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Districts That Succeed: What Are They Doing Right?9775GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61​<p>​​​​​“You can fix schools all you want; if the districts within which they reside are dysfunctional, the schools will not stay fixed,” writes Karin Chenoweth, writer-in-residence at The Education Trust, at the start of her latest book, <a href="https&#58;//www.hepg.org/hep-home/books/districts-that-succeed"><em>Districts That Succeed&#58; Breaking the Correlation Between Race, Poverty, and Achievement</em></a>, which was supported by The Wallace Foundation<em>. </em>After visiting dozens of high performing and rapidly improving&#160;schools around the country, Chenoweth came to this conclusion when she saw some of these schools fall apart after getting a new principal who upended the systems that were previously working. Districts are the ones that hire the principals, Chenoweth points out, and dysfunctional districts are more likely to hire the wrong person or fail to support a weak principal.&#160;</p><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Districts-That-Succeed-What-Are-They-Doing-Right/Chenoweth_cover_final.jpg" alt="Chenoweth_cover_final.jpg" class="wf-Image-Left" style="margin&#58;5px;color&#58;#555555;font-size&#58;14px;width&#58;144px;" /><span style="color&#58;#555555;font-size&#58;14px;"><span></span></span><div>We sat down with the author to talk more about what she learned as she researched successful school districts and what she hopes readers will take away from the book.&#160;</div><div><strong><br></strong></div><div><strong>Why did you want to look at districts? What role do they play in student achievement?</strong></div><p>For years I have written about schools that serve children of color and children from low-income backgrounds and that are high performing or rapidly improving. Ultimately each is a powerful testament to the power of school leaders to be able to marshal the full power of schools to help students. </p><p>But by the time I wrote my last book, <a href="https&#58;//www.hepg.org/hep-home/books/schools-that-succeed"><em>Schools that Succeed&#58; How Educators Marshal the Power of Systems for Improvement</em></a>, I realized that even when principals lead huge improvement, if the districts they live in are dysfunctional, the schools won’t stay fixed. Principals take other jobs, get promoted, or retire, and if district leaders don’t understand the kind of leadership schools need, they are liable to replace them with principals who don’t understand how to continue the improvement process and the school tragically falls apart. So, I wanted to explore what it looks like when district leaders do understand the key role of school leaders.</p><p>In addition, as I talk with highly effective principals, I have heard many stories of how they have to shield their schools from district initiatives and directives because district leaders far too often undermine school improvement rather than support it.&#160; </p><p>I wanted to dig into that more in this book by examining what successful and improving districts look like and how they function.&#160; </p><p><strong>How does this book build on the lessons in your earlier book, <em>Schools that Succeed</em>?</strong> <br> <em>Schools that Succeed</em> laid out some of the very basic, sometimes prosaic, systems that effective school leaders use to ensure that teachers and staff are able to continually improve their knowledge and practice—systems of managing time, looking at data, making decisions, and so forth.&#160; </p><p>In <em>Districts that Succeed</em>, what I found was that effective superintendents and district leaders establish the systems and structures that allow principals to be successful. The scale is different, but the basic pattern is the same.&#160; </p><p><strong>How do districts affect the success of principals?</strong> <br> The most powerful question in education is&#58; “Your kids are doing better than mine. What are you doing?” This is a question that can be asked at the classroom level, the school level, the district level and the state level, and it is the start of improvement. But in order for educators to be able to ask that question, several things need to be in place&#58;&#160; </p><ul><li>publicly available common data that can be compared;&#160; </li><li>the time and space to be able to look at that data and think about it; and </li><li>a culture of trust, where asking that question is seen as a sign of professional strength and judgment, not a confession of failure. </li></ul><p>Superintendents and district leaders play a key role in establishing the time and space for school leaders to be able to come together to expose and share expertise. They also provide the key pieces of understandable data that can inform them—formative and summative assessment data, school climate and culture data, all kinds of data—and the research that can help inform possible solutions to the problems faced. They also establish a culture in which it is safe for educators to betray their weaknesses. </p><p>So, for example, when principals get together they should be able to see that some schools have much more family participation in curriculum nights than others and be able to ask their colleagues&#58; “You are engaging a lot more families than my school is. What are you doing?” That question exposes expertise that can be shared and learned from. Similarly, the fact that one school has much better third-grade reading scores than others can lead to much deeper understanding of what goes into early reading instruction. </p><p>In other words, districts can play a powerful role in building the knowledge and expertise of school leaders. This is different from the traditional role districts have played, which is largely treating principals as middle managers who exist to carry out district directives and deflect the anger of parents away from the superintendent. </p><p><strong>Can you share a highlight of your district visits?</strong> <br> I identify schools and districts to visit through a bunch of numbers—test scores, demographics, suspension rates, graduation rates, whatever data is available. I am looking for high performance and improvement. And what never fails to amaze and delight me is that when I go to see what lies beneath those numbers, I find smart, dedicated, hardworking educators who understand that they are doing important work and are eager to share what they are doing with the rest of the field.&#160; </p><p>So, for example, I initially identified Lane, Oklahoma, through the district analysis of Sean Reardon, professor of poverty and inequality in education at Stanford University. Lane’s students “grow” six academic years in the five calendar years from third through eighth grade. When I called to find out what they were doing, I talked with assistant superintendent Sharon Holcomb, who herself attended Lane as a child and has spent her entire career teaching and leading at Lane. She invited me to visit and I was able to meet students, teachers and parents. I met one parent who drove her children from another district because her son, who has epilepsy, had not been taught how to read and had been bullied and mistreated by teachers in another district. At Lane, she said, he has learned to read and is thriving. And Holcomb told me that that was what kept her and her colleagues working so hard&#58; “Seeing kids that have been thrown out and discarded and seeing them improve—seeing them come from other schools just beat down and seeing them succeed here.” </p><p>By the time she finished her sentence, we were both tearing up. </p><p><strong>What are the biggest barriers to districts learning from each other?</strong> <br> Years ago, we had no publicly available data that district leaders could look at, but we now have achievement, graduation, suspension and expulsion, and often school climate data. It is all publicly reported, so there is no real structural barrier to district leaders identifying districts that are doing better than they are and asking what they are doing. I worry about the effect that pandemic schooling will have on the availability of data, but we still have relatively recent data, from 2019. </p><p>But what the field of education doesn’t have is a culture of learning from others. There is a tradition in the field that every classroom, every school, every district is so different from each other that there are no lessons to be learned. District leaders who serve few African American students might think they have little to learn from districts that are primarily Black and brown. I was once dismayed and amazed when I heard of a principal who said that the examples of high-performing high-poverty schools held no lessons for her because she only had a few students who lived in poverty.&#160; </p><p>But learning can be generalized—kids are kids, schools are schools, districts are districts. They vary in all kinds of external ways, but at the heart all kids can learn and educators need to share information and expertise in order to help them learn.&#160; </p><p><strong>What do you hope readers walk away from this book knowing or believing?</strong> <br> The expertise to help all children learn exists, but it doesn’t reside in any one person, and the answers don’t lie in one particular program, policy or practice. The expertise comes from the pooled understanding of professionals informed by experience, data and research and armed with curiosity and a willingness to learn. Only by marshaling them all together can we hope to help all kids learn to high standards. But we can do this.&#160; </p>Andrea Ruggirello1142021-06-08T04:00:00ZYour 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.6/8/2021 2:15:07 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Districts That Succeed: What Are They Doing Right Author of new book based on lessons from high-performing schools implores 206https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Shining the Spotlight on Assistant Principals22056GP0|#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&#58; 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>&#58; 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&#58;</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&#58;</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&#58;</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&#58;</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&#58;</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&#58;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?&#160;</strong></p><p> <strong>Herrmann&#58;</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&#58;</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. &#160;</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&#58; 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?&#160; </p><p> <strong>Rubin&#58;</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&#58;</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&#58; </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&#58;</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&#58;</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&#58;</strong> I wish I could fund you, Mariesa. </p><p> <strong>Goldring&#58;</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>Jennifer Gill832021-05-18T04:00:00ZAs an increasing presence in schools, APs merit more attention and study, report authors say5/18/2021 6:00:12 AMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Shining the Spotlight on Assistant Principals As an increasing presence in schools, APs merit more attention and study 163https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Assistant Principals, Overlooked No More26205GP0|#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&#58; 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&#58;//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).&#160;</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.&#160;</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&#160;result in inequitable outcomes. “You don’t tap people that you can’t see,” she said.&#160;</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.&#160;</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.&#160;</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>Jennifer Gill832021-04-20T04:00:00ZLively panel discussion follows release of new findings on APs and how to make the most of the role4/20/2021 2:01:56 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Assistant Principals, Overlooked No More Lively panel discussion follows release of new findings on APs and how to make the 491https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Why should school districts invest in principals?9783GP0|#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&#58; 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&#58; 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&#58;</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&#58;</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&#58; 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&#58;</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&#58;</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&#58;</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&#58;</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&#58;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&#58;</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&#58;</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&#58;</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&#58;</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&#58;</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&#58;</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>Jennifer Gill832021-03-23T04:00:00ZYour 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.4/5/2021 8:19:43 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Why should school districts invest in principals Authors of major new research review on school leadership discuss the 187https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Yes, Principals Are That Important9657GP0|#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&#58; A Systematic Synthesis of Two Decades of Research</a>&#160;</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&#58;//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&#58; 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?&#160;&#160;</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&#58;​ </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>Jennifer Gill832021-02-19T05:00:00ZEducation experts weigh in on findings from new groundbreaking review of research on school leadership—and the implications for policy and practice2/19/2021 3:05:39 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Yes, Principals Are That Important Education experts weigh in on findings from new groundbreaking review of research on 2811https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Today's Focus on Principal Effectiveness Breaks Sharply with the Past24364GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61;GP0|#02d6f4ae-88a2-4236-b1a9-1f37b2599002;L0|#002d6f4ae-88a2-4236-b1a9-1f37b2599002|District Policy and Practice;GPP|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;GP0|#8cf34914-7bff-4dc4-95c0-d6e59a295cba;L0|#08cf34914-7bff-4dc4-95c0-d6e59a295cba|Effective Principal Leadership<p>If you want to know about school principals, consider getting a data dump from Susan Gates. As a senior researcher at the RAND Corp., Gates has been key to numerous studies exploring the principalship, many commissioned by Wallace. The most recent, published in June, is a first-of-its-kind look at the prevalence in large and medium-sized school districts of comprehensive, systemic efforts—known as principal pipelines—to develop a large corps of effective school principals. &#160;</p><p>In a way, <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/taking-stock-of-principal-pipelines.aspx"> <em>Taking Stock of Principal Pipelines&#58; What Public School Districts Report Doing and What They Want to Do to Improve School Leadership</em></a> brings Gates full circle. Close to two decades ago, she was the lead researcher on another Wallace-commissioned report, <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/overview-of-school-administrators-and-their-careers.aspx"> <em>Who is Leading Our Schools&#58; An Overview of School Administrators and Their Careers</em></a>. Published in 2003, that study helped overturn the then-common view that the nation was facing a shortage of people certified to become principals. The report influenced Wallace’s decision to devote the foundation’s education leadership efforts to helping more principals work in a way that could improve schools, a move that eventually led to Wallace’s Principal Pipeline Initiative. With that came a <a href="/knowledge-center/school-leadership/pages/principal-pipeline-implementation.aspx">groundbreaking 2019 report </a>by Gates and her team finding that pipelines can have significant benefits for student achievement and principal retention. &#160;</p><p> <img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Todays-Focus-on-Principal-Effectiveness-Breaks-Sharply-With-the-Concerns-of-20-Years-Ago/gates_9114-(002).jpg" alt="gates_9114-(002).jpg" class="wf-Image-Left" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;159px;height&#58;201px;" />We recently caught up with Gates to ask her to reflect on the “then” and “now” in the principal landscape, including what the COVID-19 crisis has meant for school leadership. The interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.</p><p> <strong>Since 2003, what changes have you seen in the discussions about school leadership? Are we at a different place from where we were 17 years ago—pandemic notwithstanding?</strong></p><p>I’ve seen a tremendous shift in the public discourse around school leadership in the last two decades.&#160; Twenty years ago, attention was focused on a pending wave of retirements and questions about whether there would be enough people to replace the retirees. Policymakers were also worried about high principal turnover rates—especially in more challenging high-needs schools. But the focus was really on whether there were sufficient numbers of people to fill vacancies. </p><p>Concerns about turnover and filling vacancies remain today, but the discussion is now focused on whether schools have effective principals. It’s not enough to simply put more people through principal preparation programs. There is growing recognition that the principal’s job is exceedingly complex and unpredictable. We’ve learned a lot over the past 20 years about how to prepare people for this important role. Research has identified features of good principal preparation. But we’ve also learned that prep programs can’t do it all. Twenty years ago, there was this notion that a person with two to three years of teaching experience could attend a good preparation program and at the end of it be ready to serve as principal in any environment with minimal support. Today, we understand that school leadership is itself a career with expectations for growth and development. This implies that good school leadership must be a shared responsibility of preparation programs and the school districts that hire and support principals. </p><p>The search for strategies to improve principal quality now focuses on improving preparation programs and the activities of districts. Are they hiring the right candidate for the job? Are they providing that person with the supports they need to be effective? Are they helping them identify their growth areas and supporting them in their professional development? And are they working in partnership with preparation programs to improve preparation?</p><p> <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/taking-stock-of-principal-pipelines.aspx"><strong><em>Taking Stock of Principal Pipelines</em></strong></a><strong> is the first systematic look at the status of principal pipelines in large and medium size districts across the nation. Should readers be surprised by how much activity in pipelines is under way now—or be surprised about the gaps? How do you and your team see the findings? </strong></p><p>Pipeline activities are those related to the preparation, hiring, evaluation and support of principals. Districts employ principals and so it is natural to expect that all districts would be doing some if not most of these pipeline activities. And that is what we found. Districts of all sizes reported that they are devoting effort to the preparation, hiring, evaluation and support of principals. Not only that, the leaders in nearly all districts reported prioritizing school leadership as a lever for school improvement. There’s a pervasive understanding across the country that school principals matter. At the same time, less than half of districts reported moderate or high satisfaction with their pool of principal candidates. This suggests that districts see pipelines as an area for improvement.</p><p> <strong>What does the study tell us about differences in pipeline activities between large districts, medium districts and smaller districts?</strong></p><p>Districts of all size reported engaging in pipeline activities and there was substantial interest across districts of all sizes in doing more in each area. Medium districts reported engaging in fewer pipeline activities. &#160;They were less likely to have principal standards and a process to encourage or “tap” individuals to become school leaders. They were also less likely to use performance-based hiring metrics and standards-aligned evaluation and to have a position dedicated to school leadership.&#160; </p><p>These differences between medium and large districts were not terribly surprising. It takes some up-front effort to set up some of these activities—you have to develop standards, hiring processes, evaluation metrics. Smaller districts tend to have fewer schools and hence fewer principals. So the payoff to them from such up-front efforts may be smaller.&#160; </p><p> <img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Todays-Focus-on-Principal-Effectiveness-Breaks-Sharply-With-the-Concerns-of-20-Years-Ago/Percentage-of-10K-Districts-Reporting-Prevalence-of-Principal-Pipeline-chart.jpg" alt="Percentage-of-10K-Districts-Reporting-Prevalence-of-Principal-Pipeline-chart.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;600px;height&#58;568px;" /> <br> </p><p> <strong>The current study found that large numbers of the district officials you interviewed want to upgrade their pipeline activities, everything from pre-service principal preparation to on-the-job support. What do your study and other research suggest will be the easiest and most difficult areas to strengthen?</strong></p><p>Research on the principal pipeline districts suggests that efforts to strengthen principal preparation can be challenging because there is a long lag time before such efforts will result in improvements in principal quality. In contrast, efforts to improve hiring and professional development for current principals can have more immediate impact. Although nearly all districts in our study reported doing something with regard to on the job support, this is also an area where most districts also wanted to do more. What struck me as an important growth area was the use of performance-based hiring approaches. This is a pipeline activity with relatively low prevalence nationwide.&#160; </p><p> <strong>The COVID-19 crisis has placed huge demands on public school education. What role are school leaders playing in keeping education going during this time, and how should districts be thinking now about their principal pipelines? </strong></p><p>Even prior to the COVID-19 crisis there was a recognition that the principal’s job is exceedingly complex and unpredictable. National school leadership standards outline 10 areas that principals need to master&#58;&#160; mission, ethics, curriculum and instruction, student support, professional capacity of school personnel, professional community of school staff, community engagement, management and school improvement. It’s as if all principals need to have the same toolbox, along with the ability to figure out which tool to use at which time. When a principal first takes over a school, they have to spend time figuring out what prioritize and how. In other words, which tools to use and how best to use them. Then they make adjustments over time. </p><p>The COVID-19 crisis disrupted the landscape for all schools. All principals had to re-think how they were approaching each area. Some may have had to dig deeply into their toolbox to find tools that they hadn’t had to use in a while. </p><p>School principals tend to be highly dedicated to the communities and students they serve, and according to a recent <a href="https&#58;//www.pewresearch.org/politics/2019/09/19/why-americans-dont-fully-trust-many-who-hold-positions-of-power-and-responsibility/" target="_blank">Pew survey</a>, they are among the most trusted category of public officials, along with police officers and members of the military. Families and communities are stretched in so many ways, and they are turning to these trusted school principals for help. So while principals are still expected to be the instructional leader of the school (now with a focus on supporting virtual learning options), they are also&#160; in charge of providing meals to families, making connections to social services, developing contract tracing and virus testing plans, and developing options for classroom set-up and bathroom breaks that honor social distancing requirements. And the list goes on. No principal preparation program could have fully prepared a principal for all aspects of this crisis so district support will be critical. Even highly effective veteran principals may need guidance, support or respite in these challenging times. By providing such support this school year, districts might be able to limit burnout and turnover.</p> <p> <em>Lead photo by Claire Holt</em></p>Wallace editorial team792020-09-15T04:00:00ZYour 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.9/15/2020 4:44:31 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Today's Focus on Principal Effectiveness Breaks Sharply with the Past RAND’s Susan Gates reflects on the changed discourse 628https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Keeping a Focus on Equity as Schools Reopen During the Pandemic24463GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​The COVID-19 pandemic has cast a harsh spotlight on the inequities that fester in almost every sector of our nation, including K-12 education. Recently, we spoke with Hal Smith, senior vice president of education, youth development &amp; health at the National Urban League, about how districts and state departments of education can address those inequities as they move into a new school year and face the unprecedented challenge of educating students while keeping schools safe during a pandemic. Smith is a member of the steering committee for Wallace’s ESSA Leadership Learning Community, a group of staff members and chiefs from 11 state departments of education, leadership from urban districts and Urban League affiliate CEOs. The group is considering how federal education law and the resultant state and local policies and investments could be used to promote evidence-based school leadership practices focused on achieving educational equity. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.</p><p> <strong>What did we learn about remote learning after school buildings closed last spring, and what lessons should districts be applying in the coming school year?</strong></p><p> <img class="wf-Image-Left" alt="Hal_Smith.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Keeping-a-Focus-on-Equity-as-Schools-Reopen/Hal_Smith.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;245px;height&#58;184px;" />Nobody was prepared to move online. That’s not a criticism—nobody could have anticipated it—but the quality of instruction varied widely. You had very few prepared to do in-person instruction that transferred easily to online settings. And some never attempted to move instruction online, and education became a series of workbooks and cobbled-together approaches done on the fly.&#160; </p><p>This year, as the school year opens, we should have had time to prepare for remote instruction. That would mean professional development for teachers and support for parents to take advantage of remote learning. Even if you provide the broadband internet access and devices that we’ve clamored for, there is still a question as to how families, caregivers and students themselves can use digital and remote learning to greatest effect. It’s one thing to turn on the computer and sit in front of the screen; it’s another to know how to best take advantage of digital learning and platforms. How do you grow and maintain relationships in a virtual environment? </p><p>Also, how do you understand screen time not just as a passive experience where you are pushing buttons, but as time to do serious inquiry into what interests you as a learner? While there is certainly a need for instruction, there is certainly room for student-led inquiry into what is happening in the world around them. Their interests, their hobbies, the things they wanted to know more about—all of those things should be acknowledged as we return to more formal instruction this school year. We are hoping that districts are thinking of students as more than passive recipients of digital learning, [and seeing them] as co-creators of their learning, of their sense of inquiry and development. That was not happening in in-person instruction either. So this was an opportunity to think differently about students and their own learning and development. </p><p> <strong>Are urban schools prepared to reopen?</strong></p><p>Right now everyone’s plans seem to hit the high notes in general terms because they’re not asked for specifics. But the next six weeks will bear watching. Publicly released plans focus on children’s safety and wellness. But we also want to know your strategy for reaching high school students who never logged on in the spring, in the summer, and have no ability or intention for logging on in the fall. Those strategies are not clearly articulated in reopening plans. Those plans assume that everyone will show up every day, and that’s not the case. </p><p><img alt="COVID-19-Costs-to-Reopen-Schools.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Keeping-a-Focus-on-Equity-as-Schools-Reopen/COVID-19-Costs-to-Reopen-Schools.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br>&#160;</p><p> <strong>How should districts and schools approach social and emotional learning during this school year?</strong></p><p>Every district named social and emotional learning as an important part of their CARES Act plan [<em>the federal relief package that has provided funding for, among other things, public education</em>]. Is it real or is it political speak that doesn’t change the way we invest in public schools? It’s very common now for social-emotional learning to be dropped as a marker of educational care. You have to have it there. The language doesn’t mean you changed a single way that you operate. We’ll see that play out in the investments, the partnerships, the staffing decisions, the scheduling. Do you have room in your schedule for one-on-one and small group contact with young people, or have you simply replicated your block schedule online? </p><p>There was certainly trauma, financial uncertainty, but we want to acknowledge that young people are thoughtful and resilient and did some things outside the building we call school that will contribute to their education and growth. Having adults that can help them process what happened is important. </p><p>We had young people in Urban League programs who were essential workers. They worked in retail, they worked in fast food, and they were asked to take that on at 16, 17. That’s ripe for learning and reflection—the inequities in experience, the maturity that was accelerated by that. What have we learned in this moment about ourselves, our society? </p><p> <strong>What inequities has the pandemic laid bare and how should districts address them? </strong></p><p>There is no hiding the impact of inequity on education now. Inequity of food security, of housing, social economic status, racism, access to laptops and high-speed internet access—those have been made clear. These are not things that all cities, all communities were paying attention to in a connected manner. We are in a different place in that people have acknowledged these inequalities exist. I don’t know as we are in a different place as far as doing things differently.</p><p>We think it’s necessary for people to envision a longer-term set of solutions [that address] remote and distance learning, that upend inequity and establish a more high-quality education for all students. There will be a tendency [in the coming year] to focus on remediation and not acceleration. Some students need to catch up. But this doesn’t mean we have to stay there for the whole year. Because they missed four months of instruction doesn’t mean they are incapable of higher-level work. I do not believe that the highest-achieving students in the highest-achieving schools are going to receive a basic education. So the same kinds of imagination and energy that are going into educating high-achieving students, why not give that to all students? </p><p>I also think there’s a real of parents, caregivers and community stakeholders. I say funded very specifically because sustained engagement costs money. The funded nature means there are some resources dedicated to make sure it’s robust. You structure meetings, you structure people’s professional time, so someone is responsible for getting parent feedback and include them meaningfully in your strategy and planning. Anything that’s sustained has to have resources dedicated to it.</p><p>Often engagement is understood as a communications effort&#58; We are going to make sure that everyone hears the message, that the tweet, the flyer goes out there—but that’s not engagement. You really want to engage parents and stakeholders around what you want to happen and anticipate pushback and questions as you shape what your priorities and your strategies are [for remote or hybrid instruction]. Having parents, caregivers, stakeholders and even students themselves, where possible, be a part of the planning, the implementation, and most importantly a part of the reflection, is essential. </p><p> <strong>You've talked about regarding this school year as one that lasts 18 months, through summer 2021. What would that look like?</strong></p><p>We should think of summer 2020 through summer 2021 as one school year, one educational time period, rather than parse out our plans in three distinct time periods, so that we have time to think about recovery and acceleration and some new innovation. The investments we made this summer and what we learned are going to be applied to this school year. And the things we learn this school year will certainly shape what is necessary next summer. So rather than create artificial barriers, there’s an opportunity to think about an 18-month period where we are going to work with parents, children and educators in a more connected way compared to the typical school year. </p><p>I do look forward to what this fall will bring. We have very talented educators in this country and there will be no shortage of new approaches. I think much of what we will learn will dramatically shape what school looks like after the pandemic. Maybe we’ll no longer accept 40 kids in a classroom. Maybe more teachers will take on a hybrid approach where student projects live online. I don’t imagine education going back to the way it was before. </p><p><em>&quot;What Will It Cost to Reopen Schools?&quot; image is reprinted with permission of the Association of School Business Officials International® (<a href="https&#58;//www.asbointl.org/">www.asbointl.org</a>) and is non-transferable. Use of this imprint does not imply any endorsement or recognition by ASBO International and its officers or affiliates.</em> <br> </p>Elizabeth Duffrin972020-08-25T04:00:00ZThe Urban League’s Hal Smith sees pitfalls and, yes, educational opportunities—including more student-led inquiry8/26/2020 4:50:08 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Keeping a Focus on Equity as Schools Reopen During the Pandemic The Urban League’s Hal Smith sees pitfalls and, yes 1277https://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 266https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Spreading Lessons from the Principal Pipeline11148GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>Over the next several months, The Wallace Foundation is testing the <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/principal-pipelines-a-feasible,-affordable,-and-effective-way-for-districts-to-improve-schools.aspx">lessons learned</a> in its Principal Pipeline Initiative to see if the significant improvement in math and reading scores across six school districts can be replicated on a large scale. Those districts took a strategic approach to hiring, training, supporting and placing principals, creating a pipeline of school leaders. Pipeline-building proved to be feasible, affordable, effective and adaptable. </p><p>Now the question is&#58; Will the approach work for 90 districts in 31 states? </p><p>Wallace <a href="https&#58;//www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2020/02/10/6-districts-invested-in-principals-and-saw.html" target="_blank">director of education Jody Spiro spoke with <em>EdWeek</em></a> about the new effort, in which the 90 districts have signed on to test a tool kit that guides how they hire, train and match principals to schools. </p><p>Stay tuned for the results in the fall. In the meantime, we’ve got your source for all things principal pipeline at <a href="http&#58;//www.wallacefoundation.org/principalpipeline">www.wallacefoundation.org/principalpipeline</a>.&#160; </p><p><em>Photo by Claire Holt </em></p> Wallace editorial team792020-02-18T05:00:00Z90 districts will test if the success of the districts in the Principal Pipeline Initiative can be replicated2/18/2020 7:33:06 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Spreading Lessons from the Principal Pipeline Posted: 2/18/2020 Author: Wallace editorial team 749https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
What We’re Learning About the Impact of Principal Turnover – And How to Reduce It24123GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​ <a href="https&#58;//journals.sagepub.com/stoken/default+domain/VNM6J3J8BIXRSXD9CEM3/full">The Impact of Principal Turnover</a> used statewide data from Missouri and Tennessee to measure the effects of principal transitions — including both promotions and demotions — on school performance and found that turnover lowered school achievement. Specifically, schools that changed principals saw lower achievement in math and reading and higher rates of teacher turnover. However, the effects varied by transition&#58; Schools with principals who exited saw larger negative effects, while schools with principals who were demoted saw no negative effects and in some cases, even positive effects. This variance is likely representative of the circumstances in the school leading up to the transition, the study notes; meaning, exits may have resulted from a declining school climate, while demotions may reflect district efforts to replace ineffective principals with higher-performing leaders. </p><p>The study’s authors, Brendan Bartanen from Texas A&amp;M University, Jason A. Grissom from Vanderbilt University, and Laura K. Rogers from the University of Utah, posit that, “While districts should seek to limit principal turnover in general…in some cases, the benefits of replacing a low-performing principal outweigh these costs.” Grissom is one of several researchers <a href="/news-and-media/press-releases/pages/wallace-foundation-commissions-reports-to-synthesize-state-of-knowledge-key-aspects-school-leadership-.aspx">commissioned by The Wallace Foundation</a> to update a landmark analysis of the link between school leadership and student achievement. &#160;</p><p>These latest findings underscore the need for a holistic approach to both cultivating and retaining effective school leadership, a strategy that The Wallace Foundation has been exploring for nearly two decades. <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/principal-pipelines-a-feasible,-affordable,-and-effective-way-for-districts-to-improve-schools.aspx">A recent study from the RAND Corporation</a> points to a way forward&#58; districtwide efforts to better prepare, support and evaluate school leaders—also known as principal pipelines—can lead to improved student achievement and principal retention, to the tune of eight fewer losses per every 100 principals in a district.</p><p>Jaime Whitfield-Coffen, a principal from Prince George’s County (Md.) Public Schools, one of six districts to implement a principal pipeline, shares her perspective on the approach in a recent episode of <em> <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/episode-8-building-principal-pipelines-improves-principal-retention.aspx">The Principal Pipeline podcast</a></em>. “It’s good to just have someone to lean on,” Whitfield-Coffen explains. “I think that that’s one of the reasons why I have stayed in Prince George’s County, is just because I know that there’s a network of people who are there supporting me along this walk, along this journey of being a principal.” </p><p>Click here to read The Impact of Principal Turnover in full&#58; <a href="https&#58;//journals.sagepub.com/stoken/default+domain/VNM6J3J8BIXRSXD9CEM3/full">https&#58;//journals.sagepub.com/stoken/default+domain/VNM6J3J8BIXRSXD9CEM3/full</a> </p><p>And, learn more about the link between pipelines and improved principal retention here&#58; <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/principal-pipelines-a-feasible,-affordable,-and-effective-way-for-districts-to-improve-schools.aspx">https&#58;//www.wallacefoundation.org/knowledge-center/pages/principal-pipelines-a-feasible,-affordable,-and-effective-way-for-districts-to-improve-schools.aspx</a></p>Wallace editorial team792019-08-13T04:00:00ZPrincipal turnover isn’t only costly and disruptive for school districts—it may also have a negative effect on student achievement, according to a new study.8/15/2019 2:15:52 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / What We’re Learning About the Impact of Principal Turnover – And How to Reduce It Principal turnover isn’t only costly and 717https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx

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