Education Week - January 21, 2015 - Special Report - S17
EDUCATION WEEK n
January 21, 2015
Shaping Strong School Leaders > www.edweek.org/go/principals
programs, including ones aimed at new assistant
principals, regional leaders in the network,
and people selected to succeed a principal
at an established school.
But even as kipp offered more training to
principals at all stages of their careers, one
vexing issue remained: Retention rates for
network principals who had founded schools
were stuck at around 50 percent. That kicked
off a kind of soul-searching initiative within
kipp surveyed its principals-current and
past-to see what they felt they needed in
the job and brought in David Maxfield of VitalSmarts,
a corporate training- and leadership-development
company, as a consultant.
Through its research, kipp identified four vital
behaviors it believes successful school leaders
possess: They distribute leadership responsibilities
to others; they're savvy goal-setters;
they lean on support systems both inside and
outside the school; and they make time to rest
FAR LEFT: Elizabeth Valerio, a KIPP
assistant principal, talks to 6th grader
Shihaab Metz at KIPP Rise Academy in
Newark, N.J. She is training to become
the principal of one of the network's
schools in St. Louis next fall.
Ms. Valerio listens to KIPP Rise
Academy Principal David Branson.
As part of her training, she has been
spending time in KIPP schools around
the country to observe and learn from
Teaching, supporting, and encouraging
those behaviors has become a staple of kipp's
training programs. That final trait, officially
called "behavior four, renew to get stronger,"
represents somewhat of a sea change for a
mostly nonunionized organization and sector
that has been heavily criticized for driving
teachers and principals toward burnout.
Seeing how Mr. Branson attempts to balance
the extended school days kipp is known
for with the personal needs of his staff
members was something Ms. Valerio was
After codifying the four vital behaviors
and imbuing the training system with
them, kipp's retention rates started to climb.
Seventy-eight percent of school founders
remained in their positions in 2009, and
that number grew to 82 percent by 2011,
according to numbers provided by the kipp
kipp's training initiatives are not limited
to leaders within the network. It also offers
professional development for other charter
and regular district school leaders.
With the help of a $50 million Investing in
Innovation, or i3, grant from the federal government,
kipp developed an eight-monthlong
leadership training program aimed at training
district administrators on kipp's principal
leadership development practices.
"Two of our principals have participated in
the kipp institute," said Kelvin Adams, the
superintendent in the St. Louis school district.
"And when we have trainings that kipp
wants to participate in, they can."
The training exchange is part of a unique
partnership between kipp and the St. Louis
district that was hammered out last summer.
As part of the deal, the district is providing
some kipp schools, including Ms. Valerio's,
with unused school buildings in exchange for
incorporating kipp students' state test scores
in the district's achievement data.
That means once Ms. Valerio completes
her fellowship and opens her school, there
should be a buffet of ongoing professionaldevelopment
opportunities available to
her through both kipp and the district. That
opportunity for ongoing support, she said,
was the reason she first joined kipp as a
"I really wanted to grow as a teacher and
I wasn't receiving coaching at my current
school," Ms. Valerio said. The principal at
a nearby kipp school promised her that if
she joined his team, she'd get coaching every
week. "Once I heard that I was like, 'When
can I join?' " n
DISTRICTS TURN TO
TEACHERS TO LEAD
BY DENISA R. SUPERVILLE
Marilyn Boerke, the principal of Liberty Middle School in Camas,
Wash., a district of 6,400 students along the Columbia River, applauds
the district's philosophy that encourages teachers to serve in school
leadership roles and actively creates opportunities for them to do so.
Teachers are being recruited by the district-and many are stepping
up-to run professional-development sessions, coach their peers, and
help adapt curriculum to the common-core standards.
"We were dying on the vine as building administrators trying to
manage everything that we needed to manage," said Ms. Boerke, who
has been a principal for nine years.
As principals' responsibilities continue to grow, Camas and other
like-minded districts are tapping their teacher corps to create
meaningful leadership roles that are meant to address a number of
pressing issues in public schools: reduce stress on building administrators,
improve teaching and learning, and help retain new and
The teacher-leadership concept is not entirely new: In a sense,
teachers have been leading for as long as they have been teaching.
But the movement was infused with new vigor last year with the
announcement of the Teach-to-Lead Initiative, a partnership between
the U.S. Department of Education and the National Board for
Professional Teaching Standards. The nation's two largest teachers'
unions and the associations representing principals and administrators
have also signed on to the program, which is aimed at
training and guiding teachers to take on leadership roles in both
policy and practice.
Even before that most recent boost, many districts and states-including
Camas in Washington state and the state of Tennessee-have
been tapping the expertise of their most effective teachers to help roll
out major policy initiatives such as the common standards and new
Clearly Defined Roles
The arguments for expanding teacher-leadership opportunities are
many, but boil down to this: Principals simply cannot be expected to do
the job alone. Advocates say that developing a competent back bench
of teacher-leaders may help stem high principal-turnover rates-studies
show that 50 percent of principals leave their schools after three
years-and increase retention for both new and veteran teachers.
"Effective principals understand that they need to tap into the
talents of their most effective teachers to make sure that they have
the largest impact on student achievement," said Lindsay Sobel, the
executive director of Teach Plus Massachusetts, a chapter of the national
organization that trains teacher-leaders to work in challenging
urban schools, including in Chicago, Indianapolis, Los Angeles,
and Memphis, Tenn. The group's signature t3 initiative prepares
teacher-leaders to work in turnaround schools. "When that's done
in a very thoughtful and structured way, that's when you see the
to tap teacher
real change. It's not just a matter of principals delegating, but [a
matter] of a real, thoughtful implementation of teacher leadership."
Groups that are focused on preparing teacher-leaders say the roles
must be clearly defined and fit the school's and district's needs. Leaders
should go through a rigorous selection process and should be those
who have displayed stellar leadership skills and are superior teachers.
They should have access to professional development and training
in areas that include leading and working with adult leaders, curriculum,
and communication. They should receive a stipend or other
compensation as recognition of the role's importance to the school.
The intentional development of teacher-leadership roles is still
nascent in the United States when compared with England. There,
teachers know from the first day on the job the leadership roles they
can assume and the training-education, professional development,
and practical experiences-that they need to get there, according
to Jonathan A. Supovitz, the director of the Consortium for Policy
Research in Education at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate
School of Education, in his recent paper, "Building a Lattice for School
Leadership," which compares leadership development in the United
States and England.
Some districts have been actively working to fix the deficiency that
Mr. Supovitz identified. Boston and the District of Columbia, for example,
have built career ladders into their teachers' union contracts
and provide additional compensation for each step.
'Transparent and Inclusive'
Through Leadership Initiative For Teachers, or lift, teachers in
the District of Columbia's system can move to "advanced," "distinguished,"
and "expert" teachers, earning more money along the way
and qualifying to serve in greater leadership capacities. An advanced
teacher can serve as an ambassador who helps with teacher recruitment
and selection, for example, while a distinguished teacher can
apply for a number of prestigious fellowships, including one that allows
select educators to work on K-12 policy issues and another for
high-performing secondary mathematics teachers.
In 2013, the district also created Teacher-Leadership Innovation,
or tli, a hybrid teacher-leadership position that allows teachers to
spend up to half their time in the classroom and half serving in a
leadership role. Some coach and mentor other teachers, lead new
approaches to teaching writing, or develop positive behavior incentive
The tli fellows receive a $2,500 annual stipend, which is paid for in
part through the federal Teacher Incentive Fund grant, a competitivegrant
program to promote teaching initiatives in poor communities.
Scott Thompson, the deputy chief of human capital for teacher effectiveness
the District of Columbia system, said the program has
had a positive impact on principals and on improving school culture.
PAGE S16 >
Education Week - January 21, 2015 - Special Report
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - January 21, 2015 - Special Report
Education Week - January 21, 2015 - Special Report - S1
Education Week - January 21, 2015 - Special Report - S2
Education Week - January 21, 2015 - Special Report - S3
Education Week - January 21, 2015 - Special Report - S4
Education Week - January 21, 2015 - Special Report - S5
Education Week - January 21, 2015 - Special Report - S6
Education Week - January 21, 2015 - Special Report - S7
Education Week - January 21, 2015 - Special Report - S8
Education Week - January 21, 2015 - Special Report - S9
Education Week - January 21, 2015 - Special Report - S10
Education Week - January 21, 2015 - Special Report - S11
Education Week - January 21, 2015 - Special Report - S12
Education Week - January 21, 2015 - Special Report - S13
Education Week - January 21, 2015 - Special Report - S14
Education Week - January 21, 2015 - Special Report - S15
Education Week - January 21, 2015 - Special Report - S16
Education Week - January 21, 2015 - Special Report - S17
Education Week - January 21, 2015 - Special Report - S18
Education Week - January 21, 2015 - Special Report - S19
Education Week - January 21, 2015 - Special Report - S20