How K-12 leaders can cope with a ‘stunning’ power shift

Author and lecturer Nicco Mele reveals how technology has changed the power dynamics of school district leadership—and how K-12 leaders should adapt as a result

The traditional power structure is changing in ways that challenge school leaders’ authority.

Technology is transferring power from institutions to individuals—and this shift has huge implications for K-12 leaders, says Nicco Mele, a faculty member at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Mele, author of the book The End of Big: How the Internet Makes David the New Goliath, spoke to senior school district leaders during the American Association of School Administrators’ National Conference on Education in Nashville, Tenn., Feb. 13.

“We’re living in this time of incredible opportunity, but it’s also kind of scary, because it opens up new issues—and our institutions aren’t equipped to keep up with these changes,” he said.…Read More

Experts: Here’s how to turn data into achievement

During AASA’s National Conference on Education, superintendents look for guidance on overcoming fears of school data use

“We need to change the conversation from data as a hammer to data as a flashlight,” Guidera said.

School systems are collecting a “tremendous amount” of data about their students, said Dan Domenech, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), but how can they use this information to improve instruction?

That was the focus of a thought-provoking session at AASA’s National Conference on Education in Nashville Feb. 13. During the session, panelists agreed that the answer to this question relies on changing the entire culture around school data use.

“Data has gotten a bad rap in schools,” acknowledged Aimee Guidera, executive director of the Data Quality Campaign, a national nonprofit advocacy group that works to improve student achievement through effective data use.…Read More

Going solar atop school buildings

In 2012, The tiny Centerburg School District in central Ohio installed 5,600 solar panels on the rooftops and grounds of its elementary and high schools that are anticipated to provide 80 percent of the electricity the two buildings will use over the 2013-14 school year, AASA’s School Administrator reports. The 1.5-megawatt solar system will save the 1,140-student school district approximately $50,000 in electricity costs in just the first year of the project. Centerburg is not alone in turning to solar energy generation. More and more K-12 schools are turning to renewable energy sources, such as solar panels, to power up their facilities. Solar is an attractive option for schools for several reasons…

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Three key takeaways from this year’s National Conference on Education

We were exposed to three great presenters who challenged us to consider the value of great leadership in our schools, valid and reliable assessments of our students and teachers, and the creative and entrepreneurial elements of our public education system.

Learning Leadership column, April 2013 edition of eSchool NewsThis year’s National Conference on Education, from the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), was held in Los Angeles in February. More than 2,500 superintendents and other K-12 administrators attended the event. The general sessions featured three notable presenters who focused on the transformational theme that prevailed throughout the conference.

Leadership in our schools is recognized as essential to high-quality education. Best-selling author Jim Collins has focused on the world of business in “Good to Great” and “Great by Choice”—but prior to his session at the conference, we spent an hour on the phone going over the issues affecting education today. His remarks zeroed in on leadership at the school level, particularly the role of the K-12 principal. His thinking is that the theories he advances in his books apply to school leaders as much as they do to the titans of industry [see story here].

Superintendents will agree with Collins that the right principal can make all the difference in turning around a troubled school or maintaining a high level of performance in an already successful program. Collins spoke about an Arizona study that focused on two schools with similar demographics, but one school excelled academically while the other one did not. The study revealed that the difference was not extraneous variables such as funding, parental involvement, or class size. The difference was the principal.…Read More

How to prepare for Common Core testing—and why current teacher evaluation systems won’t help

To prepare for the rigor of Common Core testing, school districts must engage teachers in sustained, in-depth professional development.

To prepare for more rigorous assessments aligned with the Common Core standards, teachers will need more time and opportunities to collaborate with each other, education professor Linda Darling-Hammond told superintendents at the American Association of School Administrators’ National Conference on Education Feb. 22.

But she also warned that using value-added models to rank and evaluate teachers—a practice that is spreading among school districts nationwide—has the potential to impede this work, thereby hindering students’ readiness for Common Core testing.

Darling-Hammond, who is a nationally recognized authority on school reform and teacher quality, is the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford University.…Read More

‘Good to Great’ author: How to have great schools

Effective leaders know how to distinguish core values from practices, Collins said—preserving the former while changing the latter to stimulate progress. (Lifetouch/AASA)

The most important factor influencing a school’s success isn’t class size, length of the school day, or other reforms, says researcher and author Jim Collins—it’s having a great leader at the helm.

Speaking at the American Association of School Administrators’ National Conference on Education Feb. 21, Collins told the superintendents in attendance that the best thing they could do to improve their schools was to make sure every principal is a top-notch leader. He also explained the characteristics that make a leader “great.”

Collins is the best-selling author of Good to Great, Built to Last, and other books exploring the factors that are most responsible for companies’ sustained success, and he said these same factors also apply to schools. But that doesn’t mean reformers who seek to adopt a more businesslike approach to education are correct, he cautioned.…Read More

Coming soon: A national superintendent certification program

Managing the enterprise can be a challenge to a superintendent who has no business experience.

Learning Leadership column, Feb. 2013 edition of eSchool News—The American Association of School Administrators is about to reinvent itself.

Founded in 1865, the year when the Civil War came to an end and Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, it is one of the oldest education associations in our nation. In 2015, we will be celebrating our 15oth anniversary.

AASA enjoys a proud heritage, but recent surveys of our members indicate that the association has to refocus in order to better serve our 21st-century system leaders. To begin with, the association’s name does not clearly define whom it is intended to serve.…Read More

Nine templates to help educators leverage school data

Educators need a practical system that organizes school data in a way that is easily understood.

Educators and administrators are collecting an enormous amount of data about the progress of their students and schools. Now that this information has been collected, how can it be used to improve education?

What administrators and teachers need is a practical system that organizes school and student data in a way that is easily understood and readily available during the school day, according to a collaboration by the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), and Gartner Inc.

School districts are looking to purchase student information systems and learning management systems to help them with this task.…Read More

Why are women so underrepresented in educational leadership?

Seventy-two percent of the education workforce consists of women. But only 26 percent of high school principals are women, and just 24 percent of superintendents are women.

Learning Leadership column, November/December 2012 edition of eSchool News—Recently, I had the unique opportunity to be one of a handful of males who sat in with a group of 300 women in school leadership when they convened in Newport Beach, Calif., to network, share, and learn from one another.

This was the second year that the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) had collaborated with the Association of California School Administrators to put on the “Women in School Leadership Forum.”

Last year, the event was held in San Diego and drew about 150 participants. Attesting to the success of last year’s event, this year’s attendance doubled. When asked how many would return if the event were held again next year, the majority of women enthusiastically raised their hands and promised to bring a friend, indicating that next year’s attendance might double once more.…Read More

Ten tips for forging successful school-community partnerships

The outside organization’s challenge is gaining the trust of the school.

Learning Leadership column, July/August 2012 edition of eSchool NewsThe American Association of School Administrators is a strong proponent for the education of the total child.  What we mean by that is, we firmly believe that the schools cannot do it alone.

We fully accept the responsibility to educate America’s children, and we are willing to be held accountable for that—but we also realize there are many factors outside the school that affect a child’s ability to learn. Consequently, our ability to succeed in the classroom can be enhanced by collaborating with community agencies and other governmental entities that provide the services that can make sure our children come to school ready to learn.

Easier said than done.  I spend a considerable amount of time talking to community groups and nonprofits that are trying to climb over the school wall to offer their programs and services. Often, they find administrators unreceptive to their advances and want to know what they can do to establish collaborative alliances.…Read More