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With Equity in Mind, Districts Address State Budget Cuts29634GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​The financial fallout from the pandemic has left school districts facing several years of budget shortfalls and tough decisions. State and school leaders everywhere are learning how to do more with less and mitigate harm to their most vulnerable students. The Wallace Blog looked at some of the top priorities and challenges state leaders are facing, lessons learned from the Great Recession and how they are addressing budget shortfalls. </p><p>Revenue is down across the country because states are collecting less from taxes on sales and personal income. According to Daniel Thatcher, senior fellow at the National Conference of State Legislatures, states are projecting an 11 to 12 percent decline in revenue, which informs their budget decisions for the upcoming fiscal year. </p><p>“Education is not escaping these cuts scot-free,” Thatcher says. </p><p>And while school districts across the board are facing cuts, some have more capacity to handle them than others. Even if all districts face the same state budget cuts, Thatcher says, property-wealthy districts could raise revenue on their own to make up for them. Districts that don’t have that capacity would be much more deeply affected by the cuts. </p><p>The consequences of these kinds of cuts are not entirely unknown. During the 2008 Great Recession, schools faced similar types of budget cuts, which significantly reduced student ELA and math achievement. These effects were <a href="https&#58;//cepa.stanford.edu/content/impact-great-recession-student-achievement-evidence-population-data">concentrated in school districts serving low income students and students of color</a>. Thatcher hopes states have learned from how cuts were handled during the Great Recession and that they will attempt to lessen negative effects on the most vulnerable students.</p><p>Robert Hull, president and CEO of the National Association of State Boards of Education, echoes these concerns, noting that while wealthier communities will see more damage in the next few years as property values shift, the poorest communities are being hit hardest now and need federal investment right away. </p><p>“The districts that really need the greatest resources, they’re going to see a greater dearth of resources right now because that money coming from the local level is drying up,” Hull says.</p><p>Besides the decrease in state revenue, districts are spending more because of the pandemic. Investment in technology, intensive school building cleaning, personal protective equipment, additional buses to allow for social distancing and professional development for teachers who are learning to teach online are driving up costs for schools, whether they start the year with a hybrid or online model. Additionally, Hull says, schools are continuing to provide meals to families in need, despite depleted nutrition funds. </p><p>There is also concern that some students are shifting from public schools to private schools or homeschooling, though it’s unclear how significant those numbers are right now. But fewer enrolled students would mean a decrease in funding for the next school year. Thatcher says it’s fair to say the parents with higher incomes are most likely to shift their children from public school to private schools or homeschooling.</p><p>“This is a concern for equity,” he says. “This is a concern for who is going to make it out of this pandemic in better shape than other students. It’s something that states need to be aware of.” </p><p>The more-equitable funding allocations that Thatcher would like to see would direct state dollars to low-wealth districts. However, he acknowledges, this is a politically difficult decision to make.</p><p>But states like Georgia have put in place systems to do just that. Georgia’s funding formula has a special carve-out of “equalization grants” for low-wealth and rural districts, which suffered the most during the Great Recession. These grants give more money to lower-wealth districts to bring them up to the same levels as the wealthier districts. In Colorado, state funding helps fill in gaps left by local funding from property taxes, to equalize funding across all districts. The recently passed Public School Finance Act created a way for the legislature to put more of the funding burden on local tax revenue, freeing up more state money for lower-income districts. </p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read 3ca04ac0-4620-4be0-8d4b-22bf85fc9645" id="div_3ca04ac0-4620-4be0-8d4b-22bf85fc9645"></div><div id="vid_3ca04ac0-4620-4be0-8d4b-22bf85fc9645" style="display&#58;none;"></div></div><p>“One of the other important things that we see states looking at, and that we suggest that states consider looking at, are the supports that help vulnerable students the most,” Thatcher says. Those include afterschool programs, reading supports, coaching and more. </p><p>In Utah, the state board has not only avoided school funding cuts—they actually increased education funding. The state board of education and legislative staff put together a document that illustrated education cuts at 2 percent, 5 percent and 10 percent. At 10 percent, Thatcher says, they would be making cuts to things like social emotional learning supports and professional development for teachers. But in August, Utah <a href="https&#58;//www.npr.org/2020/08/03/895386579/utah-lawmakers-use-savings-to-limit-cuts-to-education-and-social-services">lawmakers decided to dip into a rainy-day fund</a> and increased funding for K-12 education by 1.3 percent. </p><p>Many states had buoyed these sorts of reserve funds after the Great Recession, Thatcher says, lessening the more painful cuts for now because they have more cash on hand than they would have in the past.</p><p>“The other policy choice states are looking at is around the funding that comes through their categorical programs and trying to loosen the reins on these,” he says. Giving principals and district leaders more latitude in how they use this money can help them best meet the needs of their communities and schools. </p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read dd27bc36-1e38-4182-b987-86cc30232e55" id="div_dd27bc36-1e38-4182-b987-86cc30232e55"></div><div id="vid_dd27bc36-1e38-4182-b987-86cc30232e55" style="display&#58;none;"></div></div><p>Hull and Thatcher noted the importance of school leaders as the key communicators and decision makers at the school level.</p><p>“Leadership matters. Communicate early and often, and be nimble as you’re making decisions,” Hull says of NASBE’s guidance for how to navigate these challenging times. He encourages leaders to be flexible and make changes as they know more, because we are learning more about the virus every day. </p><p>Thatcher agrees&#58; “At this time, school leadership is critical. They’re the key communicators to the community, to parents, and they are the ones who should make decisions based upon community input.” He urges parents to communicate with their principals and offer their support when and where they can. </p><p>Hull has also called for more research to help state boards of education and other education leaders make informed decisions. </p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read 79458811-5b6f-46ac-8ec8-97a988a33f0f" id="div_79458811-5b6f-46ac-8ec8-97a988a33f0f"></div><div id="vid_79458811-5b6f-46ac-8ec8-97a988a33f0f" style="display&#58;none;"></div></div><p>Thatcher’s hope is that the public health and financial crises become an opportunity to shift school funding to more reliable revenue sources, as well as to sources that are more fair to taxpayers and to students. He says&#58; “I’m just hopeful that we can take some good out of all this bad and reform our systems in this unprecedented time.”</p> Wallace editorial team792020-10-20T04:00:00ZYour 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.10/20/2020 3:54:30 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / With Equity in Mind, Districts Address State Budget Cuts Some see hope as state and school leaders shift funding options 140https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
School Leaders Keep Eye on Equity as Unusual Year Begins29492GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​Dr. Sonja Brookins Santelises, chief executive officer of Baltimore City Schools, has heard the same concern from parents across her district’s 161 schools since in-person instruction was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. No matter where they live, she says, parents throughout her high-poverty district are worried that their children are losing ground academically during this period. </p><p>They have reason to be concerned&#58; A McKinsey &amp; Company report estimates that if in-person instruction does not fully resume until January, black, Hispanic and low-income students could lose as much as nine to 12 months of learning because they are less likely to have received high-quality remote instruction last spring and now again this fall. </p><p>As Baltimore developed its re-opening plan, some voices in the district argued that schools should focus on students’ social and emotional needs and put academics on the back burner. Santelises refused. Schools must tend to their students’ mental health, she says, but short-changing instruction would only exacerbate learning loss and widen the achievement gap for the most vulnerable groups. Simply put, schools have to do it all. &#160;</p><p>“It is easier in this time period to resonate in a broken-child narrative, to almost let ourselves off the hook for choosing to do one or the other,” she says. “I would argue that…in this crucible, we actually are being charged for the first time to do both-and for children who are not used to having people address their needs both-and.” &#160;</p><p>Approaching the re-opening of schools with a ‘both-and’ mindset was the central theme of Santelises’s keynote address at last month’s convening of Wallace’s Principal Pipeline Learning Community. The virtual event drew more than 270 participants, including 17 superintendents, from 80 districts across the U.S. that are testing a toolkit that guides how they hire, train and match principals to schools. The toolkit is based on lessons learned from the Principal Pipeline Initiative, <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/principal-pipelines-a-feasible,-affordable,-and-effective-way-for-districts-to-improve-schools.aspx">which found a significant improvement in math and reading scores</a> across six districts that took a strategic approach to school leadership. The convening focused on principal pipeline activities in the midst of the pandemic and how districts like Baltimore are ensuring equity as schools re-open.&#160; </p><p><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/blog-plc-post-core-principles-lg-feature.jpg" alt="blog-plc-post-core-principles-lg-feature.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br></p><p>Equity is one of five core principles—along with health and safety, high-quality student learning, stakeholder engagement and continuous improvement—guiding Baltimore’s re-opening plan . The district examines every policy and practice with an eye on equity, determining which students may be disparately affected and how to mitigate those effects. Baltimore students started the school year virtually, but if and when schools transition to a hybrid-learning model, struggling students such as English learners and those far behind in reading and math will return to the classroom first. The district is also digging into attendance data during remote learning to expose disparities “so that we can have a response that is not the same for all, but that names without fear or frankly, apology, that there are certain groups of students that actually require more attention,” Santelises says.</p><p>Students aren’t the only ones needing attention as the school year gets under way. The convening also featured a panel of central-office leaders from three districts who described their efforts to support principals as they adjust to ever-shifting policies and lead their school communities during such trying circumstances. Rudy Jimenez, assistant superintendent of North East Independent School District, which serves 64,000 students in San Antonio, Texas, discussed how his district revised its communications strategy with principals after realizing that some were misinterpreting information coming from the central office. District leaders added a second weekly meeting with principals to avoid overwhelming them with too much information at once and shared their talking points after each virtual gathering for principals to review. The pandemic has also amplified the critical role of the district’s four principal supervisors. “They’ve been able to take the pulse of what’s going on in their collective schools and act accordingly,” says Jimenez.</p><p>The first day of school started at 3 a.m. for panelist Sheila McCabe, assistant superintendent for educational services for Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District, with calls from principals who were being evacuated from their homes due to fast-moving wildfires in their region 45 miles north of San Francisco. The district postponed re-opening for a few days and its 21,000 students are currently fully remote. Re-opening has brought heightened attention to principals’ social and emotional wellbeing, says McCabe. After it became apparent that principals were running themselves ragged as they prepared for distance learning, district leaders realized they had to do a better job giving principals the space—and permission—to unplug and take time for themselves. Supporting principals has also meant rethinking how fast to proceed with the district’s pipeline-building efforts. “The question becomes, how much do we push and how much do we back off in helping site leaders move forward with these initiatives while simultaneously recognizing their capacity based on everything that’s taking place?” McCabe says.</p><p>The good news is that the pandemic hasn’t derailed pipeline work in many districts. Plenary attendees described holding virtual boot camps for new principals over the summer, hiring coaches to support school leaders, and implementing leader tracking systems to better manage principals’ career development. Boston Public Schools completely revamped its recruiting website in the midst of the pandemic, adding details about required leadership competencies, profiles of principal mentors and photos of its two most recent cohorts of new principals, 75 percent of whom are minorities. The goal, explains Corey Harris, Boston’s chief of accountability, is to give applicants a sense of who they will work with and what they will experience if they’re hired. Boston’s hiring process had already begun when the pandemic struck, but the district quickly pivoted to an all-virtual experience. Applicants can even do a dry run on Zoom before their interview to check connectivity.&#160; </p><p>While their districts continue adjusting to the new normal, participants in the learning community agreed that collaboration with families, staff, community partners and others is essential to ensuring an equitable response to a school year that will be like no other. Parents, noted Santelises, are counting on them. “Our families have not relinquished their belief in the power of education to give their young people the kinds of agency that oftentimes underresourced communities have not been able to fully experience.”</p>Jennifer Gill832020-10-13T04:00:00ZRecent convening of leaders from 80 U.S. school districts addresses issues of equity and principal support as schools re-open.10/13/2020 1:02:49 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / School Leaders Keep Eye on Equity as Unusual Year Begins Recent convening of leaders from 80 U.S. school districts 210https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Keeping Kids Learning and Connected this Fall24471GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​In response to the coronavirus pandemic last March, schools across the country closed their doors and pivoted quickly to distance learning. School and district leaders scrambled to distribute paper packets, devices and mobile hotspots, as well as to get students connected to free or inexpensive broadband internet. Inequities became apparent almost immediately as many students faced challenges accessing online classes. </p><p>With many schools now starting the new year in a hybrid or fully digital model, we took a look at how school leaders are building on lessons learned from the spring, testing out innovative approaches to digital learning and ensuring that students, particularly those who are most vulnerable, have what they need to be successful. </p><p><strong>The digital divide is not a new phenomenon</strong> </p><p>The digital divide—also known as “the homework gap”—existed long before the pandemic. A 2019 Pew Research Center study found that a third of rural Americans said they did not have a broadband internet connection at home. Ownership of desktop or laptop computers among rural Americans has only risen slightly since 2008. A Pew Research Center analysis of 2015 U.S. Census Bureau data showed that one in five school-aged children do not have high-speed internet in their home; that number increases to one in three when focused on children from low-income households. </p><p>Many district leaders, like Superintendent Robert Runcie in Broward County, Fla., had been working to eliminate this gap over the past several years and were therefore better positioned for the shift to distance learning last March. (Broward is one of six districts that participated in The Wallace Foundation’s Principal Supervisor Initiative.) The district had invested in infrastructure including a single sign-on system for teachers and staff; a learning management system called Canvas, which allowed for blended learning and sharing of ideas and curricula across the district; and a decreased ratio of students to computers, shifting from 6&#58;1 to 1&#58;1, effectively. </p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read 993de807-2551-40a5-927c-68767f169871" id="div_993de807-2551-40a5-927c-68767f169871" unselectable="on"></div><div id="vid_993de807-2551-40a5-927c-68767f169871" unselectable="on" style="display&#58;none;"></div></div><p><strong>Making the call this fall</strong> </p><p>The unprecedented crisis and limited federal guidance meant that district leaders faced complex decisions about whether or how to open their buildings. <br> “And that was, in some cases, at the expense of time and energy focused on making virtual learning as good as it can be,” said Allison Socol, assistant director of P-12 policy at The Education Trust (one of Wallace’s communications partners) and co-author of a report on promising digital learning practices from districts across the country.<br></p><p>Runcie started planning at the end of last spring for the very real possibility school would still be virtual in the fall. His team worked to understand best practices and recommendations for re-opening from other school systems across the country and around the world. At the time, infection rates in Florida were increasing and he knew his district was nowhere near ready to re-open in person. Schools opened in August with 100 percent virtual learning. </p><p><strong>Lessons learned so far this fall </strong></p><p>In Broward, with devices distributed and access to internet supported by partnerships with Comcast and AT&amp;T, Runcie turned his attention toward teachers. <br> “We wanted to make sure that there was a consistent level of high-quality education experiences online this year,” he said. </p><p>His district spent the summer training teachers to be more confident and effective using the online platform and tools. They found that some teachers had already risen to “master expert” level when it came to using these tools, and tapped their newfound expertise to help build capacity of others.</p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read cbf51070-8093-4f8c-8540-c5f5f9b8a905" id="div_cbf51070-8093-4f8c-8540-c5f5f9b8a905"></div><div id="vid_cbf51070-8093-4f8c-8540-c5f5f9b8a905" style="display&#58;none;"></div></div><p>Despite the number of challenges school leaders face, Socol notes that school and district leaders have “really rise(n) to the occasion … and marshalled all of their resources and all of their people to meet the needs of students who are most struggling.” </p><p>A report Socol co-wrote in collaboration with Digital Promise, “<a href="https&#58;//s3-us-east-2.amazonaws.com/edtrustmain/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/06163247/10-Questions-for-Equity-Advocates-to-Ask-About-Distance-Learning-During-COVID-19-May-2020.pdf">With Schools Closed and Distance Learning the Norm, How is Your District Meeting the Needs of Its Students</a>?,” compiles innovative strategies and best practices districts are using to improve digital learning, particularly for their most vulnerable students. Some highlights include&#58;</p><ul><li>New Orleans distributed tens of thousands of Chromebooks, making students experiencing homelessness a priority</li><li>New York City Public Schools partnered with Apple and T-Mobile to provide LTE-enabled iPads to students</li><li>Rock Hill Public Schools in South Carolina provided curbside IT support outside of school buildings</li><li>Highline Public Schools in Washington state and Austin school districts sent wifi-equipped buses to apartment complexes and neighborhoods where students struggled with internet access</li><li>In Phoenix Union High School District, district leaders instituted a program in which an adult contacts every student every day to ensure they and their families have what they need </li><li>In New Orleans and San Francisco, free student support hubs involve adults besides classroom teachers in helping students with digital learning in small group settings</li></ul><p>Socol notes that sharing these ideas across state borders is an important role that state leaders can play. </p><p>“We would love to see state leaders think about how to collect information about what districts are doing, to track data on the success of these new initiatives…and then to help share those practices with other districts that are still trying to figure out how to help students learn in this moment,” she said.</p><p><strong>Prioritizing historically underserved students </strong></p><p>Despite school leaders’ best efforts to equip students with the devices they need to participate in digital learning, there is more work to be done, particularly for students of color and those from low-income households. </p><p>“There are so many other challenges besides just having a computer or an iPad or the internet,” Socol points out. “Students need a quiet space in order to participate and engage in online instruction. They need access to support if their internet’s down…. Younger students may need an adult there to help them access the instruction online.” </p><p>Runcie is still focused on helping Broward students who are struggling with basic needs, who may be left at home alone at a young age or who may be facing abuse. Part of Broward’s distance learning planning includes ensuring that social services are maintained. Since June, Runcie reports that social workers have provided 160,000 interventions in response to over 36,000 referrals. </p><p>Socol encourages school and district leaders to focus their efforts and energies on thinking of those students most underserved by the public school system. Some districts, such as Arlington Public Schools in Virginia, are planning to phase in in-person learning, starting with students with disabilities, English-language learners and those from low-income families. </p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read 4b2e35fe-f919-4974-b122-ce83c3732288" id="div_4b2e35fe-f919-4974-b122-ce83c3732288"></div><div id="vid_4b2e35fe-f919-4974-b122-ce83c3732288" style="display&#58;none;"></div></div><p><strong>Advice for other school leaders </strong></p><p>Communication and transparency are at the top of Runcie’s priority list this fall, and he urges other district leaders to focus on the same.&#160;&#160;</p><p>“Communicate, communicate, communicate. Do it with integrity and be transparent, straight up with the community, what challenges you’re facing, what the approaches are and make sure you’re listening to them,” Runcie said. </p><p>His district conducted three major surveys of families. They held town halls and forums, partnering closely with the PTA, the special needs student advisory council and the school board. </p><p>Socol echoed the need to communicate regularly and honestly, adding a call for data collection. She hopes to see schools and districts conducting diagnostic assessments at the beginning of the school year to understand where students are and what they need to make up for lost instructional time. “And we need to see continued communication and transparency from school systems about how [distance learning] is going,” she added. </p><p>Finally, Runcie would like to see his fellow superintendents invest in technology, which includes both infrastructure and training for teachers and staff.&#160;</p><p>“Digital learning is something I believe is going to be here with us for the long run,” he said, noting that many children may have underlying health conditions or live in multigenerational households, factors that could keep them at home even if schools reopen their doors for in-person learning. “I think it’s something that you’ve got to commit to do, because I think it’s going to be part of our portfolio of offerings and the type of flexibility that we need to have in public education going forward.”</p>Wallace editorial team792020-09-29T04:00:00ZAs the new school year kicks off—mostly virtually—how far have districts come since March in providing a strong online learning experience for students?9/29/2020 6:11:56 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Keeping Kids Learning and Connected this Fall As the new school year kicks off—mostly virtually—how far have districts come 313https://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 446https://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 874https://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 235https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Bringing Out the Best in Principals During the COVID-19 Crisis23637GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p class="wf-Element-IntroParagraph">“When I look back, it feels like a year ago,” says Jill Baker, deputy superintendent of Long Beach Unified School District, reflecting on the district’s response in the days following its March 13 decision to close its 85 schools owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. Long Beach Unified is California’s third largest school district, serving nearly 72,000 children from diverse backgrounds. Baker began her career in the district as a teacher 28 years ago and is scheduled to take over as its superintendent on August 1, succeeding Christopher Steinhauser, who is retiring. Baker brings a unique perspective to the job, having directed the district’s participation in a Wallace Foundation initiative aimed at reshaping the principal supervisor job to focus less on administration and more on principal growth. Recently, Baker spoke about the district’s efforts to support principals during the closure, its summer plans for school leadership development and what school may look like in September. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.&#160; &#160;&#160;</p><p> <strong>How has your district supported principals during the school closures? </strong></p><p> <img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Bringing-Out-the-Best-in-Principals-During-the-COVID-19-Crisis/Jill-Baker-headshot.jpg" alt="Jill-Baker-headshot.jpg" class="wf-Image-Left" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;160px;height&#58;241px;" />We are very fortunate that over the last five years, we’ve built a strong coaching model for our <a href="/knowledge-center/school-leadership/pages/principal-supervisors.aspx">principal supervision practices</a>. Why is that important now? Because the relationship between our principal supervisors and principals has a coaching foundation, it is easy for them to move into unknown territory when faced with a crisis. Our principal supervisors have been right on the frontlines with principals, coaching them, asking good questions, advocating for them and bringing the lived experience of principals back to central office. </p><p> <strong>Can you describe that lived experience? </strong></p><p>Principals were immediately faced with a set of questions that they had never experienced before, just as we were at central office. They were faced with families asking for resources that they had not asked for before, their students had technology needs, Internet needs. [The school closures] tossed up into the air every system that a principal typically manages, from teacher evaluations to nutrition services in their building.</p><p>Because of how we’ve built our principal supervision practices, principals quickly looked to their supervisors for direction, for comfort, for answers. It was a huge pivot for a system that’s pretty directing, in terms of our expectations for schools, but also gives principals a lot of latitude to make specific decisions for their building. I would say that the lived experience for principals right away was&#58; We need you to lead us. We trust you as our supervisors to help us.</p><p> <img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Bringing-Out-the-Best-in-Principals-During-the-COVID-19-Crisis/LBUSD-Barton-39.jpg" alt="LBUSD-Barton-39.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /> <br> </p><p>Personally, I’ve never underestimated the whole idea of coaching and strengthening a trusting relationship between a principal and a supervisor, but I think the field may have. When you go through a crisis like this, it underscores why you have relationships. It is a foundational aspect of having to do really hard work. I hesitate to use the word “thrive” because this is such a sad time, but [the crisis] really has brought out the best in our school leaders. It has been a very rich opportunity for them to step up, try things they’ve never done before, be vulnerable and learn with others. </p><p> <strong>What inequities have been brought to the forefront because of the crisis? Has the district been able to address them, and if so, how? </strong></p><p>On the afternoon that we closed schools, we gathered at central office and literally said, “What do we need to focus on first?” In the back of my mind was Maslow’s hierarchy. Our first decision was that, on Monday morning, we were going to offer food at every school in our district. We did that, and we continued doing so until we could look at the data after the first week to see where our highest-need areas were. Some areas were obvious, but frankly every school has children with a need to eat. Our response has continued in a way that is so respectful to our community. We’re providing breakfast, lunch and dinner in our highest-need areas. There are almost 30 locations, and the meals are accessible to anyone. There are no requirements, no applications. </p><p>We also faced the same connectivity problems that other districts faced. One of our first purchases, literally days after the closure, was for 5,000 six-month-term hotspots because we estimated that about 10 percent of our students, or about 7,000, were potentially not connected to the Internet. In addition to giving away 20,000 older-generation Chromebooks, we came up with a system to loan more than 10,000 [newer] Chromebooks to families within two weeks of the closure. </p><p>The other needs have been sadly not surprising. Students in low-income families lack supervision as their parents go out and work as essential workers. They may be living with multiple families in one residence and are facing COVID spread because of essential workers coming in and out. We’re offering counseling digitally and are partnering with faith-based and race-based community agencies, like the NAACP, to ensure they are able to put out really good information on behalf of the district. </p><p>We’re using all of our existing programs to continue to focus on issues of equity. For example, we run a Saturday education program for students from migrant families. During the crisis, a coordinator from that program has done outreach to families. High-school teachers who work with newcomers who are English language learners have continued to connect with families, too.</p><p> <strong>Summer is a time when school districts hire and train principals. How will that be handled in Long Beach this year? </strong> <br> <strong>&#160;</strong><br> Last year, we had 80 principal promotions or changes. This year it will be 20. Five of those are first-time principals, all of whom have gone through the district’s “pipeline” programs [which provide training for aspiring school leaders]. We’re only making changes that are of necessity, such as because of a retirement. Normally, we would move around many more principals because they’re ready to transition to another school, but we’ve paused that because we want to create as much stability as possible.</p><p>Literally the day after a person finds out that they’ve been appointed principal or that they’re transitioning to another school, we launch a transition process that involves a facilitated change-of-principal workshop. The workshop engages members of the school staff to establish what’s working and what they’d like to see improved. It’s really important, and we’ll do a version of it this summer, too. </p><p> <strong>How has the district involved principals in the planning for when school resumes in September? </strong></p><p>Our principals have been an important part of our initial planning. I say initial because we’re really tracking on the health data. We’re trying to move fast enough but not too fast. Over the last month, our principal supervisors asked principals to explore all kinds of scenarios for the fall. Middle school principals, for example, considered 16 different models and in small groups worked through each one’s plusses and minuses. We went from a lot of brainstorming and testing of ideas, to now moving into a formalized planning process. We have task forces, and principals from every level are represented on them. </p><p> <strong>What might school look like in the fall, based on your initial plans?</strong></p><p>Our aim is to bring back as many students to a building as possible, especially at the elementary school level. That’s causing us to seek additional space in our city, through partnerships with local colleges and universities who will be providing distance learning/instruction. &#160;</p><p>We’re also talking about blending learning. A middle school student, for example, might not come to school every day. He might come Monday and Tuesday, then do distance learning Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Based on distancing requirements, we know that we can only have about 15 students in a classroom. That is about half the size of a traditional class and even less when you think about a class like chorus. Chorus might only exist in a distance environment because students can’t all be in one room at the same time. </p><p>We already have an independent study program in our high schools, which we will continue, and we’ll also be launching some new distance academies. How we’re going to do all of this—in-class learning, blending learning, distance academies—we’re still figuring out. But we imagine publishing the options and letting parents make a choice. If they don’t, we’ll likely default to expecting their student to come to a building.* </p><p> <strong>Like school districts everywhere, Long Beach Unified is facing a massive budget cut because of the pandemic. I’ve read that the reduction will be 10 percent, or about $70 million, this year. How do you stay focused on equity as you make cuts?</strong></p><p>We’re in a better position than other districts because of great fiscal management. Our superintendent and the district’s budget office built up a reserve over time, knowing the rainy day would come. The reserves won’t save us from future cuts, but it allows us time to make the best decisions given what’s coming from the state. We also have in our favor that we’ve worked really hard to build internal capacity. We don’t rely on a lot of consultants or outside companies. Because of our internal capacity, we can pivot quickly, change strategy and work together in a way that doesn’t happen in a lot of places.</p><p> <img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Bringing-Out-the-Best-in-Principals-During-the-COVID-19-Crisis/IMG_0660-2.jpg" alt="IMG_0660-2.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /> <br> </p><p>Our focus on equity is at a deep level. During this time, we’ve not stepped back from our equity agenda, but we’ve had some public outcry over things that have been perceived to be “taken away” from students as we navigated through the school closure and made decisions based on our equity philosophy. This meant that we were not privileging students who were not struggling during the school closure. When we closed schools, for example, we decided that grading for high-school classes would be credit/no credit, even if you’re a junior taking five Advanced Placement classes. There was a public outcry, and our school board had to entertain an item on its agenda to uphold the district’s stance on grading and not give an opt-in for parents who wanted their students to get an A. [These parents] had to accept that credit/no credit was good for <em>all </em>students, even if their student wasn’t going to get the extra bump they would have liked. When you really get down into the details of equity, it is not equitable to privilege a student when another student doesn’t have the opportunity for that same experience. However, we do have to pay attention to the voices that are coming out about grades. We don’t want families to walk away from our district and go to a private school because they are frustrated about grades at a time when we’re already facing huge cuts.&#160;&#160;&#160; </p><p> <em>*After we published this post, Jill Baker <a href="https&#58;//www.lbschools.net/Asset/Videos/external.cfm?videoID=2575#anchor_2575" target="_blank">announced</a> that for the coming school year, the Long Beach school district would delay in-person instruction until at least October 2020.</em></p> Jennifer Gill832020-07-07T04:00:00ZJill Baker, incoming chief of a large California district, discusses education priorities—and why principal supervision matters now7/15/2020 5:04:33 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Bringing Out the Best in Principals During the COVID-19 Crisis Jill Baker, incoming chief of a large California district 708https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Weaving Equity into the Fabric of Principal Training23659GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p><em>​This post is the last in a series profiling the University of Connecticut’s efforts to strengthen its principal training program. The university is one of seven institutions participating in Wallace’s University Principal Preparation Initiative (UPPI), which seeks to help improve training of future principals so they are better prepared to ensure quality instruction and schools. A research effort documenting the universities’ efforts is underway. While we await its results, this series describes one university’s work so far.</em></p><p><em>These posts were planned and researched before the novel coronavirus pandemic spread in the United States. The work they describe predates the pandemic and may change as a result of it. The University of Connecticut is working to determine the effects of the pandemic on its work and how it will respond to them.</em></p><p>The University of Connecticut Administrator Preparation Program (UCAPP) grappled with many moving parts when redesigning its offerings to better address schools’ needs. Leaders worked to <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/changing-principal-preparation-to-help-meet-school-needs.aspx">build support for the change</a>, <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/a-road-to-more-effective-principals-begins-in-one-universitys-classrooms.aspx">overhaul the curriculum</a>, <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/embracing-the-unknown-in-new-approaches-to-principal-preparation.aspx">engage faculty</a>, <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/taking-principal-training-to-the-real-world.aspx">fine-tune internships</a> and <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/it-takes-a-village-to-train-an-effective-principal.aspx">strengthen partnerships</a>, among other efforts. </p><p>Cutting across all this work is equity. Connecticut, like much of the country, is more diverse than it once was. To help ensure equal educational opportunity for all its students, UCAPP hopes to train principals to spot inequities and negotiate thorny social issues to help resolve them. It has therefore worked to infuse equity into its curriculum and create space for groups education systems often overlook. </p><p>Wallace’s editorial staff spoke to UCAPP director Richard Gonzales to find out about the program’s efforts to prepare leaders who can help ensure equity in education. An edited transcript of our conversation follows.</p><p> <strong>Why was equity so important for you in this redesign?</strong></p><p>Statistically, educators of color make up about nine percent of the teacher workforce in Connecticut. But that number drops when you look at administrators. There is some representation of people of color at the assistant principal level, but it goes down at the principal level, it goes down further among the central office leadership, and it’s miniscule when you get to superintendents, deputy superintendents and the state level. You can name all the people of color in Connecticut who are at that level. There are numerous social factors which explain this trend, but the opportunity for us in Connecticut is the understanding that <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/it-takes-a-village-to-train-an-effective-principal.aspx">university-district partnerships</a>&#160;can positively influence the career trajectory and outcomes for all educators in the talent pipeline, including those historically underrepresented in executive leadership roles.</p><p>I felt that we have some ability and a responsibility to fix those sorts of things. And the Wallace initiative gave us the opportunity to try to do that.</p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read d975ecb1-4d3d-4793-b852-573b1109aa30" id="div_d975ecb1-4d3d-4793-b852-573b1109aa30"></div><div id="vid_d975ecb1-4d3d-4793-b852-573b1109aa30" style="display&#58;none;"></div></div><p><strong>How do you define the populations for whom you want to ensure equity?</strong></p><p>We are thinking about equity in terms of the people for whom the system is currently not working—inside the school, in the district or in our state—and what it will take to change that.</p><p>There is legal and regulatory guidance for some groups. We have federal laws for English language learners, and racial minorities are protected in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 speaks to medical conditions that may manifest in educational need. There are programs for talented and gifted students. Those are the groups of people we commonly talk about; there's regulatory guidance for those students. </p><p>But we also look at other special populations, even if they are not groups protected by regulation. That includes issues related to bullying, related to gender identity and the realities of what principals are going to be dealing with in schools. It's a lot more inclusive and it's a lot more culturally responsive.</p><p>It doesn't even have to be anything major. In magnet schools, for example, the magnet population often receives different services and opportunities than the local students. Sometimes they're not in the same classes. Sometimes they're divided physically within the building. The parents are engaged differently by the school. That's the kind of thing that we're talking about, as well.</p><p><strong>You’ve tried to adjust your curriculum so it can better train aspiring principals to ensure equity in their schools. What have you changed there?</strong></p><p>We’ve added a lot of material throughout the program. In the very first course, we show an hourlong video called <em><a href="https&#58;//www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnybJZRWipg">So You Want to Talk about Race?</a>&#160;</em>In the second, we have <a href="http&#58;//libjournal.uncg.edu/ijcp/article/view/1057">an article focused on social justice​</a>. There’s a <a href="https&#58;//www.academia.edu/3745626/What_every_principal_needs_to_know_to_create_equitable_and_excellent_schools_Teachers_College_Press_">book we added</a> that’s all about equity in schools, <a href="https&#58;//us.corwin.com/en-us/nam/improving-schools-through-community-engagement/book225711">one about community engagement</a>, a guide to help <a href="http&#58;//www.ascd.org/Publications/Books/Overview/Leading-an-Inclusive-School.aspx">meet federal requirements for access to special populations</a>. Those are just a few examples.<strong></strong></p><p>A great example of a programming change is what we used to call the Special Education Institute. It was a separate course that met during both summers of the program and covered issues traditionally considered to be part of ‘special education.’ That was focused on that one population. It has now become Leadership for Special Populations. It’s not just about that one group anymore, it’s about equity for all students. </p><p>It's a more inclusive idea of leadership—making the school work for all constituencies, regardless of whether they have protected status by statute or regulation. In the very first fall semester course, we begin talking about effective <a href="http&#58;//www.rtinetwork.org/essential/tieredinstruction/tiered-instruction-and-intervention-rti-model">Tier 1 instruction for all</a>, because that is where schools fail most special populations. Principals can set the tone and provide the support for kids to succeed in the general setting. Of course, certain needs require specialized intervention, but we can and should do better at meeting all kids’ needs in the general classroom setting.</p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read 9a8a4e03-df16-467e-9859-83120cfb8dd6" id="div_9a8a4e03-df16-467e-9859-83120cfb8dd6" unselectable="on"></div><div id="vid_9a8a4e03-df16-467e-9859-83120cfb8dd6" unselectable="on" style="display&#58;none;"></div></div><p><strong>You spoke earlier about ensuring representation for minorities among school leadership. A program like UCAPP is, of course, a major source of school leaders in Connecticut. What are you doing to ensure UCAPP students are more representative of educators in the state?</strong></p><p>We became a lot more proactive and aggressive in recruitment. Firstly, we know demographically where certain populations are concentrated. So we turned our attention to those areas.</p><p>Secondly, we became more proactive about engaging with individuals early and consistently. For example, we do our best to get to know teacher leaders—not necessarily to rush them or pressure them to apply to UConn, but just to get to know them so there's a familiar face when and if they start thinking about moving into leadership.</p><p>Our networks help with this work. We have meetings with superintendents and assistant superintendents in our partner districts where we’ll say to them, ‘We'd appreciate you inviting us to any events where you know you are celebrating teacher leadership, just in general. It doesn't have to be specifically around individuals color.’ And there we’ll meet people there who might be coming into the leadership pipeline.</p><p>Third, some of us in the faculty will volunteer to be professional mentors. We ask our partners if there are educators of color who are rising stars in their districts. It’s not to recruit for our program. We’re just offering ourselves, as people who've gone before them, to be mentors to them. We're fine if they choose another program that fits their needs better. </p><p>We have been doing this mentoring work informally for about six years now. But with the redesign, we started talking more about it and the conversation became public. A lot more faculty members learned about things that some of us do, and many of them started expressing interest. We want to make sure people coming into leadership pipelines know where the opportunities are so we can connect them with a network of support and help them make the best of those opportunities. </p><p>We have not yet tracked our mentoring efforts, but we will begin recording the numbers of mentors and mentees as we build out our educator preparation analytics system over the coming months.</p><p><strong>How about the faculty? Are there any efforts to bring more diversity to the faculty?</strong></p><p>Increasing the diversity of the faculty remains a priority. That's not easy though, because our policy is to hire practitioners, superintendents, deputy superintendents or chief academic officers. As I said before, there's only a handful of people of color in those positions, so it's harder to diversify the faculty than it is the students. I realize I could change our policy of hiring only executive-level district leaders, but that’s not the best solution. </p><p>But we do seek out people of color and hire them when we can. Then over time, they establish seniority and start taking leadership roles in the program. We used to have just one gentleman of color in the faculty, who worked his way up to our faculty leadership group. We’ve recently added three other individuals of color to the faculty. In due time I’m sure they’ll do well and earn the opportunity to be in that group. And once you’re in that faculty leadership group, you're involved with the governance and then you have a voice. </p><p><strong>And once you have who you think are the right people in your program, are there any formal structures in place to make sure voices of underrepresented groups are heard?</strong></p><p>We don’t have formal structures or affinity groups. If folks wanted to do that, we would support it. But it hasn’t come up</p><p>What we’re doing is that we’re weaving equity into the fabric of our work. All those efforts we just discussed—the outreach efforts, the connecting, the networking—It's not just me doing it. It’s more comprehensive. It's faculty members, it's our district partners, it’s the dean, it’s the superintendents, all of us constantly thinking about how we develop pipelines to ensure diversity. While there are no formal structures, we're weaving a fabric that's becoming a lot more real. It's a lot more real today than it was three years ago, certainly, more than it was six years ago. </p><p>The representation of students of color is changing so they have a critical mass. <em>[According to UCAPP, the proportion of students of color has risen from 13 percent in the class of 2017 to 30 percent in the class of 2021.]</em></p><p>I think because there's now a critical mass, they are more comfortable speaking up. Two things have stood out from their comments. One, the over-representation of white educators among our faculty and guest speakers, and two, equity isn't ‘neatly packaged’ in the program.&#160;&#160;</p><p>Going strictly by the numbers, the first observation is fair. But as I said, there aren't more than a few educators of color who are superintendents or assistant superintendents available to hire, and we are doing better on that front than we were five years ago.</p><p>On the second, I get that students want a tight definition of how to &quot;do&quot; leadership for equity. But it doesn't work that way. Equity, like a lot about leadership, is something one must make sense of for him or herself. Unlike with teacher evaluation, there isn't a set of practices that is a best fit for all or most occasions. </p><p>We ask students to look, listen, talk, try, adjust, reflect and repeat in order to find their leader identity and espoused leadership theory of action. This applies to equity, too. They will understand this better upon completion of the program or years down the road as practitioners. For example, we recently received a request from our student advisory group for an optional session to further unpack equity as a concept. I think this is a sign of maturity; it signals that they aren't looking for a magic bullet answer anymore.</p><p>I don't think it's a coincidence that these issues of equity never came up when there were no faculty of color and basically one person of color in each graduating class. It’s not a coincidence that now, over the last two or three years, when there's a growing number of people of color and growing number of faculty of color, that these issues are surfacing.</p><p><strong>How do you measure progress on these issues? </strong></p><p>A very simplistic but significant indicator is what aspirant leaders talk about, look for and spend their time working on. If you have to prompt folks to look for gaps—in achievement, opportunity, participation, etc.—then they don't have an equity mindset. </p><p>A developmental next step is a systems orientation for inclusivity.&#160; For example, we saw in some assignments that students were thinking about how to use certain structures to help multiple special populations, not just one. That's inclusive and cohesive.</p><p>Another level still is responsiveness and proactiveness. If they are thinking preventatively for how things might not work for some teachers, students or families, then they are also thinking about which adjustments might be necessary and getting ready to respond accordingly.</p><p>One measure we’re looking at is student performance on their core assessment tasks, which are tasks that demonstrate their learning and translation of knowledge and skills into practice. Equity is evaluated in each task. </p><p>We recently got the preliminary scoring of the very first task ever to be submitted. The average scores were healthy. But it was promising to see that the highest mean was in the area of equity. [The mean score on equity was 3.13 on a four-point scale; the mean score in the other five areas the assessment measures was 2.95.]</p><p>Some of that might have been because of our own scoring, though we don't think we gave too much credit where it wasn't due. But we thought of it as a message received by the students and the faculty.</p><p><strong>Have you encountered any resistance to this work?</strong></p><p>Oh, we’ve encountered it from all sides. We have an annual Educational Leadership Forum in the fall; part of its purpose is to feature alumni who are doing really good work and making a difference. Some of us talked about adding more diversity to it. And a colleague, an esteemed professional in the field, said, ‘What does all this social justice and equity and race stuff have to do with leadership?’ <strong></strong></p><p>Another thing we’ve heard is, ‘So I guess you had to change the admission standards in order to get the folks that you're trying to get in.’ We’ve heard a couple of versions of that. We definitely did not change our admission standard. Instead, we got better at recruiting a more diverse candidate pool.</p><p>And I personally have also gotten it from the other side. Students have expressed frustration that I, as director, have not pushed harder to effect change. So we’ve dealt with it from both sides. That is to be expected and a sign of good organizational health, in my opinion.</p><p><strong>So how do you deal with that?</strong></p><p>The thing that probably served us well is to make it all about data and standards. The Professional Standards for Educational Leaders, the current set of standards, are infused with equity, and I used them to make my case. It helped me keep the argument as objective as possible, where it's less about me and my preferences and it's more about the work. </p><p>I also had to connect those things to the mission and vision of UCAPP. Our mission is to prepare high-quality and capable leaders for the state of Connecticut. That's why we exist. Our vision is that our graduates will be committed to excellence. That's our vision and that's our reputation. </p><p>All I did was focus on standards, the data, the mission and the vision and just kept talking about that. Equity helps us achieve our mission.</p><p>It’s not just about me and my vision.</p><p><strong>Do recent events, such as the mass protests against police violence, the surge in public support for the Black Lives Matter movement and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on D.A.C.A, affect the work at all?</strong></p><p>First and foremost, they validate our decision to prioritize equity as an essential component of school leadership. They also compel us to do more. Preparation is an important but single domain in the leadership pipeline. We also have to think about how we help our graduates ensure equity once they’re out in communities leading schools. We must be thoughtful and intentional about advocacy and support to ensure the entire education system, from pre-K to universities, operates fairly and yields equitable outcomes. </p><p>School leaders are community leaders. More than ever, we need principals and superintendents who effectively serve <em>all</em><strong> </strong>constituencies in the communities they are entrusted to lead, and who confront and alter institutional biases. They need to act with cultural competence and responsiveness in their interactions, decision making and practice. </p><p>These are all difficult things to do. But we hope that if we’re careful, welcoming of different perspectives and receptive to feedback, we can help future principals do them and play our small role in addressing the inequities that have long plagued this nation.</p><p>Read the previous post in our UConn series&#58; <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/learning-to-navigate-the-uncertainties-of-school-leadership.aspx">Learning to Navigate the Uncertainties of School Leadership</a> </p> Wallace editorial team792020-06-30T04:00:00ZIn its redesigned principal prep program, UConn is working to prepare leaders who will help ensure equity in education.9/11/2020 3:25:17 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Weaving Equity into the Fabric of Principal Training In its redesigned principal prep program, UConn is working to prepare 359https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Learning to Navigate the Uncertainties of School Leadership24085GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p> <em>This post is part of a series profiling the University of Connecticut’s efforts to strengthen its principal training program. The university is one of seven institutions participating in Wallace’s University Principal Preparation Initiative (UPPI), which seeks to help improve training of future principals so they are better prepared to ensure quality instruction and schools. A research effort documenting the universities’ efforts is underway. While we await its results, this series describes one university’s work so far.</em></p><p> <em>These posts were planned and researched before the novel coronavirus pandemic spread in the United States. The work they describe predates the pandemic and may change as a result of it. The University of Connecticut is working to determine the effects of the pandemic on its work and how it will respond to them.</em></p><p>There are many facets to a principal training program and many stakeholders the program must satisfy. Over the past few weeks, this blog series has profiled several of the players who have helped shape one such program, the University of Connecticut Administrator Preparation Program (UCAPP). Previous posts have described how UCAPP has attempted to engage such stakeholders, including <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/embracing-the-unknown-in-new-approaches-to-principal-preparation.aspx">faculty members​</a> and <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/it-takes-a-village-to-train-an-effective-principal.aspx">district partners</a>, in its efforts to improve its curriculum and practical experiences. </p><p>But what of the program’s students? With so many interests shaping its principal preparation program, how well is UCAPP addressing the needs of its students, who many consider UCAPP’s primary stakeholders? UCAPP connected&#160;the Wallace editorial team with four members of its class of 2021, the first class to train in the current iteration of the pr​ogram, so we could seek out their views about the new program. </p><p>It’s still early in their tenure—they started the program in the summer of 2019 and were beginning the third of six semesters when Wallace interviewed them—but many are already noticing benefits of the program, especially the program’s curriculum, its internships and its new assessments.</p><p> <strong>A more connected curriculum</strong></p><p>Sherry Farmer, a teacher of more than 20 years with a background in special education, was drawn to UCAPP in part because of the opportunities it offers to ensure equity in schools, especially for children with special needs. Her depth of experience with such children has given her a solid understanding of the ways in which teachers can ensure equity in individual classrooms. But teachers need larger, schoolwide systems to support that endeavor, and UCAPP is helping her figure out how to establish them.</p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read e61e5486-de8f-4735-a2d3-da67e21ba4c8" id="div_e61e5486-de8f-4735-a2d3-da67e21ba4c8" unselectable="on"></div><div id="vid_e61e5486-de8f-4735-a2d3-da67e21ba4c8" unselectable="on" style="display&#58;none;"></div></div><p>“[UCAPP has] been very meticulous in helping us understand, piece by piece, how important it is to set up the systems within your school,” she said. “To build capacity and build leadership within your school and to allow people to take on roles that you can't take on.”&#160; </p><p>Several courses had to work together to help Farmer appreciate the complexities of that task. An instructional leadership course taught her how she can use data to spot inequities and help teachers address them. An organizational leadership course taught her how to engage parents and communities to establish the expectation of equity throughout the school. And a talent management course, which follows that organizational leadership course, taught her how to ensure that her staff meets such expectations.</p><p>“It's starting to make sense to me how they put the program in place for us,” she said. “I feel like they're building the capacity we need from one area so that we're ready to get to the next area.”</p><p>But a principal’s job is complex. There is much UCAPP must teach its students, from ensuring quality instruction to balancing budgets to managing school politics. Its agenda is packed; every semester, students must complete two six-week courses, each meeting once a week for three and a half hours, and a daylong workshop. </p><p>It’s a busy schedule, says Winallan Columbano, a high-school health and physical education teacher who taught in New York City for 10 years before enrolling in UCAPP. He appreciates the pace on some levels; he says it provides a thorough introduction to Connecticut school systems and familiarizes him with pre-high school instruction. But, he says, the schedule can sometimes feel a bit rushed. </p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read 29f77ba0-7956-4016-b141-756be248f77b" id="div_29f77ba0-7956-4016-b141-756be248f77b" unselectable="on"></div><div id="vid_29f77ba0-7956-4016-b141-756be248f77b" unselectable="on" style="display&#58;none;"></div></div><p>“It’s a little bit short I would say, the six-class sessions,” he said. “By the time you get going with the professor, it’s almost over. So, in that sense, I wish I had a little more time.”</p><p>But another element of UCAPP helps make up for that hectic pace, Columbano says&#58; internships.</p><p> <strong>From theory to practice</strong></p><p>UCAPP internships place each student in an area school with a veteran principal for all six semesters of the program. The student visits that school regularly over two years and helps its principal with leadership responsibilities. The principal, which UCAPP calls a mentor, guides the student through a series of leadership tasks. Meanwhile, a leadership coach, generally a retired principal or a school-district leader, works closely with both student and mentor, advises the student and helps draw connections to concepts covered in class.</p><p>These internships, Columbano says, are helping him apply concepts he may only peripherally encounter in his coursework. “We’re able to apply what we’re learning,” he said. “The work that’s covered in the courses, you’re actually doing that in schools.”</p><p>Kimberly Monroe, who has taught math for 18 years and currently serves as a teacher leader, is relying heavily on that practical experience to prepare herself for the principalship. While her teaching experience is deep, she is in her first year in a leadership role and feels she has much to learn about managing the politics of the principalship. “There may be times when I'll have to balance what the priorities are,” she said, “based on someone else telling me what needs to happen versus what I see as being the most important.”</p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read 04a62037-ffe9-4824-b605-1177cbf11779" id="div_04a62037-ffe9-4824-b605-1177cbf11779"></div><div id="vid_04a62037-ffe9-4824-b605-1177cbf11779" style="display&#58;none;"></div></div><p>UCAPP’s organizational leadership course in the fall of 2019 helped lay the theoretical foundation to help manage such priorities, she said. Observing principals, both in the school in which she teaches and the one in which she is interning, is showing her how that foundation plays out in schools. “I see how they interact with people,” she said. “Listening and getting the full picture and hearing from both sides and looking at best practices, to then make a decision about what they'll ultimately do.”</p><p>“I've already learned several things from my internship principal,” she added, “and I think there's even more that I'll continue to learn.”</p><p>Leadership coaches, a new addition to the program, also help. Monroe said that her work with her coach is helping her build confidence, not just in her internship, but also in her role as a teacher leader. That role requires Monroe to observe and evaluate teachers, a responsibility she approached cautiously, wary of overstepping her bounds. “I want to be invited into your room,” she said of the teachers she has to observe. “I don't want to feel pushy and push my way into your room.”</p><p>Monroe therefore left it up to teachers to schedule time for her observations. Few did, so her UCAPP leadership coach urged her to be more proactive and propose times herself. “That has worked much better,” Monroe said, “It helped me to be a little more forthright with trying to encourage them to meet with me.” &#160;</p><p>Coaches also help ensure students use time wisely. Farmer says her coach has helped steer her away from the details of her current job and focus on what she must learn to become a principal. “I don’t want you doing lunch duty,” Farmer’s coach told her. “I want you to go in. I want you to have an agenda. I want you to have what it is you want to talk about with [your mentor principal].”</p><p>Coaches will not solve students’ problems, however. They will only help students think through them. “Very rarely, if at all in this program, have I felt like they’ve given us the answer,” Columbano said, “That’s nice, but it’s also a little frustrating. UConn has made it pretty clear that they would rather we face our problems now, maybe struggle with them, fight through them and figure it out.”</p><p>Both he and Farmer say that that focus on independent thought, with the support of instructors and leadership coaches, helps prepare them for the jobs ahead. “Nobody's going to give you the answer; it's going to be up to you to figure out the answer,” Farmer said. “And I’m getting more and more comfortable with not having the answer than I was just a few months ago.”</p><p> <strong>Tracking progress</strong></p><p>To nudge its students towards such confidence, and to help ensure that they meet state requirements for principals, UCAPP introduced the “core assessment,” a series of projects designed to measure students’ progress in key areas of leadership. Students complete projects every semester, either in their own schools or those in which they’re interning, and work with their coaches every month to reflect on their performance, identify strengths and weaknesses and plan for future improvement. “That's really been important and helpful to me,” Farmer said. “To sit back and look at, what did I feel went well? What did I feel I would change?”</p><p>Teresa Maturino Rodriguez, a teacher of 20 years, also sees benefits in the core assessments, saying that they help students acclimate themselves to the twists and turns of the principalship. However, she said, they take a lot of time and she is not yet clear about the value of every required component. All students must complete the same projects, she added, even if they have years of experience with the practices those projects are meant to demonstrate. Some of these tasks can become rather onerous for students who are juggling classes, internships, families and day jobs.</p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read 1957595c-cc46-47f8-b674-919c4b402a62" id="div_1957595c-cc46-47f8-b674-919c4b402a62" unselectable="on"></div><div id="vid_1957595c-cc46-47f8-b674-919c4b402a62" unselectable="on" style="display&#58;none;"></div></div><p>“I feel like there's this other component hanging out there,” she said, expressing some discomfort with the addition to the workload. But she’s willing to give the assessments time to play themselves out. “I'm going to trust this is part of the learning process they're trying to create for us,” she added.</p><p>The benefits are more obvious to Columbano. The first step of the core assessment—an “organizational diagnosis” that asks students to investigate reasons behind an achievement gap of their choice at their internship school—helped him look beyond his previous focus on high-school phys-ed.</p><p>“Instead of looking at things strictly within your classroom,” he said, “it made me ask myself, ‘How do I fix this on a school level?’”</p><p>It’s helping him make an essential change to the way he sees education. “I’m always looking at things through a different lens now,” he said.</p><p>“I’m looking at it from a principal’s lens, not a teacher’s.”</p><p> <strong>Embracing change</strong></p><p>It takes a lot of planning and adjustment to create a program that can stimulate such a change in perspective. Administrators say they are always learning from their experiences and tweaking the program to respond to feedback from students, faculty and community partners. That willingness to change, however, can complicate things for students. </p><p>Farmer, for example, was hoping to get summer schedules ready for her internship when we spoke to her in January. But her class schedule was still unclear, making it hard to plan ahead. “We find that they're still tweaking things up to the last minute,” she said. “For people like us, who want to know things way in advance, that's been a little bit frustrating,”</p><p>That frustration, however, may also be part of learning to be a principal. Columbano says that his time in UCAPP so far is beginning to make him more comfortable with the uncertainties of the principalship. “Will I know everything?” he said. “No. But I know that if I work at it, I can get to the right answers.”</p><p></p><p>Read the previous post in our UConn series&#58; <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/it-takes-a-village-to-train-an-effective-principal.aspx">It Takes a Village to Train an Effective Principal</a>.</p>Wallace editorial team792020-06-23T04:00:00ZFour aspiring principals at the University of Connecticut get a glimpse of the work that lies ahead6/24/2020 3:29:36 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Learning to Navigate the Uncertainties of School Leadership Four aspiring principals at the University of Connecticut get a 442https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
It Takes a Village to Train an Effective Principal24082GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p><em>​This post is part of a series profiling the University of Connecticut’s efforts to strengthen its principal training program. The university is one of seven institutions participating in Wallace’s University Principal Preparation Initiative, which seeks to help improve training of future principals so they are better prepared to ensure quality instruction and schools. A research effort to determine the effects of the work is underway. While we await its results, this series describes one university’s work so far.</em></p><p><em>These posts were planned and researched before the novel coronavirus pandemic spread in the United States. The work they describe predates the pandemic and may change as a result of it. The University of Connecticut is working to determine the effects of the pandemic on its work and how it will respond to them.</em></p><p>Ask Mark Benigni, superintendent of schools in Meriden, Conn., about the importance of partnerships in education, and he might tell you about Daniel Crispino. Crispino started his career as a first-grade teacher in Meriden Public Schools. His success in that role led the district to tap him for a leadership position and eventually nominate him for a spot in the University of Connecticut’s Administrator Preparation Program (UCAPP). After a one-year program at UCAPP, Crispino returned to the district as an assistant principal. In 2016, he became principal of John Barry Elementary School, which at the time had a “failing” designation from the state. By 2019, Crispino had helped transform the school; it received a <a href="https&#58;//nationalblueribbonschools.ed.gov/daniel-crispino-principal-john-barry-elementary-school-meriden-connecticut/">National Blue Ribbon Award</a> that year, and Crispino became one of ten principals to receive the <a href="https&#58;//nationalblueribbonschools.ed.gov/2019-terrel-h-bell-awardees-honored-for-outstanding-school-leadership/">Terrel H. Bell Award for Outstanding Leadership</a>. He is now the district’s director of school leadership, where he is helping other principals improve their schools.</p><p>Benigni may not be able to retain leaders such as Crispino, he says, without his district’s long-standing relationship with the University of Connecticut. The promise of career advancement through training at UCAPP helps keep talent in the district, despite its limited salaries. “As a small urban district, we can’t pay as well as some suburban communities,” he said. “What we can offer is a really enriching experience working with a college partner.”</p><p><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/It-Takes-a-Village-to-Train-an-Effective-Principal/UConn-Partnerships-Benigni-lg-feature.jpg" alt="UConn-Partnerships-Benigni-lg-feature.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br></p><p>That partner is now working to strengthen such ties so it can enhance those experiences and help improve leadership in districts such as Meriden. In 2016, UCAPP joined The Wallace Foundation’s University Principal Preparation Initiative, which supports the redesign of six university programs so they can better train future principals. The initiative calls, in part, for closer partnerships with states, school districts and other community organizations so universities can tailor training to the needs of schools. UCAPP has embarked on a systematic effort to reinforce such ties, with a close, collaborative assessment of needs, establishment of regular communication channels and joint monitoring of results.</p><p>“We had had a concerted effort to work with more urban districts in the state,” said Casey Cobb, professor of educational policy at the University of Connecticut, who helped reorient UCAPP’s approach to district partnerships. “But we never had formal partnerships beyond one with the Hartford School District. The Wallace initiative gave us the opportunity to reach out to districts to support their leadership development pathways.” </p><p>UCAPP chose to work with three urban districts—Hartford, Meriden and New Haven—with which it has had close and long-standing relationships. “We wanted districts who had both the need and also the capacity to be part of this redesign,” said Jennifer McGarry, the university’s department head in education leadership who also helped manage work in the Wallace initiative. “We wanted people that we knew had a commitment to change and continual improvement.”</p><p><strong>Laying out the foundation</strong></p><p>The work began with the <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/quality-measures-principal-preparation-program-assessment.aspx">Quality Measures self-assessment tool</a>, which requires programs to work with school districts to determine whether they are preparing principals to lead teaching and learning in those districts. Based on the results of that assessment, UCAPP developed a general agreement with each district outlining the areas of focus and priorities for their work together. </p><p>These agreements are informal and sketch out broad frameworks for the work, such as guidelines for admissions processes, placement of UCAPP students for internships in district schools and protocols for communications among the partners. They were once enshrined in formal memoranda of understanding (MOUs) that UCAPP leaders assumed would help resolve disagreements or miscommunications. UCAPP has learned, however, that their utility can often fall short of the legal and administrative work they require. </p><p>UCAPP’s MOU with one district, for example, unraveled with the arrival of a new superintendent whose priorities differed significantly from those of her predecessor. UCAPP had spent three years cultivating the relationship that led to this MOU, working closely with leaders and lawyers to ensure it met all parties’ rules and regulations. Yet, with the arrival of a new district leader, all that work came to naught.</p><p>“It became a fragile agreement,” said UCAPP director Richard Gonzales. “Even with the MOU, we couldn't ensure that things were going to go according to those terms.”<br> UCAPP is therefore bypassing the formalities and focusing more on the spirit than the letter of its agreements. It still uses a self-assessment to determine the broad contours of its work with the districts, but it now relies more on personal ties than on official documents. “Now it’s much less about the written agreement and much more about the relationships,” Gonzales said. “You have to maintain and nurture those relationships. It’s more time-intensive.” </p><p><strong>Staying in touch and strengthening ties</strong></p><p>UCAPP relies on regular contacts, both formal and informal, to maintain these relationships. It convenes leaders from all partner districts roughly once every fortnight to share information and solve problems. All partners also come together at regular meetings of a professional learning community of participants in the Wallace initiative.</p><p>The most obvious benefit of this frequent contact is that it allows UCAPP to adapt and improve its program based on actual needs in schools. One district, for example, said early-career principals were struggling to create leadership teams. UCAPP therefore added to its curriculum to beef up support in that area. Another district was having trouble with teacher turnover. So UCAPP created a three-year program to help high-performing teachers become instructional leaders and help improve classroom performance throughout the district. Chronic absenteeism seemed to be a problem throughout the state. UCAPP responded by incorporating readings, discussions and assignments about absenteeism into its curriculum.</p><p>Beyond immediate improvements in UCAPP’s offerings, the frequency of contact is also creating bonds that transcend formal MOUs. Benigni, for example, had been looking for ways to better support his district’s eight elementary-school principals. At a meeting of the Wallace-convened professional learning community, he got the idea to restructure his central office and create a position dedicated to those principals. He saw an opportunity to do so when Miguel Cardona, an assistant superintendent in his district, left to become Connecticut’s education commissioner. With a top spot open, Benigni could shuffle resources and job responsibilities to get his elementary-school principals the support they needed. To help make sure he did it right, he called Richard Gonzales.&#160; </p><p>Gonzales helped Benigni determine the most efficient ways to restructure the central office and create a new position dedicated to elementary-school principals. He even used his knowledge of philanthropies such as The Wallace Foundation to help Benigni work out how to pay for that position. Benigni introduced the new position to the district in the 2019-2020 school year. It is currently filled by UCAPP graduate Dan Crispino.</p><p>“The added partnership puts us more in touch with each other so it’s easier to throw those ideas off each other,” Benigni said. “You become partners, but you become strategic thinkers together as well.”</p><p>Such relationships can’t ensure complete agreement among parties. Complications do arise, and UCAPP must work closely with districts to resolve them. For example, Cobb said, a district may place a UCAPP intern in a school that needs more support, not in one that would help that intern become a more effective leader. “It can be a little tricky,” he said of such situations, “but we try to face it head on.” UCAPP advocates for students in such situations. “We know they’re in a tough position,” Cobb added. “They can’t be complaining, they can’t put down other administrators. That’s when we will have a side conversation with the district.”</p><p><strong>Tracking outcomes<br></strong></p><p><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/It-Takes-a-Village-to-Train-an-Effective-Principal/UConn-Partnerships-Torres-Rodriguez-lg-feature.jpg" alt="UConn-Partnerships-Torres-Rodriguez-lg-feature.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br><strong></strong></p><p>Such sensitive conversations can be easier when they’re based on data. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, superintendent of Hartford Public Schools, for example, said that the district was once unable to communicate its needs to UCAPP because it lacked the data to understand those needs itself. “We needed stronger data systems to be able to see how our principals are doing and progressing,” she said. “It felt challenging to us to identify goals for the partnership when our data systems weren’t as strong.”</p><p>UCAPP is therefore working with all its partner districts to develop data systems to track the performance and career trajectories of its graduates. These systems will collect key points of data, such as graduates’ areas of strength while they were in UCAPP, the number of UCAPP graduates hired as administrators, the amount of time they spend in those positions and key performance indicators of the schools in which they serve. UCAPP plans to use such systems to identify the strengths and weaknesses of its graduates as they play out in schools. These systems could also help match UCAPP interns and graduates; if data suggest that a certain school needs support in a certain area, UCAPP could help direct graduates with expertise in that area to that school.</p><p>&quot;​I don’t need a zillion candidates to fill a principal job, I just need the one right person,” Benigni said. “If we can come up with a firm understanding of what makes a leader most effective, and if we can then track the development of those skills, then I’ll know when I’ve got a strong person ready for that job.”</p><p>Such systems cannot be bought off the shelf, however. Each district’s systems are different, and to bring them all together, UCAPP would have to sort through several technical and legal complications, such as the nature of the data collected, how they are stored, who owns and maintains them, how they are shared and how all parties can ensure privacy and security.</p><p>UCAPP quickly realized that the effort necessary to create a single system across all districts outweighed its potential benefits. Instead, the program forged agreements whereby each district develops its own system but gives UCAPP a standard data report every year. Such an arrangement gives districts the flexibility to collect the data that matter most to them, while allowing UCAPP to aggregate the data it needs to identify broader trends in principal performance and areas in which it may need to adapt. </p><p>It also highlights the importance of another partnership&#58; that with the Connecticut State Department of Education.</p><p><strong>Support from and for the state</strong></p><p>UCAPP can’t gain a full understanding of school needs using data from just three districts. Principals may move from district to district, and UCAPP must track its graduates’ records across districts to fully understand how well it trained them. Instead of negotiating complex data agreements with each of Connecticut’s nearly 200 districts, UCAPP is working with the state department of education to help meet its data needs. The department of education will help UCAPP track the basic essentials throughout the state, and UCAPP will incorporate the more nuanced data it receives from its three partners every year.</p><p>UCAPP has forged a close but informal relationship with the state, as it has with its partner districts, beyond such data systems. Commissioner of Education Miguel Cardona says this relationship helps ensure principals are trained to lead schools that principal preparation programs often ignore. “We have students who are dealing with many different things in their life, whether it's through poverty or other issues,” he said. “Historically, the students that graduate from some of the traditional principal preparation programs have had very little experience learning about leadership in communities dealing with these needs.”</p><p><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/It-Takes-a-Village-to-Train-an-Effective-Principal/UConn-Partnerships-Cardona-lg-feature.jpg" alt="UConn-Partnerships-Cardona-lg-feature.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br></p><p>State representatives participate in meetings UCAPP convenes with districts and communicate these needs, Cardona said. They also use these conversations to flag important shifts in state policy. Cardona pointed to the example of a recent change from a zero-tolerance policy for misbehavior to a focus on restorative practices, which seek to improve students’ relationships with each other and the community. State staffers signaled that change to UCAPP, and UCAPP tweaked its curriculum accordingly. “Now, pre-service principals are hearing different perspectives and different approaches towards restorative practices being considered in districts,” Cardona said. “So when they go into districts, these approaches are not new. New principals don't hear about them for the first time when they're employed.”</p><p>The state also gives UCAPP important context for its efforts. “The state is the best source of historical information for us,” Jennifer McGarry said. The department of education keeps information about interventions in years past, which she says is useful as UCAPP considers new approaches. “We can ask, ‘why did it work? Why did it not work? Is it something we want to revisit, or is it something that’s been done and wasn’t successful?”</p><p><strong>Results thus far</strong></p><p>Productive partnerships don’t come easy. All parties must stay open to feedback and change. They must balance different viewpoints and sometimes competing needs. And they must secure the resources they need to follow through on commitments. “It's not just one conversation, and then you go back to business as usual,” Cardona said. “It's a constant reflection of what's working, what's not working, what needs attention.”</p><p>But that effort may be yielding some early benefits for schools. Benigni, for example, said that more careful consideration of the skills his principals need and his greater familiarity with principal training has helped him ask better questions when he interviews principal candidates. “We’re putting less emphasis on the feel of the interview and more emphasis on the substance of the person,” he said. “There’s a likability factor that comes out in an interview. Sometimes that’s valuable, because being well liked helps you lead. But if you can’t help your teachers get better, that’s going to wear off very quickly.”</p><p>Cardona said closer communication with UCAPP and its partner districts is leading the state to reconsider certification policies. “The certification department may be under the assumption that a policy is a really good one,” he said. “But partners will tell us what they’re experiencing, and we might find that it is unintentionally hurting our ability to attract quality candidates. It gives us the opportunity to revisit that policy, see why it is in place and whether or not it's needed.”</p><p>Cobb, meanwhile, suggested that UCAPP’s initial self-assessment and its partnership with the state may even prod other programs to improve. “The state convened competing programs to talk about the quality of their own programs through the Quality Measures protocol,” he said. “I thought that was pretty neat.”</p><p>Challenges remain, however. One is staff capacity. Changes in personnel can disrupt efforts and partnerships with UCAPP can stretch districts’ financial and human resources. Another is the amount of time it takes to meet partnership commitments. Districts have requests UCAPP has not yet been able to address, and it can take a while for UCAPP to determine how best to squeeze these requests into a packed curriculum. </p><p>But the work so far has forced the parties closer together, built trust and, some hope, paved a path for continuous improvement in days ahead. “I define success by creating a culture of interdependence between the University of Connecticut, the districts and the department of education,” Cardona said. “So if this Wallace initiative wraps up, the partnership and the ongoing dialogue are still there.”</p><p>Benigni suggests that partnerships may be on their way to accomplishing just that. “We were partners before,” he said. “But now I feel like we may be influencing their work and they may be influencing ours.”</p><span>Read the previous post in our UConn series&#58; </span><a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/embracing-the-unknown-in-new-approaches-to-principal-preparation.aspx">Embracing the Unknown in New Approaches to Principal Preparation</a>.<span></span><p><span></span><br></p>Wallace editorial team792020-06-16T04:00:00ZClose partnerships with school districts and the state help the University of Connecticut strengthen principal training.6/17/2020 1:18:07 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / It Takes a Village to Train an Effective Principal Close partnerships with school districts and the state help the 331https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx

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