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A Synthesis of Successful Teaching and Leadership Practices in Urban Settings f o r t h e S c h u lt z C e n t e r U r b a n A c a d e m y p l a n n i n g

I can imagine no more important contribution to our country’s future than a long-term commitment to improving urban K-12 public schools. Eli Broad


Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Purpose and Scope of Review . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Context of Urban Schooling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Themes and Structure of Literature Review . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Section I: Literature Informing Urban Academy Content for Teachers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Beliefs and Attitudes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Beliefs about Children and Their Learning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Self-Efficacy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Problem-Solving Orientation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Other Personal Traits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Knowledge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Urban Cultural Capital . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Strategies for Effective Instruction and Instructional Improvement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Practices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Caring Relationships . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . “Warm Demander� Management Style . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Shared Authority . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Culturally Relevant Instruction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . High Academic Expectations, High Academic Support . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Brain-Based Instruction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Relationships with Families and Communities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Content-Specific Strategies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

5 6 7 9

11 12 13 13 13 14 14 14 16 16 17 18 18 19 20 20 21 21

Section II: Literature Informing Urban Academy Content for Leaders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Leadership for Change . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Cross-Sector Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Drivers of Change . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 District-Level Leadership . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Examples of Successful District Leadership Reform . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 New Approaches to Central Office Leadership . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 School-Level Leadership . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Best Practices in School-Level Reform . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Characteristics of Successful Urban Programs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 Responsive and Inclusive School Culture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 Leadership for Responsive and Inclusive Schools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Principal Characteristics and Competencies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .40 A Systems Approach to Change Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 Translating Principal Competencies into Skills and Actions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 Sustaining Success . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Summary of Findings Regarding Teaching . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Summary of Findings Regarding Leadership . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Directions for Further Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

49 50 51 51

References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 About the Authors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64


Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships. Michael Jordan

Purpose and Scope of Review The purpose of this review of the literature regarding teaching and school leadership practices associated with success in high-needs urban school districts is to provide recommendations for curriculum design and content of the Schultz Center’s Urban Academy (UA) Program. This synthesis of literature and research intends to guide thinking and provide background for program planners as they work to identify critical concepts and skills for classroom teachers, teacher leaders, instructional specialists, and school-based administrators who will participate in the UA Program, planned for implementation in Duval County in the spring/summer of 2012. Parallel to the process of curriculum development, UA Program administrators are also currently engaged in developing program goals, interim objectives, and supporting activities. In addition to the literature findings herein, UA Program administrators will incorporate the following guiding assumptions into the process of developing the UA Program’s curriculum and instructional activities: • The UA Program’s content for teachers and teacher leaders will complement and build upon elements of the Collaborative Assessment System for Teachers (C.A.S.T.): · Domain 1: Planning and Preparation · Domain 2: The Classroom Environment · Domain 3: Instruction · Domain 4: Professional Responsibilities • The UA Program content for school-based instructional specialists and leaders will build upon the themes and competencies included in the Schultz Center Leadership Model: · Theme 1: Establishing and Living a Clear Vision and Purpose · Theme 2: Leading and Managing Innovation and Improvement · Theme 3: Acquiring and Implementing Deep Knowledge of Teaching and Learning · Theme 4: Developing Capacity for High-Performing Teams and Collaborative Relationships · Theme 5: Organizational Accountability Systems that Sustain Results-Driven Performance • Strategic planning for content of the UA Program will utilize the 6Rs Model for Successful Professional Development ( shtml), a conceptual planning model used to align program goals with delivery methods, activities, resources, and assessments in such a way as to enable measurement of student achievement. • The UA Program will follow steps in the Professional Development System Evaluation Protocol required by the Florida Department of Education’s School Community Professional Development Act (1998), in alignment with the standards framework adopted by Learning Forward, formerly known as the National Staff Development Council. • The UA Program will provide a developmentally planned, coherent model of concepts, skills, techniques, and behaviors, sequentially presenting this content with increasing levels of complexity and reinforcing it through the application of concepts and skills.


• The UA Program will provide assessment tools for gauging both individual and group progress toward practitioners’ (a) acquisition of knowledge and skills, and (b) changes in beliefs, attitudes, and expectations. A variety of surveys, observation checklists, and data collection tools will document the application of skills taught, practiced, and observed over time.

In the context of program design, the selection of appropriate activities and methods deepens learning and allows participants to practice skills needed for implementation. UA Program ongoing follow-up activities will include coaching in classrooms, the implementation and ongoing support of professional learning communities in schools, and the use of various online and interactive forms of technology-based communication devices. These strategies will support participants’ reflective learning and allow relevant and job-embedded professional learning to occur following the initial instruction provided by face-to-face sessions with instructors. Context of Urban Schooling Approaching the literature on successful leadership practices in high-needs urban settings requires an understanding of the context of urban education. Over the course of the past century, the term “urban” itself has changed and taken on negative overtones from what started out as a simple descriptor of the size and density of a population. In the colonial imagination, cities were places of refuge and freedom as portrayed in the writings of Alexander Hamilton. Soon, however, writers like Thomas Jefferson began describing a less positive portrait of urban centers as the source of many of society’s ills. While the early version of life in urban areas highlighted dynamic opportunities for a wide range of migrant populations, there were increasing concerns about the social and welfare needs of large numbers of poor and minority groups gathering in cities and how the attendant issues of schooling children in these urban centers could be handled (Haberman, 2010). An honest discussion regarding the context of urban schooling must acknowledge that an achievement gap between distinguishable subgroups of students exists and has, in fact, widened in some urban centers. The most current summaries of national test results present some good news but too much bad news, especially for students in urban centers. While recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results show that, over time, black and Hispanic students have made substantial progress in improving their reading and math performance, a gap of about 20 percentage points still exists between their scores and the scores of their white peers. These differences translate into a difference of about two grade levels for students at the 4th and 8th grade levels (Achievement gap, 2011). In addition, recent results published and debated in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, report that despite a wide range of school- and community-initiated efforts to address this issue – including 4-yearold kindergarten, expanded summer and after-school programs, training programs for teachers, and others – there has been little progress at reducing or eliminating this gap. The United Way of Dane County, Wisconsin, reported that from 2003 to 2011 the gap between black and white students proficient in 4th grade reading had increased by 8.4 points to 33.4%, while the gap between the two groups’ high


school graduation rates had similarly increased by 12.4 percentage points to 30.9% (DeFour, 2011). The disparity in student achievement between racial groups in Duval County is not as extreme but does reflect a similar pattern. According to 2003 district-level data, 72% of white students in Duval County were proficient in reading as measured by the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) compared with 44% of black students; in 2010, 82% of white students were proficient in reading compared with 53% of black students. Although the achievement of both groups has improved, these data reflect a reading proficiency achievement gap of about 29 percentage points. The earliest district-level graduation data based on the adjusted National Governor’s Association graduation rate calculation, available beginning in 2005-2006, reported that 67% of white students graduated on time, compared with 54% of black students (Florida Department of Education, n.d). These figures reflect a gap of 13%. In 20102011, for which the most recent data is available, the graduation rate for both groups of students had improved – to 78% for white students and 63% for black students – but continued to reflect a 15-point gap (Florida Department of Education, 2011). As these examples suggest, the good news is that actual achievement levels have increased for both groups of students in Duval County. However, the achievement gap between student groups is still present. Reform initiatives often require changes to administrative or organizational structures before more deeply seated and substantive changes in desired outcomes can occur. For instance, the district launched a major initiative several years ago to increase the numbers of students enrolled in and successfully completing higher-level and Advanced Placement academic courses. While eliminating previous barriers to placement of less academically prepared students in higher-level academic courses was a necessary step, the desired longer-term results were (a) better preparation of students as demonstrated by increasing SAT or ACT college aptitude test scores and (b) greater proportions of students in all racial groups completing AP courses with exam scores of 3, 4, or 5, indicating satisfactory completion of those high-level courses. Access did increase: the number of black students participating in the SAT increased from approximately 800 in 2005-2006 to nearly 1,500 in 2009-2010. Similarly, among black students there were about 400 AP test takers in 2005-2006 compared to over 2,000 in 2009-2010. Despite this progress in access, college readiness of student subgroups continues to reflect a gap, with 31.6% of black students scoring grades of 3-5 on AP exams versus 43.3% of white students. According to these data, Duval County has made progress toward providing all students with the opportunity to learn, but there is still much work remaining to reduce and eliminate gaps in proficiency as well as in college or workforce readiness. The social and economic circumstances and factors present in cities, mentioned above, as well as the accompanying achievement disparities, greatly influence the nature of schooling in urban areas. The challenges associated with urban contexts also demand that these districts make the best resources and educational practices available if children are to succeed. Additionally, those serving in leadership and teaching roles in urban settings need skills and behaviors to meet the unique challenges they face. Do successful school leaders in high-needs urban schools and districts differ greatly from successful school leaders in other public school settings? Do they rely


on a different set of teaching practices and leadership skills in order to bring about successful school turnaround efforts or to accomplish rapid district improvements needed for systemic reform? The distinction between successful educators in urban and non-urban contexts seems to be one of the degree and emphasis placed on particular strategies. The set of skills and practices needed in urban settings are not different from, but instead represent an intensified subset of the skills and dimensions required of, all good educators. Themes and Structure of Literature Review Effective “turnaround” efforts tend to emphasize classroom and school practices that are results-oriented in nature and that target essential improvements in academic achievement. This literature review will discuss these key elements of reform but will also include attention to several supporting orientations, behaviors, and characteristics found to be essential to success with urban students. These themes include inclusive learning cultures, leader and teacher characteristics, and comprehensive models. First, the literature finds characteristics of inclusive learning cultures to be especially important in providing a platform for sustained and continuing improvement in schools beyond the initial short-term improvements that many turnaround efforts experience. Research suggests that factors present in high needs urban schools require that leaders and teachers demonstrate exceptional strength and initiative, as well as certain classes of behavior. These critical characteristics and competencies relate to “patterns of thinking, beliefs, expectations, ways of speaking, and acting” (Steiner & Hassel, 2011, p. 4). This literature review places a high priority on identifying the key features that research suggests give leaders and teachers an edge in these environments, equipping educators with what Bryan and Emily Hassel (2009) call “the big yes” to become the unapologetic drivers of change in successful turnarounds (p. 23). It will identify broad dimensions of teacher and school leader behaviors, competencies, and strategies, especially interpersonal, communication, and managerial skills. Curriculum design and program development for the UA Program requires that planners define and elaborate desirable competencies in order to be sure that curriculum design is organized and structured around these learner outcomes. Based on the outcomes identified, the program can prescribe and call for appropriate supports in the form of resources, selected materials, learner exercises, and appropriate assessments, ensuring a coherent program design. This literature review contains two sections, one emphasizing teaching and the other focused on leadership. The research finds that effective urban teachers possess and demonstrate unique beliefs and attitudes, areas of knowledge, and practices that result in improved outcomes for the students they serve; these three categories organize the teacher-focused section of the literature review. The leadership section of the literature review addresses lessons from cross-sector research regarding educational leadership and change. It then discusses district- and school-level characteristics and factors aligned with success in urban contexts.


Section I: L i t e r at u r e I n f o r m i n g u r b a n a c a d e m y C o n t e n t f o r T e a c h e r s

Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Several distinguishing characteristics of urban environments require that teachers in those contexts have specialized expertise. First, ethnic diversity in urban schools is the norm rather than the exception: the majority of students in urban districts are often African American, Asian, and Hispanic learners (Scott & Teale, 2009). Further, many students attending urban schools live in environments of economic deprivation, which may have negative but reversible effects on their cognitive functioning (Jensen, 2009). Urban students often begin school with skill levels lagging behind those of their non-urban peers (Fielding, Kerr, & Rosier, 2007) due to lack of exposure to literacy-supporting experiences prior to formal schooling. In addition, the schooling experiences and achievement of urban students may be negatively influenced by a variety of other factors including teacher expectations, parental involvement, student self-esteem, curriculum quality, degree of alignment with students’ learning styles, test bias, peer pressure, socioeconomic factors, and per-pupil expenditures (Kunjufu, 1989). A review of the literature finds that, given these conditions, urban teachers must possess a unique array of personal characteristics and professional competencies in order to be successful. The discussion that follows classifies these traits of exemplary urban teachers into three categories: beliefs or attitudes, knowledge, and practices. In the affective realm, successful teachers of urban students believe that all students can learn, have confidence in their own self-efficacy, embody a problem-solving orientation, and possess other personal traits suited for the environments in which they work. Teachers in cities must have demonstrated knowledge of the urban cultural context as well as of strategies for effective instruction and instructional improvement. In terms of their observable actions, effective urban teachers develop caring relationships with students, exercise a “warm demander” classroom management style, share authority with students in the classroom, engage in culturally relevant instruction, couple high academic expectations with high academic support, explicitly teach students how to think, and leverage family and community relationships for student achievement. They also use specific content-related strategies that research aligns with successful teaching of literacy, science, and mathematics to students in urban contexts. Beliefs and Attitudes In his seminal work regarding STAR teachers, or highly effective teachers of students in poverty, Martin Haberman (1995) emphasized the importance of beliefs: “To try to imitate what stars do without believing as they do leads to merely going through the motions of teaching, and having little influence on students’ learning” (p. 21). In Haberman’s framework, teachers’ beliefs and actions create an “integrated whole” (p. 21); therefore, good teacher preparation is not a matter of simply teaching all urban teachers to imitate certain actions – teacher development must penetrate deeper, to the level of teachers’ beliefs and attitudes regarding their students, themselves, and their professional practice. Specifically, among other personal traits and mental habits, successful teachers of urban students believe that all children can learn, they have confidence in their ability to succeed as teachers, and they view themselves as problem solvers.


Beliefs about Children and Their Learning In contrast to the trend in educational research toward emphasizing best practices, researchers such as Bonnie Benard (2003) have found that teacher success begins at the deeper level of beliefs – specifically, beliefs about children. Benard found that successful teachers believe that “every child and youth has innate resilience, the capacity for healthy development and successful learning” (It All Starts With Beliefs section, para. 2). Similarly, a study by the U.S. Department of Education (Herman et al., 2008) found that successful turnaround schools employ staff who accept students as they come, hold the belief that all students can learn, and are committed to working with them to raise achievement. Benard’s (2003) study contains the following recommended strategies to change teachers’ beliefs when necessary: provide teachers with caring relationships, high expectations, and opportunities for participation/contribution; create opportunities for teachers to reflect on, discuss, and study personal resilience; and have them experiment with strengthsbased pedagogical approaches. Self-Efficacy Self-efficacy refers to belief in one’s own ability to do a job well, which may prompt a greater level of effort (Bandura, 1997). In the case of urban teachers, evidence suggests that self-efficacy is necessary for success. Linda Bryant and Wenfan Yan (2010) examined the relationship between self-efficacy beliefs and adequate yearly progress (AYP) status for 894 teachers in a large urban district in the Northeastern U.S. They found that teachers in schools making AYP were more confident in their ability to produce student engagement and learning. They also found a significant difference between teachers in AYP and non-AYP schools with respect to their belief in their ability to develop good questions for students, gauge students’ comprehension of lessons, and manage the learning environment. Self-efficacy also correlates with teacher success related to parental involvement. For instance, a study of 100 urban teachers enrolled in a graduate program in South Florida found that teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs with respect to parental involvement correlated positively with the degree to which they exhibited parent involvement practices (Garcia, 2004). It is clear that teachers’ sense of self-efficacy is critical to their success in urban contexts. Problem-Solving Orientation Other researchers have noted that strong urban teachers have a problemsolving orientation to their work. Jorgelina Abbate-Vaughn (2010), for instance, found that urban teachers challenge stereotypes about students of color in poverty by considering their individual, complex life circumstances and helping facilitate solutions. Haberman’s (1995) investigation of STAR teachers of children in poverty characterized their mindset as one of constantly and proactively anticipating challenges, always saying to themselves, even while acting, “I wonder what I do next” (p. 24).


Other Personal Traits Researchers have uncovered other beliefs, mental behaviors, and attitudes that correspond with success in urban teaching environments. Public Impact (2008b) developed a framework of competencies for teachers in turnaround schools. This report drew on studies of high-performing teachers and organizations in the U.K. and U.S., as well as interviews with education leaders, professionals and experts, to identify competencies that distinguish high performers from average or low performers in a turnaround setting. The competencies found were categorized into four “clusters”: Driving for Results (achievement, initiative and persistence, monitoring and directiveness, and planning ahead); Influencing for Results (impact and influence, interpersonal understanding, and teamwork); Problem Solving (analytical thinking, conceptual thinking), and Personal Effectiveness (belief in learning potential, selfcontrol, self-confidence, and flexibility) (p. 8). There is some overlap between these competencies and those Haberman (2005) identifies within teachers who remain and are effective in urban schools. He finds that those teachers demonstrate persistence; make productive work more important than rigid rules; apply theory and research to practice; practice personal accountability; and understand burnout and their own fallibility. Rosetta Cohen (2009) offers another typology of personal characteristics based on a case study of two urban high school teachers. Traits supporting their longevity included psychological hardiness, self-preservation skills, the ability to put aside unpleasant or depressing events in a school day and move forward, a passion for their subject, and a lack of emphasis placed on race and class. Knowledge Teachers’ knowledge combines with their beliefs and attitudes to create the foundation for sound instructional practices. There are certain areas of knowledge that research suggests are necessary for teachers working in urban environments. These specific categories of knowledge include urban cultural capital as well as strategies for effective instruction and instructional improvement. Urban Cultural Capital Successful urban teachers demonstrate knowledge regarding their students’ daily experiences. In a review of literature regarding the competencies of successful urban teachers, Eleanor Baron and colleagues (1992) classified these competencies into internal effects observable within the classroom and external effects observable outside of the school and classroom. Among the external effects was “knowledge of urban and multi-ethnic sociology” (p. 24). More recent evidence also supports the finding that successful urban teachers possess urban cultural capital, or knowledge regarding urban culture that allows them to communicate and function effectively within urban settings. As coined by Pierre Bourdieu (1990), the term ‘cultural capital’ is usually associated with schools’ role in transmitting the tastes and reinforcing the legitimacy of the dominant culture. However, Louie Rodríguez (2009) related a personal case study in which


his knowledge of hip-hop culture served as cultural capital, allowing him to broker educationally beneficial relationships with the high school students he taught. This dynamic contrasted with the typical disconnect he observed, as a teacher educator, between urban teachers and hip-hop culture. Rodríguez cited the need for respectful dialogue between educators and hip-hop culture, writing that “the teaching profession remains predominately white, middle class, and culturally and linguistically different from urban youth and distant from hip hop culture” (p. 23). In his work with preservice teachers, he found that “middle class teachers have a form of cultural capital that is most reflective of middle-class institutions, but they are deficient in the capital that reflects the realities of urban students who may be connected with hip hop culture” (p. 27). This concept of urban cultural capital aligns with one of Gloria Ladson-Billings’ (2009) key criteria for culturally-relevant teaching: teacher competence in students’ home and school cultures. She found that successful teachers of African American students use students’ home and cultural experiences as a foundation upon which to develop their knowledge and skills. Content learned in this way is more significant to students and facilitates the transfer of material learned in school to real life situations (Padron, Waxman, & Rivera, 2002). Abbate-Vaughn (2010) suggests that teachers can gain urban cultural knowledge through personal experience or through deliberate immersion. Research by Sueanne McKinney and colleagues (2008), that used Haberman’s Urban Teacher Selection Interview to assess characteristics of 59 preservice teachers before and after their internships in two large metropolitan districts, found no significant pre-to-post difference, suggesting that “earlier and more experiences in an urban setting are needed by prospective urban teachers” (p. 78). In contrast, Baron and colleagues (1992) cited two studies that suggest that immersion experiences are effective. In one, predominately white, suburban, upper-middle class pre-service teachers experienced immersion in urban settings and related seminars, afterwards demonstrating increased awareness of and sensitivity to urban people and issues. In the other study, pre-service teachers from small towns participated in a similar immersion program and created journals regarding their experiences, later reporting that the program was useful. Beyond general cultural knowledge, urban teachers must seek out knowledge of individual students’ particular circumstances. For instance, Evan Ortleib and Earl Cheek’s (2008) ethnographic study of excellent rural and urban reading teachers found that the urban teachers had students complete a family history project so that they could learn more about them. The urban teachers found this activity necessary since they were more likely to live farther from students than were their rural counterparts. Finally, teachers must become well versed in students’ interests. As Alfred Tatum (2003) found, teachers must be culturally aware, investigating students’ likes and dislikes and utilizing this information to plan meaningful lessons. Students quoted in Kathleen Cushman’s (2005) Fires in the Bathroom agreed that it is important that teachers take time to learn about them by paying attention to what they say and do, as well as to their work, physical appearance, responses to questionnaires and surveys, and journal writings.


Strategies for Effective Instruction and Instructional Improvement Research suggests that urban teachers’ knowledge base should include instructional strategies specifically shown to lead to success with urban students. The literature review by Baron and colleagues (1992), mentioned earlier, found that competencies of successful urban teachers observable within the classroom included: teacher-directed activities, interesting and engaging activities, flexibility to meet the needs of different classes and individuals, planning and sequencing to ensure mastery of prerequisite skills, and making lessons relevant to real life. A more recent qualitative study (Ahuja, 2007) of five teachers, one administrator, and three students at an urban high school found that teachers’ effectiveness varied with their subjectarea proficiency as well as their awareness of effective pedagogical strategies. A more specialized area of teaching knowledge required specifically for turnaround schools centers on instructional improvement. A U.S. Department of Education (Herman et al., 2008) report based on case studies of 35 turnaround schools stated that success in these environments requires “a consistent focus on improving instruction” (p. 8). This focus mandates that teachers be able to use classroom- and student-level data to set goals, determine areas of weakness to target improvement, use peer observations to understand what’s happening in classrooms and identify instructional needs, and use data to plan instruction to meet individual needs. In addition, teachers must know how to modify instruction to meet their goals, e.g., by engaging in collaborative instruction and planning. Finally, teachers must be able to monitor students’ progress and make adjustments accordingly. Other areas of necessary pedagogical knowledge mentioned by urban teachers participating in Ethne Erskine-Cullen and Anne Marie Sinclair’s (1996) research included classroom management, planning for individual differences, curriculum modification, anti-racist strategies, conflict management, self-reflection skills, and child development. Taken together, these categories of knowledge and those detailed above can serve as content markers for pre-service and in-service teacher development. In that vein, they can help to shape the curricular focus of the Schultz Center’s Urban Academy Program. Practices Teachers’ practices, especially the ways in which they interact with students in their classrooms, are the primary means by which they produce desired achievement outcomes. Likewise, formative assessment of teachers’ growth and effectiveness is only possible by observing what they do. In that sense, the knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes discussed above must translate into action if they are to drive student gains. Effective urban teachers develop classrooms characterized by caring, shared authority, and a management style that combines warmth with a no-nonsense approach. They provide the necessary supports to help students meet their exceedingly high academic standards. Their pedagogy attends both to students’ cultures and to their cognitive processes. In the service of educational progress, they develop relationships with their students’ families and communities. Finally, they incorporate content-specific strategies designed to build their students’ literacy, math, and science skills.


Caring Relationships A host of research finds that successful teachers in urban contexts develop caring relationships with students. Caring, as distinguished from pity, combines care with respect, trust, and empathy (Noddings, 1984). In a case study of two urban high school English teachers that successfully facilitated student engagement, Theresa Adkins-Coleman (2010) found that both created a classroom environment of mutual respect and trust, using verbal and nonverbal strategies to demonstrate care and empathy when students shared their feelings about personal and academic challenges. Similarly, Bonnie Benard’s (2003) case studies of turnaround teachers found that they provided three protective factors for their students, one of which was caring relationships characterized by compassion, loving support, active listening, and getting to know students’ gifts. In a study of 22 teachers and five administrators from three urban schools in Toronto, Ontario, participants listed the following teacher characteristics as most important: empathy, respect for the students, flexibility, selfcare, patience, sense of humor, collegiality, and high energy level (Erskine-Cullen & Sinclair, 1996). Jerrie Scott and William Teale (2009) found that urban students need emotionally supportive teachers that communicate genuine care and concern, quoting teacher-researcher Neshellda Johnson’s finding that emotional support is a major need of students in urban contexts. It is important to note that caring is not just a feel-good enterprise; it encompasses high expectations, high demands, and a variety of concrete classroom actions. Students recognize this, and stated as much in Bruce Wilson and H. Dickson Corbett’s (2001) three-year study of 150 sixth graders at three schools in Philadelphia. The students noted that effective teachers – those that help them do better, rather than those they just like – have a “’no excuses’ policy” and refuse to allow them to fail (p. 65). Specifically, the students perceived that good teachers have six qualities. They push students to complete assignments; maintain order in the classroom; are willing to help; explain the topic until everyone understands; vary classroom activities; and respect students, relate to them, and try to understand their worlds. The authors write, “Students in each of the...schools expressed this same line of reasoning – that ‘no excuses’ equaled caring which led to increased self-confidence in doing schoolwork – equally adamantly and in similar proportions” (p. 91). Students’ perceptions of the importance of teacher caring also featured prominently in Elizabeth Shaunessy and Patricia McHatton’s (2009) study of 577 students from one urban high school. The authors found that students valued teachers who share interests and hobbies, who make the extra effort to facilitate interactive learning, and who use creative approaches to help students understand challenging material. Students also mentioned respect as a critical teacher behavior and an element of effective teaching and learning. The authors cited Cody Ding and Alice Hall (2007), who found a positive correlation between students’ perceptions of teacher caring and their level of achievement. Unfortunately, Shaunessy and McHatton (2009) also found that students commonly reported the perception that teachers lacked empathy for them and failed to hold high standards for their students’ academic achievement and their own job performance. Successful urban teachers extend the notion of caring beyond their students to include relationships with parents. Peter McDermott and Julia Rothenberg (2000)


conducted focus groups with seven parents, six middle school girls, and four elementary teachers in a high poverty urban neighborhood. The parents stated that good teachers communicate frequently with parents and are positive with children. The authors wrote, “Exemplary urban teachers are those who construct respectful and trusting relationships with students and their families” (p. 2). Interestingly, they also found that even the good teachers in their study “overlooked the power of personal relationships with children and families” (p. 15). These findings align with Jawanza Kunjufu’s (2008) statement that one cannot teach a child one does not respect, love, or understand; there is, in his view, no significant learning until a significant relationship is first established. “Warm Demander” Management Style Effective classroom management plays a critical role in the success of urban teachers. Theresa Adkins-Coleman (2010) found that successful teachers of urban students have high expectations for behavior. They fit the criteria for Judith Kleinfeld’s (1975) concept of “warm demanders,” who convey authority without anger or malice. These teachers demonstrated high expectations for all students, every day, with unlimited support to meet those expectations. They demanded effort: students were not allowed to give up, and teachers started classes early and assigned challenging material, leaving no time for off-task behavior. In instances when students acted inappropriately, they encountered fair consequences. Adkins-Coleman (2010) wrote of one teacher, “She explained her reprimands, followed through with consequences, and never lost control or became frustrated” (p. 47). Shared Authority Successful urban teachers establish classroom cultures of shared authority. In research aimed at explicitly defining quality teaching of urban students, Jorgelina Abbate-Vaughn and colleagues (2010) found that good urban teaching involves a focus on relationships and shared authority, in which students are given opportunities to make choices and experience accountability. Likewise, Bonnie Benard (2003) found that successful urban teachers give students opportunities to make choices and solve problems, e.g., by incorporating cooperative, experiential, or service learning. Martin Haberman (n.d.) elaborates on this concept by contrasting good urban teaching with the “pedagogy of poverty”. The pedagogy of poverty is essentially one of authoritative control in which discipline and order are a prerequisite for learning rather than a result of learning. In this worldview, the fundamental teacher acts are giving information and directions, monitoring, and giving grades; students have no responsibility for their own learning. By contrast, good teachers maintain control by establishing trust and involving students in meaningful activities. For effective urban teachers, Haberman finds, problems are opportunities for learning. In their classrooms, students develop understanding of human differences, they are involved in planning their activities, they learn to apply ideals such as fairness and justice to their world, they are actively involved, they work in heterogeneous groups, they redo and perfect their work, they learn the technology of information access, and they question common ideas or assumptions. Haberman wrote, “Unlike the directive


teacher acts that constitute the pedagogy of poverty...these tend to be indirect activities that frequently involve the creation of a learning environment” (p. 4). In his later work (2005), he suggested, “All programs of preparation should utilize both interviews of applicants that compare them to effective teachers and the direct observation of candidates actually relating to children and youth. These are the two most powerful predictors of success with diverse children in urban poverty” (p. 8). Culturally Relevant Instruction Since Gloria Ladson-Billings coined the term in 1995, culturally relevant instruction has gained traction as a helpful framework with which to understand the work of urban teachers, especially those engaged with students of color. LadsonBillings’ seminal research studied eight exemplary teachers of African American students. As practiced by these teachers, culturally relevant teaching included helping students become academically successful, culturally competent, and critical of inequities. Ladson-Billings found that culturally relevant teachers held unique conceptions of self and others, constructions of social relations, and conceptions of knowledge. Regarding their conceptions of self and others, they believed all students could succeed, considered themselves community members, conceptualized teaching as “pulling knowledge out”, and engaged in dynamic pedagogy that was always developing. Social relations in these teachers’ classrooms emphasized a collaborative learning community in which students were responsible for one another. These teachers also held a critical view of knowledge as dynamic, not static; their instruction incorporated scaffolding as well as multiple forms of assessment. Since Ladson-Billings’ initial work, other research has supported the significance of culturally relevant teaching. For instance, Abbate-Vaughn and colleagues (2010) found that successful urban teachers use students’ cultural and linguistic experiences to make the curriculum more relevant. Likewise, Peter McDermott and Julia Rothenberg’s (2000) qualitative study of four elementary teachers in a high poverty urban neighborhood found that good teachers integrate children’s languages and cultural experiences into lessons. Jerrie Scott and William Teale’s (2009) findings regarding urban literacy educators included a statement that urban teachers need to take into consideration students’ language, ethnic, and economic background in order to provide effective instruction. The ability to do this begins with an understanding of what culture is and how it influences what happens in the classroom: Ladson-Billings (1995) wrote of the need to help “prospective teachers understand culture (their own and others) and the ways it functions in education” (p. 483). Culturally relevant teaching has implications for the assessment of teachers. In a review of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) and Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC) assessments, Ladson-Billings and Gloria Darling-Hammond (2000) concluded that these instruments do not assess teachers on measures correlated with effective urban teaching. They found that this discrepancy has an adverse impact on urban teachers: “According to measurement professionals, adverse impact is distinct from bias in that adverse impact exists if the rates at which members of a distinct group (e.g., women, African Americans, non-English speakers) pass the assessment at significantly lower rates than White examinees” (p. 10).


High Academic Expectations, High Academic Support In the literature regarding urban teachers, high expectations appear to be highly correlated with student success. Theresa Adkins-Coleman (2010) found that successful urban teachers had high expectations for all students, every day, with unlimited support to meet them. Teachers demonstrated these high expectations in a number of ways, including assigning challenging material, allowing no time for offtask behavior, demanding effort, and not allowing students to give up on assignments. Similarly, Bonnie Benard (2003) found high expectations to be a hallmark of good urban teachers; these teachers helped students not to take adversity personally or see it as permanent or pervasive. The teachers in her study refused to accept excuses, instead looking for students’ strengths and mirroring them back. Students echoed this idea of building an environment of success in Kathleen Cushman’s (2005) study. They emphasized that they wanted teachers to know their material, let them know what to expect, push them to do their best, listen to what they think, and know that fairness builds trust and respect. They added that teachers can create a culture of success with high expectations, support and encouragement from inspirational role models provided by the teacher. Above all, they said teachers must believe students can and want to learn. Teachers must support students until they understand the concept or lesson, refusing to allow them to fail. Research on turnaround schools by the U.S. Department of Education (Herman et al., 2008) found that one factor contributing to turnaround was a committed staff characterized by high expectations. These high expectations translated into observable actions. The report states, “A committed staff displayed this mindset by caring about students, building pride in the school, the staff, and oneself, demonstrating a willingness to be diligent, and doing whatever it took to meet goals and raise student achievement” (p. 28). Brain-Based Instruction A more recent development in education research is the increasing awareness of the importance of attending to and modeling cognitive processes. Robert Swartz (2008) calls this strategy “thinking-based” learning (p. 26). His research on practices of middle school science teachers points to the effectiveness of explicitly teaching and modeling mental processes, then applying them to curricular content. Effective urban teachers instruct students in the thinking skills and mental habits necessary to make them better creative and critical thinkers and decision makers. These teachers also help students explicitly map thinking strategies then apply that map to the curricular content. Swartz (2008) used the example of a teacher who applied textbook information about energy generation to the world’s energy crisis. The teacher then helped students gather information beyond what they could find in the text, using that opportunity to teach them how to evaluate the reliability of sources. Eric Jensen (2009) presents evidence regarding multiple negative direct and indirect ways in which poverty affects children’s cognitive functioning. Intervening risk factors are diverse and may include poor nutrition and health care, acute and chronic stress, parental speech patterns, and social, emotional, and safety concerns. He finds that schools and teachers can change students’ brains for the better by understanding


how the brain works, teaching students how the brain works, and incorporating strategies aimed at improving students’ cognitive function, such as physical activity, the arts, and exercises designed to increase attention and working memory. Other research regarding brain function suggests that instruction for students in urban settings needs to make provision for a variety of learning styles, as well as for leftand right-brain thinkers. For instance, one means of actively engaging students is to incorporate movement into the school day (Kunjufu, 1989; Jensen, 2009). Relationships with Families and Communities Successful teachers of urban students make use of relationships with families and communities to increase student achievement. Eleanor Baron and colleagues’ (1992) literature review of urban teaching found that one teacher competency external to the classroom was community and family support, defined as competent interactions with families and community agencies in support of student learning. Research indicates that practices such as “relationship building, advocacy, and parental efficacy” are effective with poor parents and families of color (Bower & Griffin, 2011, p. 79). Content-Specific Strategies While the instructional practices above are common to all subject areas, the literature also illuminates content-specific teaching strategies correlated with student success in urban settings. The sections below present content-specific strategies in two categories: those related to literacy and those related to math and science. In literacy, best practices include explicitly teaching literacy skills to adolescents and incorporating targeted motivational strategies. In math and science, urban students benefit from hands-on learning and frequent testing, as well as having teachers who participate in content-based professional development. Literacy Literacy is a critical area of focus for teachers of urban students. While early childhood and primary grades initiatives have the potential to improve reading achievement, the Council of Great City Schools (2008) found that early literacy gains often reverse due to students’ lacking advanced literacy skills needed to learn upper elementary and secondary content. As a result, adolescent students must explicitly learn academic literacy which, beyond comprehending text, includes thinking about its meaning to answer questions. In a practical sense, this means that teachers of grades four through twelve must devote class time to direct instruction, modeling, and practice of specific reading comprehension strategies as well as vocabulary. Many studies describe literacy techniques proven effective with urban students. Seven strategies produced improved literacy achievement in an urban San Diego high school: read-alouds, KWL (what I know, want to know, and learned) charts, graphic organizers, vocabulary instruction, writing to learn, structured note-taking, and reciprocal teaching (Fisher, Frey, & Williams, 2002). By interviewing three experienced literacy educators, Jerrie Scott and William Teale (2009) identified additional strategies including providing a diverse literacy-rich environment; a range


of teaching and learning strategies; hands-on, collaborative instruction; and student choice in the learning process. They also found that successful teachers used means other than tests, e.g., level of participation in a discussion or lesson, to assess progress, embedding assessment within everyday activities. Above all, the researchers found, instructional practices need to be “authentic, motivational, focused, and differentiated,” as in the case of activities that help students expand word choice to find just the right word (p. 339). Motivation is a major issue influencing reading achievement among urban adolescents. Jawanza Kunjufu (1989) wrote that, in the case of the African American adolescent male, motivating texts are connected to larger academic, cultural, economic, political, social, and personal aims that help them define who they are and what they can become: students must perceive texts as relevant and useful. Several researchers have identified strategies that accomplish this goal. For instance, Alfred Tatum (2005) recommended the selected text strategy, in which fast-moving, penetrating, and highly relevant texts are a bridge to lengthier books in the required curriculum. He stated that selected texts should include themes of self-reliance, resilience, and self-determination. Good choices include poetry and short stories, which can help students find and activate their voices and see literature as a tool for communication. The Council of Great City Schools (2008) also identified several motivational strategies, including increasing the amount of high-quality discussion of reading content, incorporating peer discussion groups, and allowing students autonomy in choosing reading materials. To this last point, Evan Ortleib and Earl Cheek (2008) found that, whereas the rural teachers in their study included more variety and choice of reading materials, urban teachers often had students reread stories from basal texts. Math and Science With respect to increasing math and science achievement for urban students, research finds that there are specific classroom strategies correlated with success, including project-based learning, frequent testing, open-ended questioning, and connecting curriculum to students’ everyday experiences. In an analysis of NAEP eighth grade math and science data, Harold Wenglinsky (2000) measured the statistical significance of three teacher quality measures: teacher inputs, classroom practices, and professional development. He found that the “greatest role is played by classroom practices, followed by professional development that is specifically tailored to those classroom practices most conducive to the high academic performance of students” (p. 8). Of the teacher inputs measured, only teachers’ majoring or minoring in the subject taught was associated with improved student performance (40% of a grade level). Math professional development in working with special populations and higher-order thinking skills, as well as science professional development in lab skills, each accounted for student progress measuring 40% of a grade level. Handson learning activities accounted for 70% of a grade level in math and 40% of a grade level in science, while frequent testing accounted for 46% of a grade level in math and 92% in science. Wenglinsky concluded, “These findings indicate that greater attention needs to be paid to improving classroom aspects of teacher quality. In particular, teachers should be encouraged to convey higher-order thinking skills,


conduct hands-on learning activities, and rely primarily on tests to monitor student progress” (p. 7). Reviewing transcripts from three urban science teachers’ classrooms, Katherine McNeill and Diane Pimentel (2009) confirmed that enculturation of students into scientific ways of thinking requires science teachers to encourage scientific discourse. The study found that one teacher’s use of open-ended questions and connections with other students’ comments seemed to help students construct and validate their scientific claims, as well as consider and reflect upon alternate views. An accompanying finding was that “encouraging students to draw from their everyday knowledge and experiences is important to help them connect their different ideas to develop more robust and usable scientific knowledge” (p. 225). In another investigation of hands-on science learning, David Kanter and Spyros Konstantopoulos (2010) provided professional development on content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge for nine middle school urban science teachers, then studied their effectiveness in delivering a project-based science (PBS) curriculum to 301 students. The researchers found that PBS led to increased science achievement for minorities, as well as increased intent to pursue science careers, but required professional development in both content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge. They wrote that “teachers need both a knowledge of the specific science content (content knowledge or CK) and a knowledge of how to make this specific science content accessible to others (pedagogical content knowledge or PCK)...” (p. 858).


S e c t i o n II : L i t e r at u r e I n f o r m i n g u r b a n a c a d e m y C o n t e n t f o r L e a d e r s

Real leaders are ordinary people with extraordinary determination. anonymous

According to a study conducted by Robert Marzano and colleagues (2005) and published by ASCD, teachers account for 33% of a school’s effectiveness, but principals are a close second, accounting for 25%. District leadership is also critical: the most successful school leaders function within a milieu that provides the necessary balance between autonomy, on one hand, and accountability to nonnegotiable, collaboratively developed goals, on the other (Eck & Goodwin, 2010). Effective school and district leadership provide the soil within which good teaching can take root, grow, and produce student achievement. This section summarizes key findings from the research regarding successful leadership of urban schools and districts. The section’s four parts present lessons regarding cross-sector leadership change theory, district leadership, school leadership, and sustaining change. Leadership for Change Current management literature abounds with books regarding change. These resources regarding strategic change and change models contain best practices from multiple industries and sectors. Some of them apply learning from the private sector to public education, and especially to turnaround schools, which are defined as chronically poor performing schools — with a high proportion of students (more than 20%) initially failing to meet state standards — that show substantial gains in student achievement over a short period of time. Whether the impetus for change is part of a larger district-wide reform movement or based on a single school’s mission to improve, cross-sector research offers lessons on ways to engineer educational change efforts. Cross-Sector Research One of the important policy issues that states and school districts have to address is how to accelerate the initiation of reform efforts. In their summaries of research regarding turnaround successes in education as well as in the business sector, Emily and Bryan Hassel (2009) observed that educators tended to align with one of two perspectives: incrementalists believe the slow and steady approach is best, while clean slate advocates believe change must begin with a fresh start. One of the primary reasons educators gave for their belief in the slow and steady approach was their position that a need exists for “cultural change leading to instructional change and eventual student success” (p. 22). Hassel and Hassel found that most educators agree with this position and therefore have difficulty adopting the clean slate approach wholesale. For instance, educators working in public school settings are keenly aware of governance and contractual issues that may not apply as much to privately owned corporate settings where the lines of authority and decision-making between service providers and their customers are much clearer. Still, lessons learned about rapid turnarounds in business and government entities such as Continental Airlines and the NYC Police Department suggest that two factors typically predict overall success. First, the turnarounds happen in an environment that gives them the “big yes” (Hassel & Hassel, 2009, p. 23). That is to say, parent organizations must be willing to support turnaround efforts that may include breaking


rules or moving contrary to established organizational norms. In both business and education settings where early successes have been enjoyed, employees have seen evidence that business as usual will not continue, that leaders are willing to deviate from traditions and take risks in order to achieve early and significant wins. Second, the turnaround has to have a “point guard” who can both inspire and lead staff members in new ways of doing things while also influencing and motivating key stakeholders to support and participate in innovative practices (Hassel & Hassel, 2009). Within the education sector, however, even when early successes are apparent, maintaining those early wins and sustaining momentum seems to become problematic. Therefore, while educators continue to look to what has succeeded in turnaround efforts in the business sector for at least some of the answers, researchers and practitioners must continue to build case histories of successful practices within education in order to fully understand what it takes to accomplish dramatic and sustainable improvement. Drivers of Change Sustainability “requires continuous improvement, adaptation, and collective problem solving in the face of complex challenges that keep arising” according to Michael Fullan (2005b, p. 22). This adaptive work is required both of schools — to make dramatic and long-term improvements in student academic success — and of school districts that aspire to transform themselves to provide coherent and aligned servant leadership to schools. For schools and districts to sustain momentum and achieve long lasting improvements, Fullan finds that three enablers, or drivers, of change seem to work best. First, W.E. Deming (1986) identified organizational fearlessness as a precondition for success. In an environment that accepts kaizen, or continuous improvement, as a guiding principle, fearlessness may seem like a simple commitment to make, but this is not the case in education, where the white-hot glare of public and media attention is focused at all times on changing test scores. Achieving a school culture in which teams “fail intelligently,” in the words of inventor Charles Kettering (About the Kettering Foundation - History, 2012), is necessary for sustained effort and long-term improvement. As argued by David Hargreaves (2003), government, i.e., state and local district authorities, must give active permission to schools to innovate and to provide a climate in which educators interpret failure in the short run as a necessary step toward making progress, just as in the business world. The key is to learn from mistakes — to forgive and remember — but in the current climate of crisis, this is very difficult to do. Developing schools with climates conducive to learning requires paying careful attention to the morale of school faculties, staff, and stakeholders. These critical players make up the school community and are essential to creating a shared responsibility for learning and other features of responsive and inclusive school cultures described below. According to Fullan (2005b), a second enabler of change in high-needs urban schools marked by records of sustained improvements over time is the provision of a system for transparent data gathering of many kinds, coupled with meaningful and supportive processes for acting on the data. Transparent, in this sense, means immediate data collection and reporting processes that flow naturally out


of instructional purposes, i.e., diagnosing, prescribing, monitoring, and informing instruction. This requirement does not mean adding more layers of testing and reporting, but instead making a concerted effort to eliminate redundant or separate processes of data collection and reporting which do not directly support instruction. The third, and perhaps most important, enabler of change seen in high-needs urban schools which have maintained improvements over time is that these schools have succeeded in making sure that all players in these systems — teachers, administrators, staff, students, parents, and community stakeholders — are engaged in the process and learn collectively from their experiences (Fullan, 2005b). Research finds organizations where fear and distrust prevail to be places where individuals and groups do not translate knowledge into action (Pfeffer & Sutton, 2000). Particularly damaging to schools’ prospects for continuous improvement and sustained patterns of growth is the fact that “fear causes a focus on the short run, driving out consideration of the longer run” and focuses attention on the individual over the collective (Pfeffer & Sutton, 2000, pp. 124-125). Empowerment to innovate and take risks in purposeful ways, while creating inclusive school cultures that share responsibility for learning and are responsive to the needs of every student, requires explicit planning and support. For this complex work to continue beyond a brief explosion of new energy from new personnel or resources, turnaround schools must be armed with tools and strategies to “mobilize the social attractors of moral purpose, quality of relationships, and quality knowledge” (Fullan 2003, p.22). According to Fullan, (2003), this combination can help mobilize and sustain school teams as they grapple with these difficult issues. The skillful and balanced use of these energy sources is what leaders must master in turnaround schools in order to maintain persistent effort over the long haul without encountering burnout, on one hand, or atrophy and indifference, on the other (Fullan, 2005b). Attending to these drivers of change is critical to developing long-term goals, learning opportunities, and collaborative planning in turnaround schools. Therefore, they are also important to incorporate into planning of the Schultz Center’s Urban Academy (UA) Program. These drivers of change must become key elements of the UA Program curriculum, defining guiding principles for collective learning and supporting organizing schools in ways that allow them the ability to learn from failures, a characteristic linked strongly to developing sustainability (Fullan, 2005b). District-Level Leadership Because certain challenges apply in the context of urban schools in general, the characteristics of successful schools in these settings are of special interest as planners develop curricula for the Urban Academy (UA) Program. While there are not yet conclusive examples of fully successful urban school districts, there are many examples of exceptional schools even in the poorest of urban areas. These successful heroic efforts on the part of individual principals to “turn around” low-performing schools are in no way insignificant, however they offer little in the way of defining a “prescription” for what works best for urban school situations in general. For that, this review gleaned from various sources and used summaries of research and reports that represent efforts at distinguishing successful practices in urban schools and districts.


Presentation of these findings begins with a summary of the literature regarding successful district-level leadership. Examples of Successful District Leadership Reform To find recommendations from school districts that seem to be on the right track, one resource used was a description of the selection process and past winners of The Broad Foundation Urban Education Award. In 2002, Houston Independent School District won the first of these awards by showing gains in student achievement in reading and math at all grade levels as well as achieving decreases in the achievement gap in many subject areas. From a leadership perspective, the lessons learned were that Houston’s model for systemic reform (a) clearly defined academic objectives, (b) had a strong model for the school- and teacher-level analysis of test data, and (c) utilized a district strategy for targeted staff development. This professional development strategy incorporated mentor teacher assignments, peer coaching, and other instructional interventions based on the diagnosed needs of teachers (Pascopella, 2002). In a 2005 study, the superintendent of an urban school district analyzed fourteen case studies to identify promising practices present in high poverty school districts that had experienced rapidly increasing student achievement. The report initially identified 26 discrete practices. Follow an analysis combining similar elements from individual districts’ practices, a list of eight best practices emerged: 1. Provide a strong superintendent and senior leadership staff, characterized by strong school/district partnerships and a clear vision of learning supported by the district reform model, to lead the reform effort. 2. Build school board trust and multiple stakeholder engagement characterized by open communication and respect. 3. Share a common vision and beliefs that all students can learn at high levels; have a sense of urgency about the work and shared responsibility on the part of adults for the learning. 4. Have an aligned instructional system including common performance standards, curriculum, and model for quality instruction based on a common core of instruction around literacy, mathematics, and science. 5. Allocate resources strategically to support school improvement planning, based on school needs and aligned with key district priorities. 6. Provide an extensive professional development program tied to the curriculum using instructional coaches and creating professional learning communities to provide job-embedded professional learning at all schools. 7. Create an accountability system that holds schools and district staff responsible for accomplishing specific improvement targets based on realistic, data-based goals for improving instruction and student achievement. 8. Create and use a comprehensive data management system for identifying and monitoring student progress, addressing differentiated needs for interventions, and documenting individual and group accomplishment of goals (PrattDannals, 2005).

Other research summaries describe successful large-scale efforts to move entire


school districts ahead rapidly, including the methods by which they were able to do so. For example, the Learning First Alliance published a review of five high-poverty districts that made significant strides in improving achievement over three or more years and across grade levels and student ethnic groups. The rationale for this study was that far too many students were left out of benefits from individual school successes: “Moving beyond islands of excellent schools to systems of success will require that all those involved in education better understand what they must do to help students succeed” (Togneri & Anderson, 2003, p. 1). Lessons learned from this study resulted in several recommendations for partners who are engaged in districtlevel educational reform initiatives: 1. Mobilize the political will needed to improve instruction across the district. 2. Implement a system wide approach to evaluating and improving instruction that specifies outcomes to be expected, the content to be taught, the data to inform the work, and the supports needed. 3. Make professional development relevant and useful. 4. Redefine school and district leadership roles. 5. Explore ways to extend time for learning. 6. Make funding for new approaches to professional development central to district budgets, and call for dependable state and federal funding for this essential work (p. 51). New Approaches to Central Office Leadership An interesting challenge to efforts in the United States aimed at accomplishing consistent and widespread reforms of the education system is that authority for schooling resides with states, which then award the responsibility and management authority of schools to local school districts. Districts then have the power and specific authority to support and require effective educational leadership. Currently, there are greater demands and economic pressures than ever before influencing school districts to improve student learning, and these pressures are requiring changes in the conduct of business. Of necessity, districts have learned that they must invest in new ways of doing things, revising existing strategies in the process, and even dismantling old management structures to create transformed systems that generate better results. The idea of transformational leadership applied to district management processes is not new. In 2001, Phil Schlechty wrote, “District leadership – understand that your most important job is to create and manage systems that will enable principals and teachers to concentrate on the core business of schools, the creation of intellectual activity that students find engaging and from which they learn – you are a capacity builder” (p. 213). In 2010, Education Resource Strategies described several transformational strategies that districts need to take to create school districts that generate better results: • Ensure equitable, transparent, and flexible funding across schools adjusted for students’ needs. • Restructure teaching for individual and team effectiveness and growth. • Support schools in organizing talent, time, and money to maximize learning. • Ensure access to aligned curriculum, instruction, assessment and professional development.


• Build school and district leader capacity. • Redesign central roles for empowerment, accountability and efficiency. • Partner with families and communities (Education Resource Strategies, 2010, p. 5).

Research about central office reform is revealing the need for central offices to forge a new approach to relationships with schools. “The interface between district and school is the crux of central office transformation” (Honig et al., 2010, p. 123). District leaders must now consider the current state of the relationship between central office and schools and ask themselves how, and how regularly, the central office staff asks or assesses the kinds of support that schools could benefit from, as well as how current types of support address the expressed needs of schools (Davis, 2010). In order to accomplish district leadership transformation, district office administrators must review current work practices and the relationships that district offices maintain with one another and with school leaders in order to assess how they are currently working to facilitate school improvement and impact student achievement. A team of researchers from the Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy at the University of Washington conducted a set of coordinated investigations of school leadership, resource investments, and central office transformation efforts. The focus of the study was reinvention of central office work practices and relationships with schools to better support a unified and systemic approach to the improvement of teaching and learning across the districts examined. The unifying theme to emerge from these coordinated studies was the idea that leadership provided through the transformed central office would need to have as its focus and primary function Leadership Support as opposed to Leadership Report. To contrast the two, a Wallace Foundation report on the study highlighted five forms of leadership support. Table A, below, contrasts Leadership Support with Leadership Report.

Leadership report act ivit ies

Lea dership suppo rt a ctiv ities

1. Material and financial support.

1. P  roviding resources to enable leaders to sustain instructional improvement work.

2. F  ormal support for professional development, mentoring, support, and intellectual support.

2. C  reating and facilitating regular opportunities for leaders’ professional learning about leadership work and instructional improvement.

3. S  ocial-emotional support, informal support for professional learning.

3. B  rokering relationships among leaders and their peers engaged in similar work.

4. O  perational support, troubleshooting or crisis management.

4. R  esponding in a coordinated and timely way to administer, legal, political, or logistical issues facing school administrators.

5. P  olitical and organizational support, directional support.

5. S  ponsoring and legitimizing learningfocused leadership.


The five forms of leadership support described in Table A were present to some degree in all districts and schools studied for the Wallace Foundation report. According to the researchers, the extent to which they were both present and aligned with one another determined the degree to which they formed a “mutually reinforcing web of support” for the practice of learning-focused leadership (Knapp et al., 2010, p. 26). The study produced two overall conclusions. First, the capacity of a district to enhance the practices that produce student learning depends on leadership that focuses on learning improvement for both students and professional staff. Second, the power and sustainability of learning-focused leadership depends largely on a multilevel system of leadership support in the district (Knapp et al., 2010). District offices now have recognized responsibilities to provide leadership support to the instructional staffs in their schools. Learning Forward, formerly known as the National Staff Development Council, calls for every educator at every school to engage in professional learning every day. Schools are expected to organize teachers into collaborative teams to analyze performance data, diagnose learning gaps, overcome process barriers, and negotiate effectively with colleagues to address student learning needs more effectively. The new central office needs to become an implementation partner in this work with schools. This role calls for it to collaborate with schools to identify and meet needs for intensive support while ensuring quality implementation. The readiness and willingness of central offices to engage in this work varies and so requires systematic and aggressive development. Central office transformation will itself require attention to several dimensions of change: Dimension 1: Working hand-in-hand with principals on improving instruction. Learning-focused partnerships with school principals to deepen principals’ instructional leadership practices will require • Creating direct, personal relationships between individual central office administrators and school principals specifically focused on helping every school principal to become a stronger instructional leader. • Focusing on leadership for learning improvement. Central office Instructional Leadership Directors (or those functioning in this role) must spend the majority of their time helping to improve school principals’ instructional practice. Dimension 2: Supporting Central Instructional Leadership Directors (ILDs). Assistance to the central office-principal partnerships from leaders throughout the central office must include • Professional development given to those serving as ILDs. • Taking issues off the plates of those serving as ILDs which would interfere with their coaching support efforts. • Not pulling principals for meetings when ILD time is scheduled. • Systemically holding principals and ILDs accountable for improving performance measures. Dimension 3: Reorganizing and Changing the Culture of Central Office Units. Reorganizing and re-culturing of central office units to support central officeprincipal partnerships that support teaching and learning improvement should include • Implementing a case management approach to doing business with schools, which will require that central office staff members become experts


in the specific needs, strengths, goals and characteristics of each school in order to provide high quality and responsive support services. • Adopting a project management approach to move from delivering controlled services to accepting responsibility for solving problems that help schools improve teaching and learning, even when multiple departments are involved. Dimension 4: Providing Stewardship of the Overall Central Office Transformation Process. These efforts demand constant cultivation; stewardship must begin with adopting a theory of action describing how to proceed, a way of work, and a well thought-out rationale for the way plans may need to be revised in response to circumstances such as • Careful and deliberate attention to helping all stakeholders understand the transformation effort and strategic vision. • Working with outside funders who support the vision while turning away or persuading outside detractors. Dimension 5: Gathering and Using Information to Guide the Effort. Use of evidence throughout the central office to support the continual improvement of work practices and relationships with schools will include • Use of standardized or objective instruments developed to provide evidence of work. • Coordinated use of data collection tools and evidence based not only on student performance, but also on the experience of central office staff involved in the transformation process. • Monitoring and evaluating the overall plan for transformational change as part of the district’s strategic plan to rapidly improve teaching and learning in the district (Honig et al., 2010). Not all the work of a transformed central office will be focused on the work of principals, but current research clearly identifies the relationship between the organization and functioning of the central office and servant leadership provided to schools as paramount where rapid district improvement is desired. The conversations regarding student achievement and the role of support provided by central office leaders must strengthen in order to transform teaching and learning across schools. The District Transformational Leadership Inventory (DTLI) is an instrument developed for use with district teams as they assess their readiness to engage in this work. In order to assess and facilitate conversations needed to initiate and support these interactions, an instrument such as the DTLI, used with groups of central office administrators and school leaders, can promote the dialogue necessary for movement toward central office transformation. Individual items on the DTLI incorporate research identifying key elements of a transformed central office leadership team. These elements enable school districts to provide leadership for learning, model instructional leadership practices, monitor effective leadership practices, broker the provision of supplemental resources based on specific school needs, and understand the need for a central office entity to accomplish continuous improvement as a professional learning community itself (Coble & Divine, 2011). The inventory poses questions of leadership teams about the current state of work practices and relationships between district offices and


school leaders in the areas of Relationships & Networking, Differentiated Support, Instructional Design & Coaching, and Student-Focused Professional Learning. Responses to individual items in each area are scored and combined to create individual and team profiles reflecting the perceptions of groups about areas of need within districts to begin the work of planning and implementing district transformation to move from the central office role of “leadership report” to “leadership support” (Coble & Divine, 2011). Alternatively, the instrument can be used with school leadership teams or with school and district leadership teams together to capture feedback from the perspective of both levels of administrators and prompt discussion about the current state of work practices and relationships between district offices and schools. School-Level Leadership A report written by Lucy Steiner and Elizabeth Hassel and published by Public Impact in 2011 states, “Two major factors affect turnaround success: the characteristics and actions of the turnaround leader, and the support for dramatic change that the leader and staff receive from the district, state, and/or other governing authority” (p. 1). Having already explored best practices in district leadership, this review now turns to best practices and findings in the literature regarding school leadership. As evidenced by discretionary funding programs such as the School Leadership Program and Race to the Top, the U.S. Department of Education has recognized leadership by principals and assistant principals as a lever that can help transform persistently low-achieving schools, many of which are in urban districts. Recent research regarding best practices in school-level reform, responsive and inclusive schools, and principal competencies provides content for the ongoing professional development of school leaders. The sections that follow detail those themes, as well as the systems change model as applied to schools, and the link between school leader competencies and skills. Best Practices in School-Level Reform What works for leading individual schools toward dramatic and fast-paced school improvement? At the individual school level, there is a considerable amount of data about what it takes to be successful in urban settings. Research has focused for some time on documenting evidence and describing “islands of excellence” in order to learn from them. In the process of doing so, a number of efforts have been undertaken to identify characteristics and conditions found to be present in successful urban school programs. Martin Haberman, Distinguished Professor at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, has worked extensively in this field and recently outlined general conditions necessary for success in urban schools. According to Haberman (2010), successful urban school programs are those that: • have outstanding principals who serve as “leaders rather than building managers”; • have a critical mass of “star teachers” or those well on the way to becoming stars;


• have a vision of the school’s mission commonly held by students, parents, caregivers, and the community; • have a deep and growing knowledge of how computers and information systems can be used in classrooms; • have parents involved in many ways in the life of the school; • have a curriculum tightly aligned with achievement measures; • have a curriculum that is sensitive to issues of equity and social justice; • have frequent celebrations of student achievement; • have a faculty and staff that create a community of learning; • have created a healthy, safe environment for learning; and • find ways to extend the time students spend with knowledgeable and caring adults

Characteristics of Successful Urban Programs While the characteristics listed above emerged from Haberman’s review of successful urban programs, they are also generally aligned with school effectiveness literature as a whole. To further distinguish specific practices predictive of success in urban school turnarounds, literature was sought to identify practices critical to the efforts undertaken in urban schools, especially those participating in rapid improvement or turnaround efforts. The review focused on practices present in sustained or long-term efforts at comprehensive reform that maintained high levels of success over time. In this vein, Daniel Duke (n.d.) provided a useful comparative analysis of fifteen case studies of elementary schools that not only achieved success, but also sustained these improvements for at least two years. Duke’s cross-site comparison of case studies identified leadership as the first and most important key to systemic change and school improvement; in 10 of the 15 cases under study, the first step toward an effective turnaround effort involved the placement or replacement of a principal or, at a minimum, a clear and marked change in the conduct of business. Whether or not the principal was new, certain leadership strategies and practices emerged as essential to ushering in and maintaining dramatic turnaround efforts. In addition, changes introduced within these schools were found to cluster in eight categories of organizational practice: leadership, school policy, programs, organizational processes, staffing, classroom teaching, parent and community involvement, and school facilities. It was noteworthy that of these eight areas of practice, three — a commitment to comprehensive change, customization to specific school needs, and dedication to a core set of reform strategies — are similar to the high-level drivers of reform noted above. Finally, the aspects of school leadership Duke found to be most successful in turnaround school efforts were varied and numerous, but common binding elements were present in all which relate to the principal’s focused presence and directedness. These characteristics were evident as principals carried out key leadership roles including spending time in classrooms, monitoring teachers to make sure that new practices were being implemented, and modeling and coaching teaching practices (Duke, n.d.). In 2008, the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute for Education Sciences (IES) published a practice guide entitled Turning around Chronically Low-Performing


Schools (Herman et al., 2008). The first recommendation was that a change in leadership is essential. Because school principals are likely to be enmeshed in past practices and policies that brought about the current situation, generally the idea of placing a new principal seems to be a common avenue taken in districts launching turnaround efforts. In successful turnaround schools, new principals tend to come into the school with a clear purpose and are more ready to share responsibility for turning around the school with staff members. Even when a change in physical leadership does not occur, existing principals can signal eminent change by substantially and visibly reforming current leadership practices (Duke, n.d.). Sometimes this radical change in leadership practice includes a visible effort to engage the school and staff in a study of school improvement theory, research, and practice (Whiteside, 2006), a finding that supports the need for the Schultz Center’s Urban Academy Program. Partnerships with the community, parents, and area businesses are also ways that turnaround schools publicly mark their intent and plan for change. Principals often have to lead campaigns to increase local residents’ support of the school (Picucci et al., 2002). For instance, the IES (2008) guide described efforts of one middle school principal who led the effort to change the perception of the school held by parents and the community: “He held coffees with parents and community members and met with parents of prospective students, among other activities, to educate the community. He also reached out to the larger urban community, including institutions of higher education, to solicit partnerships for additional resources” (p. 12). Finally, one of the critical roles played by the district in supporting the turnaround effort is the governance role it serves in selecting school leaders to place in turnaround settings. There is a body of research documenting the special role played by the “right leaders” in successful turnaround efforts in a variety of public and private organizations (Kanter, 2003; Kim & Mauborgne, 2003; Reisner, 2002). Research suggests that about 25% of the differences in student achievement attributable to the school are linked to differences in the assigned school leaders (Waters et al., 2003; Leithwood et al., 2004). While even higher percentages of the “bottom line” in productivity are attributed to leaders in fields of business and industry, the effect seen in schools is clearly meaningful and important. The prevailing wisdom from researchers Emily and Bryan Hassel, Lucy Steiner, and others seems to be that, while a turnaround leader does not need to be new to the school, the majority of successful turnarounds are directed by leaders who are new to the organization (Learning Point Associates, 2010). Responsive and Inclusive School Culture Research into what makes a difference in challenging urban schools places emphasis on establishing and nurturing the kind of professional culture in which a teaching staff makes a concerted effort to understand the context of the school and community in which the school is located and works collectively to raise the performance of each and every student. In a study of high-performing, high-poverty turnaround middle schools conducted by the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin, four critical factors were identified as critical to the success of these schools at closing the achievement gap between subpopulations of students (Picucci


et al., 2002). This particular cross-case study of middle schools focused on practices, policies, and belief systems that enhanced teaching and learning. As a group, these schools, characterized as schools driven to succeed, were found to exhibit: 1. a focus on high expectations for all students; 2. collaborative relationships between the school staff, the district office, and outside agencies; 3. staff capacity to focus on human and non-human resources by thoughtfully implementing organizational structures; and 4. focus on the individual student, with targeted interventions and extra services to ensure that no child became invisible (Picucci et al., 2002). The Dana Center study suggested that developing a responsive and inclusive school culture was a greater need and fundamentally a more difficult undertaking to achieve in urban high-needs schools than may have been recognized previously by comparisons to successful turnaround efforts in the private sector. Developing a collaborative work environment in schools required that staff input be sought out and developed collaboratively, and that shared decision-making become a shared value and norm within the culture of these schools. Collaborative problem solving and shared decision-making were vehicles for instilling a sense of shared responsibility for learning of all students and for enabling faculties to exercise control over their own professional growth (Picucci et al., 2002). This need for attention to organizational culture is not limited to U.S. schools. In an article reporting findings from four multiple perspective case studies of successful principals in challenging urban contexts in disadvantaged communities in Poland, certain similarities were noted (Michalak, 2009). These findings were part of a larger three-year international study from 2005 to 2008 that sought to identify, analyze, evaluate, and disseminate strategies found to improve school leadership in nine countries in Europe. Among these findings, several interconnected strategies were not only important for essential leadership success in all schools, but especially in highneeds urban settings similar to those studied here. These specific strategies related to setting directions, developing people, redesigning the organization, and changing the culture of schools. The principals in this study spoke of the last two strategies, redesigning the organization and changing the culture, in an intertwined way. They talked in detail about initially facing challenging circumstances that required them to sort through complex sets of competing factors – and that the first order of business became establishing a shared vision with accompanying priorities and strategies for moving forward. In describing their efforts to change what they saw as the culture of their schools, principals mainly talked about changing values and beliefs. These actions involved establishing a vision, setting direction, building relationships, strengthening morale, and raising expectations. Students and parents interviewed noted that the school’s culture changed from an “aloof, unfriendly and somewhat violent environment” to one that was “nurturing and sociable where the children were engaged in their learning” (Michalak, 2009, p. 393). A similar case study (Johnson, 2007) in the United States used data from three schools participating in the same International Successful School Principalship Project (ISSPP). In the U.S. study, the data were re-analyzed through the lens of “culturally-


responsive leadership”; researchers sought evidence of practices that “affirmed students’ home cultures, increased parent and community involvement in poor and culturally diverse neighborhoods, and advocated for changes in the larger society” (p. 49). Results from these case studies cited characteristics of the principals that enhanced a trusting connection between homes and the school and created a place where community members could feel welcome and comfortable. All three principals shared a no-excuses approach to holding high expectations for student achievement. The researcher noted that among the three culturally responsive schools studied, certain similarities emerged including their adherence to a tight alignment with state accountability measures and curriculum standards, and their unapologetic use of high stakes testing as a highly prized outcome measure. All three principals also focused tightly on instruction and prescribed staff professional development around specific areas of improvement needed in student achievement (Giles et al., 2005). However, it was also noted concerning the schools cited in this study that rigid adherence to accountability measures may have inadvertently restricted the schools’ opportunities for the use of culturally-relevant choices to be made in selecting or choosing curriculum priorities or using opportunities for parent and community involvement which might have been possible in these schools (Johnson, 2007). In other words, these schools were not able to be as flexible as they may have liked due to the rigid requirements for aligning their curriculum to material on high-stakes district and state assessments. Responsive and inclusive schools take shape differently in different contexts, sometimes in ways that are controversial. A recent policy brief by David Whitman (2008) reviewing efforts aimed at radically improving schools in the Boston public school system examined the problems associated with educating youth in 37 public high schools. These high schools serve about 18,000 students, of whom only about 60% typically graduate within the expected four-year period. A variety of proposed solutions to this situation have been suggested, but what is needed, according to Whitman, is not a single proposed reform but a combination of values, teachers, and academic rigor under the unifying concept of paternalistic schools that will ultimately bring about success. These schools are currently few in number and generally tend to be private or charter schools serving middle or high school grades, but thus far they have offered an intriguing and promising approach to educational reform that seeks to eliminate the disparity in educational outcomes that occur at the secondary level (Whitman, 2008). Low-income minority students from paternalistic high schools are more likely to go on to college than their more advantaged peers; more than 95% gain admission to college. What these schools have in common are “deeply committed teachers and dedicated, forceful principals” (Whitman, 2008, para. 2). They also embrace accountability for both teachers and students, deliver a rigorous college-prep curriculum, test students frequently, and carefully monitor students’ academic performance to diagnose and assess where students need help. Whitman defines paternalistic schools as “highly prescriptive institutions that teach students not just how to think but also how to act according to what are commonly termed traditional, middle-class values” (Six Effective Urban Schools heading, para. 2). He offers that they appear to have real potential to provide an effective way of closing the achievement gap in urban settings, offering a dramatic, if controversial, approach to reforming education for many inner-city students (Whitman, 2008).


Leadership for Responsive and Inclusive Schools Research on successful school turnaround efforts is unequivocal in identifying the importance of school principals as a key factor in creating responsive and inclusive schools that more effectively allow parents, educators, and community members to support the work of schools. The strong relationships needed to develop inclusive practices in schools deeply link to the complex process of school change. Moving urban schools from current practices to inclusive practices requires the collective efforts of key stakeholders working together in the school community Principals serve as linchpins in this process and as catalysts for initiating and driving school change. Schools need highly accomplished principals who are familiar with the change process and the ways in which individuals and groups in schools must be prepared and coached through the stages and process of change (Horsley et al., 1998). Effective principals of inclusive schools bring together key stakeholders who represent different perspectives and roles in the school community. Members of effective and inclusive school leadership teams understand group facilitation techniques and participate in continuous cycles of planning, implementation, and evaluation as they work with school change in these schools. In order to lead these processes, school principals exhibit several characteristics, summarized in Table B, below: ch aracterist ics

exa mples in pra ctice

Risk Takers

Not afraid to say ‘no’; actively engaged in pushing for innovative solutions; act as proponents for inclusive practices in their schools.

Invested In Relationships

‘Go the extra mile’ to work with parents, staff, and community members; work with personnel in their schools to resolve differences and find workable solutions.


Routinely get involved at the ground level with students, teachers, and parents, and community members to address issues confronting their schools.


Use information gathered from a variety of sources, reports, teachers, parents, and community members to develop reasoned approaches for action and help to generate new meanings about the changes ahead.


Share leadership with staff at all levels of the organization; know that teams of people who share the same goals will be more effective than one working alone.


Strong sense of direction and infuse their core values; beliefs, and attitudes into building culture in the school.

While the benefits of creating an inclusive school environment will provide the incentive for teachers and school leaders to continue their momentum toward school change and continuous improvement, people need support along the way to ease the journey. For teachers, this may translate into release time to participate in


collaborative planning or to participate in professional learning communities focused on specific instructional issues confronting the school, or to collaborate in the construction of common assessments designed around vertically aligned units of instruction. For parents, it might be making the opportunity available for them to participate in developing meaningful school practices. Resources needed to support the creation of inclusive schools can be technical, requiring access to people who have skills to provide on-site support; material, as in the case of curriculum materials allowing for the differentiation of skills and interests; or organizational, such as shared planning time. Taken seriously, the effort necessary to create truly inclusive schools that are responsive to the needs of the school community and able to incorporate the strengths and diverse needs of all key stakeholder groups requires as much careful planning and thought as the reform of instructional strategies and programs in schools. Because it is rare that new or greatly enhanced resources become available to support these changes in practice, often the process is further complicated by requiring restructuring of currently existing resources by, for example, re-allocating the roles assigned to particular staff members (Thousand & Villa, 1995). The authors cited above believe that special effort to create inclusive schools is a responsibility of principals, especially in high-needs urban schools where many students are behind academically. The role of inclusive principals is to guide and support the course of change in their schools by drawing together the resources and people necessary to be successful. Just as specific strategies and resources develop an “inclusive learning community” in urban schools, a number of leadership characteristics distinguish principals who lead inclusive schools. Those leaders tend to be: • Risk Takers: They are not afraid to say “no”, and are actively engaged in pushing for innovative solutions. • Invested in Relationships: They work with parents, staff, and community members to resolve differences, and they work hard to build trust and promote change by sharing information with all involved. • Accessible: They are not “desk jockeys” and genuinely enjoy being where the action is to understand issues first-hand. • Reflective: They are proactive about using multiple sources of information to develop reasoned approaches to making needed changes. • Collaborative: They share opportunities for leadership with staff members at all levels and “create time to meet, plan, and teach together”. • Intentional: They have a strong sense of purpose and direction and infuse their personal core values into building an inclusive culture in their schools (Salisbury & McGregor, 2005, pp. 4-5). Principal Characteristics and Competencies While it is widely accepted that highly skilled leaders must be placed at the helm in turnaround schools, it is more difficult to pinpoint the actual competencies of turnaround leaders that will make them successful in this role. The research base for competencies began in the 1970s, when Dr. David McClelland found that standard ways of evaluating job candidates using IQ tests, knowledge content tests, school grades, and credentials did not fully predict whether a person would be successful


in a particular job. He coined the term competency to describe the behavioral characteristics that he found could predict job performance. Although the term can describe any work-related skills, in the field of leadership competencies generally refer to sets of underlying motives and habits that cause a person to be successful in a certain job or role (Spencer, McClelland, & Spencer, 1992). These “patterns of thinking, feeling, acting, and speaking” are what one looks for with regard to identifying successful candidates for positions as school leaders in turnaround settings or for developing leaders for these settings (Steiner & Hassel, 2011, p. 4). Focused presence and directness are leadership characteristics that allow successful principals to serve as the catalysts for change in schools undergoing turnaround efforts. These principals embody the improvement efforts in their schools. They help teachers, students, parents, and other key stakeholder groups think and act in ways that generate collective acts of improvement. In order to do this, principals must initiate, guide, and support actions in their schools that will lead to positive change by drawing together the necessary resources to bring about improvements. A special function accomplished in this process is providing the moral center that binds the school community in this effort and fuels the positive spirit necessary to drive and persist to high levels of accomplishment. Principals know that creating the kind of school community that can support the change process requires collective effort and commitment. One of the key responsibilities of principals in these situations is the assembling of key resources and stakeholders that are able to work together collaboratively and successfully through a continuous cycle of planning, implementation, and evaluation to accomplish real and long lasting changes that will result in notable school improvement (Robinson & Buntrock, 2011). Fran Silverman (2005) cited this statement by Helen Santiago, executive director of the project College Board Way: “It’s all about conscious leadership” (The Care and Feeding of Staff heading, para. 3). Conscious leadership is similar to metacognition in terms of its application to learners’ understandings of the ways by which they accomplish and experience various kinds of learning. Conscious leadership is understanding why one makes particular choices, being reflective about those choices, and being conscious of how any choices will have multiple impacts when they are implemented in schools. The key to good leadership in successful urban schools, according to Michael Riley, superintendent of the Bellevue, Washington School District, is consistency in authority and in instruction (Silverman, 2005). Too often, this is a factor that school principals have little control over; school governance is an area that must be stabilized if principals are to have a positive and directed style of leadership in urban schools. In order to establish a climate and culture for conscious leadership to flourish in urban schools, certain themes have emerged as necessary: the need for principals to create a positive culture, to be open and desirous of making changes, to understand the impact of their decisions, and to align curriculum with instruction and communicate this information effectively to teachers and parents. Santiago describes the critical meaning of culture as “the identity of the school, its primary mission and overall vision” (Public Impact, 2009). Every urban school deserves a highly competent and effective school leader who is able to fulfill five components of effective leadership cited by Michael Fullan (2002): • Moral purpose – leaders acting with intention to make a positive difference in


the lives of stakeholders. • Understanding change – leaders understanding and having an appreciation for the stages and dynamics of the change process. • Building relationships – leaders working to foster relationships with diverse stakeholders for solving problems. • Creating and sharing knowledge – leaders understanding that turning information into knowledge is a “social process” (p. 7) that relies on strong relationships, moral purpose, and favorable dynamics. • Making Coherence – leaders embracing uncertainty as a means to foster innovation but also understanding the critical need to providing coherence to those involved (Fullan, 2002, p. 4).

Combined with these requirements for effective leaders, special circumstances that influence the roles of effective turnaround leaders present a new and heightened set of challenges. As leaders take on these high-needs situations, they generally inherit a combination of difficult issues in which the stakes are high: large numbers of students are performing below grade level; faculty morale is likely to be low; and there are weak connections and relationships with parents, community members, and businesses in the areas. Demands placed on principals who take up these challenging roles are great and those professionally developing principals need to know how best to recognize and develop the skills and abilities that will make them successful. Although described in various ways, a review of research on approaches to and results from turnaround school efforts leads to the conclusion that there are four general programmatic tenets of effective turnaround leadership that include 1. a high level grasp of instructional leadership, 2. an attention and laser-like focus on the school and its systems, 3. a capacity for identifying and leveraging resources within the system, and 4. effective and faithful implementation of a well-aligned and well-articulated turnaround plan. In David McClelland’s (1998) work, he and his colleagues developed a method for identifying and validating sets of competencies for particular jobs and roles. The technique developed for use in this work was the Behavioral-Event Interview (BEI); studies have found that results from such interviews are highly correlated with later job performance (McClelland, 1998). Organizations can use the identification of competencies for many purposes, but for the work of developing the content of the Urban Academy program, an assessment like this one can serve three important purposes: (a) hiring effective turnaround principals; (b) evaluating principal performance; and (c) providing ongoing professional development for school turnaround leaders (Steiner & Hassel, 2011). A Systems Approach to Change Management Part of implementing an effective turnaround plan is the strategic need for leaders to incorporate a well-planned approach to initiating a series of “quick wins” to demonstrate that the school is on a new path toward improvement (Herman et al., 2008). At the same time, leaders must build momentum and a desire for additional


successes that may take longer and require a tolerance for deeper and more substantive change. To this end, the four tenets of turnaround leadership above must be paired with a driver for change, or change management plan, that can accomplish the necessary rapid and marked improvement needed to engage multiple stakeholder groups in ways that will ensure long term commitment and sustainability. In order to move schools toward organizational change, models of systems thinking must guide decision-making (Fullan, 2005a). A model developed in 2000 by Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) provides school leaders with a simple process for thinking systematically about change in their schools and how to begin looking differently at the way schools work. This model, called Asking the Right Questions, was based on earlier work by Franklin Cordell and Timothy Waters (1993) and helps educators to think through the layers of content, procedures, mandates, and factors that affect them daily. The model organizes topics into three categories – technical, personal, and organizational — different “lenses” through which a school may be viewed. The technical domain is comprised of the “stuff” of schooling, including sources of data and information that guide the school’s work. This domain includes standards, curriculum, instruction, and assessment. The personal domain includes the affective parts of the work of schooling that impact people’s attitudes, skills, and behaviors. This domain encompasses staff development, leadership and supervision, internal communication, and climate and culture. The organizational domain addresses resources and structures of the system including the external environment, stakeholders, resource allocations, technology, and accountability. Using this organizational framework, school leaders learn to recognize which domains necessary change falls within, and to use specific and appropriate questions to facilitate dialogue within the correct domains before choosing or initiating possible actions. As the model’s name implies, choosing and phrasing of the right questions is essential for creating a collaborative and inclusive environment in which staff members feel that their input is valued and used in meaningful ways to bring about school change. Using McREL’s model, Asking the Right Questions, encourages the use of open-ended and inclusive forms of joint problem-solving techniques that promote brainstorming, non-judgmental fact-finding, and solutions that inspire faculty buy-in (McREL, 2000). Translating Principal Competencies into Skills and Actions What are the enabling skills and leadership abilities that allow principals to act with moral conviction and to be conscious of how the choices they make will bring about multiple impacts when implemented in schools? There appear to be clearly distinguishable sets of leadership “actions” that are recognizable as lending to a higher likelihood of success in turnaround schools. A practice guide provided by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) in 2008 outlined a formulation of the best evidence-based strategies for addressing the challenges faced by districts implementing systemic reform in low-performing schools. This guide identified practices that could quickly improve the performance of chronically low-performing schools in a process referred to as creating turnaround schools. The guide used evidence from case studies, correlational studies, and longitudinal studies of school


improvement. A limitation was the fact that most of these studies failed to have high-quality evidence as defined by What Works Clearinghouse (http://ies.ed.gove/ ncee/wwc) standards, which favor evidence of causal validity such as the use of experimental or quasi-experimental designs. Nevertheless, IES used current and compelling evidence to classify strategies based on both the quality and quantity of available evidence related to each recommended practice (strong, moderate, or low). The reviewers made it clear that, in the process of this review, panel members used their knowledge of school change and viewed the schools as intact and holistic systems. They focused on identifying sets of actions and practices which, taken together, resulted in the dramatic turnaround success that came about. The IES practice guide identified the following four recommendations reflecting changes that would need to happen systematically and in unison to accomplish dramatic improvements: • Recommendation 1: Signal the need for dramatic change with strong leadership. • Recommendation 2: Maintain a consistent focus on improving instruction. • Recommendation 3: Make visible improvements early in the school turnaround process (quick wins). • Recommendation 4: Build a committed staff (Herman et al., 2008). The IES guide affirmed the need for strong leadership and identified this as its first recommendation to realize dramatic improvement. The summary of evidence compiled by IES highlighted results from two primary studies that described dramatic changes where strong leadership was present in successful turnaround school efforts (Picucci et al., 2002; Duke, n.d.). These authors noted that the majority of schools where dramatic changes occurred in turnaround situations underwent major changes in leadership. Most started with actual new leaders in positions, but, at a minimum, leadership practice itself was markedly different. Although these studies did not list specific skills or actions shared by principals in these turnaround schools, panel members did identify certain commonalities. Turnaround principals demonstrated a commitment to developing a learning community for students and staff that made learning the primary focus of the school and engaged both groups in working toward this goal. Whether leadership practice or the actual person serving as principal changed, the following actions marked leaders as hallmarks of eminent change: • School leaders communicated a clear purpose to school staff. • School leaders created high expectations and values. • School leaders shared leadership and authority. • School leaders demonstrated a willingness to make the same types of changes that were asked of their staff. • School leaders identified advocated within the staff. • School leaders built consensus that was infused throughout the staff. • School leaders eliminated distractions to ensure that the maximum amount of classroom times was focused on instruction. • School leaders established a cohesive culture (Picucci et al., 2002). What are the competencies – mental and behavioral habits – needed for school turnaround leader success? Public Impact identified these competencies by mapping


cross-sector research on turnaround leader actions to high-quality competency studies of successful leaders in large organizations (Spencer, McClelland, & Spencer, 1992). The competencies chosen fit into categories that turnaround leaders share with leaders in other business contexts and comprise four clusters of related abilities. While all identified competencies are important, work completed by Public Impact as part of the Turnaround Collection for the Chicago Public Education Fund identified two critical competencies considered key for selecting candidates in complex and challenging leadership roles. They included Achievement and Impact and Influence. Without high levels of competence in both areas, it is highly unlikely that school leaders will be successful at taking the actions necessary to perform successfully as a turnaround leader. Following is a summary of all four clusters of leadership competencies identified as necessary by Public Impact; highlighted in red are those specific characteristics considered most critical for either setting apart promising candidates for selection into these roles or identifying strengths in turnaround leaders who enjoy the greatest success in these challenging roles: The Driving for Results Cluster focuses on having a strong desire to achieve outstanding results and having the ability to carry out the tactical planning to get there. The competencies in this cluster include • Achievement – A successful leader has the drive and takes actions to set challenging goals and reach a high standard of performance despite encountering barriers. • Initiative and Persistence – A successful leaders has the drive and takes actions needed to do more than is expected or required in order to accomplish a challenging task. • Monitoring and Directiveness – A successful leaders has the ability to set clear expectations and to hold others accountable for performance. • Planning Ahead – A successful leaders uses advance planning routinely in order to derive future benefits and avoid problems. The Influencing for Results Cluster focuses on motivating others and influencing their thinking and behaviors to get the desired results. The competencies in this cluster include • Impact and Influence - A successful leader acts with purpose to affect the perceptions, thinking and actions of others. • Team Leadership – A successful leader assumes authoritative leadership of a group for the benefit of the organization. • Developing Others – A successful leaders influences with the specific intent of increasing the short and long-term effectiveness of another person. Problem Solving Cluster – These skills describe a leader’s ability to think analytically to solve organizational challenges. The competencies in this cluster include • Analytical Thinking – A successful leader the ability to break things done in a logical way and to recognize cause-and-effect relationships between events and conditions. • Conceptual Thinking – A successful leader the ability to see patterns and links among seemingly unrelated things.


Showing Confidence to Lead – These skills describe a leader’s enthusiasm and selfconfidence in performing the role of leader within both internal and public groups. The only competency in this cluster is • Self-Confidence – A successful leader has a personal belief in his or her own ability to accomplish tasks and the actions that reflect that belief. Within each of these competency areas, Public Impact further identified descriptors for specific behaviors that were indicative of levels of each competency in the model. The presence of various levels of these competencies were combined to provide suggested selection and evaluation criteria guidelines that could be used by Public Impact staff, advisers, and evaluators (Public Impact, 2008a). For the purpose of developing program content and activities necessary to support learning in the Schultz Center’s Urban Academy (UA) Program, levels of behavior described as “threshold levels” in Public Impact resources may be adapted in UA Program curriculum and assessments to describe “developing” or “satisfactory” levels of competencies for use as evidence of successful demonstration of proficiency. Developmental self-assessments, constructed scenarios, and surveys or interviews with multiple stakeholder groups can assess the status and growth of individuals and groups participating in the UA Program. Sustaining Success According to the executive summary for The Turnaround Challenge, published by Mass Insight from a larger report funded by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the broad scope of research on turnaround efforts in failing schools has been disappointing, revealing some scattered, individual successes, but showing very little enduring success at scale (Calkins et al., 2007). It appears that models currently applied to under-performing schools are simply not sufficient to produce successful or maintained turnaround progress in chronically low-performing schools. The exceptions appear to be those termed high-performing, high-poverty (HPHP) schools that have evolved with strikingly different strategies to achieve success. To overcome the inertia that still seems to prevent large-scale success of turnaround efforts, the Mass Insight report suggests that we need to beef up the current theory of action which is “timid, compared to the nature and magnitude of the need” (p. 4). Most reform efforts focus on changing (or tweaking) programs and providing help in schools – but fewer are oriented toward fundamentally changing the conditions and incentives for change – especially the leadership authority that exists over staff, time, and money. To enable success in these situations, a “space” for effective turnaround work has to be created “that supports outside-the-system approaches, focused inside the system” (p. 5). Among the critical characteristics that have to be in place is highly capable, distributed school leadership – not simply the principal, but a highly effective leadership team. Creating a local turnaround zone within a school district is especially challenging in high school situations. The stubborn problems of low-performing high schools are well-documented and many of the light-touch reform efforts tried in the past have failed to create conditions necessary to produce substantial improvements. One of the main reasons for this is that wholesale changes in teaching practice that are


necessary for accomplishing systemic reform at the high school level have been either under-estimated or not addressed at all. At times districts may implement broadbased initiatives aimed at substantial improvements across all grade levels, but are disappointed to find that efforts are counter-productive at the high school level. For example, the district-wide literacy initiative called Blueprint for Student Success for the San Diego Unified School District allowed for extended time in reading, speaking, and writing. Results after several years were that Blueprint boosted reading achievement in elementary and middle schools, but had the opposite effect in reading achievement at the high school level. After the fact, a number of factors presented as possible contributors to the negative effects: 1. administrators were not prepared to implement the reforms at the high school level; 2. high school English teachers were not prepared and reluctant to teach what they considered to be basic reading skills to high school students; and 3. high school students were resistant to being stigmatized by participating in double or triple-blocked English classes in order to receive the necessary extended time (Betts et al., 2010). Similar disappointing results have been found in Chicago where public school students were mandated to take Algebra I and English I, eliminating previous optional remedial courses in an effort to increase academic standards and better prepare students for college. Although the policy reduced disparities based on race or academic ability in the proportions of students enrolled in high level and AP courses, the long term effect was that ninth grade mathematics grades declined, failure rates increased, and test scores did not improve. Researchers theorized that the policy failed because it had not taken into consideration fundamental changes in the organization of the schools and teaching practice that would need to be made in order to raise the academic rigor of academic courses for all students (Quay, 2010). The lessons learned in these cases were that district and school policies aimed only at what was taught rather than how it was being taught were unsuccessful at improving high school performance (Allensworth & Easton, 2007). Although examples of highly successful and sustained turnaround efforts have been rare, some promising approaches to dealing with disparities in student academic preparedness and cultural backgrounds have evidenced in other nations. Canada, Japan, Korea, and Finland have adopted their own models for school reform and have seen both higher levels of educational attainment and reduced disparities in educational outcomes. Elements in these reforms include “expecting every child to succeed, identifying barriers that cause children to struggle to keep up with their peers, focusing on improving pedagogy as part of teachers’ routines, and conducting professional development close to the classroom� (Haynes, 2011, pp. 4-5). Clearly, these descriptors sound quite familiar and resemble greatly goals and objectives found in U.S. reform efforts. For a greater understanding of how or why reform might work in identified situations, we need to learn more about the context in which its elements were developed, as well as specifics regarding implementation. This understanding will help practitioners judge or predict how similar strategies may work in their contexts.



There’s no passion to be found playing small—in settling for a life that is less than you are capable of living. Nelson Mandela

The preceding literature review explored existing research findings regarding successful teaching and leadership in urban contexts. The purpose of this literature review was to provide content and direction for design of the Schultz Center’s Urban Academy (UA) Program, a professional development sequence for teachers and principals serving targeted schools in Duval County, Florida. This final section will summarize the content presented above, ending with a survey of recommendations for future research regarding urban teaching and leadership. Summary of Findings Regarding Teaching While, to a certain extent, good teaching is good teaching regardless of context, the literature reveals that there are certain teacher characteristics that correlate with above-average achievement levels for students in urban schools. These characteristics fall within the realms of beliefs and attitudes, knowledge, and practices. Successful teachers of urban students share the belief that all children have the capacity to learn and should be both accepted as they come and helped to reach their highest potential in terms of academic achievement. These teachers also tend to be aware of their own self-efficacy — or their ability to be successful at their work — and to have a problem-solving orientation to their profession. The Public Impact study of teacher competencies in turnaround schools found additional personal traits aligned with high-performing employees in turnaround schools and other settings. These traits included aspects of drive, influence, problem-solving, and personal effectiveness. In order to achieve success in urban settings, research suggests that teachers must possess a knowledge base specific to the students and communities they serve. First, they must be aware of aspects of students’ home cultures – this knowledge may be gained through teachers’ life experiences or through intensive and intentional cultural immersion. In addition to general cultural knowledge, teachers must be aware of individual students’ circumstances and interests. Teachers may use all of these aspects of knowledge to create bridges for students from the familiar to the new. In addition, urban teachers must be aware of instructional practices correlated with success, such as the gathering and use of achievement data. Beyond beliefs, attitudes, and knowledge, teachers use practical strategies to facilitate student achievement in urban settings. Successful teachers in urban settings create classrooms characterized by caring relationships, shared decision-making, and warm yet demanding classroom management. They demonstrate culturally relevant instructional practices as well as high academic expectations coupled with high support to meet those expectations. They engage students in activities designed to improve their cognitive functioning, and they engage families and communities in their quest to increase students’ achievement levels. Research also points toward content-specific practices aligned with success for urban students. For instance, in the realm of literacy, teachers must attend to adolescent students’ motivation to read as well as their levels of academic literacy, defined as the ability to read for meaning. With respect to math and science, urban students benefit when teachers assess frequently, use hands-on learning experiences, and participate in content-based professional development.


Summary of Findings Regarding Leadership Literature findings related to school leadership encompassed cross-sector research regarding leadership and change, current best practices in district leadership, and recommendations for school-level leadership. Cross-sector research relates and applies successful leadership strategies in the private sector to public education. Standout reports find that rapid turnarounds begin with a substantive change in leadership combined with early and substantive wins. Successful change also requires a culture of continuous improvement in which participants view mistakes as opportunities for learning, take risks, translate knowledge into action, and leverage multiple energy sources to support change. Research finds a transformed approach to district-level educational leadership: successful districts serving high-needs schools and students take an active rather than passive approach to change. This active approach includes clearly defining goals and objectives, using data system-wide, and focusing on staff development. The main transition district must make, however, is from a relationship with schools characterized primarily by reporting requirements to one characterized by district support for school’s instructional functions. Successful urban principals are instructional leaders rather than facility managers. They lead through shared vision, focused presence, and directness. Their priority is to develop school cultures characterized by responsiveness and inclusion. They model systems thinking that influences their approach to problem-solving and change. And they transform competencies into actions including tactical planning, influencing others, thinking analytically, and demonstrating self confidence. Finally, although examples and literature regarding sustained success in U.S. schools is still rare, international data suggests that long-term reform is possible with high expectations, data-based analysis, and a focus on instruction and professional development. Directions for Further Research The research reviewed suggests the following directions for future studies regarding successful urban education: • Having established that teacher efficacy is correlated with improved student outcomes, it would be helpful to investigate how teachers develop a sense of efficacy, what factors influence teachers’ efficacy, and the degree to and means by which it affects student performance (Bryant & Yan, 2010). • Researchers such as Haberman (1995) and Erskine-Cullen and Sinclair (1996) suggest that the challenges of urban teaching are best handled by teachers with unique personal profiles. This framework supports a research agenda that examines the needs of educators in challenging schools, the characteristics of teachers that enjoy teaching in challenging schools, and the experiences of novice teachers in challenging schools. • The underlying premise of studies such as those by Ding and Hall (2007) and Shaunessy and McHatton (2009) is that students’ voices are a valuable but under utilized source of information regarding teacher quality. Therefore, future studies should incorporate teachers’ perceptions and understandings of quality teaching.


• Facilitating family involvement is often cited as a perennial difficulty in urban contexts. Garcia’s (2004) findings suggest that researchers continue to examine the relationship between teacher efficacy and teacher practices related to family involvement, while also assessing interventions designed to enhance teachers’ family involvement efficacy. • Wenglinsky’s (2000) review of math and science data implies that longitudinal studies, as well as research focused on additional grade levels, specifically fourth and twelfth grades, would be helpful. He also suggests that evidence should include more detailed information regarding classroom practices as well as the impact of classroom practices on student outcomes other than test scores. • The Council of Great City Schools (2008) suggests future research regarding the effects of motivation-enhancing strategies on reading outcomes. • Jerrie Scott and William Teale (2009) quoted one interviewee who stated, “Administrators should dialogue with teachers [about professional development] instead of forcing mandates/practices on practitioners” (p. 341). In this vein, future research should incorporate teachers’ understandings and perceptions regarding effective professional development practices. • Research by Hassel and Hassel (2009) suggests that, even when early turnaround successes are apparent, maintaining those early wins and sustaining momentum seems to become problematic. Therefore, researchers and practitioners must continue to build case histories of successful practices within education in order to facilitate understanding of the levers that contribute to sustained district- and school-level change.




Nobody can dim the light which shines from within. maya angelo

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about the authors

Joy Gorham Hervey, Ed.D. is managing partner of Genesis Consulting Group, LLC, and has fifteen years of experience in educational leadership, research, and evaluation. A native of Baltimore, she completed her Bachelor’s degree and Master of Education degree at Harvard University. As a Fulbright Scholar, she traveled to Ghana, West Africa, to study education reforms. She completed the Doctor of Education degree in educational leadership and administration at Columbia University Teachers College. Dr. Hervey has served as an education program director for the Children’s Defense Fund Southern Regional Office, as well as for nonprofit organizations in Boston and Baltimore. In addition to her consulting practice, she serves as an assistant professor with the Liberty University School of Education. To contact Dr. Hervey or learn more about her work, visit

Katherine P. Divine, Ph.D. serves in a shared position with Duval County Public Schools and the Schultz Center for Teaching and Leadership as Executive Director for Research Design and Evaluation. In this position she has been responsible for developing and implementing a program for evaluating the effectiveness of professional development programs on teaching practice and student achievement. Dr. Divine holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in elementary and secondary education, and a doctorate in Educational Research and Evaluation from Virginia Polytechnic and State University. Her past experience includes serving as a research associate for the Florida Institute of Education at North Florida University; Director of Research and Evaluation for the District School Board of Pasco County, Florida; and Director of Research, Communications, and Student Services for Portsmouth Public Schools in Virginia. In addition to these roles, she teaches educational research and program evaluation for the School of Education at Jacksonville University, and has served as lead researcher and author of standards-based 360º leadership assessment instruments in partnership with Dr. Larry D. Coble and On Track Press, Inc.

Special thanks to Urban Academy Program Developers Melody J. Davis and Peggy B. Williams for their invaluable contributions to this piece.


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Urban Academy Review  
Urban Academy Review  

A synthesis of successful teaching and leadership practices in urban settings for the Schultz Center Urban Academy planning.