Chock Full of Data: How School Districts are Building Leader Tracking Systems to Support Pipelines

Education and Literacy

Chock Full of Data: How School Districts are Building Leader Tracking Systems to Support Pipelines

At one time, finding an assistant principal for a public school in Denver entailed a search through “a gajillion résumés,” in the words of one local school district administrator. Even then, some ideal candidates likely fell through the cracks. Those days are over, owing to the development by Denver Public Schools of a “leader tracking system,” a database of information about the training, qualifications and performance of principals and aspiring principals.
This Story From the Field examines how Denver and five other school districts have constructed and are using these systems as they seek to better train, hire and support school principals. All six districts are taking part in the Principal Pipeline Initiative, a Wallace Foundation-funded effort to help the school systems develop a large corps of strong school principals and generate lessons for the field.
In addition to aiding district officials in identifying strong principal and assistant principal candidates and matching them to the right schools, the leader tracking systems are helping in efforts to forecast job vacancies, pinpoint principal training topics and spot potential principal mentors. The districts are also beginning to use the systems to share aggregate information about the performance of principals with the preparation programs from which the principals graduated.
The publication makes clear that developing a leader tracking system takes time and effort. It describes, for example, how determining what information to collect, and then finding it, proved to be a key but time-consuming task, not least because essential data could be housed in different niches of the school bureaucracies.

July 2016

Geographic Focus: North America / United States (Southern) / Florida / Hillsborough County / Tampa;North America / United States (Southern) / North Carolina / Mecklenburg County / Charlotte;North America / United States (Northeastern) / New York / New York County / New York City;North America / United States (Western) / Colorado / Denver County / Denver;North America / United States (Southern) / Georgia / Gwinnett County;North America / United States (Southern) / Maryland / Prince George\'s County

Schools as Organizations: Examining School Climate, Teacher Turnover, and Student Achievement in NYC

Children and Youth;Education and Literacy;Employment and Labor

Schools as Organizations: Examining School Climate, Teacher Turnover, and Student Achievement in NYC

During the last decade, education research and policy have generated considerable momentum behind efforts to remake teacher evaluation systems and place an effective teacher in every classroom. But schools are not simply collections of individual teachers; they are also organizations, with structures, practices, and norms that may impede or support good teaching. Could strengthening schools -- as organizations -- lead to better outcomes for teachers and students?

This study begins to address that question by examining how changes in school climate were related to changes in teacher turnover and student achievement in 278 NYC middle schools between 2008 and 2012. Drawing on teacher responses to NYC's annual School Survey, as well as student test scores, human resources data, and school administrative records, we identified four distinct and potentially malleable dimensions of middle schools' organizational environments:

  1. Leadership and professional development;
  2. High academic expectations for students;
  3. Teacher relationships and collaboration; and
  4. School safety and order.

We then examined how changes in these four dimensions over time were linked to corresponding changes in teacher turnover and student achievement. We found robust relationships between increases in all four dimensions of school climate and decreases in teacher turnover, suggesting that improving the environment in which teachers work could play an important role in reducing turnover. (The annual turnover in NYC middle schools is about 15 percent.)

We also discovered that improvements in two dimensions of school climate -- safety and academic expectations -- predicted small, but meaningful gains in students' performance on standardized math tests.

Taken together with other emerging evidence, these findings suggest that closing achievement gaps and turning around struggling schools will demand a focus on not only individual teacher effectiveness, but also the organizational effectiveness of schools. The policy brief outlines several potential areas of focus for districts that want to help schools in building healthy well-functioning organizations.

March 2016

Geographic Focus: North America-United States (New York Metropolitan Area)

Connecting Teachers and Ed-Tech Developers: Lessons from NYC's Gap App Program

Computers and Technology;Education and Literacy

Connecting Teachers and Ed-Tech Developers: Lessons from NYC's Gap App Program

In 2011, with support from a federal Investing in Innovation grant, the NYC Department of Education launched Innovate NYC Schools. The initiative was designed to address two related challenges to effectively integrating education technology (ed-tech) into classrooms: First, procurement of ed-tech tools is often hampered by a disconnect between teaching and learning demands on one hand, and developers' supply of tools and services on the other. Educators are not always informed about the tools and interventions that are available, while developers may not fully understand students' and teachers' needs. Second, because the DOE's traditional procurement process via formal Requests for Proposals is lengthy, it may be prevent some developers from bidding, and technology that was brand new when an RFP was released may be outdated by the time it reaches schools.

This report focuses on Innovate NYC's Gap App challenge and pilot program, which invited developers to submit an app aimed at solving a specific learning challenge. A number of the apps were then piloted in NYC public schools. During the pilot period, the apps were used in classrooms, and teachers had opportunities to provide feedback directly to developers, in an effort to help make the apps more useful.

The report describes the design of the Gap App challenge and the implementation of the pilot program in schools. It then considers whether using a Gap App influenced the way participating teachers and students approached technology in the classroom and provides a set of lessons that may inform future Innovate NYC Schools projects or similar initiatives in other districts.

January 2016

Geographic Focus: North America-United States (Northeastern)-New York-New York County-New York City

Don't Quit On Me: What Young People Who Left School Say About The Power Of Relationships

Children and Youth;Education and Literacy

Don't Quit On Me: What Young People Who Left School Say About The Power Of Relationships

This report examines, from the perspective of young people themselves, the roles that relationships with adults and peers play in decisions about staying in, leaving and returning to high school. Building on previous studies, including last year's "Don't Call Them Dropouts," this report offers new insights about how support from adults and peers can help to close the remaining gaps between those who graduate from high school on time and those who don't.

September 2015

Geographic Focus: North America-United States

Supporting Development in Ghana: The Role of Foundations

Community and Economic Development;Education and Literacy;Energy and Environment

Supporting Development in Ghana: The Role of Foundations

Foundation funding focused on Ghana over the past decade has encompassed all aspects of the global development agenda and beyond. Among foundations whose grants are tracked by Foundation Center, their giving focused on Ghana totaled $499 million between 2002 and 2012. While few foundations intentionally aligned their grantmaking priorities with the MDGs, over half of grants (54 percent) made by the 151 foundations included in this analysis and most of their grant dollars (79 percent or $394 million) supported activities consistent with at least one of the eight MDGs.

September 2015

Geographic Focus: Africa (Western)-Ghana

Major Malfunction: Racial and Ethnic Disparities in What Students Study

Education and Literacy;Employment and Labor;Race and Ethnicity

Major Malfunction: Racial and Ethnic Disparities in What Students Study

This analysis explores bachelor's degrees earned by race and ethnicity, broken down by area of study. The report identifies the majors and programs that produce the highest and lowest median incomes (both at the start of one's career and in the middle of one's career) and probes for uneven distributions of African American and Latino students. The report finds that these students disproportionately earn more degrees in low-paying majors, and fewer degrees in the highest paying majors.

September 2015

Geographic Focus: North America-United States

Mirage: Confronting the Hard Truth About Our Quest for Teacher Development, The

Education and Literacy

Mirage: Confronting the Hard Truth About Our Quest for Teacher Development, The

Two years ago, we embarked on an ambitious effort to identify what works in fostering widespread teacher improvement. Our research spanned three large public school districts and one midsize charter school network. We surveyed more than 10,000 teachers and 500 school leaders and interviewed more than 100 staff members involved in teacher development.

Rather than test specific strategies to see if they produced results, we used multiple measures of performance to identify teachers who improved substantially, then looked for any experiences or attributes they had in common -- from the kind and amount of development activities in which they participated to the qualities of their schools and their mindset about growth -- that might distinguish them from teachers who did not improve. We used a broad definition of "professional development" to include efforts carried out by districts, schools and teachers themselves.

In the three districts we studied, which we believe are representative of large public school systems nationwide, we expected to find concentrations of schools where teachers were improving at every stage of their careers, or evidence that particular supports were especially helpful in boosting teachers' growth. After an exhaustive search, we were disappointed not to find what we hoped we would. Instead, what we found challenged our assumptions.

July 2015

Geographic Focus: North America-United States

Staying Relevant In A Changing Neighborhood: How Fleisher Art Memorial Is Adapting To Shifting Community Demographics

Arts and Culture;Education and Literacy

Staying Relevant In A Changing Neighborhood: How Fleisher Art Memorial Is Adapting To Shifting Community Demographics

This case study describes Fleisher Art Memorial's initiative to bring residents of the surrounding ethnically diverse neighborhood to its on-site programs. The report is part of a larger set of 10 case studies commissioned by The Wallace Foundation to explore arts organizations' efforts to reach new audiences and deepen relationships with their existing audiences. These in-depth reports lay out how the efforts were created and run, describe the results in detail, identify what helped them become successful, and show what got in the way of success. They add to a growing body of field-based research, providing specific examples of individual organizations' responses to unique circumstances. At the same time, each aspires to capture more broadly applicable lessons about what works and what does not -- and why -- in building arts audiences.

August 2015

Geographic Focus: North America-United States (Northeastern)-Pennsylvania-Philadelphia County-Philadelphia

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