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,
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
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
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
because it is the
schools and the
Director of Education Leadership
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
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
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
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.
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
-CHRISTINA A. SAMUELS
EDUCATION WEEK | January 6, 2016 | www.edweek.org | 9
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - January 6, 2016
Education Week - January 6, 2016
News in Brief
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
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