attention to the changes needed for the future of education leadership.<br></p><p><br></p>Wallace editorial team792022-05-10T04:00:00ZSchool Leadership, principals, principal pipeline, school districts, technology, virtual learning, education research5/10/2022 3:27:02 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / How Principals (and their Bosses) Can Use Technology for Learning and Management Co-author of study reflects on nimbleness 202https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Creating a More Equitable—and Welcoming—Afterschool Ecosystem2758GP0|#b804f37e-c5dd-4433-a644-37b51bb2e211;L0|#0b804f37e-c5dd-4433-a644-37b51bb2e211|Afterschool;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​O​​​​​​​​ne of the best parts of my job as director of research at Wallace is to interact with some of the country’s leading scholars and researchers studying our areas of work&#58; the arts, education leadership and youth development. These folks are so committed to and insightful about their respective fields.&#160;It’s maybe no surprise that many of them worked as teachers, youth workers, artists and the like, before entering the research world, and that this is partly what drives their passion.<br></p><p>Since I joined the foundation in late 2019, we have awarded 36 research grants, large and small, to 33 researchers, 14 of whom were first-time Wallace grantees. I thought it would be interesting (and fun!) to start an occasional series of interviews with some of them, as we publish their findings on the Wallace website.&#160;Kicking off the series with me is ​Bianca Baldridge​​​,​ ​an ​associate professor of education at Harvard University. Bianca is <a href="https&#58;//www.gse.harvard.edu/faculty/bianca-baldridge" target="_blank">a national expert​</a> in out-of-school-time programming (OST), with a particular interest in the youth workforce. </p><p>In 2020-2021, we commissioned Bianca, along with a group of her colleagues, to produce a rapid evidence review intended to inform Wallace’s future work in youth development. High level takeaways from that study are summarized in this <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/from-access-to-equity-making-out-of-school-time-spaces-meaningful-for-teens-from-marginalized-communities.aspx?_ga=2.110720197.1937604982.1650308769-375849283.1649958955">research brief</a>. In addition to a lit review and interviews with experts, their study involved a YPAR (youth participatory action research) project, where a group of older students designed and conducted a research study of their peers involved in afterschool programs, that you can read about <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/youth-perspectives-on-designing-equitable-out-of-school-time-programs.aspx">here​</a>. This work also led to a series of podcasts, where youth researchers discuss key issues related to their experiences in afterschool programs and which will be released later this spring.</p><p>This conversation has been edited for length and clarity. </p><p> <strong>Bronwyn&#58; How did you come to focus on out-of-school-time?<br> </strong> <br> <strong>Bianca&#58;</strong>&#160; I came to this work because I was a participant in youth-work programs as a middle school student and started engaging in youth work as a staff member in high school.&#160; </p><p>As much as I loved these programs—as a participant and a staff member—and as&#160;important as&#160;they were in shaping my development, as a Black girl growing up in south-central Los Angeles, I was also troubled by the way programs were making assumptions about who I was. They tended to position themselves as saving me, and that kind of deficit positioning of me, which I consciously felt, was a problem. But I didn’t have the language to name it until I got to college and graduate school and began to study African American Studies and sociology. I started to see how my experiences, and the organizations themselves, had been shaped by the social and political context around them—the broader structures of power like race, class and social-economic policies.</p><p> <strong>Bronwyn&#58; Over the last several years the OST field has started to more explicitly name the “ecological dimensions” of learning and development—in other words, looking beyond the program to understand how it is situated within a broader context, and how that context shapes what is possible. But the social and political dimensions of that ecology are not often articulated. The focus is more on spaces and places and practices.<br></strong><br><strong>Bianca&#58;</strong> I’m glad you said that. Families matter, communities, neighborhoods, all of that matters.&#160; And if those things matter, then within that ecosystem what’s happening? How do we not name those things?&#160; </p><p> <strong>Bronwyn&#58; That attention to the broader structures of power that shape and constrain possibilities is what we call “a critical lens” in the research world. How do you bring that lens to the study of OST?<br></strong><br><strong>Bianca&#58;</strong> Afterschool spaces are important sites of learning and development, particularly for minoritized communities and communities that are multiply oppressed. My research agenda has been to think about how young people experience these programs&#58; Black and Latinx young people or racially minoritized people in general. To understand the role of relationships within the programs—among youth, youth workers and staff members. And to try to legitimize and create scholarship that highlights the pedagogy as well as the philosophies of youth workers, as legitimate pedagogues and educators within the educational landscape.&#160; </p><p> <strong>Bronwyn&#58; Can you say more about what you mean about youth worker pedagogy? <br></strong> <br> <strong>Bianca&#58;</strong> I find that youth workers often have a true pedagogy in the sense that they have a philosophical sort of understanding about teaching, about learning, about youth development, about engagement with young people, and you can see that in practice in how they actually engage. So how they teach, how they cultivate relationships and connect with young people and their families, how they spark interest and ideas and a love of learning that is not just about academics, but also just about the world in general. </p><p> <strong>Bronwyn&#58;&#160;</strong><strong>It sounds like you’ve seen them recognizing the totality of the young person? <br></strong> <br> <strong>Bianca&#58;</strong> Yes. Youth workers can support youth academically, emotionally, socially and politically. They are really significant to “whole child” development. Youth workers are often placed in the position where they are supporting young people through their lives in school, neighborhoods and their families. Young people’s identities are complex and youth workers can be instrumental in nurturing all of who a young person is and who they are becoming. </p><p> <strong>Bronwyn&#58;&#160;</strong><strong>There has been a lot of research on how social policies and structures affect teachers and schooling, but less on how they impact youth development or afterschool and summer programs. I know you’re currently writing a book about this.<br></strong><br><strong>Bianca&#58;</strong> Yes, my current research is thinking about how displacement and gentrification can lead to school closures or rezoning, which in turn can impact community organizations that have been committed to Black liberation or youth development within Black communities. Part of the premise for me is that community organizations in many ways can be the backbone of neighborhoods and communities, and I’m really struck with the question of what happens when afterschool programs can’t afford high rents. What happens when they’re moved out of neighborhoods, what happens to programming for young people? Where do they go? Where will they hang out, what will they do? </p><p>For youth organizations that are committed to sociopolitical development or critical consciousness, I’m really interested in what they do and how they’re making sense of these transitions and displacement, and how they’re able to maintain a social justice, youth development approach in their work through this change. My new book links Black youth workers to the legacy and traditions of organizers like Ella Baker or Septima Clark, and projects how youth workers approach preparing young people to make sense of the world around them and to navigate a racially hostile, anti-Black world. It also addresses how they navigate anti-Blackness within their profession. How are they simultaneously taking care of themselves and also helping young people to negotiate the same social and political forces?</p><p> <strong>Bronwyn&#58; Your work has made me think a lot about how much our vision of the best out-of-school-time programs depends on youth workers who are profoundly giving&#58; Giving love, giving respect, giving vision, giving support. But it’s not like there’s a bottomless well of giving if the system is not giving back to them. Your work highlights how the structures that suppress wages, limit benefits and sometimes tokenize youth workers can work to undermine the whole vision for what young people can gain from out of school time. <br></strong> <br> <strong> Bianca&#58; </strong>Yes. Because the burnout and the turnover are real. And youth workers are everywhere&#58;&#160; detention centers, museums, libraries, housing programs, afterschool organizations. I believe that programs and organizations, however they look, need to be able to meet the needs of the young people in their communities. But we need to think about the youth workers, or the people who care for young people, and find systems and structures that support them.&#160; </p><p> <strong>Bronwyn&#58; The research you and your colleagues did for Wallace, and the research of the youth themselves, really got to how essential building a positive and inclusive context is, and that job is ultimately left to youth workers to create those conditions.<br></strong><br><strong>Bianca&#58;</strong> What blew us away was hearing directly from the youth about how students feel in those programs. They talked about feeling like things were cliquish or tokenistic. This goes back to what do these programs look like, what do they feel like, how are they organized, how are they structured? Not just anybody can run an inclusive OST program, not just anybody <em>should</em> run a program. I think allowing young people to share their firsthand experiences is just always, always, always sobering.</p><p> <strong>Bronwyn&#58; I&#160;</strong><strong>totally agree. There’s been a lot of work done on the kinds of things you need to have in place for assessing or building towards quality programs, but it is outside-in, and not inside-out, in terms of what it actually feels like to be in that space.</strong>&#160; <br> <br> <strong>Bianca&#58;</strong> Yes. And I definitely want to be able to talk about the resistance and the triumphs and the celebrations, the ways in which organizations, youth workers and young people are able to navigate structures outside and inside of the programs. But I think it’s important to name those structures that can oppress and get in the way of the possible. We have to be able to name and understand them to be able to overcome them.<br>​<br><br></p>Bronwyn Bevan1002022-04-21T04:00:00ZExpert in afterschool programming ponders how we can better support youth workers and the young people they serve4/21/2022 3:01:25 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Creating a More Equitable—and Welcoming—Afterschool Ecosystem Expert in afterschool programming ponders how we can better 754https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Getting the Most Out of Data Collection for Out-of-School-Time Systems10974GP0|#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&#58; 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&#58; 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&#58;//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&#58;//www.bostonbeyond.org/" target="_blank">Boston After School &amp; Beyond</a>, <a href="https&#58;//www.mypasa.org/" target="_blank">Providence After School Alliance</a>, and <a href="https&#58;//www.sprocketssaintpaul.org/" target="_blank">Sprockets in St. Paul</a>&#160;—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&#58;</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&#58; </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&#58;</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&#58;</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&#58; 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.&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; <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&#58;</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&#58;</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&#58;</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&#58;</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&#58; 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&#58;</strong> Intermediaries in the study used the framework in many different ways.&#160;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 &amp; 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&#160;data back to providers.<br> </p><p><strong>Donner&#58;</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.&#160; </p>Jennifer Gill832021-10-06T04:00:00Zafterschool systems; cities; citywide systems; research; education research; OST10/7/2021 7:42:38 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Getting the Most Out of Data Collection for Out-of-School-Time Systems Developers of OST assessment tools discuss how to 560https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Once Focused on System Problems, Principal Supervisors Now Drive Support22986GP0|#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&#58; 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.&#160;</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&#58; 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.&#160;&#160; </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>Jennifer Gill832020-07-28T04:00:00ZDes Moines schools chief Thomas Ahart discusses how his district re-made the principal supervisor job7/27/2020 8:50:10 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Once Focused on System Problems, Principal Supervisors Now Drive Support Des Moines schools chief Thomas Ahart discusses 315https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Keeping Current on the State of Knowledge About Principals and APs4600GP0|#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.&#160;</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&#58; 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.&#160;</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.&#160;&#160;</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>Jennifer Gill832019-10-22T04:00:00ZScholars Dig Into Latest Research on Three Crucial Topics in School Leadership10/22/2019 1:59:13 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Keeping Current on the State of Knowledge About Principals and APs Scholars Dig Into Latest Research on Three Crucial 1465https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Insights on How Principals Can Affect Teachers, Students and Schools24093GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61 <p>​There’s no doubt that principals are important, but it can be difficult to measure just how their actions affect schools, teachers and students. A new report seeks to&#160;shed&#160;light on that. <br></p><p>The <a href="https&#58;//journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.3102/0034654319866133">report</a> synthesizes 51 studies and suggests&#160;evidence of the relationship between principals’ behavior and student achievement, teacher well-being, teacher instructional practices and school organizational health. </p><p>“We argue that our findings highlight the critical importance of expanding the knowledge base about strategies principals can take to improve learning in schools, and the value of investing in school leadership capacity,” write the study’s authors, the University of Oregon’s David D. Liebowitz and Lorna Porter.</p><p>Liebowitz and Porter conducted the meta-analysis by examining the empirical literature on five aspects of principals’ jobs—instructional management, internal relations, organizational management, administration and external relations—and the potential effects&#160;on student outcomes, (such as grades and behavior), teacher outcomes (well-being, retention rates and instructional practices) and school outcomes (school organizational health and principal retention). </p><p>While the field has emphasized principals’ roles as instructional leaders, Liebowitz and Porter write that they “find evidence that principal behaviors other than instructional management may be equally important mechanisms to improve student outcomes.”</p><p>The findings suggest that investing in principals may improve learning. A recent study from the RAND Corporation found that in districts with a <a href="/knowledge-center/school-leadership/pages/principal-pipeline-implementation.aspx">principal pipeline</a>—a districtwide effort to better prepare, support and evaluate school leaders—schools with new “pipeline” principals outperformed comparison schools in reading and in math.<br></p><p>Wallace continues to work to expand the evidence base on school leadership and recently <a href="/news-and-media/press-releases/pages/wallace-foundation-commissions-reports-to-synthesize-state-of-knowledge-key-aspects-school-leadership-.aspx">commissioned a research synthesis</a> on how leadership affects student learning. The report will build on a 2004 <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/how-leadership-influences-student-learning.aspx">landmark study</a> finding that school leadership is second only to teaching among school-related influences on student success.</p><p>Learn more about school leadership in Wallace’s <a href="/knowledge-center/school-leadership/pages/default.aspx">Knowledge Center</a>.<br></p>Wallace editorial team792019-10-16T04:00:00ZYour 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.1/3/2020 5:05:26 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Insights on How Principals Can Affect Teachers, Students and Schools New report seeks to clarify role of school leaders and 1735https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx

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