central office silos and Performance oriented leadership on the part of the

Central office silos and performance oriented

This preview shows page 4 - 6 out of 10 pages.

central office silos; and Performance-oriented leadership on the part of the superintendent and others throughout the central office. Such leadership, like that in some high- performing private firms, involves leaders continu- ously teaching staff how to change in ways that support reform goals while those leaders strive to become smarter about the work themselves. 14 - 4 -
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Importantly, our conclusions dig beneath research findings that are common in other studies to reveal the work practices and capacity of staff that we associated with building schools’ capacity for improving teaching and learning. For example, some researchers argue that central offices that realize improved results have per- formance management systems, but we have worked with many districts that have performance management systems but that have not realized improved results. 15 We found it was not enough for districts to simply have performance management systems. The systems mattered when they generated data that staff saw as rel- evant to informing their daily work and when the sys- tems helped staff use the data to actually improve. In the following three sections, I summarize some of these prac- tices within the broad categories of intensive partner- ships, a shift to services, and new leadership. Intensive Partnerships between Central Offices and Principals. Transforming districts understand that they exist to help schools build their capacity for high-quality instruction in all classrooms and that their support of school principals’ development as instructional leaders is essential to realizing those results. Such a focus reflects a growing body of research that reveals principals’ key role in helping to improve the performance of their teachers. 16 These roles for principals, sometimes called “instruc- tional leadership” or “human capital manager” roles, involve principals serving as main agents in the strategic recruitment, selection, development, and retention of teachers. With this emphasis on principal leadership, transforming systems move beyond old education debates regarding whether reform should be top-down or bottom- up and pursue a wholly different alternative—a partner- ship relationship between the central office and schools aimed at supporting principals and holding them and their central office partners accountable for results. With these partnerships, districts avoid the limita- tions of occasional part-time coaching by frontline staff or contractors. Instead, districts dedicate executive-level central office staff to supporting principals’ development as instructional leaders. Such partnerships elevate the importance of principal instructional leadership by mak- ing support for such results the responsibility of staff who report directly to the superintendent or his or her chief officers. The location of this responsibility at the executive level also effectively shrinks the size of the central office for principals, increasing the potential for better communication between themselves and the
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