Most consider quality school leadership a prerequisite for successfully turning around and managing schools. But, effective school leaders are not a dime a dozen; districts have to proactively build a cadre of strong leaders and continue to support them once they show up for the job. Drawing on a decade of work with districts throughout the country, The Wallace Foundation shares strategies for developing and supporting principals in its new report, "Districts Matter: Cultivating the Principals Urban Schools Need." A number of districts are taking on the tasks of identifying, training, and supporting great principals, and they are tailoring these efforts to meet their local needs.
On March 1, a set of across-the-board cuts went into effect at all federal agencies. Known as sequestration, the automatic cuts require the Department of Education to eliminate $1.9 billion in aid to the nation’s 15,000 school districts, including money designated to help educate poor and disabled children from kindergarten through 12th grade. For example, Title I will be slashed by $725 million and special education by $600 million. Since most districts have already received their federal dollars for the current school year, the impact of these cuts likely would not be felt before fall.
The recent release of the annual MetLife Survey of the American Teacher generated a lot of attention around teacher and principal satisfaction. But one important, yet typically overlooked, finding is that principals and teachers working in low-performing or disadvantaged schools rate fewer of the teachers in those schools as excellent. The Education Trust has long been concerned that our low-income students and students of color are being shortchanged when it comes to the quality of their teachers. The survey’s results further suggest that this is a reality.
For-profit institutions of higher education have been repeatedly criticized over the past year for their aggressive, sketchy recruitment of active duty military personnel and veterans. In response, the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) set up a commission to look at its schools’ practices toward veterans. APSCU recently released the results of the commission’s work — a paper identifying best practices for serving military and veteran students interested or enrolled in these institutions. Unfortunately, the suggested best practices are not yet coupled with promises of action by APSCU’s member institutions.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Education’s Equity and Excellence Commission released recommendations on how the federal government can address inequities in educational opportunity that lead to the achievement gap. The commission’s report, “For Each and Every Child: A Strategy for Education Equity and Excellence,” declares that the “extraordinary diversity” of our students “should be our strategic advantage in the international economy,” and thus, we can no longer afford to “squander it.” Instead, we must intensify our focus on the low-income students and students of color who continue to fall through the cracks. As the Obama administration settles into its second term, it must heed this message and ensure that all students receive the high-quality education they deserve.
Too many teachers, particularly in schools where students are farthest behind, struggle to help their students grasp the material that they need to learn. A new effort, however, by the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), the accrediting body for teacher preparation programs, has the potential to help change this. If adopted, CAEP’s new draft recommendations for education program standards and performance reporting could help ensure that more teachers will enter the classroom prepared to help students learn at a high level.
In a new four-part webinar series sponsored by The Wallace Foundation, the Ed Trust continues to explore the role strong leadership plays in any school’s success. From managing the building to teaching teachers to improving student achievement, the caliber of leadership provided by the principal defines a school’s learning environment.
The College Board’s 9th Annual AP Report to the Nation, released this week, found that more high school graduates are participating and succeeding in Advanced Placement courses and exams than ever before. But the report also found that more than 300,000 students — including many Latino and African-American students — who are academically prepared and have the potential to succeed in AP are graduating from high school without having participated in the program.
President Obama presented few new ideas on educational equity in his State of the Union address. His boldest proposal was expanding preschool education for low and moderate-income families. The president’s strong support for early childhood education programs that put children on a path toward academic success is important for low-income children and children of color because they are the least likely to be enrolled in preschool programs. The president’s proposal, however, appears to be aimed solely at providing access to preschool, not at improving the quality of those programs. For low-income children, quality can be a bigger problem than access. But, few details yet exist. We hope as the White House expands the details of this program, it will address not just access but quality as well.
Over the last year, the U.S. Department of Education has granted waivers from key provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind Act to 34 states and the District of Columbia. In exchange, states must institute certain reforms, including state accountability systems. But until now, too little attention has been paid to the quality of states’ plans. In its recent report, "A Step Forward or A Step Back? State Accountability in the Waiver Era," The Education Trust compares the accountability plans in the NCLB waivers with critical elements of a good accountability system, one that ensures success for all students. The report finds that while some states are implementing strategies to raise student achievement in promising ways, too many seem to be taking a step back.