THE BIGGEST BANG FOR THE BUCK IS TRAINING SCHOOL LEADERS.Lamar Alexander, US Senator and former Secretary of Education, May 2009
Human capital in education is a buzz phrase found throughout articles and web pages as one begins to search for school leadership improvement programs. This topic interested me after I had an opportunity to chat with a gentleman from New Leaders for New Schools, a non-profit organization reaching out nationwide to ensure high academic achievement for every student by attracting, training, and mentoring outstanding leaders and supporting the performance of the urban public schools they lead.
“With research indicating that nearly 60% of student achievement can be attributed to principal and teacher quality, our schools not only need principal training and hiring to be highly selective, but also need school systems, states, and the federal government to redefine the principalship to focus on teachers and students,” said Ben Fenton Co-Founder and Chief Strategy and Knowledge Officer at New Leaders for New Schools.
This is especially vital for turnaround schools, where studies find no examples of success without effective principal leadership.
New Leaders found that certain leadership actions within the following five categories are critical to achieving transformative results:
1) ensuring rigorous, goal- and data-driven learning and teaching;
2) building and managing a high-quality staff aligned to the school’s vision of success for every student;
3) developing an achievement- and belief-based school-wide culture;
4) instituting operations and systems to support learning; and
5) modeling the personal leadership that sets the tone for all student and adult relationships in the school.
K-8 schools led by a New Leaders principal for two or more years are nearly twice as likely as others in their district to make breakthrough achievement gains.
As my conversation continued I couldn’t help but think about MDUSD.
Are we putting that much emphasis on our recruitment of new principals?
Is the placement of Dent Center employees as new school principals the best move for student achievement?
How will the new coaching program work?
How much oversight will exist and how high will the bar be raised?
How does our new student achievement program compare to the training and mentoring offered at New Leaders?
Is MDUSD eligible to use New Leaders as a resource for new principal candidates?
Have or will any of our current, or potential, school leaders apply to the program?