New Resource Provides Examples of How States are Improving Education Leadership

Examples Can Help States Meet Race to the Top Goals; Learn from Others

The National Association of State Boards of Education, in a multi-year collaboration with The Wallace Foundation, has developed a new resource on education leadership to identify and share research-based strategies to improve education leadership.

This resource, an online leadership Website, highlights work in 12 states to strengthen leadership systems and integrate performance-based features particularly using the levers of preparation, induction, and licensure. Through policy summaries and direct links to state code and documents, the site can help states identify explicit connections between school leader policies and improved performance.

The following materials from the website focus on critical features highlighted in final Race to the Top program guidelines around teacher and leader performance:

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  • Recent Publications and Resource Updates
    • Improving School Leadership: The Promise of Cohesive Leadership Systems, released earlier this winter by the RAND Corporation, examines efforts by 10 states and 17 districts in Wallace’s education leadership initiative to develop “cohesive leadership systems” (CLS). RAND finds that creating well aligned state-district policies to ensure that principals have the training and conditions necessary to improve teaching and learning envisioned by the CLS is extremely difficult. Nonetheless, in states where progress has been greatest, principals say they are better able to devote more time to improving instruction and feel more empowered to control resources.
    • Leadership for Learning Improvement in Urban Schools is a report in a series by researchers from the University of Washington’s Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy that investigates how leaders can effectively and equitably contribute to improved student achievement, particularly in challenging school and district contexts. The questions examined included: (1) what it means for leaders to work in a demanding environment; (2) what “supervisory leaders” (principals, assistant principals, department heads) do in these kinds of settings; and (3) what nonsupervisory leaders do.
    • How Leaders Invest Staffing Resources for Learning Improvement reports on staffing high-needs schools and is part of the University of Washington’s Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy series and is based on analyses of four urban districts and 14 schools.
    • Tenure and Retention of Newly Hired Principals in Texas is a report authored by Ed Fuller and Michelle Young of the University Council of Educational Administration and the University of Texas at Austin. Major findings include: the relationship of certification tests to retention is negligible; retention in high schools is significantly lower across the board; and, retention rates are closely related to the level of student achievement in the principal’s first year of employment.
    • Strong Leaders, Strong Schools: 2008 State Laws is the National Council of State Legislatures yearbook on leadership legislation. In 2008, at least 22 states enacted 39 laws to ensure today’s leaders have the skills, knowledge and support required to guide the transformation of schools to raise achievement for all students. This year’s report includes examples of state fiscal appropriations.
    • Research Findings to Support Effective Educational Policymaking: Evidence and Action Steps for State, District and Local Policymakers highlights findings from 10 years of knowledge and field-based lessons from The Wallace Foundation. The findings are highly relevant for developing comprehensive approaches to Race to the Top objectives and other federal initiatives. Policies and practices highlighted include: coordinating state, city, and district policies; turning around the lowest-performing schools; preparing and developing effective school leaders; and expanding opportunities for out-of-school learning.
    • The Principal Story is a national broadcast film and media outreach project, commissioned by The Wallace Foundation. Its purpose is to raise the visibility of leadership as a lever for school improvement, especially in our most challenged schools. Links to conversation guides, the executive video, and topical video vignettes are posted.