The Education Innovator #42
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The Education Innovator
 December 15, 2003 • Number 42
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  Past issues
What's inside...
Boston School Leadership Institute
What's New
Buffalo Board of Education votes to create charter school offerings; the National Association of Charter School Authorizers releases Critical Design Issues for Charter School Authorizers; Former CEO of Citicorp joins National Writing Project Board of Directors; Parent Leadership Associates releases "Eight Tips on Reading a School Report Card;" and WestEd explores how community colleges could be a source of new teachers
Innovations in the News
Some high schools teach literature and history together; plus information on parental involvement, charter schools, virtual schools, and magnet schools.

Boston School Leadership Institute Exposes Promising Principals to Real Life Challenges of "Boston Public"
How do you become a leader? Whether as a military officer, or a television producer, or another prominent professional, being a successful leader comes from observing the business skills and management achievements of those who have gone before you, understanding theory, and then living the experience to apply your own creativity. The Boston School Leadership Institute, established in 2002, trains and supports new principals by pulling together these steps in leadership development. The Institute's programs are part of the Boston school district's comprehensive reform effort.

The Boston School Leadership Institute is based on Boston's Whole School Improvement Plan, and consists of three programs: Exploring the Principalship, the New Principal Support System, and Boston Principal Fellows. Exploring the Principalship focuses on those who have leadership potential but have not considered becoming a principal. It includes learning about the work of the principal from successful ones, examining case studies of Boston schools and their leaders, and visiting high-performing schools to see principals in action. The New Principal Support System is designed for new principals with less than 2 years of experience on the job and includes mentoring by exemplary principals, monthly seminars, school-based consultation, and coaching.

The Boston Principal Fellows (BPF) program prepares Boston's next generation of school leaders. BPF is a one-year urban principal preparation program. The program offers intensive training in effective teaching and school leadership through hands-on experience and course work. Focusing intensely on the importance of principals' deeply understanding instruction and organizing the entire school enterprise on improving student learning, BPF develops the leadership and management skills this work requires.

The BPF program includes:
  • A full-year, four-day-per-week residency with one of Boston's strongest principals;
  • Seventy days of seminars and course work that explore Boston's Six Essentials of Whole School Improvement and the implications for school leadership, management, and operations;
  • Teaching by master principals, higher education faculty, and school and community leaders;
  • Residency in a school setting to complete authentic tasks that meet real school needs;
  • A full-time salary in return for a three-year commitment to Boston Public Schools;
  • Massachusetts Initial Principal License upon successful program completion;
  • Master's degree or certificate of advanced graduate studies at minimal personal expense;
  • Consideration for assistant principalships and principalships in Boston.
The coursework is based on Boston's Six Essentials of Whole School Improvement: 1) focus on literacy and math; 2) use student work for assessment; 3) focus professional development on improving instruction; 4) identify and replicate best practices; 5) align resources with instruction; and 6) engage families and community in Whole School Improvement. Master principals who work with the Fellows are selected based on their demonstrated leadership skills, their schools' success in implementing the Six Essentials of Whole School Improvement and raising student achievement levels, and their skills in and commitment to mentoring.

Although the Institute is part of the Boston Public School System, the University of Massachusetts has agreed to accept the coursework of these programs toward a master's degree in Education Leadership.

The Boston School Leadership Institute is funded through a school leadership grant from the Office of Innovation and Improvement. This grant, along with funding from the Broad Foundation, will result in 35-40 Principal Fellows by 2006.


What's New
Portfolio of Public Charter School Offerings
The Buffalo (NY) Board of Education voted unanimously to "aggressively implement a portfolio of public charter school offerings" as a means of providing "alternative delivery of public education" and promoting systemic reform. This resolution was based on the Education Innovation Consortium's feasibility study that was commissioned by the Board last March. (Dec. 4)

National Association of Charter School Authorizers Report
The National Association of Charter School Authorizers has released the report, Critical Design Issues for Charter School Authorizers. Through a series of planning questions, this report identifies a core set of activities and practical choice options associated with a comprehensive charter school-authorizing program. The report contains issues with illustrations and case studies. (Fall 2003)

New Board Member for National Writing Project
John S. Reed, former chief executive of Citicorp and interim chair of the New York Stock Exchange, has joined the board of directors of the National Writing Project "to help students develop the skills they need to succeed in the workplace." (Dec. 5)

Tips on Reading a School Report Card
Parent Leadership Associates has developed a new guide, "Eight Tips on Reading a School Report Card." This guide is part of a series to help parents understand what information is available to them because of No Child Left Behind. (Dec. 2003)

Improving Principal Evaluation
"Improving Principal Evaluation" is a new ERIC Digest that includes the key elements of effective evaluation and tells what assessment instruments are currently available. (Oct. 2003)

Community College and Teacher Education
A recent WestEd Policy Brief (PDF, 178K) explores how community colleges could help meet local needs for a diverse range of teacher candidates. (Oct. 2003)


Innovations in the News

Teaching American History
Some high schools integrate English with history, because "average or even below-average students seem to understand history and literature better when the subjects are taught as a colorful mosaic," according to Dawn Abt-Perkins, Education Department Chair, Lake Forest College, and a scholar associated with the OII Teaching American History Grant in Waukegan, IL. [More-The Washington Post] (Dec. 6)

Parental Involvement
With a few keystrokes on the computer, parents in Hall County (GA) are able to retrieve facts about the local school system, the county, and the gap that exists between the graduation rates of white and Hispanic students. [More-WXIA-TV Atlanta] (Dec. 1)

Charter Schools
Students attending Indianapolis' charter schools performed better on the fall ISTEP-Plus exam than they did last year, but they still struggle to match their peers in traditional public schools, according to results released Tuesday by Mayor Bart Peterson's office. (Dec. 10)

Virtual Schools
Many home-schooled students may soon find themselves enrolled in public school again, if the proposed Oregon Web Academy becomes reality. Oregon Web Academy would be free, because it would be a public charter school operated by the North Clackamas School District. [More-The Oregonian] (Dec.4)

As a pilot program, Montville High School in (CT) will offer three students a new approach to education next semester by introducing the "Virtual High School," with online courses that are not offered at Montville High. [More-The Norwich Bulletin] (Dec. 5)

The Pittsford (NY) school district is getting into online learning. Beginning next fall, students will probably have their first opportunity to use that additional educational tool. [More-The Democrat and Chronicle] (Nov. 28)

Magnet Schools
Many new magnet schools could be on the way in San Mateo County (CA) as schools specializing in topics like math, science, technology, and the arts find increasing favor with the parent community. [More-The San Mateo Daily Journal] (Dec. 5)

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Last Modified: 04/26/2011