AASA New Superintendents E-Journal

April 2012

                                                     wallaceFoundation_logoThe Wallace Foundation is an independent, national foundation dedicated to supporting and sharing effective ideas and practices that expand learning and enrichment opportunities for all people. Its three current objectives are: strengthening education leadership to improve student achievement, enhancing out-of-school learning opportunities, and expanding participation in arts and culture. For research and other resources on education leadership, visit the Knowledge Center



The Autonomy Gap: Implications for Raising Student Achievement
While the need for strong school leaders in American primary and secondary education is widely recognized, little effort has been made to determine whether today’s principals actually possess the authority to exercise strong leadership. Simply stated, it is not clear that school leaders have the flexibility they need to get the results demanded by state and federal accountability systems. Are their hands tied by government regulations, contract provisions, and district mandates? What do principals regard as the greatest impediments to effective leadership? How does this impact the way the school principal is viewed?

These questions became the impetus for a research study conducted by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) and the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation. The study interviewed and surveyed 33 district and charter school principals from five districts in three states. This effort focused on answering whether these principals, in an era of standards and accountability, had the autonomy they needed to impact student achievement. A pilot of the study was conducted in New Brunswick (New Jersey) Public Schools with the assistance of a group of former New York City Principals. The following is a discussion of our findings and their implications for school leaders.

Time-Saving Tips for New Superintendents: Weekly Board Communication
For the first three years as Superintendent at Harrison School District 36, my last task each Friday was the compilation of the dreaded Superintendent Report to the Board, a weekly message that updated the Board on activities, events, and happenings across the district.

Initially, I wrote this Superintendent Report to the Board from scratch on Friday at the end of the workday. It served as an effective reflection piece from the previous week and was written in a conversational tone not unlike this article.

With questions contact Bob McCord, editor.