Leading Small and Mid-Sized Urban School Districts: Volume 22

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Table of contents

(19 chapters)
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Abstract

For a variety of reasons, the districts, educators, and students of the largest cities in the United States garner substantial popular and scholarly attention. In the discourse and debate related to urban education, policymakers and researchers often cite accounts and articles derived from these larger urban areas. Yet, we found that school districts educating 47,700 or fewer students accounted for 61 percent of students educated in urban school districts in the United States. Comparison of the composition of student populations revealed that larger urban school districts exhibited greater concentrations of students identified as non-white and receiving free or reduced lunches. Overlooking the variation among urban school districts could result in ineffective reforms, poor educator preparation, skewed funding, and irrelevant research.

Abstract

In this chapter we used a content analysis process (Sanzo, 2012) on select 2010 and 2013 funded grant projects that focus specifically on leadership preparation and development in small and mid-sized urban school districts. The purpose of this analysis was to better understand how School Leadership Program (SLP) grant projects approach leadership preparation and development in small to medium-sized districts. Specifically, we explored how and in what ways did these grant-funded partnerships propose to recruit, structure partnerships, and mentor/coach participants. We discovered that SLP projects in this analysis utilize innovative means of recruiting and selecting program participants in a variety of ways, do not utilize a “one-size-fits” all model in their approach to preparing and developing school leaders, and employ authentic partnerships utilize a variety of collaborative mechanisms.

Abstract

This chapter analyzes 2011 survey data from a sample of Texas principals who were asked about their perceptions of their working conditions such as: support and facilities; salary; resources; autonomy to make decisions; testing and accountability pressures; and relationships with supervisors. Respondents were also asked about their intentions to stay or leave their particular school. Researchers and policymakers agree effective and stable school leadership is critical to school improvement efforts, but we know little about how various working conditions impact principal effectiveness and turnover. This work is important because in-depth knowledge of the causes of principal turnover in general and how principal working conditions impact turnover in particular is a pre-requisite to creating policies and support mechanisms to support principals in small and mid-sized districts.

Abstract

Do principals from small, medium, and large school districts have the same level of decision making power? Do teachers from small, medium, and large school districts have the same level of decision making power? This chapter tried to address these questions by analyzing 2011–2012 nationally representative School and Staffing Survey data. We found that comparing with large districts, teachers and principals at small and medium school districts perceived higher levels of decision making power in most school policy areas. We also found that although there were statistically significant differences among the three district sizes, practically significant differences existed in establishing curriculum for teachers and in establishing curriculum and deciding budget for principals. Implications of the findings were discussed.

Abstract

This chapter examines practical strategies to address issues related to poverty in small to mid-sized urban districts. Data clearly demonstrates that students in poverty perform at a lesser rate than their affluent peers. The greatest challenge facing public school leaders is educating students in poverty. This chapter is informed and supported by the existing educational research base and drawn primarily from our authentic experiences as educational leaders in public schools. The information shared is realistic, practical, and uniquely derived from day to day public school life.

Abstract

Researchers and practitioners alike have worked to develop principles to influence the educational context into one which realizes the direct attention and according action necessary to equitably meet the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse students, or English Learners. These principles, found throughout the research literature in the language development and educational leadership fields, serve as foundation to guide educational decision makers as they organize, implement, improve, and evaluate instructional programs and services. This chapter provides several of those principles, in addition to a specific focus on the use of Professional Learning Communities, that have been identified as essential elements of such programs. These practices, though applicable for larger districts, are written specifically with the smaller districts in mind.

Abstract

School leaders in small to mid-size urban districts face shifting policy environments, increased accountability, fiscal austerity, and unfunded mandates, as they work to improve student learning and close achievement gaps. This chapter focuses on one aspect of school reform: the role of families in supporting students’ success. Given shifting demographics nationwide, recommendations for two-way partnerships with Latino families will be proffered in light of renewed definitions and an increasingly robust research base.

Abstract

Instructional leadership has taken center stage in recent years as the emphasis on school leaders’ role in improving instructional programs and impacting student learning has increased under the pressures of the accountability movement. While there is a growing literature that has highlighted the indirect impacts of effective instructional leadership on student learning, little is known about these effects in the area of special education. Because this direct involvement in instructional and curricular matters has typically fallen outside the traditional roles of principals and other school leaders, the need for purposeful focus on developing these skills is paramount in a climate that is calling for leaders who can facilitate growth and improvement in student learning, particularly in the area of special education. This chapter explores instructional leadership in the context of special education with a focus on small to mid-sized schools. We identify a set of factors that are critical to the effective implementation of instructional leadership in the area of special education which include, communication, teacher evaluation and supervision, staff development, instructional programing, and instructional design. The chapter goes on to discuss how school leaders can cultivate growth and improvement in special education programming through the use of coaching models and distributed leadership. Lastly we explore the implications for practice including discussions of reforming principal preparation programs and shared leadership.

Abstract

The purpose of this chapter is to examine the challenges of instructional leadership in prekindergarten (PK) programs in the context of small and mid-sized school districts. We first explore issues that characterize current PK education including the need for content standards and curriculum, Developmentally Appropriate Practices (DAP), Mathematics Pedagogical Content Knowledge, and addressing mathematics anxiety and teacher-efficacy. We then turn to instructional leadership for PK education and the challenges that leader preparation and district program structures cause for instructional leadership. Often instructional experts have limited exposure to PK classrooms housed in traditional elementary buildings. Additionally, elementary principals are typically ill-prepared with the knowledge needed to support and develop teacher MPCK and effective learning contexts in PK classrooms. Typical preparation and professional development programs offer limited support for building principals as PK instructional leaders. Implications for building principals include the need to engage professional communities, utilize collaborative processes such as team observations, and leverage the collective efficacy and expertise of PK educators in their schools and districts.

Abstract

Despite the rapid growth of executive coaching in the business world and nascent interest in education, there is no solid research base around how coaching impacts leadership. Following the development of analytical case studies of coach and school leader dyads, we use causal process analysis to trace the complex pathways in which coaches impact leader development. In this process, we attempt to move beyond lists of traits and activities of effective coaching practice to develop a theoretical framework layered with thick description of leadership coaching situated within the context of a high poverty mid-sized urban school district. Findings include insights into the structures and practices that promote strong trusting relationships between the coach and coachee, how this relationship is central to deepening the impact of the coach’s work, and how co-leading provides the means of both modeling and guiding leaders toward personal and school improvement.

Abstract

Demographic changes across the United States have led to dramatic shifts in the composition of public school enrollments. While these shifts are manifest across multiple dimensions of diversity, the influx of culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students is particularly pronounced. As the numbers of CLD students rapidly grow across all geographic regions, from rural to suburban to urban, school leaders face the daunting responsibility of responding to ensure that these students receive equitable opportunities to learn. Some guiding principles for accomplishing this generalize across settings, yet ultimately this leadership needs to be context-specific. In this chapter we discuss these guiding principles and apply them narrowly to the context of medium and small urban districts. We argue that school leadership – particularly district and school administration – plays a crucial role in supporting the design and delivery of supports for CLD students and their families, who constitute a “new mainstream” in many of these settings.

Abstract

The effective use of student data has gained increasing attention in the past 10 years. Although district leaders would like to support data use and improvement, exactly how to go about such work systemically is often unclear. Accordingly, the aim of this chapter is to illuminate the inner workings of data use throughout a mid-sized school district. In doing so, we highlight issues in how data were used and supported, and provide discussion about how districts such as this one may improve data use throughout the district.

Cover of Leading Small and Mid-Sized Urban School Districts
DOI
10.1108/S1479-3660201522
Publication date
2015-04-02
Book series
Advances in Educational Administration
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78441-818-2
eISBN
978-1-78441-817-5
Book series ISSN
1479-3660