Education Week - January 6, 2016 - (Page 9)

Standards for Principals' Bosses Sharpen Focus on Role Districts make efforts to redefine job By Denisa R. Superville School district leaders and other K-12 educators hope that new professional standards for the administrators who oversee principals will help guide them as they start to pay more attention to a group of middle-managers who've often been overlooked. The eight standards, released in December, are the first-ever national guidelines to detail what knowledge and skills supervisors of principals should have and the things they need to do to be successful in the job. In particular, the standards emphasize the supervisors' role in helping the principals they oversee improve as instructional leaders; in serving as a liaison between schools and the central office; and the supervisor's own responsibility to grow as a leader. Principal supervisors are charged with evaluating and coaching principals and advocating on their behalf to the central office. But traditionally, the job has focused more on compliance with rules and less on the ways the administrators can support the principals they manage. Districts have not made the principal supervisor's role a priority, but that has been changing in recent years amid a growing body of research on the impact that strong principals can have on students' learning. That shift also follows a 2013 report by the Council of the Great City Schools that showed that the responsibilities of the job and the number of principals that supervisors oversee vary from district to district. Chris Minnich, the executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, which oversaw the development of the new standards, BLOGS said that they "will bring muchneeded clarity" to the position. The standards will "enable states and districts to elevate the role of supervisors so they can focus on helping principals improve instruction, learning, and ultimately, student achievement," Minnich said in a statement last month. Supporting School Leaders The standards are voluntary, but they can help officials make decisions about how best to deploy people in the position, recruit talent, and plan professional development for those in a role that is still relatively new, according to the CCSSO. The first standard addresses the supervisor's role in helping principals become better instructional leaders; the second with assisting principals with coaching and professional development; and the third with using evidence to foster a positive learning environment. The fourth standard addresses how supervisors should use the evaluation process to help principals improve. The fifth and sixth standards deal with the supervisor's role as a liaison between schools and the central office to ensure, among other things, that schools have adequate resources to be culturally responsive to their students. The seventh and eighth standards address the supervisor's responsibility to lead change. Pamela Cohn, a principal-supervisor in Omaha, Neb., said the standards align with the approach she and her colleagues use on the job. "We are doing all of these things," Cohn said of the new standards. "It's like they talked to us-but they didn't. That's not to say that we can't do better, and that we can't do some things at a higher level of implementation." Cohn is one of four executive directors hired last school year in the Omaha district to work with principals. Cohn and her fellow supervisors spend at least half their time in schools observing, coaching, and arranging professional learning for principals. Omaha's principal-supervisors also receive monthly training. The district is now revamping its principal-evaluation system and expanding professional learning communities for its principals, Cohn said. The supervisors will also spend more time working with principals in lower-performing schools and differentiate the support they provide based on the needs of individual principals and schools, said Cohn, who is in charge of 26 principals. Omaha is among a small but growing number of districts paying more attention to supervisors. In 2014, the Wallace Foundation launched a $30 million initiative to help 14 urban districts zero in on the role, including working on reducing the number of principals that supervisors oversee. The foundation also helped pay for the development of the principalsupervisor standards. (The Wallace Foundation supports coverage of leadership, arts education, and extended- and expanded-learning time in Education Week.) " We've been calling the principalsupervisor role a linchpin role because it is the connection between the schools and the central office." JODY SPIRO Director of Education Leadership Wallace Foundation Rising Visibility Last summer, supervisors from seven districts, including Albuquerque, N.M., and Cleveland, participated in a three-day training by the New York City Leadership Academy as part of a yearlong principal-supervisor training program. And the first-ever principal-supervisor summit will be held in Florida in May. Brenda Turnbull, a principal at Policy Studies Associates, a Washington-based firm that is evaluating the Wallace Foundation's Principal Pipeline Initiative, said evaluators are seeing a shift in the districts' expectations of their supervisors. Through surveys, principals are reporting that they are altering practices based on the feedback they receive from their supervisors, she said. The focus on principal evaluation as a form of support is also a big help for principals, she said. While empirical data on how focusing on supervisors affects student learning are still lacking, principals are reporting that they think their evaluations are more valuable and fairer because supervisors are more knowledgeable about the schools they are grading, said Jody Spiro, the director of education leadership at the Wallace Foundation. A Linchpin Job Spiro said the standards communicate the importance of a role that is not well understood and will help sustain the progress in districts already forging ahead. On-the-ground experiences show that districts can see "dramatic effects" when the principal-supervisor position is redesigned to focus on teaching and learning-in the way that the standards envision, she said. "We've been calling the principal-supervisor role a linchpin role because it is the connection between the schools and the central office," Spiro said. "If you get that position right-in terms of its ability to help principals with teaching and learning as opposed to monitoring and compliance with regulations, ... it's beginning to become clear that it has quite a big effect, because the schools can't do business as usual and the central office can't do business as usual." Visit the DISTRICT DOSSIER blog, which tracks news and trends on this issue. Fla. Lawmakers May Let Coding Count as Language Requirement | HIGH SCHOOL & BEYOND | The Florida legislature is mulling a policy that's stirred up controversy in other places: allowing students to earn foreign-language credit by taking computer-coding classes. The proposal still has a long way to go in the state legislature. But last month it cleared the state Senate education committee, according to the Miami Herald. Senate Bill 468 would require high schools to provide coding classes, a provision that has some lawmakers worried about the cost of ensuring that schools have enough computers, and prepared teachers, to carry out the law. It would allow students to earn credits toward their foreign-language requirement by taking coding instead of, say, Spanish or Chinese. And it would require Florida's public colleges and universities to recognize the coding courses as foreign-language classes. Jeremy Ring, the former Yahoo executive-turnedDemocratic-lawmaker who proposed the legislation, said it is an attempt to "recognize the reality of the world and give our kids a leg up" in an increasingly global world, where computer coding is yet another valuable language to know. But some, including Miami-Dade County schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, don't like the idea of coding as a substitute for Russian or French. "We cannot approach the importance of computer science and foreign language as an either-or proposition," Carvalho told the Miami Herald. "I absolutely disagree with the proposition that computer coding is an equal substitute-an equal and necessary substitute-for foreign language." Kentucky and New Mexico also were considering similar provisions, and a California lawmaker introduced federal legislation that would recognize programming language as "critical foreign languages." Additionally, one portion of a Texas law allows computer-science courses to fulfill foreignlanguage requirements. -CATHERINE GEWERTZ New York City Pre-K Tops Out At 68,000-Plus Children | EARLY YEARS | New York City's universal prekindergarten program has topped out at 68,547 4-year-olds, more than 3,000 of whom enrolled after the official start of the school year-an increase that the city attributes to a strong push to enroll children who live in underserved parts of the city. New York had about 20,000 full-day, full-year preschool seats in the 2013-14 school year. To handle the influx of thousands more, it converted many halfday seats to full day, created prekindergarten centers around the city, and worked with community-based organizations to offer more. Mayor Bill de Blasio campaigned on a promise of universal preschool and persuaded the state legislature to provide $300 million to help launch it. "Parents have voted with their feet. Pre-K for All is now part of the lives of tens of thousands of children," said de Blasio in a statement. "It will only get bigger and better." In October, enrollment stood at about 65,000. But city employees were still actively recruiting families, with multilingual outreach specialists working the phones and the computers, directing families to conveniently located centers. The city said that nearly 90 percent of the increase since the first day of school is in ZIP codes with household incomes below the city's median of about $51,000 per year. The city is stressing the point of its outreach in response to one of its persistent critics, Bruce Fuller, a professor of education and public policy at the University of California, Berkeley. Fuller has said that the new preschool seats have been spread evenly around the city, but in his view, children from less-affluent families should have been first in line. The city has said its goal has always been for a universal program, and that it has come very close to meeting it. The latest numbers haven't changed Fuller's view: "The enrollment rates [among income levels] are pretty even- like any good nonprogressive entitlement," he said in an e-mail. -CHRISTINA A. SAMUELS EDUCATION WEEK | January 6, 2016 | | 9

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - January 6, 2016

Education Week - January 6, 2016
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Wash. Ruling Could Inspire Charter Opponents Elsewhere
As New SAT Looms, Anxious Students Ramp Up Testing
Digital Directions: U.S. Ed-Tech Plan Calls Attention to ‘Digital-Use Divide’
Standards for Principals’ Bosses Sharpen Focus on Role
Blogs of the Week
Inside ESSA
High Stakes in Union-Fee Case Before Supreme Court
New K-12 Law Adds to Buzz as State Legislatures Set to Convene
Ed. Dept. Budget Sees Slight Boost In FY 2016 Deal
Blogs of the Week
Amanda VanDerHeyden, Matthew Burns, Rachel Brown, Mark R. Shinn, Stevan Kukic, Kim Gibbons, Ggeorge Batsche, & W. David Tilly: RTI Works (When It Is Implemented Correctly)
Ron Wolk: To Change Education, Change the Message
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Paul Herdman: As Feds Step Back, The First State Steps Up

Education Week - January 6, 2016