The Education Innovator #22
Volume III
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The Education Innovator
 June 13, 2005 • Number 22
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What's inside...
New Leaders for New Schools
What's New
U.S. Department of Education helps host Pathways to Hispanic Family Learning event; Secretary Spellings emphasizes the need for research data to guide reform and speaks at the U.S. National Commission of UNESCO; the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) releases new report on computer use; OII issues new guidance on supplemental educational services; the Manhattan Institute publishes new study on choice; MetLife Foundation and the Committee for Economic Development publish survey of the American teacher; and the National Center for Education Information (NCEI) issues Profile of Alternate Route Teachers.
Innovations in the News
All Maryland school systems report gains on the Maryland School Assessments; plus information about charter schools, reading, teacher quality, and technology.

New Leaders For New Schools Grows as a "Change Master" for Quality Education
Great businesses have one thing in common: great leaders. But when it comes to school leadership, the business model is not the only one. School leaders can also learn from other sectors, including philanthropy and politics. While working at the U.S. Department of Education, and later at the White House, Jonathan Schnur realized that training based on a composite profile of the ideal school leader was needed. He also recognized that nearly 40 percent of the nation's principals would qualify for retirement in the next five years. What to do?

After leaving Washington to pursue coursework at Harvard Business School and Harvard Graduate School of Education, he became determined not just to widen the pipeline of exceptional principals, but to change the caliber of leaders in urban schools, whom he felt lacked rigorous training in instructional and community leadership, management, and school reform. With the help of colleagues from Harvard, he created what was to become New Leaders for New Schools, a nontraditional training program for school leaders. Since its inception in 2000, the New York City-based organization has trained 230 school leaders, impacting the achievement of over 100,000 students.

Schnur and his nonprofit are not done yet, however. The notable aspect of New Leaders for New Schools is its double vision of nationally scaling up to achieve a critical mass of highly qualified education leaders and locally cross-pollinating leadership techniques and strategies to improve education across school types.

New Leaders' ambitious and deliberate growth plan includes building a corps of 2,000 principals who will have an impact on 50,000 teachers and one million students each year by 2014. The organization has a National Director of Growth, who carefully monitors the expansion effort in such places as Washington, DC, and Memphis, Tennessee, where between 2006 and 2007 about 40 percent of public school principals will be graduates of the New Leaders program. Twenty percent of principals in New York City's newest public and charter schools will also consist of New Leaders graduates. New Leaders believes that these numbers of highly qualified principals will advocate for change both within their schools and their districts, spurring other aspects of the participating school systems to improve.

In every city, three pillars drive the New Leaders program. The first pillar consists of attracting and selecting outstanding future principals. Recruitment for new candidates begins in early fall with a campaign focusing on an executive-style "head hunter" approach with local and national nominator networks. Every candidate must have at least two years of teaching experience. In general, a ll applicants have at least five years of professional management or leadership experience in K-12 or higher education, military service, nonprofits, or other social services to qualify for the program.

A three-part process is used to screen and select candidates based on ten criteria highlighting the qualities and values that New Leaders seeks in its principals. Some of these criteria include: persistence and determination, management skills, problem-solving skills, and an unyielding belief that all children can achieve at high academic levels.

Part of the selection process consists of an hour-and-a-half interview where candidates share their interest in becoming principals and write a 15-minute analysis of a case study. About one-half of the individuals interviewed move on to the final phase of the selection process, which includes a full-day interview. During this session, candidates complete written assignments, engage in role-playing exercises, participate in one-on-one interviews with New Leaders staff, and analyze case studies. Throughout the session, evaluators rate candidates using a comprehensive set of rubrics that are aligned with the program's selection criteria. For the 2004 program, 56 candidates were admitted out of an initial pool of 1,100 applicants.

The second pillar of New Leaders consists of training and support, which is generally uniform across program cities, and consists of three years of support, an intensive summer training institute, and a year-long, full-time residency with a mentor principal. The curriculum is closely aligned with the organization's selection criteria and the 12 New Leaders Principal Leadership Competencies, which reflect research on "best practices" from principals who have successfully revamped low-performing urban schools. Some of these competencies include focusing on student outcomes, learning from data, and building trust to facilitate change.

A six-week "Foundations Institute" is held at the Wharton School of Management at the University of Pennsylvania. Candidates attend courses taught by successful principals, national education and leadership experts, and New Leaders staff.

Following the institute, candidates are placed in school districts with mentor principals. During the residency, candidates have direct responsibility for improving academic achievement for students, as well as teacher development and coaching. All candidates attend weekly professional development in their districts and are observed bimonthly by their leadership coaches. These coaches are recruited from a pool of retired principals who have successful track records in urban schools. Coaches also evaluate candidates' progress using formal assessments.

After the residency, candidates commit to spend a minimum of three years as a principal or an assistant principal in the district in which they were initially placed. New Leaders seeks to place candidates in positions with maximum school-based decision-making authority over curriculum, budgeting, and hiring. Schools are also chosen where there is high academic need among the students. New Leaders staff members provide ongoing coaching and mentoring services for successful candidates during their first two years as principals.

Placing and mentoring principals is the third pillar of the program. About 72 percent of the graduates are placed as principals, 23 percent become assistant principals, and the rest secure leadership positions in schools, education organizations, and nonprofits. Each local city team helps to assess the strengths and interests of the New Leaders graduates to help place them in positions where their particular qualities fit best.

Now that the program is about five years old, a national network of graduates, participating schools, mentors, coaches, and community and corporate sponsors has evolved. Understanding the potential for national impact and cross-pollination of ideas, the New Leaders organization hosted the first New Leaders National Summit in May. The purpose of the summit was to build connections and national capacity for education reform and to share best practices around such topics as systemic change, student engagement, and effective teacher professional development. The summit was held in Memphis with FedEx and the Hyde Foundation as lead sponsors.

New Leaders' influence spans across different types of schools. In California's Bay Area, for example, New Leaders partners with the Oakland Unified School District as well as Aspire Public Schools (a charter management organization), and other charters. These different school systems have contracted with New Leaders to conduct leadership training, bringing a high-quality standard for school leadership to the Bay Area that benefits all children attending the area's public schools.

New Leaders has also had a significant impact in transforming entire school districts' approach to school leadership. The program has served as a model for New York City's Leadership Academy, Chicago's LAUNCH (Leadership Academy and Urban Network for Chicago) program, the University of Illinois' redesigned principal training program, and other initiatives across the country.

Early indications suggest that New Leaders may be driving gains in student achievement. During the 2003-2004 academic year, in schools where New Leader principals had been in place for at least two years, students showed a six percent increase in proficiency scores in math, and a four percent increase at or above proficiency levels in language arts. Recent data from New York City indicates that some schools with second-year principals made dramatic gains – including 20 to 25 percent – in reading and language arts. New Leaders is currently in the first year of an external, mulit-year evaluation that will examine the impact of its model.

In January, New Leaders for New Schools was selected as a winner of Fast Company / Monitor Group's Social Capitalist Award for the second consecutive year. Fast Company named New Leaders a "Change Master," rating it the highest of the 25 social enterprises that were recognized. In 2002, the organization was one of the partners in the New York City Department of Education School Leadership grant project funded by the Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII). New Leaders was also highlighted as one of the Innovative Pathways to School Leadership in the U.S. Department of Education's book series, Innovations in Education, from OII.

Resources: Note: The featured program is innovative and interesting; however, it does not yet have evidence of effectiveness from a rigorous evaluation.


What's New
From the U.S. Department of Education

The U.S. Department of Education and the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans hosted an event, Pathways to Hispanic Family Learning, at the U.S. Department of Education to engage Hispanic families and communities in helping to close the achievement gap. (June 16 and 17)

At the Indiana High School Summit, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings promoted the value of using research data to guide school reform initiatives, announcing, "Data is our best management tool." This assertion comes at a time of year when schools are releasing their Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) reports. The Secretary noted that recent statistics point toward the need for high school reform, and applauded Indiana for its rigorous curricula efforts through its State Scholars partnership. (June 14)

U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings spoke about promoting the ideals of human rights, tolerance, and learning at the first conference held in the last twenty years for the U.S. National Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The Secretary pledged support for UNESCO's Education for All initiative, which includes goals of doubling literacy, eliminating gender achievement gaps, and providing universal access to primary schools by the year 2015. (June 7)

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) recently released a report Rates of Computer and Internet Use by Children in Nursery School and Students in Kindergarten Through Twelfth Grade: 2003. The report shows that children's computer and Internet use begins early and is becoming more commonplace. (June 5)

From the Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII)

Updated guidance on supplemental educational services (SES) download files MS Word (977KB), is available online. This guidance clarifies and expands upon the last Supplemental Educational Services Guidance that the U.S. Department of Education released on August 22, 2003. It includes a number of new questions and responds to inquiries the Department has received from State and local officials on issues since issuing the 2003 guidance. (June 13)


According to a new study from the Center for Civic Innovation at the Manhattan Institute, The Effect of Residential Choice on Public High School Graduation, decreasing a school district's size within a school system, often increases the choices that parents have in the overall system that educates their children. Districts within the system are motivated to compete for students by offering higher quality services. (April 2005)

Teacher Quality

The MetLife Foundation and the Committee for Economic Development have released The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Transitions and the Role of Supportive Relationships download files PDF (1.12MB) The survey explores the attitudes and perspectives of teachers, principals, and students regarding the experience of being a new teacher in a school. Survey topics included orientation, challenges, support, and parent involvement. (2005)

Currently, 47 states and Washington, DC offer 538 different alternate route teacher certification programs. Last year, about 35,000 first-year teachers entered their classrooms through alternate teacher training programs. The National Center for Education Information (NCEI) has issued a Profile of Alternate Route Teachers, which, among other subjects, examines the appeal of alternative certification, minority attraction to alternate programs, and teacher retention. (June 13)


Innovations in the News

Closing the Achievement Gap
All 24 school systems in Maryland reported gains on the 2005 Maryland School Assessments, with many African-American and Hispanic students closing achievement gaps in key areas. In math, 64 percent of African-American third grade students scored proficient or better, up from 47 percent in 2003. In reading, 63 percent of Hispanic students scored proficient or better, up from 39 percent in 2003. Results showed much higher gains in the elementary grade levels, alerting state officials and educators to turn their attention to middle schools. [More-The Washington Post] (June 8) [free registration]

Charter Schools
A group of nonprofit organizations and financial institutions has created a $36 million fund to help construct charter schools in low-income neighborhoods in Los Angeles (CA). Two organizations in the partnership, the Low Income Investment Fund and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, received a federal grant from OII's Credit Enhancement for Charter Schools Facilities Program. The fund's financial partners will receive federal income tax credits for their investments, while the schools will be given flexible, below-market-rate loans. [More-The Los Angeles Times] (June 9) [free registration]

Although the official evaluation of the federal Reading First initiative is more than a year away, many states are reporting anecdotally that they are seeing positive results from their involvement in the program spurred by the No Child Left Behind Act. Schools and districts have reported improved morale, more effective instruction and, in some places, higher test scores. According to an Education Week analysis of state performance reports, the benefits of the initiative include professional development that incorporates research-based "best practices," instructional resources, and continuous support services. [More-Education Week] (June 9) [free registration]

Teacher Quality
A new worldwide chain of for-profit colleges is being started by Best Associates, the Dallas-based merchant bank. One is the American College of Education, which will train student teachers based on an evidence-based program using research on how children learn combined with experience working in schools and applying new research to instruction. The first programs by the American College will take root in suburban Chicago this fall with two to four groups of 20 to 25 student teachers. [More-Inside Higher Ed] (June 14)

The chalkboard dates back to the 1800s and is truly becoming a thing of the past in many schools across the country. Chalkboards are being replaced with interactive whiteboards connected to computers. Students and teachers can display information; search the Internet; watch, create, and edit video; and share assignments on the screens, where they use their fingertips or inkless pens to write and draw. Interactive whiteboards are currently in use in more than 150,000 U.S. classrooms in districts such as New York, San Diego, and Miami-Dade County. [More-Wired] (June 9)


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Last Modified: 08/13/2009