Thursday, June 12, 2014
District conditions to support school leadership
School leaders are critical in the lives of students and to the development of their teachers. Unfortunately, in too many instances, principals are effective in spite of – rather than because of – district conditions. To truly improve student achievement for all students across the country, well-prepared principals need the tools, support, and culture that enable them to be the best.
Great Principals at Scale: Creating District Conditions That Enable All Principals to Be Effective results from the Conditions for Effective Leadership Project, which included more than 20 education and leadership experts brought together by the Bush Institute and New Leaders.
The Great Principals at Scale report and Toolkit offer a framework of conditions that can help districts enable great school leadership. One finding from the report is that effective districts’ central office staffs and school-level leaders see one another as partners in meeting students’ needs. There is balanced autonomy in which school leaders are expected to support district-wide priorities, goals, and initiatives—but they also have discretion, within guidelines and subject to approval, to implement them in ways that fit the context and needs of their schools. Effective districts also provide principals with more authority to make staffing decisions, and they make the principal role more doable by encouraging and enabling distribution of leadership to other staff in the school building and by ensuring that district-wide systems are run effectively so that principals can focus on the most critical leadership tasks.
The Great Principals at Scale Toolkit which accompanies the Great Principals work was developed to help school system leaders assess their current leadership conditions and offers ways to improve those conditions to drive student achievement gains.