Leading News Vol. 4 - The Latest in School Leadership

June 13, 2018 • Volume #4: On Leadership

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Leading News highlights recent news about school leadership. To submit works for consideration in future editions of Leading News, please email info@nisl.org.

New Federal Education Budget: How States Compare
Education Week is out with a state-by-state look at funding allocations to the states from the new federal education budget. The new spending package includes funding increases for educator development, after-school programs, and special education among other increases. Under the new budget, overall spending at the Department of Education will grow to $70. 9 billion and funding for Title I will rise to $15.8 billion. Significantly, Title II spending remains unchanged despite earlier threats to eliminate it entirely. As we observed earlier in On Leadership, this is in line with historical trends. Other administration efforts including big changes to the organization of the Department and a voucher initiative were rebuffed by Congress.

Quality Counts 2018: Report and Rankings
Education Week released their 22nd edition of Quality Counts with a comparison of the top-performing states, as well as a close look at what lower-performing states are doing to improve. The report finds that high-performing states invest heavily in their schools, have strong early childhood education foundations, and support widespread post-secondary participation. This leads to strong economies and high test scores. To better understand how states might improve performanceEducation Week interviewed experts on their recommendations for state and school leaders. These recommendations included increasing transparency with the public about schools’ academic states, providing parents of poor and disenfranchised students tools to push for change, better organizing of school-governance structures so the public knows who is in charge, and better funding for and organizing of state education agencies so that they are fully equipped to implement school improvement initiatives.

The Schoolhouse Network
The most recent volume of Education Next looks at how leaders in traditional school buildings can think differently about how teachers are assigned to classrooms in order to encourage more collaboration. Results from a research study in a suburban school district show that school leaders and teachers in close proximity to each other are more likely to interact and collaborate on instruction. The researchers compare many school designs in the United States to that of an egg crate, with classroom teachers working in silos, and recommend that school leaders pay particular attention to where they assign school staff physically within their schools since it will have a significant impact on who they collaborate with. Instead of organizing classrooms by grade level, the researchers recommend placing high-performing or more experienced teachers near lower-performing or less experienced teachers to improve teachers’ ability to learn from each other. For more on how U.S. school design contrasts with that of top performer Shanghai, see this recent feature from NISL’s sister organization, the Center on International Education Benchmarking.

Principal Pipelines: What Are They and What Do They Cost?
The RAND Corporation released a report evaluating the costs of poor leadership, in financial terms and also in terms of its impact on teacher turnover, poor school climate and declining student achievement. The ongoing study by RAND examines whether school leadership could be improved through systemic changes in how principals are prepared, hired, supported and managed. The initiative determined the four key components of a principal pipeline are consistent leadership standards that guide all principal pipeline activities; preservice preparation to aspiring assistant principals; selective hiring and placement; and on-the-job induction, evaluation and support for developing the capacity, culture and infrastructure necessary to maintain the pipeline.