Issuu on Google+

TEXAS ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS PROFESSIONAL JOURNAL

FALL 2010

INSIGHT Back to School!


VIRTUAL

High School Courses for Schools and Institutions

Your Virtual Schooling Partner For over 75 years, Penn Foster High School has been the school of choice for those who needed alternatives to traditional high school classes. Currently, more than 400 U.S. high schools use the Penn Foster High School curriculum. We have more than 46,000 active students and more than 7,000 successful graduates each year.

Penn Foster Virtual High School is: EFFECTIVE. Whether a school or district is seeking credit/dropout recovery, summer school courses, or career courses, Penn Foster Virtual High School decreases dropout rates and increases student graduations. CONVENIENT. With Penn Foster Virtual High School, you select the courses your student needs and we handle the administration… including distribution of learning materials, testing, grading, and record keeping. And teachers and parents will have supervisory access to track each student’s progress. Upon completion, Penn Foster will report grades back to the school/district. ACCREDITED. Penn Foster High School is regionally accredited by The Middle States Commission on Secondary Schools. Penn Foster High School is also nationally accredited by the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC). To learn more about Penn Foster Virtual High School courses, call us toll free: 1-800-233-0259 ext. 4106, email: tracey.jerauld@pennfoster.edu, or mail: 925 Oak Street, Scranton, PA 18515, Attn: Tracey Jerauld


FALL 2010 Volume 25

No. 3 Leadership Focus

Featured Articles A Defensible State Student Testing Program: Part Two

11

by W. James Popham Discusses five attributes that must be present in order to create a defensible state testing program capable of supporting improved instruction and providing evidence to accurately evaluate schools

Working Together to Enhance Teacher Preparation: New Ways of Viewing School-University Partnerships in Texas

17

by William E. Reaves Acquaints school leaders with the fundamental premises of the Center for Research, Evaluation and Advancement of Teacher Education (CREATE) regarding teacher preparation programs

TASA Grassroots Initiative 2011—The Truth about Fund Balances

21

Assists lawmakers and other interested stakeholders in understanding the importance of fund balances by providing talking points on the issue

Learning Servant Leadership from a Master

23

by Nelson Coulter Reflects on lessons learned in servant leadership from exemplar and mentor C. B. Barbee, former superintendent of Bronte ISD

2010 Administrative Leadership Institute

27

Sponsored by Texas A&M University, TASA, and PBK Gives an overview of the upcoming Administrative Leadership Institute, November 17–18, in College Station, focusing on “Personal Balance = Personal Best”

Supporting English Language Learners: Taking a Systemic Perspective

29

by Nancy Protheroe Provides emerging research about district and school policies and practices that can either help or hinder effective ELL instruction to give solid direction for school leaders

TSPRA Voice

Welcome to the School of Hard Knocks

33

by Tim Carroll Offers some interesting examples of good and bad public relations practices from which we can learn, emphasizing how important communications can be in a crisis or perceived crisis

Fall 2010

3


President’s Message Executive Director’s View

7 9

Officers H. John Fuller, President, Wylie ISD Rod Townsend, President-Elect, Decatur ISD Jeff N. Turner, Vice-President, Coppell ISD John M. Folks, Past President, Northside ISD

Executive Committee Scott B. Owings, Sharyland ISD, 1 Paul Clore, Gregory-Portland ISD, 2 Robert Mark Pool, El Campo ISD, 3 Alton Frailey, Katy ISD, 4 Philip Welch, Orangefield ISD, 5 Fred Brent, Anderson-Shiro CISD, 6 J. Glenn Hambrick, Carthage ISD, 7 Kathy G. Allen, Hooks ISD, 8

TASA Headquarters Staff

Executive Director

Associate Executive Director, Administrative Services

Assistant Executive Director, Communications & Information Systems

Tom Woody, Vernon ISD, 9

Johnny L. Veselka

Todd Williams, Kaufman ISD, 10

Paul L. Whitton, Jr.

Darrell G. Floyd, Stephenville ISD, 11 Kevin Houchin, McGregor ISD, 12

Ann M. Halstead

Design/Production

Anne Harpe

Editorial Coordinator

Karen Limb

INSIGHT is published quarterly by the Texas Association of School Administrators, 406 East 11th Street, Austin, Texas, 78701-2617. Subscription is included in TASA membership dues. © 2010 by TASA. All rights reserved. TASA members may reprint articles in limited quantities for in-house educational use. Articles in INSIGHT are expressions of the author or interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of TASA. Advertisements do not necessarily carry the endorsement of the Texas Association of School Administrators. INSIGHT is printed by Thomas Graphics, Austin, Texas.

David Shanley, Johnson City ISD, 13 Shane Fields, Albany ISD, 14 Russ F. Perry, Nueces Canyon CISD, 15 Mike Lee, Booker ISD, 16 Deanna Logan, Ralls ISD, 17 Kevin Allen, Iraan-Sheffield ISD, 18 Lorenzo Garcia, El Paso ISD, 19 Richard A. Middleton, North East ISD, 20

At-Large Members Charles E. Dupre, Pflugerville ISD Steve Flores, Harlingen CISD Lolly Guerra, San Marcos CISD Karen G. Rue, Northwest ISD

Editorial Advisory Committee H. John Fuller, Chair Steve Flores, Harlingen CISD Alton L. Frailey, Katy ISD Richard A. Middleton, North East ISD Karen G. Rue, Northwest ISD Rod Townsend, Decatur ISD Jeff N. Turner, Coppell ISD

4

INSIGHT

cover photo © 2010 Anne G. Harpe

Departments


Often imitated, never duplicated.

With tens of thousands of seats already in field service, SafeGuard is leading the way in belted seating for school buses. SafeGuard seats, equipped with exclusive SmartFrame™ technology, offer advantages unmatched by any other seat in the industry. • The only belted seats offering full compartmentalization for unbelted passengers in school buses and motorcoaches. • Lowest total cost of maintenance with modular design for quick, first-in-class serviceability. • Proven in side-by-side dynamic testing to outperform all competitive products on the market.

SafeGuard FlexSeat®

Patent Pending.

Resolving the capacity issue since October 2007.

Clearly a step ahead, SafeGuard innovates practical solutions to real transportation problems, redefining what school districts expect from belted seating. One seat fits all.®

Equipped with exclusive

SmartFrame

T E C H N O L O G Y

©2010 IMMI All rights reserved. 02/10 3564P

safeguardseat.com


Administrators, are you ready to lead districts into the future?

If you hold a principal certificate and are interested in obtaining a superintendent certificate, go with the leader in Texas: Region 4 Superintendent Certification Online. Visit www.region4acp.net to find out more. COMMIT TO THE FUTURE OF TEXAS. Teach. Lead. Internships must be conducted in Texas. Š 2010 Region 4 Education Service Center


Ready, Set, Go!

S President’s Message

chool has started! Teachers are back at school, and our students are engaged in active learning. As educators, our focus will remain on our 4.75 million learners, and we will work diligently to support our 300,000 plus classroom teachers. Nonetheless, the 82nd Legislative Session is quickly approaching and “the call for action” has sounded. I encourage every superintendent to talk with legislators, local elected officials, parents, and patrons about the importance of supporting public education funding as the legislators struggle with a funding shortfall that has risen to $18 billion. The future of Texas hinges on maintaining a superior educational system that provides every child an opportunity to become a future leader.We must remain focused on what is best for our children and for learning.The summer issue of INSIGHT introduced you to “TASA Grassroots 2011.” This issue provides you with a “TASA Grassroots Initiative Update.” I strongly encourage you to download the “TASA Grassroots 2011” PowerPoint presentation from www.tasanet.org and personalize it to include local information about the needs of the students in your district.

…the 82nd Legislative Session is quickly approaching and “the call for action” has sounded. I encourage every superintendent to talk with legislators, local elected officials, parents, and patrons about the importance of supporting public education funding as the legislators struggle with a funding shortfall that has risen to $18 billion.

Also, in this edition of INSIGHT, you will find part two of an article entitled “A Defensible State Student Testing Program” by James Popham. As you know, a critical and ongoing effort of TASA is centered on “Creating a New Vision for Public Education in Texas.”This project will help transform public schools in Texas by focusing on the new digital learning environment, new learning standards, assessments for learning, accountability for learning, organizational transformation, and a more balanced and reinvigorated state/local partnership. The new vision for Texas public schoolchildren must include a return to local decision making that gives districts the ability and opportunity to operate efficiently and effectively as we prepare students for success in the 21st century. I am eagerly awaiting the TASA/TASB Convention scheduled this year in Houston on September 24–26. The convention is designed to bring you the very best teaching and learning strategies as well as inspire you and your board members. I extend to you a personal invitation to come and see Wylie ISD’s fine arts students perform at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 25. One of the greatest things we do at the annual convention is to honor ourselves by enjoying students who demonstrate a high level of excellence and commitment to learning. I am certain you will be engaged, entertained, and encouraged throughout the convention.Without a doubt, the students performing at our general sessions from Wylie ISD and Alief ISD will capture your smiles as you hang on to their every word, note, and step! I look forward to seeing you in Houston!

Fall 2010

7


Welcome to SyfrSpace! TASA’s newest subscription service

Space Learn about an exciting online learning community where educators meet to • collaborate • network • explore • discuss http://www.syfrspace.org


Fifty Years: A Legacy for Future Generations!

F

ollowing the usual separate meetings of TASA and TASB in 1960, TASA President Charles F. Mathews, superintendent, Longview ISD, and future executive director of TASA (1976–1985), invited TASB leaders to consider holding a joint meeting with TASA the next year.When the members of TASA and TASB met together for the first time at Austin’s Municipal Auditorium in September 1961, little did they imagine how that meeting would endure and transform over the next 50 years.

Executive director’s VIEW When the members of TASA and TASB met together for the first time at Austin’s Municipal Auditorium in September 1961, little did they imagine how that meeting would endure and transform over the next 50 years.

The two associations, just as today, cooperatively planned the first joint convention. The 1961 convention featured three general sessions.The banquet speaker was Cleon Skousen, a conservative political commentator and anti-Communist, with an “outstanding record of combating Communism and subversion.” Daniel R. Davies, professor of education, Columbia University, discussed his recent study of the schools of England, France, and Germany, offering new insight into the “educational systems that are so often offered as models for American schools.” The closing session featured a panel of outstanding Texans discussing issues vital to public education in 1961. The panel, moderated by University of Texas Vice-Chancellor L. D. Haskew, included the presidents of the Texas Farm Bureau and Texas AFL-CIO; the executive vice-president of the Texas Manufacturers Association; and Senator A. M. Aikin, co-author of the 1949 school finance reform legislation. Other topics on the convention agenda are similar to those at this year’s convention: New Laws, Demonstration of New Media for Teaching, Improving Education within the Budget, New Standards for Texas Schools, Improvement of School Administrator Preparation, and Board-Superintendent Relations. Association records indicate that the first joint convention was a huge success, and the TASA Executive Committee invited TASB to meet jointly again in 1962.The TASB Board accepted the invitation, and the rest is history. This year, on September 24—fifty years to the day—more than 4,000 school leaders will gather in Houston for the 50th Annual TASA/TASB Convention. The convention will showcase successful practices in schools throughout the state; the latest educational technology will be demonstrated in the Digital Learning Pavilion; and more than 400 commercial and architectural exhibits will feature products, services, and facilities to support quality instructional programs and operational effectiveness. The 1961 convention attendees shared a vision of working together to improve educational opportunities for all students. Fifty years later, as we seek to transform today’s schools for future generations of students, our own vision is guided by the work of the Public Education Visioning Institute. We look forward to seeing you in Houston, September 24–26, to help celebrate our first 50 years and actively participate in building our legacy for the next 50 years.

Fall 2010

9


$1,000,000 EMA has saved Texas schools millions of dollars through energy audits. 3526 EMA has worked on over 3526 school projects through out the country. 575 EMA has provided engineering design and energy audits in over 1/2 the school districts in Texas. 192 EMA has provided engineering services for 192 college and university projects. 35 EMA is proud to have been providing innovative engineering design & customized energy audits for over 35 years. When you need engineering services whether it's mechanical, plumbing, electrical, technology, green building, or energy related, just do the math. You'll find EMA's 35 years of experience adds up! Whether you are building a new facility or updating an existing one let our expertise benefit you. When you go by the numbers, it all adds up to Estes, McClure and Associates, Inc.

EMA

Estes, McClure & Associates, Inc. Engineering and Consulting

Providing Solutions that Deliver Results

3608 West Way • Tyler, Texas 75703 • 903-581-2677

www.estesmcclure.com

10

INSIGHT


A Defensible State Student Testing Program

1

Part Two by W. James Popham This is the continuation of an article by Dr. Popham that was featured in our Summer 2010 INSIGHT. James Popham will be joined by Phil Schlechty and Rick Stiggins at the TASA Midwinter Conference, 3rd General Session, for an open dialogue on Creating Balanced, Instructionally Sensitive Assessment Systems.

TASA Midwinter Conference January 30–February 2, 2011 Austin Convention Center Visit www.tasanet.org for registration, housing, and session applications.

Executive Summary Two distinguishable but related functions of a sound statewide student testing program are to support improved instruction and to provide evidence by which a state’s citizens can accurately evaluate the quality of their schools. In order to create a defensible state testing program capable of accomplishing those two functions successfully, the following five attributes must be present: (1) assessment of only a modest number of high-import curricular aims; (2) provision of clear descriptions of each assessed curricular aim; (3) inclusion of enough items to measure every student’s mastery of each assessed curricular aim; (4) creation and distribution of resources to support teachers’ use of the formativeassessment process; and (5) assurance that a state’s accountability tests are instructionally sensitive. It was recommended that if today’s statewide student testing programs were to incorporate these five features, they would become more defensible.

All right, let’s assume that those trying to secure legislative (or policy) approval to support the creation of a defensible state assessment system have accepted the premise that such a testing program must be simultaneously focused on the accomplishment of both the aforementioned instructional and accountability functions. The next step is to make sure that certain requisite attributes of an educationally defensible assessment system are present in this testing program.There are five such necessary attributes, and each of those features will, in turn, now be considered.

Attribute 1:

Assessment of Only a Modest Number of High-Import Curricular Aims The first necessary attribute of a defensible statewide testing program is that it must be focused on measuring students’ mastery of only a manageable number of unarguably highpriority curricular aims (also referred to as content standards, goals, expectancies, objectives,

1 This paper was commissioned by a group of educational administrators from four Texas school districts; namely,

Dawson Orr and his colleagues from Highland Park ISD; Stephen Waddell and his associates from Birdville ISD; Jeff Turner and his staff from Coppell ISD; and John Fuller and his co-workers from Wylie ISD. Permission is hereby granted to use any segments of this document in legislative or RFP language. Fuller treatments of several of the paper’s topics are found in the paper’s references.

FALL 2010

11


etc.). Such curricular aims describe the officially approved skills and/or bodies of knowledge that a state’s authorities wish their state’s students to achieve. At present, regrettably, most states have committed their educators to pursuing students’ attainment of far too many curricular aims, sometimes more than 50 curricular aims per subject per student per grade level.Thus, an elementary teacher may be expected—during a nine-month school year—to help students master more than several hundred cognitive skills or bodies of knowledge. Not only can so many curricular aims not be effectively taught—at any meaningful depth—in the instructional time available, but so many curricular aims also cannot be assessed properly in the assessment time typically available for statewide testing. In short, the existence of a huge number of assessment-eligible curricular targets not only cripples the possibility of accurate assessment of students’ mastery (of so many, many curricular aims), but also is downright deceitful. When a state’s curricular authorities list a litany of official curricular targets as not only mandatory to teach but also potentially assessable on each year’s accountability tests, those authorities are being dishonest. All those curricular aims cannot be properly taught in a school year. All those curricular aims cannot be accurately tested near the end of a school year. A state’s citizens and policymakers are being deceived. The first step, therefore, in conceptualizing a defensible state testing program is to honestly describe what it is that the state testing system realistically intends to assess. Coalesced curricular targets. What would this “modest” or “manageable” number of curricular aims look like? Well, in general, the number of curricular targets would be more like 6–10 such curricular aims rather than 60–100 such aims. And each of those remarkably important aims would typically represent a coalesced set of related subskills or knowledge. A good example of such 12

INSIGHT

a coalesced curricular aim can be seen in the field of written composition where, for several decades, we have been promoting students’ abilities to generate, from scratch, essays of various sorts such as persuasive, expository, descriptive, or narrative essays. When the student is asked to compose an original essay in one of these four genres, the successful student must effectively incorporate a number of subskills and bodies of enabling knowledge such as (1) use of key conventions of written composition, (2) how to organize appropriate content, and (3) reliance on word usage and syntactical structures suitable for the essay’s intended audience. In other words, a single “capstone” cognitive skill can embrace a student’s mastery of a series of contributory building blocks underlying the skill itself. When setting out to conceptualize a more modest number of such coalesced curricular aims, however, it is important not to subsume under a single curricular aim a set of lesser subskills and bodies of knowledge that are, strictly speaking, not capable of being legitimately coalesced. For instance, if one were trying to subsume several distinctive mathematics skills focused on geometry, measurement, and algebra, the result of such subsumption might be regarded as a single, coalesced curricular aim—but this would often be counterfeit coalescing. Aspects of those three mathematical content areas (geometry, measurement, and algebra) are often sufficiently distinctive so that lumping them together under a contrived label such as “major mathematical concepts” would be a serious disservice to clarity. A sensibly coalesced curricular aim must deal with a collection of fundamentally homogeneous subskills and/or enabling knowledge. So, the isolation of a modest number of the highest priority curricular aims in a given content area (such as reading, science, or mathematics) calls for the very finest curricular minds to identify the most significant curricular aims that are capable of honest coalescence and are also framed at a suitable grain size; that is, at a level of

breadth that will yield both to accurate annual assessment as well as to effectively conceptualized classroom instruction. The generation of a manageable number of high-import curricular aims is far from fool’s play. Fine minds, well versed in the realities of schooling, are required for this extraordinarily important task. Do prioritized curricular targets require abandonment of existing state curricular outcomes? If a defensible state testing program is to be organized around the assessment of a manageable number of high-priority curricular aims, it might be thought that a state would need to repudiate its extant curricular aims—curricular outcomes often generated at a substantial level of state-wide effort during earlier years. However, this is not necessary. A state’s existing curricular frameworks can be left in place as guidance for the state’s teachers who, insofar as possible, should be directed to promote students’ attainment of as many of those more numerous curricular targets as the available instructional time allows. What we would expect to take place in a state where a modest number of new, assessment-eligible coalesced curricular aims exists (along with the state’s previously approved set of more numerous curricular aims) is that the state’s teachers would most likely devote sufficient instructional time to students’ mastery of the new state-tested curricular aims but, then, pursue as many of the state’s previous curricular targets as time permitted. Teachers want what’s best for their students, and will attempt to do a solid job of teaching students mastery of both what’s to be tested each year and other important curricular aims. It should be noted that a defensible state testing program, because it is deliberately created to be instructionally supportive, will typically permit teachers to more efficiently promote students’ mastery of state-assessed curricular aims—thereby allowing time for teachers to pursue other, state-unassessed curricular outcomes.


But, unlike the current situation wherein it is implied that students can be taught to master collections of far too numerous curricular aims, a new set of state-assessment circumstances would make it possible for a state’s teachers to promote students’ deep, generalizable mastery of the most significant curricular aims (those slated for annual assessment), and also to foster students’ mastery of as many other curricular targets as can be accomplished during the available instructional time. With a defensible state testing program focused on students’ mastery of what can be realistically taught and tested in the time available, a state’s educators will be able to abandon today’s disingenuous rhetoric regarding what they are able to get their students to learn each year.

teachers to understand the nature of what’s to be measured on each year’s tests. These assessment descriptions should be rendered in teacher-palatable language, be as brief as possible, and be accompanied by several illustrative (but non-exhaustive) types of test items that might be employed to measure students’ mastery of each assessed curricular aim.

a description and without referring to the assessment description itself) to independently render a written account of what’s being sought of students, most teachers will come up with essentially the same notion regarding the essence of the to-be-assessed outcome.

For a defensible state assessment to achieve even greater potential impact, not only What’s being sought here, of course, is should assessment descriptions be prepared sufficient clarity on the part of teachers for teachers but versions of those descriptions so that they can aim their instruction at should also be created for students as well as promoting students’ generalized mastery of for students’ parents. a sought-for skill or body of knowledge— rather than simply getting students to be Remember, because a defensible state able to correctly answer particular test items. assessment system will be focused on only a Because there are far fewer curricular aims manageable number of curricular outcomes, to be assessed each year, a state’s teachers both students and their parents will usually This initial attribute of a defensible state will typically be willing to devote sufficient be more willing to familiarize themselves testing program is, in every sense of the energy to understanding the nature of each with the modest numbers of high-import phrase, a genuine sine qua non of such high-import curricular aim to be measured. curricular aims to be assessed each year on programs. As will be made clear when Given dozens of potentially assessable the state’s tests. subsequent attributes of such state assessment mathematics aims, an elementary teacher programs are considered, if this first attribute, is apt to turn in frustration from so many Attribute 3: that is, the assessment of only a manageable such targets. In contrast, given only six or Inclusion of Enough Items to number of high-priority curricular targets, seven high-import mathematics aims, Measure Every Student’s Mastery is not in place, then the creation of a an elementary teacher will often try to of Each Curricular Aim Assessed genuinely worthwhile state testing program understand the essential nature of each of The third attribute of a defensible state is simply impossible. A defensible statewide those significant curricular targets. testing program is closely linked to Attribute educational testing program cannot be structured around a set of too-numerous Clearly, the crafting of these assessment 1; namely, the measurement of only a curricular aims. Such an approach is simply descriptions is going to be challenging, for modest number of high-priority curricular if those descriptions are too long or too outcomes. Because the state testing program unworkable. complicated, they will be quite properly is attempting to assess students’ status Let’s turn, then, to a second attribute of a regarded as off-putting by the state’s teachers. with respect to a manageable number defensible state assessment program. As you However, the challenge here is to construct of curricular targets, it is then possible to will see, this second attribute presumes the assessment descriptions that (1) will be seen incorporate into the test a sufficient number presence of the first attribute regarding the by teachers as capable of being mastered of items for every assessed curricular aim so measurement of a modest number of high- by the state’s students and (2) are capable that teachers, students, and their parents can import curricular outcomes. of yielding homogeneous interpretations obtain a reasonably accurate estimate of the of what’s to be assessed. To accomplish this degree to which a particular student has task, it is imperative to rely on sufficient mastered each of the curricular outcomes Attribute 2: tryouts of draft descriptions with teachers so being tested. Incidentally, such state tests, Provision of Clear Descriptions of that the caliber of the emerging assessment given the smaller number of curricular aims Each Curricular Aim Assessed descriptions can be gauged and, if necessary, being measured, should require no longer The second requisite feature of a defensible improved. What is being sought is an for students to complete than the annual state testing program is the provision of assessment description that, when given to tests now used in most state-assessment lucid descriptions related to each curricular groups of teachers for a few moments, will programs. aim to be assessed. The purpose of this communicate to teachers so well that, if attribute is to make it possible for the state’s teachers were asked (after several readings of

FALL 2010

13


with information about where it is a student has gone astray who has failed to master a particular curricular aim? Regrettably, such fine-grained diagnostic information cannot be provided by these annual state tests. As will be seen in the upcoming discussion of the next attribute of a defensible state testing system, this important consideration must be dealt with in other ways. Realistically, What’s crucial for this third attribute of a given the number of items that can be defensible statewide assessment system is that incorporated into an annual state test, the there be a serious-minded effort to make thrust of these tests should be to come up sure enough items exist to allow teachers to with a sound fix on each student’s mastery arrive at a reasonable inference about every of every curricular aim assessed. This will student’s attainment of each curricular aim be a nontrivial assessment accomplishment that’s being assessed. to be sure, an accomplishment currently How many items are needed per assessed satisfied by annual accountability tests in Will these collections of items, for example, curricular aim? Well, this clearly depends only a handful of states. on the grain size (breadth) of the curricular 8 items for some curricular aims and 10 aim involved. In Wyoming, for instance, items for others, be sufficient to provide It is a major achievement to let teachers experienced teachers were asked to estimate teachers, students, and students’ parents with know which of the state’s annually assessed how many items were needed on the state’s genuine diagnostic information, for example, curricular aims they were successful in promoting during the just-concluded school year and, conversely, which of those curricular aims they failed to promote properly. Given such per-aim information, responsible teachers will set out to revise their ineffectual instructional activities for the upcoming school year while retaining those instructional activities that worked well. Remember, such per-curricular-aim information is currently not provided to teachers in the vast majority of our states. In Wyoming, for example, a state test has been developed in which the annual state reading assessments focus on students’ mastery of only six to eight particularly important skills. Because of this more modest number, a student’s mastery of each skill can be measured by roughly 8–10 items and, thereby, can yield a realistic estimate of a student’s attainment of each of the reading skills being measured. This approach, of course, is only possible because of the initial decision to measure a manageable number of powerful reading skills—reading skills that embrace subsumable subskills and bodies of enabling knowledge.

tests in order for a reasonably accurate estimate to be made regarding each student’s master of each different annually assessed reading skill. Might these teacher-estimated numbers of needed items be mistaken? Of course. However, if those estimates prove to be too large or too small, they can be altered over the years.

3 DAYS. 3000 PEOPLE. COMING TOGETHER FOR KIDS.

Don’t miss the world’s leading conference for school professionals who are committed to making a difference. NO VEMBER 18-2 0 • HO U S TO N, TX www. Bi g Te nTC onf e r e nC e . c o m

14

INSIGHT

|

877-240-7251

But a defensible state assessment system should do more than provide the state’s teachers with an annual set of instructional garlands or tombstones regarding which state-assessed curricular aims were successfully or unsuccessfully promoted. What a really useful state assessment program must supply is information to the state’s teachers so they can maximize the numbers of their current or future students who are successful in mastering the high-priority curricular aims measured by each year’s state tests. And, so, we turn now to the fourth attribute of a defensible statewide assessment program and that attribute’s contribution to an amazingly potent assessment-abetted instructional process.


Attribute 4:

Creation and Distribution of Resources to Support Teachers’ Use of the Formative-Assessment Process We currently possess almost four decades’ worth of solid, convincing empirical evidence that the classroom formativeassessment process works.Yes, when a classroom teacher collects assessment evidence from students either to make adjustments in the teacher’s ongoing instructional procedures or to help students make adjustments in how they are attempting to learn things, markedly enhanced learning takes place. The research evidence in support of the formative-assessment process is emphatic. This is not an instance when research studies have yielded a collection of equivocal results. On the contrary, abundant research evidence shows us that if teachers use the formativeassessment process in their classrooms, kids learn better.

high-priority curricular aims measured by state assessments. Put simply, a state needs to provide and disseminate not only assessment tools but also guidance regarding how to most effectively employ those tools as part of the formative-assessment process.

assessment process has been shown to decisively benefit children, this component of a defensible state assessment program would be positioned to entice more of a state’s teachers to implement the formativeassessment process in their own classrooms.

Moreover, a substantial collection of professional development activities, for example, extended-duration professional learning communities focused on teachers’ collaborative use of the formativeassessment process, could prove particularly helpful in getting more teachers to adopt the formative-assessment process. Featured among the professional development materials to be made available to the state’s educators, for example, would be possible learning progressions; that is, suggested sequences of building blocks (subskills and bodies of enabling knowledge) that most students must master on their way toward mastering the high-priority curricular aims being assessed by the annual state tests.

We turn now to the fifth and final attribute of a defensible state-level student assessment program, an attribute focused heavily on the degree to which a state testing system will yield accurate and fair evidence regarding the success of a state’s educators in carrying out their instructional activities.

Attribute 5:

Assuring a State’s Accountability Tests Are Instructionally Sensitive

Our nation’s educational accountability programs rest on the assumption that the annual state tests we currently use will provide accurate data regarding educators’ instructional effectiveness.To do so, however, those annual accountability tests must be What we see in the U.S., however, is All of these optional assessment instruments instructionally sensitive. An instructionally that despite educational leaders’ growing and suggested procedural implementation sensitive test will accurately identify which awareness with the payoffs of formative procedures would be structured so that students have been well taught and which assessment, far too few teachers regularly they were patently diagnostic in their foci. students haven’t. But, at the moment, there employ this powerful process in their Because the annual state assessments are is no evidence whatsoever that the annual classrooms. One of the chief impediments not able to provide fine-grained diagnostic accountability tests being used in most states to more teachers using formative assessment data to teachers, a supplementary array are able to do so. is that, once teachers learn about the nature of decisively diagnostic assessment tools of the formative-assessment process, they should be made available to the state’s The annually administered standardized often perceive it to be too time-consuming teachers. Moreover, accompanying these tests used as part of a state’s accountability or too difficult to use.This perception arises optional, state-issued assessment resources, tests are accompanied by no evidence— from the inherent nature of the formative- instructional suggestions could also be none at all—that they can tell the difference assessment process wherein assessment- proffered regarding ways in which teachers between students who have been taught elicited evidence about students’ status might instructionally address the needs of well and those students who haven’t. That’s must be garnered via teachers’ use of particular students who were experiencing right, there’s no documentation that these formal or informal assessment approaches. specific sorts of learning difficulties. annual accountability tests are instructionally Few teachers currently have sufficient sensitive. On the contrary, available evidence discretionary time to generate their own By deliberately providing the diagnostic suggests that today’s state accountability tests assessment procedures to employ during the assessment tools and the suggested use of are instructionally insensitive. formative-assessment process. Accordingly, those tools, a state’s educational leaders it would be remarkably helpful if the state would be making a serious effort to supply Such accountability tests have been could provide a range of potential (not the more diagnostically oriented backup constructed using traditional procedures required) assessment procedures linked for teachers to successfully pursue students’ designed to produce comparative score directly to students’ accomplishment of the mastery of the high-import curricular interpretations, for example, to allow us to en-route building blocks most students must aims measured each year by the state’s say,“Harry scored at the 69th percentile, that achieve on their way toward mastery of the testing program. Given that the formative- is, outperformed essentially 69 percent of

FALL 2010

15


other test-takers.” For such tests to provide these sorts of comparative interpretations, however, it is necessary for the tests to produce a considerable amount of spread in students’ total-test scores. Yet, to attain such score-spread, many of the items on state accountability tests end up being linked to students’ inherited academic aptitudes, such as a child’s innate quantitative potential, or to the socioeconomic status (SES) of a student’s family. Because inherited aptitudes and SES are nicely distributed variables, test items influenced by these factors tend to create the needed spread in students’ test scores.Yet, inherited academic aptitudes and SES reflect what students bring to school, not how effectively they are taught once they get there. Many of today’s accountability tests are laden with items that tend to make these tests instructionally insensitive. But using the same approaches we have employed in recent decades to markedly reduce assessment bias in our high-stakes tests, we can enhance the instructional sensitivity of our state accountability tests. That is, procedures are now at hand for scrutinizing a state accountability test’s items, both judgmentally and empirically for instructional insensitivity. By using such techniques, we can identify those items apt to be instructionally insensitive. The fewer instructionally insensitive items that exist on a state accountability test, the more likely it is that this test will be instructionally sensitive. Serious, systematic efforts must be undertaken to ensure that when a state’s educators are to be judged—at least in part— on the basis of their students’ test scores, the resulting test scores will be accurate and, thereby, fair to those being evaluated.

In Dogged Pursuit of Defensibility It will not be easy to change an already established state testing program. But a state testing program incapable of improving

16

INSIGHT

instruction and accurately evaluating a state’s schools is a testing program in desperate need or refurbishing.

References

The Commission on Instructionally Supportive Assessment (October 2001), With the best of intentions, often relying Building Tests to Support Instruction and on time-honored measurement models, Accountability: A Guide for Policymakers. many states have stumbled into state testing Washington, D.C.,Author programs that, though elaborate and costly, are not serving a state’s students satisfactorily. Popham, W. James (2008), Transformative It is time to set aside such unsound student Assessment, Alexandria, VA: Association for testing programs and turn, instead, toward Supervision and Curriculum Development. state assessment programs that are genuinely defensible. In this analysis, the chief features Popham,W. James (2009), Unlearned Lessons: of such testing programs have been Six Stumbling Blocks to Our Schools’ Success, identified. n Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

W. James Popham is a noted author and professor emeritus at the University of California at Los Angeles. He was a leading figure in the movement that promoted criterion-referenced measurements and has been active and productive in the area of educational test development.

TASA Accountability Forum The TASA Accountability Forum, offered by TASA in cooperation with Moak, Casey & Associates, is a unique subscription service designed to assist superintendents and other school leaders in analyzing and implementing the mandates of House Bill 3 and other accountability issues. Forum subscribers benefit from a built-in network of expert advisors—such as Dr. Maria Whitsett with nearly 20 years’ experience in Texas and local district accountability and 28 years of total professional experience—who bridge the gap between state and local school districts. In addition, subscribers become part of an active professional community where peers share information and solutions.

Forum Services • • • • • •

Detailed analysis of district and campus accountability data Accountability briefings and HB 3 Accountability Conference Regular updates on SBOE/TEA deliberations and activity Rapid interpretations of major accountability-related policies Analyses of significant issues in state and federal accountability Interactive participation in an electronic forum to facilitate the rapid exchange of information among subscribers

Subscription Fees

Subscription fees are based on student enrollment. The subscription period is September 1–August 31. To subscribe to this specialized leadership community, log into TASAnet and click the Memberships/Subscriptions link underYour TASAnet Account.


Working Together to Enhance Teacher Preparation: New Ways of Viewing School-University Partnerships in Texas by William E. Reaves

The Center for Research, Evaluation and Advancement of Teacher Education (CREATE) serves as a resource for Texas universities in efforts to improve the quality and effectiveness of their teacher preparation programs. One of the fundamental tenets that we advocate in our work with university-based teacher education is that of strengthening programmatic partnerships with local school districts. We believe that such partnerships provide a critical infrastructure for meaningful program improvement at the university level. Universities, particularly their colleges of education, gain broader ownership and greater traction in organizational efforts to refine teacher education programs by working collaboratively with school partners. Substantive school partnerships enable university faculties to remain “grounded” in the realities of today’s public school environment, providing them firsthand opportunities to observe and test the effects of their own instruction on a real-time basis. For these reasons, we conclude that genuine efforts to improve the quality and effectiveness of university-based teacher preparation must, out of necessity, rest upon strong partnerships with area school districts. Just as we believe that such partnerships are vital for universities to sustain high quality in their teacher preparation programs, we view deep and ongoing collaboration between schools and universities to be of equal value to public schools in their continued efforts to optimize the quality and effectiveness of their instructional programs. Well-structured, carefully managed partnerships between public schools and universities can enhance the quality of a district’s work force, while simultaneously augmenting its capacity for educational research, program development, and professional development. Through our work at CREATE, we have observed a handful of existing school-university partnerships that yield qualitative evidence of the benefits that accrue to both schools and universities through long-term, sustainable partnership ventures. We have been fortunate to learn from such long-standing teacher preparation collaboratives as Tarleton State University’s Effective Schools Project and the Mesquite ISD/Texas A&M University– Commerce joint Professional Development Center as sound examples of working schooluniversity partnerships. Despite the presence of such exemplars, however, operational partnerships among Texas schools and counterpart universities continue to be the exception rather than the rule. Given the potential of these organizational arrangements for

FALL 2010

17


synergizing the quality and effectiveness of the state’s teacher workforce, CREATE has sought to encourage expansion of schooluniversity partnerships, particularly those that promote innovative ventures related to teacher development. In design of a conceptual framework for the improvement of university-based teacher preparation, entitled Schools of Professional Education (ScOPE), CREATE staff has attempted to define and track partnership development in areas of teacher preparation. To this end, CREATE has advanced a set of critical attributes for successful partnerships related to teacher preparation and effectiveness. These attributes have been gleaned from professional literature on the topic, as well as from our informal observations of successful partnership ventures within the CREATE consortium. The purpose of this article is to acquaint school leaders with CREATE’s fundamental premises regarding teacher preparation partnerships. We provide an overview of critical operating components and a working typology for such partnership ventures in the field. We present these as a means of encouraging district reflection on their present collaborations with university teacher preparation programs, and a potential springboard for development of new or expanded partnership ventures involving Texas schools and universities.

Toward an Operational Definition of School-University Partnerships for Teacher Preparation and Development

opportunities are relatively commonplace. Such grant-driven projects are useful for inaugurating cooperative planning and innovative programming between 1. Operational design of the partnership schools and universities. While grantand its principal work activities are driven projects offer opportunities for delineated in a written agreement, and institutional cooperation, most are fairly the partnership agreement is formally narrowly designed to be project- and/or sanctioned by executive leadership of fund-specific and, as such, their existence the respective partnering institutions. tends to rise and/or fall on the availability of 2. Operational design of the partnership funding.These “project” ventures are seldom includes a mutually accepted conceptualized by participating schools governance system, as well as a defined and universities to be lasting organizational management team to guide oversight partnerships based on the defining and implementation of the partnership’s principles above. With adaptive planning work. and design, however, grant-driven projects 3. A work plan for the partnership is jointly may offer some of the most promising developed, approved, implemented, building blocks upon which to develop and evaluated over a sustained period of longer-term and broader scale partnerships time. among institutions. The practical value of 4. Work activities approved by the defining the differences between these partnership contribute to attainment “projects” versus “partnerships” is that of mutually beneficial organizational these organizational relationships can be goals that are associated with the core more systematically described and analyzed missions of the respective partnering and their long-term effects more clearly organizations. discerned over time. As an ongoing part of 5. Participating entities make procedural its research interests in school-university adjustments and policy modifications partnerships, CREATE is committed to within their respective organizations examining the growth and evolution of necessary to successfully accommodate school-university grant projects as a primary the approved work plan and achieve the form of collaboration among schools and stated objectives of the partnership. universities that may lead to more formal 6. Each partnering entity dedicates and partnership activities. directs real-dollar resources to support the work plan. Considering School and partnerships (as opposed to cross-institution projects or transactions) possess six defining characteristics:

We view genuine partnerships, therefore, as mutually developed, goal centered, closely In the professional literature, the construct of managed ventures that are sanctioned at “partnership” is applied broadly to describe a high organizational levels and contribute wide range of school-university interactions. meaningfully over time to the core missions However, at CREATE, we have argued that of partnering entities. Based on these there are substantive differences between attributes, genuine partnerships among organizational “partnerships” as jointly schools and universities are rare. planned endeavors reflecting long-term commitments and concerted efforts among There are, on the other hand, other schools and universities versus the myriad significant cooperative ventures involving short-term professional “transactions” that Texas schools and universities that we are more commonplace among schools and believe hold the potential for “growing university faculty. In our work at CREATE, into” genuine partnerships. Cooperative we contend that school-university projects fashioned for purposes of grant 18

INSIGHT

University Partnerships to Enhance Teacher Education: Toward a Classification System

Given CREATE’s specific focus on teacher preparation, we have given special attention to describing and examining schooluniversity partnerships that may accelerate or enhance preparation and continued professional development of teachers. Through the ScOPE leadership framework, CREATE has devised a classification schema for describing school-university partnership arrangements as they address core institutional functions related to teacher education and development. Using ScOPE,


CREATE currently classifies teacher preparation partnerships into six principal domains, using the following typology: • • • • • •

Field-based preparation partnerships Teacher recruitment partnerships Teacher placement partnerships Teacher induction partnerships Professional development partnerships Research partnerships

the state. The scale of this type of “schooluniversity partnering” among Texas schools and universities is significant, and yet these long-established student-teaching “coops” are seldom considered in assessing the magnitude of collaborative work between schools and universities.

More recently, CREATE staff has conducted pilot surveys to examine university recruitment partnerships to Using this framework, CREATE staff has entice prospective teaching candidates into already begun a stream of research to identify the field. The survey sought to identify and study the range and types of teacher areas where school districts and universities preparation partnerships reported within the are currently working together to identify CREATE consortium, and examine how and encourage talented young people to university faculties are engaged in the work pursue careers as teachers. Unlike the results of these collaborative ventures. While this of the student-teacher survey, this study line of research is just now getting underway, actually found few formal school-university pilot studies are already yielding interesting partnerships systematically focused on information with regard to the range recruiting new talent into the field. Given and type of existing teacher preparation the combined interests of schools and partnerships active in Texas.Take for example universities, such teacher recruitment CREATE’s recent study of student- partnerships would appear to be an area ripe teacher cooperatives and related placement for future collaborative work between public patterns. Area “co-ops” between school schools and higher education institutions. districts and universities that support the placement and supervision of annual cohorts The fact that CREATE is now organizing of student teachers represent perhaps the to investigate this particular set of “impactmost prevalent and longest-standing form oriented” partnership ventures will no doubt of professional preparation partnerships. spur consortium members to examine CREATE conducted a pilot survey of its the broader range of teacher preparation member institutions to examine statewide partnership activities extant within their patterns of student teacher placements own institutions, and hopefully encourage during the previous spring of 2007. new collaborative ventures through which Twenty five (25) of 34 member universities to enhance teacher preparation within our responded. This study revealed that during state. In the meantime, we encourage school the spring of 2007, CREATE universities leaders to examine their own relationships placed more than 4,500 student teachers in with the university-based teacher 347 Texas school districts at approximately preparation programs operating in their area 2,100 campuses—including 1,299 of the and become even more proactive in forming state’s elementary schools, 397 middle alliances with these area universities to assure schools, and 416 high schools. Assuming the long-term quality and vitality of the this is a reasonable “snapshot” indicator of teacher workforce for Texas public schools. the current scale of field-based preparation partnerships, the data reveal that through this To those progressive leaders in our schools type of partnership alone the 25 responding and universities who take up the challenge, CREATE universities maintained active we warn that “partnering” as we have student-teacher partnerships with more defined it requires spanning institutional than one-third of Texas school districts and boundaries between public school and about 25 percent of all school campuses in higher education communities and, in

turn, attempting to bridge the unique fiscal, cultural, and operational challenges inherent in both sides of this organizational equation. Despite these complexities and challenges, we believe that the professional and educational rewards of school-university partnerships are well worth the effort. n

William E. Reaves is director of special projects for CREATE.

Bibliography Beck, J., Cox, R. & Wineburg, M. (2010, February). Schools of Professional Education. Presentation at the annual conference of the Association of Teacher Educators, Chicago, IL. Faux, M. & Narvaez, J. (2008). Pilot study on student teacher placement. Unpublished report, Center for Research, Evaluation and Advancement of Teacher Education. Faux, M. (2009). Pilot study on teacher recruitment. Unpublished report, Center for Research, Evaluation and Advancement of Teacher Education. Martin, D., Egan, T.M., et al. (2008). Meeting teacher demand, increasing teacher performance: Five years of school-university partnerships. Scholarly Partnerships Education Journal, 3(2), 5–33. Reaves, W. & Narvaez, J. (2006). Managing and resolving organizational conflict in school-university partnerships through sound planning and design. Journal of School Public Relations, 27(2), 196–210. Sid W. Richardson Foundation (2009). Delivering a high-quality teacher workforce for Texas: Reconsidering university-based teacher preparation in Texas, renewing commitments, and improving practice in the twenty-first century. Fort Worth,TX.

FALL 2010

19


Need a Flexible

Turn-Key Curriculum Management Solution?

CCAP 2010 provides a ready-to-use system designed

to meet your district’s needs now and in the future. Break away from the “one-size-fits-all” mold and provide your administrators the tools to make an immediate impact on student achievement.

CCAP Module 1 now includes: NEW! • “Answer-key-only” test capability • Full details available online at www.ccap4schools.net

NEWLY RELEASED

CCAP Module 2 features: • Scope & sequence management system • Instructional resource management system with FULL online access to Region 4 instructional materials • Complete lesson plan management system • McRel Power Walkthrough® • Available for just $7 per ADA—no hidden fees, additional training, or tech support costs!

Our solutions are so comprehensive that you have to see them to believe them. Visit www.ccap4schools.net or contact us to schedule a free webinar today!

2010 Comprehensive . Curriculum . Assessment . Professional Development

Online Instructional System

Phone: 713.744.6507 | E-mail: ccap4schools@esc4.net


TASA’s Grassroots Initiative 2011 The 82nd Legislative Session is quickly approaching and now more than ever superintendents need to be talking with their legislators about public education. Superintendents are valuable resources for legislators, and building meaningful dialogue with your locally elected leaders prior to the next legislative session is the best way to ensure superintendents are at the table when education issues and legislation are being crafted and deliberated.With the current budget crisis facing the state, Texas superintendents cannot afford to sit idle. It is equally important for administrators to talk with parents, teachers, community leaders, and locally elected officials on education issues that impact Texas public schools. To help facilitate communication with legislators as well as local discussions and partnerships, TASA initiated Grassroots 2011, a collection of materials with statewide information regarding school finance, accountability, and state budget matters, among other topics.The materials are easy to understand and can be shared with all interested stakeholders in your community, as well as with legislators. Grassroots 2011 materials are available on TASAnet (www.tasanet.org). Please contact Amy Beneski, Ramiro Canales, or Casey McCreary, TASA governmental relations staff, if you have any questions about the materials or need additional information in preparation for meetings with legislators and other interested stakeholders. In an effort to monitor which legislators have been contacted and how the meetings are progressing, we are asking superintendents to follow up with the governmental relations staff after their meetings with any relevant comments, recommendations, suggestions, etc.

TASA Grassroots Initiative 2011 The Truth about Fund Balances The 82nd Legislative Session is quickly approaching. With an expected budget shortfall of $18 billion, school district fund balances are increasingly coming under fire. In an effort to assist lawmakers and other interested stakeholders in understanding the importance of fund balances,TASA staff put together talking points on the issue. • Fund balances provide academic and financial stability to districts, students, local taxpayers, and the community. Just as the state needs a ‘rainy day fund,’ school districts need a fund balance to cover unexpected expenses to ensure the stability of programs and services. • TEA’s Financial Accountability Resource Guide recommends a minimum of two months’ operating expenses for fund balances. Statewide, two months’ operating expenses for school districts equals approximately $6.8 billion in undesignated fund balances. • In addition to having two months of operating expenses in a fund balance, TEA also recommends districts have enough money to cover any anticipated cash-flow deficits. Examples of cash-flow deficits include delayed state and federal payments and delayed tax collections. • The amount of needed fund balance reserves will vary greatly from district to district depending on the extent to which they depend on local taxes rather than state aid. Districts that rely heavily on local property taxes must set aside more funds to cover costs in the fall. • Most districts need a fund balance equal to three months of operating expenditures to avoid borrowing money at the beginning of the school year. Many districts must operate for several months before they receive local tax dollars or state funding. A fund balance helps bridge this gap. • In 2006, the Texas Legislature eliminated board authorization elections, which had allowed trustees to draw down money approved by voters in previous tax-rate elections on an as-needed basis for necessary local projects. Current law forces districts to immediately draw down all revenue approved by local taxpayers. In lieu of having multiple costly elections and having no other recourse, local taxpayers in school districts across the state have approved placing money in the district’s fund balance for the future needs of schoolchildren. • Prudent fund balances assist districts in securing the best bond ratings available, which saves local taxpayer dollars. • Fund balances are clear indications that school districts are being responsible in their management of taxpayer funds. n

Fall 2010

21


Furniture

Technology

Office /School Supplies

$

TCPN

Save Money Food Service

Playground Equipment

Energy

Miscellaneous Facilities

Books Save Time

Music

Assistive Technology

Security

Transportation

Construction

Athletics

Insurance/Benefits/ Solutions

Have you joined the network yet? Join over 5,500 governmental entities utilizing TCPN’s network of manufacturers, vendors and service providers reaping the benefits of shared services and nationally leveraged pricing. We’ve already taken care of the procurement end of things with competitively bid, awarded contracts that allow you to get what you need from the vendors you want. And working together cooperatively is simple. You deal directly with our awarded vendors by simply noting “Per TCPN Contract” on your purchase order. Wire into The Cooperative Purchasing Network and get the biggest bang for your budget. Go ahead, ask our vendors for the TCPN contract pricing. It’s FREE to use...no dues, no fees, nothing!

Join today at www.TCPN.org

®


Learning Servant Leadership from a Master by Nelson Coulter

It was heavier than I expected. I could not help but conclude that the physical weight of the box somehow represented the weightiness of the spirit of the man whose body lay within. C. B. Barbee passed from this life on February 2, 2010, after 88 years of a life filled with selfless service, including, but certainly not limited to, his tenure as an educator and school leader. Mr. Barbee served public schools in Texas for 35 years, 25 of them as the superintendent of Bronte ISD. It was in Bronte that our paths crossed; his youngest son, Alan, was my best friend. Consequently, I was inordinately influenced by C. B., as a derivative function of the many meals eaten at his table, the countless rides to and from games in his car, and the numerous Saturday afternoons I spent watching his television and trying to heal up from bruises incurred in the football game the night before. The memorial service was held on a Saturday afternoon. The family, knowing that Mr. Barbee would not want to create a disruption in the regular school schedule, delayed the proceedings until the weekend.The sanctuary overflowed, and I watched familiar faces from the community in which I was raised honor a life well lived. Throughout the proceedings, I could not help but reflect on lessons in servant leadership learned from the exemplar and mentor I found in C. B. Barbee, a man who so completely embodied and modeled the best attributes of school leadership. Most of us know of someone like C. B. Barbee; few of us, however, are afforded the opportunity to actually know someone like him.As I observed the community of my raising file by his casket, I began to reflect on the things that I learned about our work as school leaders from this man.

Balance Mr. Barbee achieved an unusual and delicate balance between vocation and avocation. He moved fluidly between his commitments to family, church, work, and his community. As a student, I remember watching him work as our superintendent each school day in his suit and tie. He knew all of us, as well as the members of our families, by name. After the buses rolled at the end of each school day, C. B. would head home to don a work shirt, overalls, and boots. In a matter of minutes, he would be back at the school, mowing the football field, painting trash cans, or working to unclog a drain. Mingled between these tasks, he found time to harvest his garden and deliver vegetables and fruit to his neighbors (often those he deemed to be in some sort of need). Many times, on a calm west Texas evening, he would saddle his horse and take a grandchild for a ride. As the old saying goes, he worked from “can to can’t” on a daily basis, a pattern that continued right up to his last week of life.

FALL 2010

23


Though C. B. worked tirelessly, his work was never without balance. He masterfully attended to the needs of the school, those of his family, and those of his community. Once the sun retreated for the day, he would clean up, eat dinner with his family, and spend the evening hours preparing for the Sunday School class he would teach in his church home (where he also served as deacon). At the root of all his work was his grounded and unshakable faith. C. B. had crystal clear priorities in his life: his God, his family, the school he served, his community. These priorities were well-exemplified in his decision to move the family in 1959 from Houston, where he worked as an assistant superintendent in an affluent school district, to Bronte. It would take until 1980 for C. B. to match the salary that he would have had in 1960 had he stayed in Houston. He chose less material gratification and perceived esteem in order to provide the elements of life he desired for his family. This clarity of priorities and purpose lent to C. B. a steadiness-at-the-helm that is sorely missing from the reactionary practices and thinking so often seen in leadership positions.

before him. He saw stewardship as a willing obligation, not only to “pay back” those who had afforded him life’s pleasures, but also to “pay it forward” to those who must surely pick up the mantle after him. C. B. appeared to fully understand that stewardship implies not only a respectful honoring of the past, but an obligation to the future.

Professionally, Mr. Barbee seemed to understand that organizational life is, more than anything else, about the people. This is especially so in an organization that’s primary mission is the development of children. Mr. Barbee, in ways both overt and subtle, worked to build the capacity of the professionals in his circle of influence. He painted clear expectations for action and thought. When C. B. delegated authority Sacrifice to others, he supported the decisions they Throughout his life, C. B. sacrificed on made within the purview of that authority. behalf of others. He served our country in Mr. Barbee did not jump to conclusions, the South Pacific during World War II. He being fully aware that leaders rarely possess taught Sunday School for many years. Until all the “puzzle pieces” to complex problems the last years of his life, he participated in lay and that they must listen carefully to a ministries through his church in the interest broad range of stakeholders to capture the of serving even beyond his own community. best possible “picture” of the situation. He C. B. seemed to intuitively understand that allowed and encouraged risk taking, because material possessions were secondary to the he knew it to be a prerequisite for growth power of the “experiences” he could have and progress. with those he loved and served.

I constantly observed him going out of his way to make it easier on someone else, even though it inconvenienced him.As shared by his son, Alan, it was only after C. B. retired from his school work that the family could eat meals at home without being interrupted by a caller (often a student who needed to Stewardship retrieve homework or books forgotten at I believe that Mr. Barbee viewed stewardship the school).Those were calls to which C. B. as a requirement of his life and something always responded. that is embodied in those who act on behalf of others. As superintendent, he managed Treatment of Others the property and resources of the school and community in which he lived; however, he If there was an ounce of meanness or guile never appeared to believe those resources in the man, I never saw it manifested. Mr. were his own. He behaved as though he Barbee treated the undocumented worker had been entrusted with two of the most who built fences for local ranchers with the important resources in Bronte, Texas: the same respect and deference that he allowed community’s children and its money. He the local banker and the collection of thought and acted conservatively; always superintendents who were members of the gave more than he took; and consistently statewide professional organization (Texas honored the effort, time, and belongings of Association of Community Schools) for which he served as president. In short, Mr. others. Barbee seemed to view everyone as equals. I believe Mr. Barbee adopted the lifestyle of Regardless of age or station in life, all were a steward knowing that the privileges and treated with kindness and respect. comforts he enjoyed came at the expense of the effort and sacrifice of others who came

24

INSIGHT

Though he was a superintendent, he acted as a servant and mentor to those in his circle of influence. As Dr. Ann O’Doherty, my colleague at The University of Texas at Austin describes it, “We have mentees, and we also have grandmentees and great grandmentees.” I gladly count myself a lifetime member of at least one of those groups that have been mentored by C. B. Barbee.

Leadership Lessons for Me Watching and learning from C. B. Barbee for four decades has provided me with some powerful lessons in school leadership: • Balance in life is critical to physical, mental, and spiritual health. Moderation and balance are keys to living healthily and happily. • Stewardship is an obligation. We are all only “visiting” this planet for a short period of time.Those of us in leadership roles are especially responsible for treating its resources and fellow inhabitants with tender loving care. • Sacrifice is the hallmark of exceptional leadership. Giving up something (time,


effort, resources, etc.) in the interest of others is perhaps the noblest of all endeavors. • Treatment of others is the standard by which our lives will be judged. In the grand scheme of life, we are all created equal, and we all pass from this life in the same state.The quality of our lives, both as we experience it and as judged by others, will hinge on how we interact with our fellow man. Mr. Barbee honored fully and authentically those who had gone before him, acting daily with an eye on those who would come after him. I am grateful to be but one of his legion of mentees. His passage from us leaves a gaping hole in the fabric of servant leadership. While there may be few who can live and model the concept of servant leadership as capably as he, I can only echo the words of the prophet Isaiah as I strive to carry on Mr. Barbee’s school leadership legacy:“Here am I, send me.” n

Nelson Coulter is superintendent of Guthrie Common School District. He has served public schools in Texas for over 30 years as a teacher, coach, assistant principal, principal, superintendent, and professor.

References Barbee, A. (2010). A life well lived. Sermon notes provided from the memorial service for C. B. Barbee, February 6, 2010. Block, P. (1993). Stewardship: Choosing service over self-interest. San Francisco, CA: BerretKoehler Publishers, Inc. Block, P. (2008). Community: The structure of belonging. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

FALL 2010

25


TASA Fall 2010 Calendar September 2010 14–15 Leadership Development Process

Jody Westbrook

San Antonio, TX

15–16 First-Time Superintendents Academy, Session One Experts in the Field

Austin Marriott North Hotel, Round Rock, TX

24–26 TASA/TASB Convention

George R. Brown Convention Center, Houston, TX

October 2010 5–6

Leadership Development Process

Jody Westbrook

Houston, TX

11–12 50 Ways to Close the Achievement Gap

Elizabeth Clark

TASA, Austin, TX

19–22 Level I Curriculum Management Audit Training

Jan Jacob

TASA, Austin, TX

Texas Association of School Administrators

Midwintere Conferenc

bruary 2, 2011 January 30–Fe tion Center Austin Conven

The TASA Midwinter Conference tackles the tough issues head-on with a far-reaching agenda covering the widest range of topics available at any education conference. Your team members get what they need from presenters who speak their language! All for only $195 per registrant.

ndar! Mark Your Cale 26

INSIGHT

General Session Speakers n

n

n

Chip Heath Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard Robert Scott TEA Updates for 2010–11 School Year Jim Popham, Phil Schlechty, and Rick Stiggins Creating Balanced, Instructionally Sensitive Assessment Systems

Plus, Distinguished Lectures from Yong Zhao, Fenwick English, Bill Poston, Raymund Paredes, and others!

Registration, housing, and program applications opened August 2. Stay tuned to www.TASAnet.org for details!


2010 Administrative Leadership Institute

Personal Balance = Personal Best TASA is pleased to again cosponsor the Administrative Leadership Institute (ALI).The 2010 ALI, focused on Personal Balance = Personal Best, is bringing in experts to equip us in our quest for a balanced life and offer us their experience and expertise to help us achieve it. WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 17

Sponsored by Texas A&M University, TASA, and PBK November 17 & 18, 2010 College Station Hilton Hotel and Conference Center & Miramont Country Club

Registration Online: Opens Wednesday, September 1 http://ALI.tamu.edu Deadline: Friday, November 5

For additional information, contact Susan Sassano, ssassano@tamu.edu, 979.862.3283.

Golf Tournament—Texas Scramble. On Wednesday morning, the annual golf tournament will be held at the Texas A&M University Golf Course, located on the Texas A&M campus. This is a fun event, and prizes are plentiful—even for the high scorers.A boxed lunch is provided for the tournament, and a handicapping system is used.  Tee off is at 8 a.m. Only registered ALI participants are eligible to play and compete for prizes.All tournament participants must pay a $45 entry fee.The fee includes cart, range balls, green fees, prizes, and a boxed lunch. Panel of Peers—An Interactive Session. On Wednesday afternoon, a panel of peers from across the state who have been successfully weathering the storms of public education in a very public arena along with health expert Dr. Kerry Vance will bring us their successful personal styles and strategies for living balanced lives. Will be held at the College Station Hilton Hotel and Conference Center. Opening Banquet—Purposeful Living or Out of Control. Wednesday evening’s opening banquet at the exclusive Miramont Country Club in Bryan includes an address by Todd Whitthorne, president and CEO of Cooper Concepts, a division of the renowned Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas. Whitthorne’s vast experience and wide range of primary research done at Cooper Clinic will open doors of knowledge that will give us the best opportunities for change and success. In addition, there will be an awards presentation. n The

Golden Deeds Award will be presented to Dr. Maria Hernandez Ferrier, president, Texas A&M University–San Antonio, in recognition for distinguished service to education in the state of Texas.

n The John R. Hoyle Award will be given to distinguished Texas school leader

Charlie Rooke,

principal,Twin Creeks Middle School, Spring ISD. n The Paul R. Hensarling and T. M. Stinnett Awards will be given to outstanding graduate students

Housing A block of rooms has been reserved for ALI participants at the College Station Hilton Hotel and Conference Center, 810 University Drive East, College Station. Call 979.693.7500 for your reservations or visit www.hiltoncs.com.The rate is $105 single/ double, payable to the Hilton. Room blocks will be held at this rate until Tuesday, October 26, so please reserve early. In order to receive this special rate, indicate that you are attending the Administrative Leadership Institute.

from Texas A&M University. THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 18

In-Depth Discussion—Sustainable Choices for Healthy Living: Links to Personal and Professional Balance and Success. Thursday morning’s agenda includes a more in-depth discussion from Todd Whitthorne. His background uniquely equips him to bring us tools that can be used even before we leave ALI. Whitthorne has worked with LIFE Institute, a TASA/Cooper Aerobics Center/ PBK initiative for superintendents with 2–10 years’ experience, so he is familiar with the unique stresses of the profession.Will be held at the College Station Hilton Hotel and Conference Center. n n n

The Administrative Leadership Institute is a 24-hour venue where new and experienced school executives from across Texas can have informal dialog in an informal setting and where innovative ideas can be shared in a warm, intimate, and safe atmosphere. Don’t delay registering for this conference. It will be the best 24 hours you will spend this year.You will leave with creative and practical ideas for achieving a more balanced life that will, in turn, inspire and equip you for achieving higher performance.

FALL 2010

27


28

INSIGHT


TASA Member Benefit: The Research Gateway You work hard every day to make good decisions for your students and employees. Others often turn to you for answers. You need a resource you can trust for those answers. That’s why we are offering a new member benefit called the Research Gateway that you can access right from TASAnet. The Research Gateway is powered by Educational Research Service (ERS), a nonprofit organization that has been providing reliable research to school administrators for over 35 years. The Research Gateway is a spam filter with a quality guarantee.We know you’re busy, so experienced ERS researchers have combed the Web, electronic libraries, and databases to find no more than 10 of the very best articles or research reports on the topics you need. Save hours of needless searching and sorting through the millions of hits you get on Google or other search engines. Featured topics change weekly, so check it out right now on TASAnet. NOTE: For superintendents who value and rely on research-based decision making, the Research Gateway is easily enhanced with a subscription to the TASA Research Connection. A partnership effort between TASA and ERS, the Research Connection offers your leadership team access to the most comprehensive array of education research in the country. Two levels of support—both including a wide array of electronic and hard-copy publications —provide affordable solutions to your district’s research needs. Visit us on TASAnet to learn more about this valuable subscription service!

Supporting English Language Learners: Taking a Systemic Perspective by Nancy Protheroe Until recently, discussion about how to support the learning of ELL students has focused almost exclusively on instructional issues. What model should be used— English immersion, sheltered instruction, etc.? And what strategies should teachers employ to help students facing the dual challenge of simultaneously learning English and academic content? But there has been a missing piece in this conversation that some researchers have begun to address. Specifically, they ask: how do district and school policies and procedures contribute to—or detract from—effective instruction of ELL students? Their findings make it clear that district and school-level practices can significantly affect ELL student success. In one summary of research, Coleman and Goldenberg talk about the importance of viewing ELL instruction from a systemic perspective: The one thing that seems to surface when looking at the studies as a whole is the importance of a coherent academic program where teachers and administrators focus on doing whatever is necessary to ensure the academic achievement of ELs. In other words, higher achievement levels for ELs appear to be the result of focused, sustained, and coordinated work among educators committed to the educational success of these students. (2010, p. 158) Researchers conducting a study of ELL instruction in the middle grades came to a similar conclusion. They suggest that “a coherent program of instruction for English Learners will be guided by a coherent set of assumptions about who the learners are, what they are capable of, and the practices that will support them,” and identify two such practices likely to better support the education of ELLs: • Accelerate the pace at which ELLs engage with grade-level content. • Provide additional grade-level support (not remediation) for students who need it (Walqui, et al., 2010, p. 63). The researchers also used both the study findings and research about best practice to develop additional recommendations; for example,

Fall 2010

29


making student assessment data available • Avoid EL placements that are isolating to schools and teachers in a meaningful, and stigmatizing. Do not deny any timely way. group of EL students the well-supported experience of challenging mainstream • Compartmentalization of ELL Departments and Staff. ELL staff at both the district classes. Make EL placement more nimble. and school levels appeared to work Know what students know, including in in isolation from other instructional their L1 [first language]. departments and programs. This resulted • Provide administrators with the in the ineffective use of funds, less access professional development that allows to instructional resources and training, them to be instructional leaders on behalf and the general sense that ELL staff and of English Learners. teachers—alone—were responsible for • Make ELs everyone’s responsibility the achievement of ELLs. (excerpted (excerpted from Walqui, et al., 2010, pp. from Horwitz, et al., 2009, p. 2) 3–4).

Barriers to Effective Instruction

Additional factors impeding the education of ELLs were identified in a study of programs Research has also recently provided some for middle school ELLs in California; for “lessons learned” about school and district example, the researchers found: practices that work against the provision of effective instruction for ELL students. For • A lack of coherence in middle school example, the Council of Great City Schools programs for ELLs; used a case-study approach to compare the • An “implementation gap” between practices of four school districts achieving district policies and supports for English relative success with education of ELLs learners and school practices that with those of two less-successful districts. contributed to reduced effectiveness of The researchers identified some “limiting programs; factors” in the less successful districts. Some • The use of ineffective teaching practices of the findings provide direction for districts to support second language acquisition working to improve educational outcomes and to scaffold access to subject area of ELL students. For example, some limiting content; and factors included: • Ineffective/insufficient teacher profes• No Coherent Vision or Strategy for the Instruction of ELLs Systemwide. Neither comparison [low-performing] district effectively articulated or communicated a vision for the kind of instructional programming it would pursue on behalf of ELLs.The instructional needs of ELLs appeared to have been an afterthought. • Lack of Access to the General Curriculum. In the comparison districts there was no system in place for ensuring that ELLs had access to the core curriculum or were being taught to the same standards as other students. • No Systematic Use of Disaggregated Student Data. There was no clear strategy in either comparison district for tracking the academic progress of ELLs or

30

INSIGHT

sional development (Walqui, et al., 2010).

Supporting Teachers: A Critical Element The need to better support teacher efforts to provide effective instruction for ELL students comes through loud and clear in the research, and teacher readiness to effectively teach ELL students is repeatedly identified as a major problem. For example, principals interviewed as part of a study on ELL instruction identified “inadequate preparation and training of teachers” as a factor contributing to “ineffective teaching and classroom support” (Walqui, et al., 2010, p. 41). In addition, the researchers find that supporting middle and high school teachers’ work with second language learners is

especially important since students are facing the challenge of increasing complex content and vocabulary in these grades (Elfers, et al., 2009). On a more positive note, principals in high schools in which ELLs achieved at higher than expected levels ranked professional development efforts for teachers first among factors that contributed to their schools’ success (Rivera, et al., 2010). Short and Fitzsimmons suggest several topics on which development should focus: • First and second language acquisition theory—knowledge of how children learn their first language and how learning a second language differs, and which first-language literacy skills transfer to the second language and how • Subject-area content—a basic understanding of the subjects ELLs take in secondary schools for ESL teachers, a deep understanding for content-area teachers • ESL and sheltered instruction methodologies—knowledge of how to integrate language development activities and explanations with content-area instruction • Content-area pedagogy—knowledge of specific methods for different content areas • Content-area language and discourse—an understanding of how language is used in a specific subject area or discipline and of subject-specific text genres and structures • Linguistic and cross-cultural contexts— an understanding of language policies, sociocultural factors that influence language use and classroom behavior, and similarities and differences between English and student native languages • Curriculum development—knowledge of how to design content-based ESL and sheltered subject curricula that integrate language development with content topics • Assessment—knowledge of how to minimize the English language demands of assessments to allow ELLs


to demonstrate content knowledge and how to employ and interpret multiple measures of assessment to get a fuller picture of student knowledge and ability (2007, pp. 23–24).

Content area teachers were taught specific ways to adapt approaches they already used to teach vocabulary to non-ELLs to more effectively support ELL students. Example approaches included:

A study of teachers in California found that “teachers need and want to see what good EL instruction looks like” (Maxwell-Jolly, Gándara, & Benavídez, 2007, p. 14). Coleman and Goldenberg (2010) suggest that the most effective approach to staff development is likely to be provided by colleagues and instructional specialists on an ongoing basis, with time available for teachers to discuss concrete issues and challenges:

• Teach important words before reading, not after; • Teach as many words as possible before, during, and after reading; • Teach simple everyday words (Tier 1) along with information processing words (Tier 2), and content specific/academic words (Tier 3); • Use new words within the context of reading, talking, and writing in the same class period…; • Emphasize and use lexical items (e.g., tense, root, affixes, phrasal and idiomatic uses) as strategic learning tools; • Teach ELLs key words for a reading assignment, testing them at the end; • Avoid sending ELLs to look up words in the dictionary.This doesn’t help; and • Avoid having a peer translate for ELLs— this doesn’t help either. (Calderón, 2009, p. 15)

Studies reviewed … suggested that professional development cannot be of the one-shot workshop variety. Instead, it must be embedded in the work lives of teachers and the routines of teaching. (2010, p. 161) A four-year study funded by the Carnegie Corporation that looked at the education of ELLs in 20 New York middle and high schools focused on professional development. Each of these schools adopted two programs specifically intended to better address the needs of the ELLs in these schools. Matched schools that did not implement the programs were selected as a control group.The schools that “implemented ExC-ELL and RIGOR schoolwide moved from low-performing to high-performing in two years” (Calderón, 2009, p. 14): Expediting Comprehension for English Language Learners (ExC-ELL) was designed as a professional development program for mainstream teachers of math, science, social studies, and language arts. Intensive professional development by experts helped teachers integrate vocabulary and reading comprehension skills development into daily lessons. (Calderón, 2009, p. 14)

However, more than high-quality staff development is likely needed to meet teacher needs. Elfers, et al. (2009) call for a strong system of support in order to help teachers work effectively with ELLs. They go on to identify what they view as four key components: support for professional learning; staff support (for example, coaches and paraprofessionals); access to curriculum and materials appropriate for ELL students; and a school “community” that supports teacher sharing of knowledge, materials, and moral support.They found that: Having a critical mass of teachers with common training around ELL issues facilitated collaboration and instructional improvement efforts across the school…. In schools and districts where systems of support were focused on instruction of ELL students, teachers were able to clearly articulate what those

supports were, how they could leverage them to improve instructional practice, and identify areas for improvement [emphasis added]. (Elfers, et al., 2009, pp. 39-40)

In Summary The emerging research base about district and school policies and practices that can either help or hinder effective ELL instruction provides solid direction for school leaders. A critical next step is using the information to do an analysis of the practices your system currently has in place and making the necessary changes. n

Nancy Protheroe is director, Special Research Projects, Educational Research Service— TASA’s Research Partner

References Calderón, M. (2009, Spring). Language, literacy, and knowledge for ELLs. Better: Evidenced-based Education, 14–15. Coleman, R., & Goldenberg, C. (2010, Summer). What does research say about effective practices for English learners? Kappa Delta Pi Record, pp. 156–163. Elfers, A. M., et al. (2009). Building systems of support for classroom teachers working with second language learners. Seattle, WA: University of Washington College of education. Retrieved February 16, 2010 from http:// depts.washington.edu/ctpmail/PDFs/ ELLStudy-July2009.pdf

FALL 2010

31


Horwitz, A. R., et al. (2009). Succeeding with English Language Learners: Lessons learned from the Great City Schools. Washington, DC: Council of the Great City Schools. Retrieved from http://www.cgcs.org/ publications/ELL_Report09.pdf Maxwell-Jolly, J., Gándara, P., & Benavídez, L. M. (2007). Promoting academic literacy among secondary English language learners: A synthesis of research and practice. Linguistic Minority Research Institute at University of California-Davis. Retrieved from http:// www.lmri.ucsb.edu/publications/07_ maxwelljolly-gandara.pdf

Rivera, M. O., et al. (2010). Effective practices for English language learners: Principals from five states speak. Portsmouth, NH: RMC Research Corporation, Center on Instruction. Retrieved from http:// centeroninstruction.org/files/Effective%20 Practices%20for%20ELLs.pdf

Walqui, A, et al. (2010). What are we doing to middle school English learners: Findings and recommendations for change from a study of California EL programs. San Francisco, CA: WestEd. Retrieved from http://www. wested.org/online_pubs/PD-10-02-full.pdf

Short, D. J., & Fitzsimmons, S. (2007). Double the work: Challenges and solutions to acquiring language and academic literacy for adolescent English language learners. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education. Retrieved from http://www.all4ed.org/files/ DoubleWork.pdf

Visit the Digital Learning Pavilion at the TASA/TASB Convention • The Teacher at Home: Hear from teachers who integrate technology away from the school environment using chat, search engines, innovative lesson planning, and classroom blogs. • The 21st Century Classroom: Learn how classroom design impacts learning when it supports technology-rich environments. Students and teachers explain the implementation of technology through the use of 1:1 computing, interactive whiteboards, interactive response systems, and online communication. • Learning in the Community: Watch students and teachers explain how technology has “left” the classroom and is being implemented outside of class. • The Student at Home: Listen to students sharing ways technology used in the home environment allows learning to continue at home and encourages students to be excited about learning “beyond the classroom.” • The Hub: Discuss with administrators how these new ways of learning can be implemented in your own district.There will be time for participants to ask questions and better understand the key areas of the Digital Learning Pavilion. The Digital Learning Pavilion will be open during exhibit hall hours: Friday, September 24, 2010 Saturday, September 25, 2010 Earn 30 minutes of training credit!

32

INSIGHT

10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.


TSPRA VOICE TASA joins TSPRA in supporting the critical role of public information and communications professionals in Texas public schools.

Welcome to the School of Hard Knocks by Tim Carroll Sometimes the greatest public relations challenges come from the least likely places.An avoidable bus accident, for example, will draw a predictable response from the media and school patrons.We may become a little defensive, but there are simply times when school employees do dumb things, and schools (along with school administrators) deserve to be on the hot seat. There are other times, however, when we don’t see trouble coming and certainly don’t deserve the pressure from parents and media outlets.An obvious example would be President Barack Obama’s national address to students a year ago. No matter what side of the political aisle you sit on, the furor over a president addressing schoolchildren probably took you by surprise. If you were in a decision-making role one year ago, you were practicing the science of public relations when you chose how to handle the president’s address.Your decision was likely based on attitudes and opinions rather than facts. How do my parents feel about this issue, and what are the implications if we make one decision over another, are questions straight out of the public relations textbook. Good school public relations is more about attitudes than regulations, which leaves school administrators exposed when they make some important decisions. One way to make good decisions is to watch how managers outside and inside education deal with public relations issues.Watch how they negotiate the PR disasters and minor challenges. Then, try to apply their strategies (or lack of them) to your own school environment.

Following are some interesting examples of good and bad public relations practices from which we can learn. Benjamin “Steven” Curtis was the spokesperson for a popular Dell Computer advertising campaign that included the slogan “Get a Dell dude!” Curtis was later busted for marijuana possession, which prompted sarcastic headlines such as “Dude you’ve been busted” and “Dude you’re getting arrested.” Dell Computer was pushed to respond to the incident and questioned whether the campaign would be dropped. Rather than immediately cancel the campaign or publicly denounce its spokesperson, Dell took a low-key approach and said it would consider the matter when it had all of the facts.The item quickly dropped out of the news and the campaign was later phased out.A similar drug bust in a school environment would have serious consequences, but the lesson we can learn from Dell is that not every incident needs an immediate

Fall 2010

33


public response.When responding to media or public inquiries, school administrators should deal with each situation thoughtfully and take the necessary time to make the right decision. They should not feel rushed into making a decision for the convenience of a reporter or inquisitive parent. Certain crisis situations, especially those that involve student safety, demand an immediate response but not every PR problem is a crisis. Sometimes a school district can send a good message in the way it deals with a potentially bad PR problem. One example involved a high school instructor who accessed pornography on a school computer and shared it with a small group of students. Rather than contact the school, a parent called the media who then asked the superintendent’s office for a response. While specific details of disciplinary action against the employee could not be shared, the superintendent took the opportunity to make the point that acceptable-use policies applied to staff as well as students. The incident also led to changes in the district’s Web monitoring procedures. The message to the community could have been “lax school allows students to view pornography.” Instead, the message to parents was that “our school district will not tolerate inappropriate Web use by students or staff members.”

other. The message confirmed that steroid use by athletes is a national problem that also faces our athletes here in Texas. No “on-camera” interviews were given on the subject. Instead, a common fact sheet for parents about steroid abuse was distributed, and the details of coach training sessions regarding steroid abuse were shared. By creating and distributing the information to parents locally, the school district was able to control the message and limit the impact of more sensational news stories.

entire “crisis” to be a hoax, similar reports came in and the story gained national media attention. Pepsi’s public relations strategy was to encourage instead of hide from media attention. Their crisis plan called for unprecedented media access to manufacturing facilities, which allowed them to tell their story to a credible source. In the end, it was the heavy television coverage about the hoax that helped rebuild consumer confidence.

The lesson for administrators is that a crisis The outbreak of Foot and Mouth (Mad can occur even when there is no crisis at Cow) Disease in Great Britain in 2001 all. An honest relationship with the news destroyed the beef industry there and raised outlets that cover your schools can make or serious concerns in our own country. The break your public relations efforts when you threat of a similar crisis in the United States need their assistance. Even a disaster like the led to an unusual alliance between the beef BP oil spill can offer public relations lessons and dairy producers along with grocery for us all. It’s no longer just about the oil; chain operators. All three stakeholders it’s about the way residents along the Gulf developed a joint crisis communications Coast feel they have been treated. In the end, plan that addressed the scenario of a that’s what public relations is all about—the disease breakout in the United States. people. n The plan included detailed question-andanswer documents, education materials for consumers and media outlets, and a Tim Carroll, APR, is the public information “dark Web site” that was ready to use but director at Allen ISD and president-elect of only in the event of a crisis. Training was the Texas School Public Relations Association. also held for key management people, communications staff, and spokespersons who were identified early in the process. The plan was fortunately never put into Steroid use by high school athletes made place, but the three stakeholders were well big headlines several years ago. In one prepared. community, an investigation led to accusations of steroid use against football School administrators only need to look players in a neighboring town. No evidence back on the H1N1 flu epidemic in 2009 to of abuse was found in the second school, see how important communications can be but the accusations lingered. As they say in in a crisis or perceived crisis. Most school the news business, the story “got legs” and districts already have crisis plans for natural was widely reported across the state. The disasters and a variety of emergencies. The neighboring school district that had been lesson to be learned from the beef industry is implicated found itself in a tough public that these plans should also include detailed relations position. It had to balance the communications strategies that have been lack of evidence with the need to show created or at least shared with other local concern and carefully acknowledge that agencies. there may be a problem. In this scenario, the public relations staff at both school Just over ten years ago, a Tacoma,Washington districts developed a message and media couple reported finding a syringe in a Diet strategy instead of competing with each Pepsi can. Before the FDA declared the 34

INSIGHT


President’s Circle

Platinum

Corporate Partners 2010–11

TASA is grateful to our corporate partners for their support.

Each level of the Corporate Partner Program is designed to offer our partners quality exposure to association members. Partners at the President’s Circle, Platinum, and Gold levels may customize special events and opportunities.

GOld

Silver

Bronze

Apple Pearson SHW Group SMART Technologies Tango Software The Princeton Review/Penn Foster CompassLearning Core Education & Consulting Solutions, Inc. CTB/McGraw-Hill Houghton Mifflin Harcourt IBM Cognos Software Indeco Sales, Inc. PBK Scholastic Scientific Learning TCPN Creating & Managing Wealth, LLC Durham School Services LifeTrack Services, Inc. Renaissance Learning SureScore The College Board The Learning Together Company L. G. Balfour Company Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP TCG Consulting, LP Alton Lynch Associates Cambridge Strategic Services, LLC Classworks Education2020 First Southwest Company K12 Excellence, Inc. Laying the Foundation Learning Plus School Innovations & Advocacy Sodexo Time To Know VALIC


Presorted Standard U.S. Postage PAID Austin, TX Permit No. 1941

406 East 11th Street Austin, TX 78701-2617

FIRST PUBLIC Member FINRA/SIPC

TASA proudly endorses

FIRST PUBLIC


INSIGHT—Fall 2010