What makes a great principal?

Great principals lead effective schools. Under the leadership of a great principal, teachers thrive, students engage with core content and school administrative functions run smoothly.

Conventional wisdom recognizes the value of school principals, and research backs it up. A report by the National Association of Elementary School Principals found that, of the most important factors affecting students’ academic achievement, leadership comes second only to instruction.

This finding makes sense as principals serve as the head of their schools, and their decisions affect school culture, parent involvement and overall community satisfaction. The level of influence a principal possesses, along with the benefits that can accompany the position, make it a post that many motivated educators aspire to hold.…Read More

4 evidence-based ways parents improve student achievement

In recent years, the push for educators to base teaching policies and practices in evidence has been growing stronger. Topics like seat time, retention, class size, and learning styles have all come under scrutiny because research indicates they don’t influence student achievement as much as we’d like. As the new school year begins, it’s worth taking a look at the evidence in a commonly overlooked area—parent involvement—so we can maximize what matters for student achievement.

It’s widely accepted that students whose parents are involved in their education do better in school. In fact, that link is so strong that districts often have policies to encourage parental involvement. The good news is that it’s difficult to find a way parents engage with schools that has a harmful effect on students, but there are four things parents can do that have a greater impact on achievement than anything else: parent tutoring, supporting homework, communicating expectations about learning, and academic socialization.

1. Encourage parents to actively teach their students
We often assume all good teaching comes from teachers, but parents can be great teachers too. Research into reading acquisition found that training parents to teach their children to read was better than teaching parents to listen to their children read aloud or having parents read aloud to their children. An earlier study in 2006 showed similar results for every content area and age level, no matter how long the tutoring sessions were or what kind of instruction or modeling was provided to the parents.…Read More

Parent report cards are novel way to boost support

Only a few states have passed laws creating evaluations or contracts that put helping with homework or attending teacher conferences into writing.

Educators exasperated by the need for greater parent involvement have persuaded Tennessee lawmakers to sign off on a novel bit of arm-twisting: Asking parents to grade themselves on report cards.

Another Tennessee measure signed into law recently will create parent contracts that give them step-by-step guidelines for pitching in. The report card bill—which initially would apply to two struggling schools—passed the state Legislature, and the governor has said he is likely to sign it. Participation in the programs is voluntary.

Only a few states have passed laws creating evaluations or contracts that put helping with homework or attending teacher conferences into writing. Tennessee is the only one so far to do report cards, though Utah has parents fill out an online survey and Louisiana is also considering parent report cards.…Read More

Survey: Teacher morale at its lowest in decades

The survey's findings suggest it's time for a new approach to teacher development and support, experts say.

Teachers are less satisfied with their jobs than they have been in decades, but parent engagement with their schools has increased, according to the MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Teachers, Parents and the Economy, the 28th in an annual series of surveys commissioned by MetLife and conducted by Harris Interactive.

The report, based on a survey of public school teachers, parents, and students during the current school year, is the first large-scale national survey to fully reflect the effects of the economy on the teaching profession, MetLife says.

It also comes as education reform efforts have targeted teacher tenure and collective bargaining rights in many states.…Read More