Instructional Leadership in Action

The Problem With Opt-outs (And How to Move Forward)

by Stephen Fink Sep 24, 2015

This year, one in five New York state students in grades three through eight did not take the state’s standardized test. In Washington state 53 percent of 11th-graders opted out of the new Smarter Balanced Common Core exams. If this trend continues — and the coming election year will certainly fuel the fire around Common Core and testing — the future of recent school reforms will be called into question.

As much as I can understand some of the motivations behind opting out of standardized tests, I think it complicates the goal of helping all students to achieve at higher levels and close long standing academic achievement gaps.

So how did we get here and what can we do to lower the pressure around the issue and focus on improving student learning?

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Keeping One Foot in the Classroom: Developing Teacher Leaders in Pittsburgh

by Joanna Michelson Sep 16, 2015

As a teacher leader in the Pittsburgh Public Schools, Monica Wehrheim wanted the teachers she worked with to be inspired by her feedback, to mature as instructors and to improve their practice. But initially, some teachers didn’t understand Wehrheim’s newly created role and weren’t as receptive to her suggestions as she’d anticipated.

So at the start of this past school year, Wehrheim turned to her coach from the University of Washington Center for Educational Leadership (CEL) for advice on introducing herself to the handful of teachers she would mentor that year.

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It’s Time To End Principal Licensing in Favor of Real Accountability

by Stephen Fink Sep 1, 2015

It is no secret that the role of principal has changed fundamentally over the past 15 years. Gone is the idea of the principal as building manager and disciplinarian. Today’s successful principal is also a public relations professional, curriculum expert, data specialist and — most importantly — an instructional leader.

Despite all these new responsibilities and becoming a central figure in our nation’s continued effort to improve teaching and learning, one thing has not changed: how principals are deemed qualified and ready to fill this important role.

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