Reducing the Principal Turnover Rate

School Leaders Network --- Connect - Lead - SucceedOver the years, various research studies have suggested that teachers have the greatest school-based effect on student achievement. In recent years, however, the crucial role of principals has also been made clearer by research. So, how does principal turnover harm students?

The turnover rate for principals is higher than nearly any other white-collar profession, with half leaving their school after three years and fewer than 30 percent remaining at a single school for more than five years.

That’s according to a report from the School Leaders Network, which finds that many principals feel isolated, overwhelmed and unsupported in the job. The report estimates that reducing principal turnover by 25 percent could save the public school system $163 million a year – and might even boost student achievement. Math and reading test scores tend to drop the year after a principal departs, the study finds. States with the highest turnover and the most rookie principals include North Carolina, Rhode Island, California, Nevada and New Mexico.

Read more at the following link:


The Baltimore Education Research Consortium Releases New Report

Baltimore BERCThe Baltimore Education Research Consortium (BERC) is pleased to release its new report, Measuring School Climate: Using Existing Data Tools on Climate and Effectiveness to Inform School Organizational Health.

An increasing awareness of the relationship between school climate and student outcomes is evident in conversations in the national media about suspensions and safety, and schools and communities are realizing that children cannot learn if they do not feel safe and respected.

BERC began researching school climate with its first report entitled Positive School Climate: What It Looks Like and How It Happens – Nurturing Positive School Climate for Student Learning and Professional Growth. During the drafting of that report, Baltimore City district staff began to discuss the many instruments used by the district to capture climate data across schools. Now, six months later, BERC is pleased to release its new report, Measuring School Climate: Using Existing Data Tools on Climate and Effectiveness to Inform School Organizational Health.

This report follows up by examining and comparing the multiple tools Baltimore City Schools is using to capture and improve school climate, such as the School Survey, Climate Walk, School Effectiveness Reviews, and the Student Survey on Teacher Practice, and describes their strengths and weaknesses. The report proposes a new visual measure aligned with the National School Climate Center’s climate dimensions and demonstrates that they are highly correlated with attendance and suspension rates.

The new proposed tool for Organizational Health is highly correlated with the School Effectiveness Review data and can be used by the district as a leading and timely indicator of effective school practices and a means to measure school effectiveness annually and with less expense.

For more detail, please read the two reports:


ROI: Making Every Dollar Count

Education Resource StrategiesLet’s say you want to improve elementary literacy scores in your district. You might use a Return on Investment (ROI) analysis to compare which professional development program will most help your literacy teachers for the money invested.

But is a new PD program even the best solution? You might see more ROI from recruiting and retaining better literacy teachers, changing compensation structures, or reorganizing the school day and teacher teams to focus resources on literacy.

As school district leaders think about next year’s strategic planning and budgeting, Education Resource Strategies introduces System-Strategy ROI: a new approach that focuses first on students’ needs and the district’s vision for success, and aligns resources to that need and vision.

School system leaders can help their teams take a System-Strategy ROI approach by structuring the planning conversation around five key steps:

  1. Identify the core need: What fundamental student performance need are we focusing on, and what’s our theory of change for addressing it?
  2. Consider a broad range of investment options: What are the investments we currently make to address this need, and what else could we do?
  3. Define ROI metrics and gather data: What are the relative returns (costs weighed against benefits) to the set of current/potential options?
  4. Weigh investment options: What other factors do we need to consider, in order to select from among the options?
  5. Make investment decisions: How can we free resources to do what we want to do?

For more information, please visit:


U.S. Chamber of Commerce Support of Common Core

Make Their Minds FlyThe U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is asking businesses to pledge their support for the Common Core State Standards in a new video.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has announced the release of its latest video in support of the Common Core State Standards, Make Their Minds Fly. This short video and corresponding infographic illustrates how higher standards will help teachers nurture a child’s natural curiosity and imagination to help them become the thinkers, doers, creators, and innovators they were born to be.

The Chamber of Commerce website also offers an interactive map that provides revealing (and disturbing) data for each state on the current achievement levels of students.

To view the video and sign the pledge, see

For the interactive map, see

For more information, please visit:


Managing the law in education

AEIMelissa Junge and Sheara Krvaric of AEI Education have written an important report highlighting the need for education leaders to understand the complexity of education laws, and as a result, the need for lawyers to help bring about effective reform.

Following are some key points from the report:

— Given the myriad rules and regulations in K-12 education, successful implementation of education reform policies requires attention to the law.

— Unfortunately, many education leaders are uninformed about how to select, inform, and properly utilize lawyers, whereas lawyers often lack sufficient context on the problems that education leaders face.

— Education and legal groups should take concrete steps to train school leaders on how to use lawyers to identify reform options, understand their risks, and strategically implement decisions.

Education leaders have often taken the flawed viewpoint that they can handle the legal aspects of education reform themselves. But according to Junge and Krvaric, other fields recognize the need to use lawyers who are informed about goals and needs in the contextual situation, and education should too.

To read the publication:


John Merrow: What do schools produce?

21st-century-learningTwo classic questions in education have been, “what do schools produce?” and “who are the workers in schools?” Education policy veteran John Merrow has some interesting answers to those questions:

The familiar answers to those old questions are:

1) “Teachers are the workers,” and 2) “Their job is to turn out capable graduates.”

Both answers are wrong for the 21st Century. In 21st Century schools, students must be the workers, and their work product must be knowledge. Teachers play a vital role, of course, but as docents/conductors/managers/coaches/guides….and learners.

In 21st Century schools, students do work that matters to them and engages them in the moment. They are not assigned tasks that ‘will help them later in life’ or that supposedly ‘will be important when they are in college.’ No hollow assurances or deferred gratification, but genuinely valuable work instead.

In the course of doing work that matters, they also acquire skills they will need to navigate life successfully, such as writing and speaking clearly and persuasively, manipulating numbers, formulating questions, and working with others.

Most of our schools haven’t gotten the memo, unfortunately. They practice ‘regurgitation education’ where students memorize the state capitals, the elements, the great rivers of the world and how Congress enacts legislation.

Choosing the work in a 21st Century school is a collaborative process led by adults. In other words, kids don’t get to do whatever they feel like doing (or not doing). The work has to be directed toward serious learning goals, and it has to be challenging.

For the full post, please visit:


Big Picture Learning report highlights value of Deeper Learning

Deeper Learning in Schools - Deeper LearningAmerican Institutes for Research (AIR) has released a comprehensive study evaluating Deeper Learning opportunities and outcomes in high school. The researchers analyzed data from 13 matched pairs of Deeper Learning Network (DLN) schools. This study is particularly noteworthy for its focus on schools attended by high percentages of students of color, English Language Learners, and students from low-income families. The results from the study are statistically significant and very encouraging.

In particular, students from DLN high schools were found to:

1) be more likely to graduate on time and attend four-year colleges and universities.

2) have higher scores on assessments that measure core content knowledge and complex problem solving skills

3) have higher levels of academic engagement and motivation to learn

The researchers conclude that DLN schools provide more equitable opportunities to learn and improved outcomes for students, regardless of background or incoming achievement level.

For more information on the report, visit

And for more information on what Deeper Learning is, please visit


Seizing Opportunity at the Top II

PublicImpact_CMYK-gray-trans_webWhat students want: great teachers every year

What teachers want: career advancement while teaching, collaboration, on-the-job development and leadership, sustainably funded pay increases, and the chance to help more students succeed

What both need: Policies to make a statewide Opportunity Culture possible

Public Impact shows states the essential policies to reach far more students with gap-closing, bar-raising excellent teaching and to provide well-paid, sustainable career advancement opportunities for educators. They call this the Opportunity Culture. Policies are divided into ones that are urgent for successful pilot schools in a state and optimal for a successful scale-up throughout a state.

Public Impact first released policy recommendations in Seizing Opportunity at the Top in 2011. To update these recommendations, they and their implementation partners have worked with districts in four states that are designing and implementing Opportunity Cultures. Public Impact has seen up close the impact state policies make, even in small pilot programs. Some policies limit the ability of districts to reach more students with excellent teachers and their teams, to increase pay in a sustainable way, and to increase   planning and collaboration time.

When states make urgently needed policy changes, then optimize their policies for a statewide scale-up of an Opportunity Culture, schools can reach the majority of students with excellent teaching, and states can spend less on administration and more on great teaching. With that, far more students can experience the consistently excellent teaching needed to close achievement gaps and leap ahead to advanced work.

The needed policies fall into five categories:

  • Identifying and Developing Teaching Excellence
  • Allowing Flexibility to Staff Schools
  • Allowing Flexibility for Instructional Delivery
  • Setting Accountability Measures and Providing Feedback for Results
  • Rewarding and Retaining Excellent Teachers

For example, many states need policy changes to ensure that:

  • Districts can spend their full allocations of state funding on higher teacher pay, and technology as needed, to support advanced roles for teachers
  • Evaluations recognize team teaching and team leadership by matching the formal accountability for students to the actual role and responsibilities of each teacher
  • Teachers may use paraprofessional support to supervise student skill practice, so that teaching teams have time to reach more students and to collaborate on instructional planning and improvement during school hours

In just the first year of pilot Opportunity Culture schools, Public Impact and its partners have worked with district and school administrators and hundreds of teachers committed to reaching all students with teaching excellence. For the sake of all their students, states should respect and encourage these teachers’ commitments by creating the policies to back them up.

For more information, please visit the following links:



Do students take too many tests in their school career?

ccssoMembers of the Council of Chief State School Officers and the Council of the Great City Schools said recently they will work to decrease the number of tests students take in elementary and secondary schools. The groups will form a task force to identify and eliminate unnecessary assessments. In a survey of its 67 member districts, the Council of the Great City Schools found that students sit for an average of 113 standardized tests between preschool and 12th grade.

“Assessments are a critical part of public education because they help measure how every student is learning and making progress toward the goals we have set. Yet we as state leaders understand there is always room for improvement. As we transition to new assessments aligned with college and career-ready standards in every state, this is a great opportunity for state leaders to take a look at all assessments and make sure they are of the highest quality and deliver meaningful results,” said Council of Chief State School Officers Executive Director Chris Minnich.

Following is the link to a full Press Release:



A Roadmap for Teacher Leadership

aspengroupThe Aspen Institute and Leading Educators are out with a roadmap outlining paths teachers can take to assume more leadership roles in classrooms and schools.  The Aspen Institute released Leading from the Front of the Classroom: A Roadmap for Teacher Leadership that Works, which provides practical guidance for designing effective teacher leadership opportunities. The paper was developed in partnership with Leading Educators, a New Orleans-based entrepreneurial organization that designs and supports effective teacher leadership initiatives in school districts and charter networks.

Accompanying the release of Leading from the Front of the Classroom are three profiles of promising work in Tennessee, Denver Public Schools, and Noble Street charter network in Chicago that show how these systems integrate teacher leadership with other top priorities (e.g., implementing Common Core, strengthening teacher evaluation, building strong culture among students and staff) to increase impact and sustainability.

As school systems across the country grapple with increasing demands – to implement college-and-career-ready standards and meaningful teacher evaluation systems as student populations grow increasingly diverse – the need to support and guide teachers’ professional learning and development has never been greater. At the same time, overall funding is largely flat for the foreseeable future. There simply is no way to meet our ambitions for students without distributing greater leadership responsibility to teachers.

Leadership among teachers is an underutilized resource that taps into the wisdom of experience, teachers’ credibility with colleagues, and their desire to contribute more in service of students. While it will require redirecting existing resources (e.g., ending sit-and-get “professional development” contracts in favor of stipends and release time for teacher leaders), teacher leadership is an efficient way of marshaling resources for improvement while making schools more like other professional workplaces that give expert practitioners more responsibility in leading manageable teams.

The Aspen Institute and Leading Educators argue that teacher leadership should not be pursued as a standalone or isolated project, or even primarily as a retention or reward strategy. Instead, teacher leadership should be designed to advance the most important district and school priorities. For instance, in Denver Public Schools, Team Lead teachers supervise and are responsible for supporting and developing other teachers on their teams – and Team Leads are accountable for improving their teams’ results; this structure assists in making the scope of principals’ responsibilities more manageable while fully implementing the state’s new requirement for more intensive and rigorous teacher evaluations.

The work in Denver also illustrates how important teacher leadership is to elevating the teaching profession. According to Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg: “In any other knowledge-based profession, it’s an absolute given that you won’t see people trying to coach or supervise more than six or eight people. Yet in schools, we ask school leaders to coach and supervise thirty, forty, fifty people.” Only through differentiated roles for the most effective teachers can public education create careers that attract, retain, and develop the best talent.

Leading from the Front of the Classroom provides grounded lessons from leading systems and a practical framework for designing and implementing teacher leadership effectively. We hope it is a useful resource to district and state leaders who want to leverage teacher leadership as a means for improving student achievement.

Teacher Leadership is gaining traction as an improvement strategy, as illustrated by the U.S. Department of Education’s recent launch of the Teach to Lead initiative. Leading from the Front of the Classroom assists state and district leaders and their partners in making the most of this opportunity.

For more information, please visit: