Instructional Leadership in Action

Closing the Achievement Gap Requires Closing the Gap Between Schools and Central Offices

by Max Silverman Mar 9, 2016

In many ways the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) marks a departure from No Child Left Behind (NCLB). But at least in one way it stays the course: the notion of school turnaround is alive and well.

Under ESSA, the federal government still requires states to identify their worst-performing schools and come up with a plan to make them better. If ESSA plays out like NCLB, then schools and districts will be working mightily to stay just above the line that triggers a turnaround — an aspirational low bar for sure.

As part of these efforts, schools and districts will be reaching out for the helping hands of a variety of newly minted — or as is often the case, re-minted — programs and solutions.

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How to Create a Results-Focused Learning Environment

by Sharon Williams Jan 19, 2016

Getting everybody in the school community to focus on results for students is hard — but it’s one of the most powerful ways for principals to improve instruction.

"One of the responsibilities of school leadership teams with the strongest correlation to improve student achievement is in the area of monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of school practices and their impact on student learning," Beth Wallen, principal of Panther Lake Elementary School in Kent, Wash., summarizes the need to look at results.

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Nominate an Aspiring Leader for the Danforth Program

by UWCEL Jan 7, 2016

Many principals and superintendents can name the person who first tapped them to be a leader. Who saw the leader in you? Who mentored and coached you to be the leader you are today?

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Webinar Series: New Ways for Principals and Central Offices to Work Together for Better Instruction

by UWCEL Jan 5, 2016

Principals are in a prime position to drive better instruction at their school. But they can't do it alone. Central offices need to give them the support they need to be successful.

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Learn How to Create a Results-focused Learning Environment in March Leadership Institute

by UWCEL Dec 14, 2015

As citizens and educators, we want ALL students to perform to the highest level. Yet, in schools and school systems across the nation, instructional leaders face chronic gaps in student achievement. In the upcoming one-day institute "How to Create a Results-focused Learning Environment" (March 31, 2016 in Seattle), experts from the Center for Educational Leadership (CEL) will work with central office and school leaders to help them take the critical actions that drive results for all students.

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How This School Went From Lowest to Highest Performing in Three Years

by Stephanie Teel Nov 11, 2015

One of my favorite things to read or watch is a transformation story. You know, seeing the before and after pictures of a renovated home, weight loss, or a yard.

My school, Onalaska Middle School is a transformation story. But our before and after pictures are much different than the ones you are used to seeing.

In 2011, the Washington State Board of Education and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction identified Onalaska School District as part of a Required Action District, or RAD, because it was one of the consistently lowest performing schools in the state.

Obviously, this was not a good place to be in as a school and it was going to take a lot of work to improve.

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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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Federally Funded Study Will Refine and Validate Tool to Measure Instructional Leadership Skills

by UWCEL Jul 21, 2015

Researchers from Vanderbilt University and the University of Washington have received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences to refine and expand the use of the Center for Educational Leadership’s (CEL) 5D Assessment tool. When finished, the newly developed and validated online tool will measure school leaders' capacity to observe and analyze the quality of classroom instruction, provide feedback to teachers, and plan professional development for teaching staff.

Participants in CEL’s 5D Assessment currently watch a video of classroom teaching and then write a response to three questions about their observations and interpretations, and their thinking about professional development. This response is scored by CEL raters and reported to school districts.

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Why Should We Guarantee Novice Leader Performance?

by UWCEL Jul 1, 2015

Novice principals often struggle with transferring what they learned in their preparation program to a completely new environment. It is especially hard for principals because their role is complex and can differ from district to district. An approach that worked well in one setting may fail when applied in another environment.

In this blog post, Ann O'Doherty, director of the Danforth Educational Leadership program at the University of Washington, argues that we shouldn't leave the success of a first-year principal to chance and encourages principal preparation programs to follow Danforth's lead in offering a leadership performance guarantee. This guarantee, developed in partnership with the Center for Educational Leadership, offers side-by-side coaching and other professional development work at no cost to the district or the graduate, if the new principal or district leaders notice that he or she is not demonstrating the exit standards in certain key competency areas.

Read the post on the University Council for Educational Administration blog.

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How to Get Started With the 4D Instructional Leadership Framework

by June Rimmer Apr 22, 2015

We developed the 4 Dimensions of Instructional Leadership™ to help principals, principal supervisors and other school leaders to become more effective in the improvement of instruction. Grounded in beliefs about equity, the use of data, and public practice, the framework describes the most important aspects of instructional leadership.

A few weeks ago we released an updated version of the 4D™ that describes the most important aspects of instructional leadership with more detail and clarity. Version 2.0 incorporates feedback from educators working as instructional leaders and reflects CEL's experience working with and learning from school leaders across the nation. This new version is also informed by CEL's review of current research published by the Wallace Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and others.

If you are new to the 4D or just want to know what we changed to make the framework even more helpful, here is a short primer on some of the most important questions.

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