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Leadership Links

November - December 2006

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Welcome to ECS Leadership Links, a bimonthly e-mail publication with links to key information on education leadership.

ILLINOIS has created a new program requiring one year of mentoring for all new principals. The legislation also creates a voluntary master-principal program and a teacher leadership endorsement.

New Leaders for New Schools has selected Milwaukee, WISCONSIN to be the seventh city where it will undertake its high-energy program of recruiting, training and coaching principals for high-needs schools. The privately funded New Leaders organization will work in cooperation with Milwaukee Public Schools to place about 10 people as assistant principals in Milwaukee schools by next fall, and 30 over three years.

In CALIFORNIA, Assembly Bill 1381 will make sweeping changes to the role of the superintendent of Los Angeles schools. Beginning January 1, the superintendent won't need anyone's permission to hire senior staff, bring on consultants and sign big-money contracts for everything from buying plastic utensils to building schools. In addition, the superintendent will have the power to make more decisions without heeding board input and will be much more difficult to fire. Under the new law, the next superintendent of Los Angeles schools is likely to be the most powerful schools chief in the history of the system.,1,1097011.story?coll=la-news-learning

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School District Leadership That Works: The Effect of Superintendent Leadership on Student Achievement is the latest in McREL's continuing series of research on school, leadership and classroom practices related to student achievement. The Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning, the federally funded regional laboratory in Denver, distilled 27 research reports conducted since 1970 that examined the influence of school district leaders on STUDENT PERFORMANCE. Altogether, these studies involved 2,714 districts and the achievement scores of 3.4 million students. The researchers found that successful superintendents set "non-negotiable" goals for achievement and instruction; involve others, especially principals, in setting those goals; align school board support to performance and instructional objectives; continually monitor progress and make corrections when needed; and focus resources, especially for training, on districtwide goals.

Leading for Learning, a special report funded by The Wallace Foundation, is the third annual Education Week report examining leadership in education, a topic of critical concern at a time of ever-increasing expectations for schools. States are taking on new roles as they provide support for LOW-PERFORMING SCHOOLS AND DISTRICTS. The report includes a mix of explanatory articles and research findings analyzed by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center.

Schools Can't Wait: Accelerating the Redesign of University Principal Preparation Programs, offers a detailed action plan for states to pick up the pace in creating better TRAINING PROGRAMS and assessing their effectiveness against progress indicators. The report gives mediocre grades to a sample of 22 universities in Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) states for their efforts to date in meeting core quality indicators. It calls for a number of steps, including the development of state-level commissions, to encourage and guide statewide redesign of principal training programs.

In 1999, under the superintendency of retired Air Force major John Fryer, the Duval County (FL) school system set out to improve every school in the district. Over the next five years, the district achieved stunning results that have drawn nationwide attention. Jonathan Supovitz uses the unfolding story of Duval County to develop a sophisticated and thoughtful analysis of the role of the school district in enacting LARGE-SCALE REFORM. Drawing on interviews, surveys, and extensive first-hand observation, Supovitz chalks a vivid portrait. The Case for District-Based Reform: Leading, Building and Sustaining School Improvement weaves together seamlessly the account of leadership and change in one district with an investigation of the larger questions associated with this particular approach to school reform.

Policymakers have responded to a shortage of qualified principals in many educational jurisdictions by initiating major programs to identify, recruit and prepare future leaders. SUCCESSION is now a chronic process rather than an episodic crisis. Dean Fink and Carol Brayman, authors of School Leadership Succession and the Challenges of Change, argue that succession of school leaders is not the key issue. What is crucial is the degree of autonomy that principals can exercise on behalf of their school community.

Leadership Education for the 'Fortune 300' of Education proposes a targeted investment in advanced career education for incumbents in 300 local, state and national roles. To IMPROVE CAPACITIES for elementary and secondary leaders with highest potential impact for increasing student achievement, The Fortune 300 would include 200 urban superintendents (with 40% of the nation's students and 75% of the children in poverty) and 100 state and national leaders, who together with those superintendents must learn and work together in shaping a new 'federal' partnership -- local, state and national -- to lift the U.S. from middle of the pack to international leadership in student performance.

Increasing demands have been placed on principals due to current federal, state and local school accountability measures as well as policy initiatives that call for improved leadership. Many districts face shortages of appropriate candidates for the job, particularly in high-needs districts. An alternative to finding the perfect -- and rare -- candidate for an increasingly untenable position is to restructure the job itself. A Job Too Big for One: Multiple Principals and Other Nontraditional Approaches to School Leadership examines 10 schools that have adopted ALTERNATIVE STRUCTURES: schools with two principals, three principals, rotating principals, and a school with the principal's duties distributed among teachers. These 10 sites provide examples of alternative ways of organizing school leadership with varying benefits and challenges.

Michael Fullan -- an internationally recognized leader on educational reform -- expands the definition of ORGANIZATIONAL TURNAROUND in Turnaround Leadership. Fullan shows how leaders can turn even the worst situation into an opportunity to shake-up and rejuvenate their schools. He goes beyond turnaround schools to show how entire systems can be transformed and explores what it takes to motivate large numbers of people to go beyond short-term solutions in order to achieve fundamental, sustainable reform. Ultimately, Turnaround Leadership focuses on the critical role of leadership, not the Lone Ranger leader who rides into town and saves a single school, but leaders whose very actions change the systems they work in.

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