Leadership in Complex Environments
The goal of this descriptive research project was to help education leaders in the Northeast at state, intermediary, district, and school levels to work together to implement evidence-based strategies that build district and school capacity, sustain high standards, and improve student achievement in low performing schools.
In conjunction with RMC Research Inc. and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), the Alliance conducted two years of work with low performing districts and schools which provided the base of information and relationships for launching several interrelated descriptive research studies, guided by this major question:
What practices, policies, supports, and structures do SEAs and districts create and implement to improve student achievement in low performing districts and schools, especially those that have a high concentration of English language learners?
The team’s consultation work in the first three years led to interim findings about strategies used for reform at the SEA, intermediary, district, and school levels. Foundational findings included:
- high-payoff practices associated with practices of the low-performing schools in Connecticut that made achievement gains compared with those that did not make gains;
- the roles and functions played by districts which contributed to progress in the Connecticut schools;
- syntheses of the expectations of districts under NCLB (along with indicators of district progress) from the perspectives of multi-role/multi-level leadership groups in Vermont and Rhode Island;
- basic principles for design of statewide support of districts in Vermont;
- conclusions of a study of the MA SEA’s partnership role with a low-performing district;
- observations and policy considerations based on a study of New York’s Regional School Support Centers’ formation of working relationships with low-performing schools, ability to engage districts, and concern about alignment of SEA and intermediaries' approach to schools;
- Richard Elmore’s experiences in leading a superintendents study group about instructional quality; and
- perspectives from principals about their changing roles as well as the types of supports that are helpful to them.
Publications related to this project: