Sep 21, 2017
An Edutopia article last year discussed how the Walter Bracken STEAM Academy Elementary School, a Title 1 magnet school in urban Las Vegas, Nevada, created a culture of reading by introducing "Series Reading" across all grade levels. What was the result?
– By fifth grade, students are two and a half years above grade level on the STAR Reading Assessment.
– Instead of talking about the latest TV shows, students excitedly discuss the books they read.
– Students are often caught reading books under their desks during other lessons.
A recent article in Education Week discusses how school districts investing in principals before and during their tenure gave them a better chance to succeed and provided districts with a pipeline of effective school leaders.
"Leading a school to better teaching and learning requires a great principal. Unfortunately, finding and training new principals in effective school leadership has been a long-standing challenge for many districts. So it’s good news for districts and states focused on school improvement that six large, urban school districts have shown it is possible – and not expensive – to build principal pipelines that have a mission to produce a steady supply of effective school leaders."
An analysis found that to have effective "principal pipelines" school districts must have rigorous job standards, strong preservice training, selective hiring, and sound on-the-job support and evaluation for novice principals.
The article concluded, "A great teacher can electrify a classroom. A team of great teachers led by a great principal can electrify a whole school."
A June 3, 2017, editorial in the Boston Globe mentions the situation with the Silver Hill Horace Mann Charter School.
"Back in 2006, in its pre-charter existence, the K-5 school was underperforming and facing a possible state takeover. The approach to fixing those problems was to transform the school into an automatically unionized Horace Mann charter, thereby giving it more latitude to set its own course. By 2013, Silver Hill had made enough progress to win Level 1 status. That is, a spot in the state’s top school tier."
The following opinion piece recently published in the New York Times discusses the importance of principals in our schools. It seems obvious, but, as the article points out, policymakers focus on so many other aspects to fix broken schools, such as curriculum, teachers, standardized testing, class size, charter schools, and even buildings. There is much more talk about holding teachers accountable than principals. Principals can make a big difference in schools. They are the leaders who set the tone for the entire building.
"To be clear, teachers matter enormously. Rigorous research has found that high-performing teachers don’t only help their students do better on the standardized tests everyone loves to hate; their students also graduate from college at a higher rate and earn more money as adults.
"Great teachers, quite simply, change lives. On the other end of the spectrum, struggling teachers do not get enough support, and it’s too hard to fire those who fail to improve.
"Principals are so important because they offer one of the most effective means to improve teaching."