Implementation Of School Reform Models
In light of the country’s rapidly changing demographics – which continue to reshape public education dramatically – such measures will help educators respond to the changing needs of their students and their communities. Continuity must be addressed when leadership changes. When administrators leave, district-initiated endeavors come to a halt in anticipation of new leadership taking a new direction. There is no continuity. The local board of education should have the authority to hire the superintendent and all others who report directly to the board; the superintendent should have the authority to hire the central office staff and district principals; and the principal should make all school-level hiring decisions. The roles and responsibilities for school boards, superintendents, and principals should be redefined and revised statutes and regulations. Boards of education, superintendents, and senior-level staff leadership should receive cross-training that focuses on their roles and responsibilities and on collaborative teamwork. There should be an exemption to allow for a work session for board members and superintendents for self-assessment and team evaluation.
- Leadership should be empowered at the school level, where staffing decisions should be made. Most good principals are already collaborating with their staff. Preservice training can address the issue of principals who do not collaborate effectively.
- Distributed leadership is a very good strategy. It should be encouraged and facilitated, but it should not be imposed or mandated.
- Continuity must be addressed when leadership changes. When administrators leave, district-initiated endeavors come to a halt in anticipation of new leadership taking a new direction. There is no continuity.
- Issues that affect leadership include lack of funding, voting on budgets (especially on caps), and special education funding.
- Leaders should cultivate new administrators from the local talent pool.
- The school-based decision-making process has a great deal of promise, but there are certain aspects of the process which merit further investigation.
- The efficacy of fully implemented school-based decision-making is still a matter of debate.
- There should be a broader range of participants in the decision-making.
- State and district administrators should tailor policies and programs so that schools have choices rather than one stipulated model to follow.
- The recruitment of teachers can be initiated at higher administrative levels, but interviewing and hiring should conducted at the school level.
Roles and Relationships
- Stakeholders need to discuss further the roles and responsibilities of superintendents and boards of education, and they need to address the assignment of accountability.
- The process of dealing with personnel issues needs to be reviewed. Some stakeholders feel personnel questions should remain the responsibility of superintendents and principals. Others propose that school-based committees, involving parents and teachers, should be active in making personnel decisions. Parents would be elected to these committees by the PTA (https://www.pta.org/), and teachers recommended by their professional associations.
- After receiving input from the committee, principals should make the final selections and recommendations to the superintendent.
- In recognition of principals’ tremendous responsibility on the one hand but their lack of authority on the other, some balance needs to be achieved.
- People are satisfied by the nature of their work in education; they are dissatisfied by the problems that exist in the educational structure.
- School-day structuring, including class size reduction, needs to be addressed.
- Technology, such as E-learning and distance learning, should be enhanced in order to develop more partnerships with businesses, 2- and 4-year colleges and universities, and professional development schools.
- Community partnerships and community learning centers are very important in building capacity.
- Districts-not just schools-should have established goals.
- Tenure must be either extended to all personnel or eliminated to achieve parity.
- Terms of superintendents’ contracts should be 5 years. To attract and retain superintendents, their salaries should be increased.
- The compensation system needs to be restructured to attract the highly qualified candidates. Beginning principals should have higher salaries than highly qualified teachers, thus encouraging teachers to pursue administrative positions. Master teachers, board-certified teachers, nationally certified, and gifted teachers should have compensation commensurate with their abilities.
- Basing statewide salaries on regional averages and local cost of living differences would greatly expedite the hiring process and eliminate salary bargaining.
- Boards and superintendents should be able to negotiate their own contracts without statutory limitations.
- There should be a fair and orderly exit plan for superintendents; contract buyouts present problems.
- Retaining superintendents is more difficult than recruiting them, but the opposite is true of principals: Recruiting them is more difficult than retaining them. Because the recruitment and retention of superintendents and principals must overcome different sets of problems, different solutions are required to address those problems.
- Professional growth must be continuous.
- Money should be provided for new vision learning professional development. This allocation will reduce resistance to change.
- Laws, not regulations, should guide professional development. Professional development should be provided even in times of budgetary crises, and distance learning and corporate partnerships present opportunities for reducing the cost of programs.
- School districts should provide enhanced professional development for principals.
- No two schools operate in the same way. Regarding reform, educators need to ask, “Are we meeting the needs of the students?” If the answer is “yes,” then no reform is needed.
- In order to develop and adopt a reform model, administrators need to determine precisely the responsibilities for each of the stakeholders.
- Models need time to grow, time to get significant input.
- The districts deserve careful examination to determine what they are doing and how effective they have been.
- The internalized belief that “all students can learn” and quality teaching are the foundations of successful reform. Energy should be focused primarily on educating students.