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INSIGHT #txfutureready

Are you preparing them to be ready?


for my d have dreams really fast an to you I am growing ed ne I p. need your hel y that future, but I ch me in a wa gage, and tea understand, en allows me to for myself so I will think • problem solve well with others k wor l wil I • collaborate so my contribute to will be able to • create so I ld wor g everchangin p learning I will never sto • question so ces m my experien fro er cov dis l wil • explore so I connected y sta l wil I hnologies so • use new tec with my world. I will be ful content so • choose meaning dy for a test rea ing tt just ge engaged, not pends on you! My future de Your Student y #txfutureread

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SPRING 2014 Volume 29

No. 1 Featured Articles Leadership Focus

The Moral Imperative: From Vision to Action by Karin Holacka, in collaboration with members of the Future-Ready Superintendents Leadership Institute


Advocating a call to action for educators, parents, and advocates to join together in making the new vision a reality

Leadership Always Makes the Difference by Robin Ryan with assistance from Megan Overman and Heather Willden


Encouraging a culture of leadership to empower all district employees

Making Teacher Goal Setting More Powerful by Andrew Hegedus


Utilizing research findings to implement thoughtful goal-setting processes

A Win for Texas Education Reformists by Jaret King


Impacting college and career readiness through implementation of HB 5

Building Capacity for Trust in Your District by Stacey L. Edmonson, Julie P. Combs, and Sandra Harris


Providing tools and strategies to help leaders at all levels build and sustain trust


Customized Communication—Inside and Outside the Classroom by Lorette Williams


Diversifying communication methods to maximize connections




DEPARTMENTS TASA Spring Calendar President’s Message Executive Director’s View

5 7 9

Darrell G. Floyd, President, Stephenville ISD Alton L. Frailey, President-Elect, Katy ISD Karen G. Rue, Vice-President, Northwest ISD Jeff N. Turner, Past President, Coppell ISD

Executive Committee Daniel Treviño, Jr., Mercedes ISD, 1 Paul Clore, Gregory-Portland ISD, 2 Vicki Adams, Palacios ISD, 3 Trish Hanks, Friendswood ISD, 4 Shannon Holmes, Hardin-Jefferson ISD, 5 Eddie Coulson, College Station ISD, 6 Fred Hayes, Nacogdoches ISD, 7 Rex Burks, Simms ISD, 8 Louis Baty, Knox City-O’Brien CISD, 9

TASA Headquarters Staff

Executive Director

Associate Executive Director, Administrative Services

Assistant Executive Director, Services and Systems Administration

Director of Communications and Media Relations


Johnny L. Veselka Paul L. Whitton, Jr.

Alfred Ray, Duncanville ISD, 10 Wayne Rotan, Glen Rose ISD, 11 John Craft, Killeen ISD, 12 Douglas Killian, Hutto ISD, 13 Shane Fields, Albany ISD, 14

Ann M. Halstead

Leigh Ann Glaze, San Saba ISD, 15 Robert McLain, Channing ISD, 16

Suzanne Marchman

Kevin Spiller, Seagraves ISD, 17 Kevin Allen, Iraan-Sheffield ISD, 18

Anne Harpe

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. © 2014 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 360 Press Solutions, Cedar Park, Texas.

Jose G. Franco, Fort Hancock ISD, 19 Kevin Brown, Alamo Heights ISD, 20 Buck Gilcrease, Hillsboro ISD, Legislative Committee Chair

At-Large Members Jodi Duron, Elgin ISD, At-Large Cheryl Floyd, Huckabay ISD, At-Large Martha Salazar-Zamora, Round Rock ISD, At-Large Nola Wellman, Eanes ISD, At-Large

Editorial Advisory Committee Darrell G. Floyd, Stephenville ISD, Chair Kevin Brown, Alamo Heights ISD John Craft, Killeen ISD Shane Fields, Albany ISD Buck Gilcrease, Hillsboro ISD Karen G. Rue, Northwest ISD Martha Salazar-Zamora, Round Rock ISD



TASA Spring Calendar April 14–18

Level I: Curriculum Management Audit Training

CMSi, Jan Jacob

Ector County ISD


Academy for Transformational Leadership, Region 7 (Session 4 of 4)

Schlechty Center

ESC Region 7, Kilgore

29–May 2

Level I: Curriculum Management Audit Training

CMSi, Jan Jacob

TASA Headquarters, Austin


Academy for Transformational Leadership (Session 4 of 4)

Schlechty Center

DoubleTree North by Hilton, Austin


Leadership for the Digital Learning Age, Region 20 (Session 3 of 3)

November Learning

ESC Region 20, San Antonio


Leadership for the Digital Learning Age, Region 11 (Session 3 of 3)

November Learning

ESC Region 11, Fort Worth


Leadership for the Digital Learning Age (Session 3 of 3)

November Learning

Austin Marriott North, Round Rock


Leadership for the Digital Learning Age, Region 4 (Session 3 of 3)

November Learning

ESC Region 4, Houston


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Student Success Is Our Goal! s we enter springtime, with all of its inherent education-related difficulties, let me encourage you to keep your eyes on the prize and remember why we entered this noble profession in the first place. This time of year it is easy to get bogged down in the minutia of topics such as: politics, HB 5, new graduation plans, new endorsements, the new accountability piece of community engagement requirements, the issue of double testing 8th graders in math, safeguard levels, and the new teacher and principal evaluation system on the horizon. But even so, I encourage you to not lose focus. Student success is our goal, regardless of all of the peripheral noise that surrounds that endeavor.

PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE Forward-thinking administrators know they need to move beyond focusing only on the baseline requirements of education and prepare students for real-world 21st century learning.

As a part of the effort, I want to encourage you and your district to become a part of TASA’s school transformation efforts. TASA can provide districts with a number of resources to help educators and administrators engage in meaningful 21st century learning dialogue, collaboration efforts, and professional development opportunities that will help move your school district from transformation concept/vision to transformation action/implementation. Please take advantage of TASA’s assistance in developing high-priority learning standards, using multiple assessments to measure learning, integrating technology into student learning, and creating a robust community-based accountability system. Forward-thinking administrators know they need to move beyond focusing only on the baseline requirements of education and prepare students for real-world 21st century learning.As such, I encourage you to also focus your school districts’ efforts on addressing creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration.These are the skills that today’s students will need to possess if they are to be truly successful moving forward in today’s society. As always, I urge you to: 1) become an active member of TASA, 2) encourage another administrator or aspiring administrator who is not yet a member to join TASA, 3) participate in a regional school transformation consortia group, and 4) share your ideas on TASA Connect. Finally, at our Midwinter Conference in January, we were very pleased to be able to announce the inaugural recipients of the Johnny L.Veselka Scholarships, awarded to three outstanding doctoral students in educational leadership—with emphasis on the superintendency. These scholarships recognize and honor TASA Executive Director Dr. Johnny Veselka for his four decades (and counting!) of quality leadership to TASA. I am honored to have been a part of seeing this idea come to fruition, and I am in hopes that the number of Veselka Scholarships can be expanded in the coming years.



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Expanding Our Initiatives to Support Instruction s we put away the coats and scarves, shake off winter, and recover from ice storms, school closings, cancellations, and rescheduled events, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the positive events that have occurred over the last few months.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S VIEW To assist educators in the transition from traditional classrooms to digital learning environments, TASA is planning a series of TASA on iTunes U® Boot Camps to give Texas teachers the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in creating, distributing, and using digital content.

Despite the weather, this year’s Midwinter Conference exceeded our expectations and held many “firsts” for the association. With more than 6,000 attendees this year, we had the highest number of registrants in our history; we launched TASA’s Innovation Zone where a panel of school leaders reviewed the educational products and services of 15 start-up companies; and President Darrell Floyd announced the association’s acquisition of Texas School Business magazine, with the March issue being the first under TASA’s ownership.And in another first, we offered a special professional development opportunity at the conference for classroom teachers and content specialists to learn the basics of successful digital content implementation in a one-day Digital Content Leadership Academy, with more than 150 educators participating. As we head into spring, we continue the trend of launching new initiatives to benefit districts, schools, administrators, and educators across the state. Efforts are currently underway to develop digital resource collections in TASA on iTunes U® that districts can use in responding to the college preparatory course requirement in House Bill 5. The framework for the courses will be based on the Texas College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) and aligned to the TEKS. Partnering with experienced teachers, content specialists, and higher education faculty representatives, we expect these digital resources to be available to districts in May. Beginning this summer, we will expand the TASA on iTunes U® project with additional resource collections at the high school and middle school levels to include foreign language, fine arts and other courses beyond the original 18 core content subjects.To assist educators in the transition from traditional classrooms to digital learning environments,TASA is planning a series of TASA on iTunes U® Boot Camps to give Texas teachers the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in creating, distributing, and using digital content.The camps are designed to expand the state’s cadre of teachers and content experts proficient in digital content creation. Attendees will learn about successful digital content implementation, learn how to employ the use of TASA on iTunes U® resource collections, and build actual resource collections for use in their own classrooms. The integration of technology into the student-learning environment is a vital component of school transformation.With the expansion of TASA on iTunes U®, we believe these resources will enable teachers to create classrooms that foster creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking skills to get us one step closer to realizing our vision of student-centered schools and future-ready students.




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The Moral Imperative: From Vision to Action by Karin Holacka, in collaboration with members of the Future-Ready Superintendents Leadership Institute If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow. John Dewey, Schools of Tomorrow, 1915

hether spoken or written, the word “Freedom” fosters an undeniable sense of pride, patriotism, and a belief in democracy. In America, freedoms have been debated and protested for centuries placing value on this simple term. Not all freedoms have been fully achieved, however, establishing a moral imperative to continue the debate. Education is an American freedom established for all and an unarguable core value of our democracy. The debate lies, however, among several questions. Does educational freedom stop at the right to attend school? Or, does it extend to the learner in the classroom? Freedom of the learner was a concept introduced by John Dewey (1938) stating learning increased when students were provided meaningful experiences. Unfortunately, little has changed since 1938. Students today continue to be denied the freedom to learn in meaningful and relevant ways due to bureaucratic structures that bind our educational system. Fortunately, there is hope. A new vision has been initiated for transforming public education in Texas and this paper serves as a call for educators, parents, and advocates to join together in making this vision a reality.

Background In 2006, a group of educational leaders joined together as the Public Education Visioning Institute to answer the call and create a new vision for public education in Texas. The Institute participants published a report in 2008 titled, Creating a New Vision for Public Education in Texas. Their work has enlightened and inspired many throughout the state to think differently about teaching and learning. Their vision established a focus on the learner and a framework for transforming education.The New Vision called for schools to shift from bureaucracies to learning organizations, with six articles outlining the principles and premises. The articles challenged educators to engage the digital generation and recognize how technology has changed the learning needs of students.They called for the design of



learning standards to accompany the digital age and allow students to not be simply consumers but creators of knowledge. The articles affirmed the value of assessment and accountability, while calling for the elimination of high-stakes testing and requesting the design of meaningful measures for student learning.And finally, they called for the removal of bureaucratic barriers through the creation of policies that balance state and local control of schools.




We believe students come with a diverse set of talents that should be developed through personalized learning and individualization. We believe successful schools enhance learning and meet the needs of students through high expectations, engaging opportunities, and continual transformation. We believe parents and communities desire quality schools that provide what is best for their children and are willing to work collaboratively in this effort. We believe effective teachers make a profound difference for students and success is achieved through meaningful work and meaningful relationships. We believe education is at a crossroads and everyone has a responsibility in its transformation.

n With the publication of this framework, hope was ignited and efforts to transform public education initiated. The authors of Creating a New Vision for Public Education in n Texas identified a goal for that document to “serve as a stimulus for conversations.” It has created conversations among educators, legislators, and communities throughout our Why Transformation? state and beyond, generating the purpose for Simon Sinek’s (2013) theory of “the golden continuation of the work. circle” teaches us that successful organizations start with a shared understanding of In 2012, the Texas Association of School the purpose or beliefs behind the work, Administrators created the Future-Ready which he calls the “why.” In education Superintendents Leadership Institute today, there are numerous debates surround(FRSLI) with 38 district leaders throughout ing how American education needs to be the State of Texas. This group shares in the redefined with philosophical arguments vision of the founding group and has boldly ranging from school choice to standardizaengaged in the journey toward school trans- tion. Educational greats have provided us formation. The initial work of the FRSLI with journeys through educational history started with a recommitment to the prin- outlining the various influences that have ciples of the visioning document along with hindered the success of public schools (Ratthe establishment of shared beliefs. These vich, 2010; Schlechty, 2009;Vollmer, 2010). shared beliefs, along with the work of pio- The research and efforts of these visionaries neering leaders, have set the purpose for and others have provided inspiration and transformation and have empowered the hope. The debate continues, however, and Institute participants with a determination creates further division without viable solutions resulting in a stalemate of inaction. But to move from vision to action. on what exactly are we waiting? Are we n We believe a quality education is critical to waiting for transformation to be mandated? the existence and preservation of a healthy Communities to rise up in protest? A magic democratic society and vital to our state and potion? Pfeffer and Sutton (2000) would define our knowledge without action as a nation. n We believe education has value for all students knowing-doing gap. Whereas Sinek would and success cannot be measured by a singular be more inclined to say this indicates we have lost sight of “why” quality education assessment. is a democratic necessity. Most likely, it is a combination of both.



The “why” driving our efforts towards educational transformation is established in the aforementioned beliefs but is more simply defined in knowing that our world has changed and the future of our youth lies in the hands of educators, their parents, and communities. Students today consider the days before computers a nostalgic part of history and to these digital natives, technology is a valuable learning resource comparable to encyclopedias and textbooks of yesterday.Technology provides immediate digital access to information, experiences, and communication, creating an urgent need for education to align and to effectively prepare students for this global world. Although, many recognize that our world has changed and acknowledge the value of a quality education, resistance remains and waiting continues. Common arguments are rooted in uncertainty about veering away from American values when, in reality, the paralysis to change is slowly weakening us as an educated society and world leader. If we fail to act and continue to wait, the most we can hope for is continuation of factory-model schools resulting in a workforce that is unprepared, unmotivated, or even worse, uneducated (Schlechty, 2011).This resistance and waiting continuously impedes the vision of providing meaningful and relevant experiences for today’s learner. We must move beyond the debates and unite in a shared understanding that we must prepare our students for their future through the transformation of teaching and learning. Some may be falsely inclined to think we are educators in overdrive or attempting to persuade others toward progressive ideals. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our passion and determination for educational transformation come from our unwillingness to continue to wait. We hear our students’ call for freedom to learn in a more purposeful and meaningful way and choose to no longer turn a deaf ear to

and policies limiting local control by communities are some of the realistic barriers paralyzing school districts across the state.We do not deny they pose challenges but believe Glance into a majority of classrooms we have a choice in whether or not they throughout our state today and you will find most still mirror those of “the good The state standards outlining curricular continue to prevent us from doing what we ‘ole days.”The teacher remains the control- expectations lack specificity and relevance. know to be right for students. We can no ler of knowledge while students sit as silent If the goal of the state is for a student to be a longer wait for these impediments to reach consumers of their teacher’s wisdom. Some “jack of all trades and a master of none,” they resolve. John Dewey is quoted as saying, “If classrooms have been equipped with more have successfully reached their target. Broad we teach today’s students as we taught yesmodern resources and there are isolated curricular standards ensure instruction is terday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.” Our examples of student-centered classrooms. focused on speed and quantity as opposed opportunities, therefore, lie in overcoming Organizational transformation of public to mastery and depth of learning.The focus these barriers that are robbing our students schools in our state, however, is inconsistent remains on rote memorization, short-term of their tomorrow.We must be empowered at best and, more accurately, not found. As retention, and checking off standards that by our “why” and the voices of our stua result, students describe their educational have been taught, not necessarily learned. dents and boldly leap each barrier towards experience as “boring” and “pointless” while As a result, more students are left behind, transformation. others depict it more like a bridge they have disengage, or simply drop out. to cross to enter the greener pastures of colHow to Transform? lege or their careers. Opportunities such In the search for a solution, school districts The “why” or purpose for transformation as lunch and extracurricular activities still receive endless recommendations, from has been clearly defined; however, the meanremain the highlights while engagement decreasing class sizes to increasing resources. ing of the term is vital in understanding in academics remains dependent upon the Each of these things, however, comes with the process itself. Transformation is best teacher assignment. a price and educational funding continues described metaphorically using the stages to be the target of reduction efforts, while of a butterfly. When a caterpillar becomes This depiction of school from the voices legislative action has done little to address a butterfly, it is transformed, leaving little of our students does not indicate a learning the inadequacies. Some might argue that evidence of its former structure.This “metaenvironment where creativity and innova- school districts throughout Texas have morphosis” is equivalent to educational tion are fostered and future-ready students spent more time in the courtroom than transformation in that the organization must are developed.This environment depicts the the classroom fighting for adequate fund- move into a stage of redesign and emerge stalemate created by bureaucratic barriers ing. Unfortunately, this fight continues and as a learning organization (Schlechty, 2009). such as the narrow focus on standardized funding remains a realistic barrier to trans- Transformation should not be misundertests and accountability, broad curricular formational efforts, as do the policies that stood and narrowed to a simple change of practice. Transformation requires us “to do standards, inadequate funding, and policies limit local flexibility. things [we] have never done before – not just limiting local control by communities. Our country is founded on “the people” get better at what [we] have always done” Educators today are bound by standardized having a majority voice through the election (Schlechty, 2009). Grounded in the research tests that fail to provide a valid measure of process. In recent years, the voice of “the of many educational greats, a roadmap to a child’s true ability. For years, districts have people” has been lost in policies that hinder transformation was designed through the highlighted their random rise in a data point, a community from making local decisions visioning document and is in the process applauded the efforts of a few star teachers, in the best interests of their children. Policies of continuous review. A “how” chart (see and prayed for a good rating. All the while, range from minor issues, such as the school page 14) has been provided as a morsel look knowing that a single test on a single day calendar, to those more significant, such as at transformation; therefore, leaving us to measuring every single student in a singu- how success is measured. Each has plucked simply be bold and act. lar way tells us little about academic ability, away the freedoms of local communities and teacher quality, or school success. In addition, silenced the voice of progress. high-stakes tests hinder the things that have made America strong and prosperous, such Standardized tests and accountability, broad as cherishing individual talents, cultivating curricular standards, inadequate funding, their voices and negative descriptors of their school experiences.

creativity, celebrating diversity, and inspiring curiosity (Zhao, 2009). Standardized testing and high-stakes accountability, however, are not the only impediments.



From a Caterpillar‌

To a Butterfly

Whole group instruction is the primary instructional delivery Instruction is personalized based on the individual interests, model. Every student is instructed the same way using a one- learning styles, and needs of each student through a variety of size-fits-all approach. learning structures. Classroom is exclusive to students who perform above or below Classroom is inclusive of all students and serves individual the average. Those with learning differences are pushed out as a learning needs through personalization and differentiation. means for serving their needs. Classroom is centered on the teacher as the distributor of Classroom is centered on the students who are empowered in knowledge while the students play the role of consumer with their learning through choice, collaboration, and challenge while the teacher serves as facilitator. little choice in their learning. Learning resources and products are limited to textbooks and Learning resources and products are varied with a primary focus worksheets focused on understanding and recall, and lack on application and replication of real-world situations. Work interest for students. provided encourages critical and creative thinking and aligns with student interests. Assessment of learning is done through a standardized exam providing lagging data of concepts mastered.

Assessment is for learning using multiple quality, valid measures to ensure concepts are mastered and applied.

The system is designed to produce students of a singular type like a factory produces a product.

The system is flexible, fluid, and ever-changing with a continuous search for improvement.

Learning environment is structured for control with students isolated in rows and the teacher directs from the front of the room.

Learning environment is designed to foster collaboration, investigation, and discovery. Students are allowed the freedom to work in an arrangement that best meets their learning needs.

The system clearly values compliance and obedience over learning. Strong focus on rules, discipline, and control.

The system values learning and creativity with compliance being a residual of engagement and shared expectations.

Technology is used primarily by the teacher as a substitution Technology is utilized as a tool by students to enhance their to former tools like the overhead, chalkboard, or encyclopedia. learning through collaborating, informing, designing, organizing, Instructional methods do not change. creating, etc. Organization is managed as a bureaucracy through policies and Organization is a learning organization that is collaboratively mandates that limit choice and flexibility. guided by continuous improvement and shared values.

Call to Action The founding participants in the Visioning Institute provided school districts with a framework for transformation and challenged educators to open the dialogue about a new vision for public education. Our discussions have taken us on a journey and efforts have been made to initiate change in educational practice; however, there remains little evidence of true transformation.Talk, therefore, can no longer be the substitute for action (Pfeffer and Sutton, 2000). Educators must embrace why change is necessary and push through the barriers that hinder us from action.We must collaboratively overcome our challenges, listen to the voices of our students, and transform in a way that allows for meaningful and relevant learning experiences. Our actions must include the following: n n n n n n


We must continue the conversation and share the voice of our students. We must take responsibility and lead differently for transformation to become a reality. We must act on our beliefs and not simply leave them as words spoken. We must stand for the ideas of transformation. We must drive the work forward with grace and ferocity. We must be courageous and transform.


Educational transformation is a vision capable of becoming reality.That reality, however, is dependent on our next steps. Will we continue to wait or will we embrace the moral imperative of providing students with a meaningful education? Schlechty says, “If we are to provide every child with the best education possible, we need schools that give a central place to creativity and imagination and enforce standards of excellence” (2011). We cannot deny our moral imperative. We must take the vision to action by transforming and allowing students to have the educational freedom foundational to our democracy. n Karin Holacka is Superintendent, Brazosport ISD, and a member of the Future-Ready Superintendents Leadership Institute.

References: Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and Education. Schlechty, P. (2011). Engaging Students: The Next Level of Working on the Work. San FranNewYork, NY:Touchstone. cisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Pfeffer, J., & Sutton, R. I. (2000). The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Sinek, S. (2009). Start with Why: How Great Knowledge into Action. Boston, Mass: Harvard Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. New York, NY: Penguin Group. Business School Press. Ravitch, Diane. (2010). The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education. New York, NY: Basic Books. Schlechty, P. (2009). Leading for learning: How to Transform Schools into Learning Organizations. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Vollmer, J. (2010). Schools Cannot Do It Alone: Building Public Support for America’s Public Schools. Fairfield, IA: Enlightenment Press. Zhao, Y. (2009). Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization. Alexandria,VA:ASCD.

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Participant District

Future-Ready Superintendents Leadership Institute



Vicki Adams, Superintendent

Palacios ISD

Royce Avery, Superintendent

Aransas Pass ISD

Shaun Barnett, Superintendent

Stamford ISD

David Belding, Superintendent

Millsap ISD

Fred Brent, Superintendent

Alvin ISD

Kevin Brown, Superintendent

Alamo Heights ISD

Randy Brown, Superintendent

Snyder ISD

H.D. Chambers, Superintendent

Alief ISD

Mike Coker, Superintendent

Bellville ISD

John Craft, Deputy Superintendent

Killeen ISD

Teresa J. Farler, Superintendent

Pine Tree ISD

Steve Flores, Superintendent

Round Rock ISD

Roy Garcia, Associate Superintendent

Cypress-Fairbanks ISD

Rory S. Gesch, Superintendent

Navasota ISD

Buck Gilcrease, Superintendent

Hillsboro ISD

LaTonya M. Goffney, Superintendent

Lufkin ISD

Fred S. Hayes, Superintendent

Nacogdoches ISD

Karin V. Holacka, Superintendent

Brazosport ISD

Shannon J. Holmes, Superintendent

Hardin-Jefferson ISD

Douglas Killian, Superintendent

Hutto ISD

Andrew B. Kim, Superintendent

Comal ISD

Brad Lancaster, Superintendent

Lake Travis ISD

Lane Ledbetter, Superintendent

Graham ISD

Michael D. McFarland, Superintendent

Lancaster ISD

Robert McLain, Superintendent

Channing ISD

Timothy Miller, Superintendent

Cleburne ISD

Keith Moore, Superintendent

Crosby ISD

Bob Morrison, Superintendent

Garland ISD

Paul Norton, Superintendent

Texarkana ISD

Randy Reid, Superintendent

Keller ISD

Wayne Rotan, Superintendent

Glen Rose ISD

Robin S. Ryan, Superintendent

Grapevine-Colleyville ISD

Gonzalo Salazar, Superintendent

Los Fresnos CISD

Michelle Carroll Smith, Superintendent

Lytle ISD

Dan Troxell, Superintendent

Kerrville ISD

David Vroonland, Superintendent

Frenship ISD

Doug Williams, Superintendent

Sunnyvale ISD

Kevin Worthy, Superintendent

Royse City ISD

About the Institute eginning in Fall 2012,TASA launched the Future-Ready Superintendents Leadership Institute. Founded on the work of the Public EducationVisioning Institute that produced Creating a New Vision for Public Education in Texas, the FutureReady Superintendents Leadership Institute was designed to develop and support a cadre of courageous, visionary superintendents and senior-level district administrators willing to expand their leadership beyond the local level and propel MISSION: School Transformation forward in the coming years.The institute built capacity within a group of exceptional leaders to understand, design, and initiate innovative systemic changes locally and statewide within the frameworks of both the Public EducationVisioning Institute and the Texas High Performance Schools Consortium. Interested individuals were asked to complete our online application, describing past and/or current experience with school transformation, future work around the visioning principles, why they were interested in participating in the institute, and experiences and talents that make them preferable candidates.Applicants were also asked to provide two professional references. From the submitted applications, a total of 38 Future-Ready Superintendents were selected to complete the institute. Shannon Buerk, Chief Learning Officer of Engage Learning Organization, facilitated the institute. The Future-Ready Superintendents Leadership Institute participants met five times from November 2012 to September 2013, meeting in various locations around Texas. Session topics included:

What Is “Future-Ready?”

How Can We Prototype the Change?

November 8–9, 2012–Dallas, TX

April 11–12, 2013–Corpus Christi, TX


Beliefs, Norm,Tools


Design Thinking


Visioning Work: History and Resources


Share Field Research


Self-Analysis and Analysis of Current Context


Brainstorm Solutions


Out of Our Minds


The Elegant Solution


Flight of the Creative Class


Create a Prototype


The Necessary Revolution


Action Plan


Action Imperative: Challenge/Be a Student


Homework: Implement and Document Results

How Can We Accomplish the Mission?

How Do We Make the Switch?

January 10–11, 2013–San Antonio, TX

June 25–26, 2013–Austin, TX


Challenge: Create a “Day in the Life”


Share Results from Action Research


Digital Learning = Student-Directed Learning


Partnerships and Community Engagement


Assessment and Accountability


Navigating the Political System


Learning Systems/Organizations




Design Thinking Questions for Research


SWITCH Action Plan


Make an Action Plan for Field Research


Homework: Midwinter Sessions/Chat & Student Panel/Schedule

How Might We Scale the Change? September 12–13, 2013–Austin, TX n

Leading Locally


Leading Beyond the LEA


Sustaining the Collaboration




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Science Office Early Chilhood

Music Facilities Technology

8 0 5 E a s t 4 t h Av e n u e B e l t o n , Te x a s 7 6 5 1 3 • 8 0 0 . 6 9 2 . 4 2 5 6 • i n d e c o s a l e s . c o m

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Leadership Always Makes the Difference by Robin Ryan with assistance from Megan Overman and Heather Willden e all are familiar with the common-held belief that it takes a village to raise a child.This is notably evident in school districts. In public school districts all across Texas, we work together to equip each child who enters our classrooms with the tools and opportunities to succeed.This rhythm and collaboration happens through leadership across all facets of the district. From the superintendent’s office to the classroom, from the warehouse to the payroll office and more, we all are leading our children and colleagues to a stronger future. Leadership is important—in fact, it’s imperative. We continually strive to develop and improve our own leadership skills. If you go to a bookstore or search online, you find thousands of books and publications on this very topic. Leadership is tough, fun, heartbreaking, and triumphant—all at the same time. Research, complete with opinions, guides, and strategies, is certainly not lacking in this field. In Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, we believe that leadership at all levels is important and should be cultivated.As a friend of mine once told me:You are going to have a culture, you just have to make up your mind if you want to be intentional about building the culture you envision or if you will just let culture be built by happenstance. In GCISD, we are working to build a culture of leadership throughout our organization. A culture of leadership gives all employees of an organization the opportunity to lead each other toward the betterment of the whole.Titles do not make leaders; actions define leadership.To nurture and develop our culture, we have set in place a variety of initiatives to refine the leadership skills of staff members across the district.This article outlines several of these key initiatives.

Leading the Leaders Each month, we bring together leadership staff from across the entire district to discuss in detail the happenings of GCISD and to further build on our strategic plan. Before any of this is discussed, however, we first share.We share our celebrations, both work-related and personal.We learn about one of our elementary school teachers earning a national award, our curriculum director’s latest program success, or the excitement and joy of a principal as she shares the news of the birth of her first grandchild.We connect. Relationships are fused and strengthened.We learn more about each other, enhancing our own network of leadership experts. Our monthly meeting time also is used to research additional learning tools through presentations and book studies. We work together to further our strategic plan: LEAD 2021 (Leading Excellence—Action Driven). LEAD 2021 is the foundation for each decision made at GCISD. It is uniquely designed for all employees to play a vital role in the development of a GCISD graduate.



Additionally, in recent years, we have restructured many parts of the district to provide added support to our campuses.We also have made it our mission to continue hiring quality people. More than that, we hire employees with the intention of giving them the opportunity to lead through service to teachers and students.We expect our students to continually learn and strive for the best. In turn, we value a similar opportunity for our own staff.

Our principals weren’t hired just for their leadership skills, but also for their genuine desire to continuously improve.

Supporting our Teachers— Learning Liaisons and Instructional Coaches

Through our restructuring, we have brought many teachers into a leadership role as a Ready to jump in to help manage any cam- Learning Liaison or Instructional Coach. pus need, our assistant principals provide These leading educators work closely with tremendous support to our school com- our teachers, providing increased support munities. While the world may not always and guidance in best instructional practices see the vast roles our assistant principals play, grounded in the tenets of LEAD 2021. they truly are a leading part of GCISD each These leaders are vital to the success of our day.They are our future campus leaders, and efforts to transform from a teaching platwe invest time into helping them receive form to a learning platform and differentiate The Keys Principals are the keys – the ultimate leaders necessary training and guidance to enhance instruction to provide personalized learning to help all our students grow academically. in education. If principals lead, whatever we their leadership skills. This group of leaders provides critical supstrive for can happen. If principals don’t lead, it probably won’t happen. Our principals are The Fellowship program is one such initia- port for our front-line educators and they surrounded by an entire network of tools tive geared specifically toward our assistant are the primary influencers of our instrucand resources designed to help them lead principals. In this yearlong leadership devel- tional transformation. their campus in all day-to-day tasks, as well as opment program, our Fellows gain a deeper through piloting new programs. They meet understanding of LEAD 2021 and a broader Refining our Teachers—School each week to gain insight and instruction. perspective of leadership from the district- Leadership Institute and VALOR They share best practices and discuss how wide view. It is an opportunity for them to Our teachers directly lead our future each to continually transform their campus for grow as instructional leaders while gaining day. The quality instruction they dedicate the better, and ultimately the district overall. the district-level perspective. to GCISD students is outstanding. Their

The Fellowship

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flexibility in developing new and creative ways to add rigor, all while supporting the expectations of the district’s LEAD 2021 strategic plan, makes our district a success in meeting the needs of all students at GCISD. We ask a great deal of our teachers—to meet our own high expectations, as well as state and federal standards for education. GCISD has established a variety of programs to support, shape, and mold our teachers to become great leaders.These programs serve as an investment in the talent we already have in the district, and provide opportunities to grow and evolve our teacher leaders toward both their district and their personal professional goals.

Championing our Mission—GCISD Champions

These programs include the School Leadership Institute and VALOR, to name a few. Through School Leadership Institutes, teachers gain insight into all aspects of the district and how every function aligns with our LEAD 2021 strategic plan. Through this knowledge, this group of elementary, middle and high school teachers experience the “big picture” view of how our school district operates.This, in turn, expands their perspective of educational leadership and further establishes them as teacher leaders at their respective campuses.

These are just a few examples of how we are working in Grapevine-Colleyville ISD to build a culture of leadership throughout our organization. Every employee at GCISD is a leader, and all leaders are important. Kenneth Blanchard, renowned author and expert in management and leadership, sums it up with his quote, “The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.”

VALOR brings together a group of innovative, growth-minded teachers to advance student achievement through academic study, self-reflection, and collaboration with other change leaders in the district. We believe that all teachers have the capacity to grow, regardless of their experience or expertise. Peer and self-observation are cornerstones of VALOR that drive teachers to learn about themselves and learn from others.

Each district employee has the opportunity to effectively lead one another, simply through their own personal influence. From a friendly greeting when answering the phone or arriving to the office, to taking time to teach each other and strengthen the skills of the entire department, to guiding internal and external stakeholders through a new districtwide initiative, we are all leaders. When we work together as a cohesive unit, we create a strong, flourishing village for our children to grow and succeed far beyond our classrooms. n

I am so proud of our teachers.The immense creativity they express as they continually deliver personalized instruction and develop unique projects stands as a testament to their commitment in leading our students and each other to success.

Finally, we have a group of employees who serve as our GCISD Champions. Representing all areas of the district, our Champions are trusted leaders among their colleagues who can connect the leadership from the superintendent to the classrooms and departments. Armed with information and guidance from district experts, their task is to share information about the district with colleagues and community in an effort to further communicate our vision, mission, and initiatives with stakeholders. They are valuable communicators—leaders among their peers.

n n n n

Influence fosters mutuality Mutuality forms connections Connections build relationships Relationships enable effective leadership

Robin Ryan is superintendent, Megan Overman is director of communications, and Heather Willden is communications coordinator, Grapevine-Colleyville ISD.



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Making Teacher Goal Setting More Powerful By Andrew Hegedus ost of us believe that when individuals have goals, their performance improves, and this belief is being put to the test in schools today. In an effort to create alignment between district and school improvement efforts, teachers are more likely than ever to have formal performance goals. For example, many schools require teachers to have documented performance goals, which are either created collaboratively between a teacher and principal or are established by the principal for the teacher. In either case, these goals are often focused on attaining measurable student achievement or learning targets. As this teacher goal-setting trend continues, I wondered: Are there findings from current research about teacher goal setting that might provide benefits for student learning? One of the first things I learned was that there is a substantial 45-year body of research on the topic of individual goal setting and its impact on task performance. Although the bulk of this research was across a variety of individuals in different settings (e.g., public- and private-sector employees, athletes, college students, etc.), and not exclusively conducted with K-12 teachers, the general findings do still apply.The research is fundamentally about the impact of goal setting on people and how we respond to goals regardless of specific setting. In this article, I will provide an overview of the research findings and offer specific recommendations for how we can apply these findings to teacher goal setting in ways that will benefit both teachers and students.

Do goals make a difference? First and foremost, how much of a difference in student learning should we expect if teachers set goals? Is the benefit for students worth the effort it takes for teachers to have goals? The 45-year body of research on this point is clear—goal setting can measurably improve outcomes like student learning (Locke, 2013).The research is also clear that simply having goals will not improve an individual’s performance; if implemented poorly, goal setting will not result in improvements. To understand the potential benefits of goal setting, we can use some K–12 studies with interesting findings. For example, in 2004, the Community Training and Assistance Center (CTAC) found that if a teacher simply sets a high-quality goal, students will learn more. Additionally, if a teacher sets and meets any goal, students will learn more. In a subsequent 2013 study, CTAC reported that the implementation of goals can result in a 12- to 13-percent improvement in the rate of student learning.These findings are consistent with the broader body of research (Wegge, 2013; Locke, 2002; Locke, 2013). Another interesting finding is that when goal setting is done well, it can lead to a cycle of continuous improvement for teachers. By successfully attaining goals, most teachers will feel rewarded. Goal attainment then leads teachers to believe they can accomplish more with their students. With this strengthened belief in themselves, teachers are more willing to commit to new and higher goals, and the cycle of improvement begins again (Locke, 2013).



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What are the attributes of high quality goals?

to express this is, “Can the teacher envision a plan to achieve this goal?” For example, if Effective goals have two significant charac- a teacher struggles to identify how he or she teristics: their specificity and their difficulty. can accomplish this student-learning goal, In general terms, having a specific goal that then the goal may be too difficult. If the clearly states what is to be achieved is better overall goal is written so that it combines than a goal that simply says “do your best.” both student outcomes and learning goals For simple tasks, goals specifying measurable together, it’s the overall difficulty of the goal outcomes to be achieved can be effective. combination that matters. Teachers must However, teaching is not a simple task, in believe that the attainment of the goal is a part due to the level of control a teacher challenge but not overwhelming if perforhas over student learning outcomes. For mance is to benefit (Masuda, 2014). instance, in some settings like manufacturing, an employee may have significant One last factor that impacts the goal itself control over the factors that can improve concerns how far into the future the goal is efficiency. In education, the teacher can focused. If accomplishing the goal will take strive to establish optimal learning condi- a substantial amount of time, shorter-term tions and supports to enable learning, but it goals are also needed. What is substantial is ultimately the students who are in control and how short term the goals should be of their own learning. are judgment calls, since the research isn’t conclusive in this area (Locke, 2013). The As tasks become more complex, learning shorter-term goals should be established so goals are significantly better at improving that they support the attainment of the overperformance (Locke, 2013). A learning goal all goal and they should also be appropriately is a specific goal for a person to learn how to challenging (Masuda, 2014). In the example do something new or better that will result learning goal above, if that goal was estabin a better outcome.A specific learning goal lished at the beginning of the school year, might be: “Implement 10 new formative perhaps a short-term goal of “implementing assessment techniques by June 1 that were three new formative assessment techniques modeled in our school’s professional devel- before winter break” would be appropriate. opment program.” Learning goals are not only significantly more effective at improv- Why do goals make a difference? ing teacher and principal performance There are several mechanisms through (Sinnema, 2012), but they also help improve which goals help improve performance overall organizational performance as well results. For example, goals influence what (Porter, 2013). teachers choose to do and not to do. Goals help focus teachers on what is deemed The difficulty of the goal also matters. Dif- important (i.e., actions designed to reach ficulty here is not on an absolute scale, but is the goal). Goals generate increased effort determined by the perception of the indi- and enhance persistence so that teachers vidual teacher. Research has not provided a continue to strive to realize the goal in the precise way to define the optimal difficulty, face of adversity. Finally, in situations where but we can envision finding an appropriate teachers don’t have all the skills or knowldifficulty level by using peer performance edge they need, simply having goals causes or historical data. If a teacher sets a goal teachers to engage in new and different that all his or her students will show some strategies to reach these goals.With increased specific level of growth this year, and peer focus, effort, persistence, and learning, it’s performance indicates that only 5 percent no wonder that setting challenging goals of teachers fail to meet this goal, then the improves results. goal may be too easy. Another possible way

How much difference goals actually make on performance depends on several things, such as the teachers’ perceptions of the consistency between their goals and their interests and values, and how strongly they believe they can meet or exceed the goals. In other words, teachers need to think that raising student achievement is important, that how it is measured is appropriate, and that the goal itself is challenging but not unrealistic. Their perception and belief is also impacted by the level of participation they have in the goal-setting process and the principal’s communication and persuasiveness about the value of the goals. If the teacher trusts the principal and if there is a perception of fairness in the goal-setting and evaluation processes, then participation by the teacher in setting the goal improves the teacher’s commitment to the goal (Sholihin, 2011). Other important school leader functions include: showing support of and confidence in the teachers as they progress toward the goals; ensuring appropriate rewards are delivered should the goals be attained; and supporting teachers’ participation with others on strategies to be used to attain the goals (Paarlberg, 2010). The principal needs to provide opportunities for training and modeling, and needs to ensure the teachers receive feedback periodically so they can adjust their effort or strategies. The more complex the task, the more these progress checks are needed for the teacher to be successful. Thinking of these mechanisms another way, much of the difference goals make is due to the effect on a teacher’s motivation. Their level of motivation is impacted by a teacher’s sense of autonomy (the desire to direct their own lives), mastery (the urge to get better and better at something that matters), and purpose (the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves) (Pink, 2009). If teachers see goals this way, it is likely they will be motivated to achieve them.



What are some potential pitfalls? If we construct goal-setting systems that don’t align with the research findings, we shouldn’t expect the same beneficial outcomes found in the studies. In fact, there are some recognized potential pitfalls that should be avoided. First, depending on the stakes involved in meeting the goals, coupled with their perceived difficulty, goals can be viewed by teachers as a threat instead of a challenge. With the perception of a threat, the benefits of goal setting may be limited due to the teachers anticipating shame and feeling anxious (Locke, 2013).

faster rate of reading without attending to word meaning. If a student is reading words faster without understanding them, a teacher is not improving what he or she values.

It turns out that the reward system matters too. When the importance of external factors becomes a significant part of the reward system, like additional compensation, then theoretically a teacher’s motivation should increase. However, what is important to many teachers is the mission of education. As external motivation is emphasized (e.g., additional money), the mission-driven motivation that comes with a meaningful goal More potential for cheating to reach goals decreases. Since the overall impact on motioccurs with goals solely specifying mea- vation tends to balance out, the resulting surable student achievement or learning performance change is often not detectable. outcomes since measurements can be influ- This is particularly true in both education enced towards attaining the goal (Heinrich, and public sector work where people tend 2010). This is particularly true if what is to enter the profession for the mission rather being measured is significantly different than than the money (Bacolod, 2009; Heinrich, the real value the system is trying to cre- 2010; Paarlberg, 2010). ate. For example, in education, the primary value schools and teachers are trying to cre- What changes could be made to ate is student learning. Our proxy for this help the most? is the difference in measured achievement How can we adjust our usual practices on assessments over time. If students don’t in education to take better advantage of fully engage when taking an assessment, the power of goal setting? Here are a few their measured achievement will be lower. key ideas that are not always practiced or Therefore, if a student is less engaged in the considered: assessment in the fall and more engaged in n First, teachers should have learning goals, the spring, the amount of measured student and these goals need to be emphasized learning will be skewed high. Clearly, the and rewarded the most. level of student engagement can be easily n Second, if it will take a long time to influenced by a teacher and, therefore, cheatachieve the goals or if achieving them is ing is a possibility (Wise, 2012). complicated, shorter-term learning goals should also be set. Another potential issue is that because goals n Third, goals need to be challenging though not overwhelming, and create more focus, teachers with goals may well thought out to avoid unintended begin to ignore non-goal-related areas. If consequences. goals are not closely aligned with what is valued, the actual outcomes can be detrimental n Finally, if specific achievement or growth targets are included, make sure the comas teachers shift their focus and no longer plexity and perceived challenge of the do what is truly important. For example, combination of the learning and acaif a teacher wanted to improve a student’s demic goals is appropriate. reading ability by focusing on fluency, but improvement is measured solely by tracking a student’s words read per minute, then a Since principals play a vital role in how teacher could simply focus on obtaining a much impact goals have on performance



improvement, they need professional development and support on this topic to be successful as well. Some examples of what principals can do to help include: n Explaining the logic behind assigned goals so teachers can understand why the goals matter. In particular, they should emphasize the positive aspects of the goals and the benefits to students when the goals are met. The principal can approach this communication by focusing on the goals themselves and the teacher’s commitment to goals as two separate and important activities. n Communicating with and supporting teachers in their learning and encouraging teamwork on strategies.This support can include appropriate professional development, along with modeling and coaching to ensure the teachers can be successful (Sholihin, 2011; Locke, 2013; Porter, 2013). Goal setting in an educational setting is important for both educators and students— when teachers set goals, and principals support them by establishing a thoughtful goal-setting process, teachers will perform better and students will learn more. Since educators are now using goals more broadly, let’s take the lessons others have rigorously learned over 45 years and implement goal setting wisely. n Andrew Hegedus, Ed.D., is senior research manager at Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA).

Bibliography Bacolod, M., DiNardo, J., & Jacobson, M. (2009). Beyond Incentives: Do Schools Use Accountability Rewards Productively? (No. w14775). National Bureau of Economic Research.

Community Training and Assistance Center (CTAC) (2004). Catalyst for change. Retrieved 10-2-13, http:// Community Training and Assistance Center (CTAC) (2013). It’s more than money. Retrieved 10-2-13, MoreThanMoney.pdf Heinrich, C. J. & Marschke, G. (2010). Incentives and their dynamics in public sector performance management systems. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Wiley Online Library. Locke, E. A. & Latham, G. P. (2002). Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation: A 35year odyssey. American Psychologist. American Psychological Association.

Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (2013). New Developments in Goal Setting and Task Performance. New York, NY: Routledge. Masuda, A. D., Locke, E., Williams, K. (2014). The Effects of Simultaneous Learning and Performance Goals on Performance: An Inductive Exploration. Manuscript under revision at APIR. Paarlberg, L. E. & Lavigna, B. (2010). Transformational Leadership and Public Service Motivation: Driving Individual and Organizational Performance. Public Administration Review. Wiley Online Library. Pink, D. H. (2009). Drive:The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. New York, NY: Riverhead Books. Porter, R. L. & Latham, G. P. (2013). The Effect of Employee Learning Goals and Goal Commitment on Departmental Performance. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies. SAGE Publications.

Sholihin, M., Pike, R., Mangena, M. & Li, J. (2011). Goal-setting participation and goal commitment: Examining the mediating roles of procedural fairness and interpersonal trust in a UK financial services organisation. The British Accounting Review. Elsevier. Sinnema, C. E. & Robinson,V. M. (2012). Goal Setting in Principal Evaluation: Goal Quality and Predictors of Achievement. Leadership and Policy in Schools. Taylor & Francis. Wegge, J. & Haslem, S. A. (2013). When Group Goal Setting Fails: The Impact of Task Difficulty and Supervisor Fairness. Creativity,Talent and Excellence (pp. 165–184). Springer. Wise, S. (2012, September 14). The Influence of Student Engagement on Test Scores [Web Blog Posting]. Retrieved from node/610



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Texas House Bill 5:

A Win for Texas Education Reformists by Jaret King he primary job of high school educators is not only to prepare students for college, but to also equip them with the skills needed to succeed in their careers. Under former Texas graduation requirements, however, students were hindered from acquiring these skills. In the 2014–2015 school year, the education reform act—House Bill 5 (HB 5)—will change this predicament.

How did this bill come about? Texas education reform activists scored a major victory when Gov. Rick Perry signed HB 5 into law on June 10, 2013.“A reform like this is the most landmark education reform we have seen in the last 20 years,” said Mike Meroney, spokesman for the Jobs for Texas Coalition. In 2011, a group of parents organized to form Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment (TAMSA). The group’s mission was to initiate educational reform that would provide a more meaningful approach to student testing. According to the TAMSA website, the founding members were concerned by what they were seeing in the classrooms of their children, noting there was “too much time spent on standardized tests; too little time left for instruction, exploring, and creating.”TAMSA’s efforts set the stage for reform. In the fall of 2012, the movement gained momentum as other interest groups added their collective voices to TAMSA’s. One of the most notable of these groups was the Jobs for Texas Coalition, which according to Meroney represents 22 trade associations, 300,000 businesses, and 6 million jobs across the state. “All of a sudden you have these major coalitions who are all pushing this train,” Meroney said about the groups’ collective effort.“I think a lot of legislators, while they probably agreed with us, saw that freight train and realized,‘I better get on or I’m about to get run over.’”

Why was adopting this bill so important? One of the reasons these groups decided to join forces is because Texas was one of the top three states in the country in governmental spending on standardized tests.Texas spent $76.6 billion in 2012, compared to the national average of $17.7 billion, according to State Budget Solutions, a non-partisan, non-profit, national public policy organization. Prior to HB 5, the overemphasis on standardized testing restricted Texas high school students’ schedules, leaving little time for coursework of interest that could aid them in future job fields such as the agricultural and technical industries. “About six or seven years ago my clients began seeing a real lack of skilled workers such as welders, craftsmen, and pipefitters,” Meroney said.“What we found is that much of the high school education was not allowing kids to get involved in these types of classes, and this was not allowing them to be exposed to these types of careers.”



Legislators, including the authors of HB 5, began to look for ways to approach education with a more balanced understanding of the importance of both college preparedness and specific technical job training.This change in legislative approach seen in HB 5 was important in reestablishing the public perception of many career paths. “When I first began teaching agriculture, careers in the technical industries were highly thought of,” said Phil Worsham, former agriculture teacher and current superintendent of Joaquin ISD. “However, because people in the legislature have begun to look down upon these careers, we have seen a sharp decline in the available workforce.”

What kind of impact will this bill have on career and technical education?

it also allows students the opportunity to take classes that coincide with their career goals.The endorsements options in HB 5 are designed to target specific areas of study that correspond with specific career paths. Texas high school graduates will be more prepared for college and future careers as a result of this bill. Students will enter college with experience in choosing courses that are designed for their career focus. For example, a high school student who chooses an endorsement that requires classes in the agricultural and technical areas will be exposed to a wide variety of future job options in those fields while still in high school. According to Worsham, “The focus on not just college, but on the career-ready aspect is important because we don’t need for everybody to become doctors and lawyers.”

According to the Texas Association of School Administrator’s summary of HB 5, schools may partner with local businesses and develop an apprenticeship allowing students who do not plan to attend college to become certified in a specific field.This will allow students to begin earning a well-paid salary as well as a long-term career right out of high school. “Even with this bill we cannot legislate our students’ desire to learn, because ultimately they need to take ownership of their education,”Worsham said.“However, considering the balanced outlook this bill has on college and career preparedness, a strong foundation has been laid for those students who do take ownership.” n

The goal of HB 5 is to ensure that students Jaret King, a graduate of the Texas public are both college and career ready. This bill not only cuts down on the number of stan- There are other features of HB 5 that school system, is currently an agricultural major dardized tests students have to take and pass, will affect career and technical education. at Texas A&M University. TASA_SPR14_INSIGHT_TASA_SPR14_AD 2/28/14 12:54 PM Page 1

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Building Capacity for Trust in your District Stacey L. Edmonson, Julie P. Combs, and Sandra Harris

hat is trust? Trust is one of the most powerful constructs that helps distinguish successful leaders.Though it is a common word, many of us find trust hard to define. Still, we recognize it when it is present or, more noticeably, when it is absent in our relationships and organizations. People who work in high-trust organizations may even take trust for granted, as it is simply a part of their regular routine.A number of popular books have been written about trust for business leaders, yet school leaders have different contexts and different needs for building and maintaining trust. Evidence suggests that trust in schools is a strong predictor of student achievement, even stronger than socioeconomic status (Bryk & Schneider, 2002).Trustworthy leaders were defined by teachers as being competent, reliable, fair, open, and authentic. In the highest performing schools, trust was built and sustained when teachers, parents, and school leaders made sense of their work together. Clearly, then, trust is an essential component of being a successful leader, both for campus leaders and especially for district leaders.

Who Needs to Build Trust? Many leaders may not recognize trust as the backbone of their position. Superintendents and district leaders can be a crucial part of helping school leaders understand the importance of trust and build capacity for trust on school campuses. Specifically, trust can be even more challenging for leaders in new roles. School leaders with new assignments and positions face myriad challenges.At the core of many of these challenges is the ability to establish and sustain trusting relationships with teachers, students, and the community.We have seen many new leaders struggle because they underestimated the importance of trust. Some of these new leaders experienced minimal, if any, success because they could not earn the trust of their communities within the first 18 months, which is considered the critical period to establish trust in new situations. Understanding how to help these new campus leaders build trust is a tool that every superintendent must have. Leaders who are experiencing change may also need extra support in developing or maintaining trust on their campus. School leaders accept challenging positions that come with high expectations for change and student success. Given these high expectations and the focus on improvement, many leaders have underestimated the power of trusting relationships in the change process.We have concluded that many well-intentioned leaders are simply unaware.They do not recognize their actions and words that destroy trust, nor do they understand the signs of pervasive low trust in an organization. Further, they do not have strategies to address low-trust issues, which can be very difficult to amend. District-level support for campus leaders going through substantial change is imperative. In fact, for leaders at all levels, developing trust can be challenging because of the nature of the supervisory position, which often creates a mentality of “us” versus “them.” Educational leaders are expected to evaluate, discipline, and terminate employees. Even though these responsibilities can compromise trust, we believe that trust is still possible.Tools and strategies are needed to help leaders at all levels recognize how their words and actions can destroy trust or how their words and actions can build and sustain trust with others. One of these tools is, very simply, talking about trust.



Talk about Trust

you will be leading discussions about trust: what it is, what it is not, how to improve the trust in your organization, and how trust is developing in your organization.

behaviors encourage you to trust people?” Once an understanding of trust is gained, begin a conversation on how to sustain or boost the trust level in your organization.

As you introduce conversations related to trust, you should be transparent about why you want to improve trust in your organization. Ironically, there could be people who distrust your intention to talk about trust, which makes it important to explain why having an organization characterized Talking about trust in the context of pro- by trust matters to you as a leader and, even fessional improvement is an important more importantly, why it matters to the consideration for educational leaders who organization as a whole. When discussing want to build and sustain trust, both at the trust, you will want to establish ground rules campus and district levels. When leaders to promote a safe environment to share. take time to facilitate dialogue about trust Depending on the organization’s history, with their teachers or staff members, they individuals might be afraid to share their are engaging in a form of team develop- honest feelings. With consistency and time, ment. In order to effectively talk about trust, the lack of trust among staff members will a leader must possess the knowledge of what likely improve. to discuss, the time to openly dialogue, and the persistence to revisit the topic. The perfect time to talk about trust is when trust is forming and developing, such as at How does something as simple as talking the beginning of a new year, with new leadabout trust help build and sustain trust in ers, new staff members, and new students. a district or on a campus? Building trust Because developing trust in an organization is a complex process that requires time. is an ongoing process involving relationships Occasionally trust might develop naturally, among many individuals, the discussions but sometimes the conditions in which we should continue over time, allowing you operate might make this development a to establish an atmosphere centered on challenge. For example, leaders have to make trust. Talking about relationships and trust budget decisions, conduct evaluations, and behaviors can help teams reach new levels of prioritize needs which others do not sup- effectiveness.At the same time, the topic can port.When a leader takes time to learn about be sensitive and personal for some individutrust and then engage others in an honest als; therefore, learn about your audience and discussion about how to improve relation- anticipate needs and concerns in advance ships in the organization, he demonstrates in order to be most effective with these a value for trust. With patience and persis- conversations. tence, individuals will reflect upon their own behavior related to trust, which can facilitate Leaders should also work with their staff the development of a more enjoyable and to define behaviors that have a negative productive work environment. impact on trust. For example, you could begin a conversation with the following As you talk about trust, what should you question: “What actions or behaviors lead say? Recognizing trustworthy behaviors in you to not trust people?” Likewise, work to others is part of our emotional intelligence, identify behaviors that increase or support an interpersonal skill. Like our other intel- trust. In a similar manner, have faculty or ligences, the capacity to discern trust varies staff develop lists of behaviors that build trust among individuals.When talking about trust, by using questions such as,“What actions or

As these types of questions are asked, faculty can divide into groups and work together to develop a master list of these types of behaviors. Revisit and reflect upon the behaviors that build and destroy trust. Be careful not to force discussion of self-reflections, as it could leave teachers or staff members feeling vulnerable and unsafe. Respecting emotional safety and reducing vulnerability are elements of growing and maintaining trust.

More than likely, developing trust is not a strategy you have heard discussed much with your principals or other district leaders. Further, the quality of trust is not something that we even think too much about, except when it is missing.Without a leader’s deliberate intentions to talk about building and sustaining trust, most conversations about trust will occur only when it is a concern and related to low-morale issues.



Another strategy to talk about trust involves the use of outside materials about trust. Some district leaders are using the book, The Trust Factor: Strategies for School Leaders, with their campus leaders as a platform to discuss trust in a supportive group format. Books and articles can be another effective strategy in opening conversations about trust.

Understand the Essentials of Trust Another important tool for helping leaders build trust is to understand the essentials of trust. Because leaders must enact change in today’s schools, the development of trust can be challenging. Even when leaders are well intentioned, trust might not develop. Even when leaders are nice and caring people, trust might not develop.What, then, are the essentials of trust? After reviewing many writings about trust, we envision trust as a combination of four qualities: competence, care, character, and communication. Just as oxygen and nitrogen combine to form air, these qualities blend to form personal trustworthiness. Competence. When was the last time you returned to a salon where you received a bad haircut? Or how about a dentist who had questionable practices? In our role as consumers, we expect those we trust with our hair or our teeth to have the knowledge and skills to do a good job. In our professional lives, just as with services we receive, trust

and competence are inextricably linked. What does it mean to be a competent leader in education? It probably depends on whom you ask. Although the list of expectations is lengthy, superintendents must be able to create trusting relationships with their campus leaders, just as principals must be competent to create high-trust relationships with teachers. Competence has also been described as the leader’s ability to maintain a safe and orderly education environment, obtain resources, and appropriately respond to important issues (Bryk & Schneider, 2002). Care and Character. In working with educators at the campus and district level, we have heard trust in leaders described as integrity, reliability, and caring for others. Caring for others can include appreciation, gift giving, attention, and acts of service. In addition, leaders who use active listening and shared decision-making show a regard for others. It is important to note, however, that concern for others is not enough; character is required as well. Telling the truth, being transparent, and having courage are traits of trustworthy leaders. Concern and character that are not genuine cannot be used to manufacture trust; in fact, this type of duplicity quickly reinforces distrust.

can help you build trust through effective communication.

and they acknowledge the importance of competence, care, character, and communication.They work hard to foster these tools and look for evidence of these tools in their Recognizing Trust In education environments, trust can be as professional relationships. Trust, like air, is a important as air. Leaders who build trust complex balance of critical elements. Some know the importance of understanding and districts have excellent air quality and others, recognizing the trust levels in the school unfortunately, are very polluted environor within the district. Low trust levels, like ments. By understanding the components polluted air, are difficult to detect. Often, of trust, leaders can be aware of how their leaders are unaware of the trust pollution actions affect the district’s air quality, and until everyone is gasping for air. So, what they can use tools to build and maintain n are the warning signs of low trust? The signs trust. may include the following concerns: n People

are reluctant to take risks or try new ideas.


Meetings provide for a limited exchange of ideas.

n Most

communication occurs in private conversations or via the grapevine.

Stacey L. Edmonson is Professor of Educational Leadership and Julie P. Combs is Associate Professor, Sam Houston State University; and Sandra Harris is Professor and Dissertation Coordinator, Center for Doctoral Studies in Educational Leadership, Lamar University.


People who disagree are cut off, embarrassed, or ignored.


People have a fear of making mistakes or being embarrassed.



Some people compete for attention and approval, exchanging secrets and gossip for favoritism.

Bryk, A. S., & Schneider, B. (2002). Trust in Schools:A Core Resource for Improvement. New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.


People keep mistakes, problems, and concerns to themselves.

n People

Combs, J. P., Edmonson, S.L., & Harris, S. (2013). The Trust Factor: Strategies for School Leaders. NewYork, NY: Routledge.

give minimal effort and do just enough to get by. Communication. One of the most important tools for building trust is communication. Leaders and organizations that Leaders who build and sustain trust under- Covey, S. R. (2004). The 7 Habits of Highly communicate frequently regarding policies, stand the conditions for building trust.These Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal decisions, and goals, as opposed to those that leaders talk about trust with their district, Change. NewYork, NY: Free Press. provide limited information, have much higher levels of trust and satisfaction. When communicating, words and tone help convey true intentions and feelings. Do your words model integrity and honesty? What are the assumptions behind your words? UT/TASA Summer Conference on Education How do you handle frustration? How often has moved from June to July for 2014. do you criticize or belittle others? How do you handle those who openly disagree Join us July 13–15 at the Renaissance Austin Hotel with you? Do you silence them with your Conference Focus: authority, or do you truly seek to understand? Being purposefully cognizant of these Current and Future Implementation of House Bill 5— questions as you share information and seek Creating Flexibility and Opportunities for All Students input from your employees and constituents

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

Customized Communication—

Inside and Outside the Classroom by Lorette Williams et’s face it, we live in a world of customization. Do you want an iced latte mocha sweetened with sugar, the pink stuff, or the blue stuff? Paper or plastic? Do you want to watch your favorite TV show live or three weeks from now? In today’s world, people not only want customization, they demand it. So why would the business of communicating with students, parents, and community be any different? The truth is our customers (mainly students and parents) want to be able to receive information that is timely and relevant, while at the same time choosing how they want to receive that information.The demand for choice is apparent (Parents, we hear you loud and clear!). Now it is up to our schools to deliver. Just like our students come in all shapes and sizes with varying backgrounds and experiences, so do our families. Some parents are die-hard traditionalists preferring backpack letters, printed newsletters, and bulletin boards, while others want news and information delivered straight to their inbox.Then there are the “go-getters”, those who seek information by visiting the campus website or social media page. Educators have made great strides in the classroom towards individualized instruction and customized learning, but what about outside of the classroom? How can we extend the concept of customization to our communication efforts? It begins with first establishing the various channels of communication, followed by disseminating information via all platforms and wraps up with marketing the concept of choice.

Establishing communication channels Newsletters, websites, email—these are just a few established methods of communication that many schools already utilize. Establishing the communication channels is perhaps the easiest part of this process.That’s because so many of these methods already exist.Take a moment to think about all the various ways schools communicate with their families: campus websites, social media, printed and electronic newsletters, letters, marquees, emails, bulletin boards, parent meetings, etc. Ensuring these multiple methods are in place increases our chances of “air time” with our families and the greater community. The more channels we have to share stories and information across increasing and varying platforms, the more connections we make along the way.



Take stock of the communication methods currently in place, then work to diversify these methods. If heavy in traditional communication methods, work to establish methods that incorporate the use of technology. If opportunities lack for dialogue, look at ways to increase face-to-face interactions with parents. A good rule of thumb is to maintain a healthy balance when it comes to overall campus communications. Make sure to keep some “Tried & True”, while throwing in some “Techie & New.” Creating a varied mix of communication channels will undoubtedly result in the customization many of our families not only prefer, but also expect.

Get the word out Once a variety of well-balanced communication methods are identified and established, getting the word out should be much easier. So many times we hear parents say,“I never got the message,”“I had no idea that was scheduled,” or “That never made it home.” More often than not, these phrases are uttered after the message has been delivered in as many as four different ways. It can be frustrating to say the least, but don’t get discouraged. If we deliver the message in four different ways and still have not made a connection, we need to review and assess our methods to more effectively reach our audience. In almost every instance, the message can easily be customized to be delivered across a variety of platforms. For example, a school is kicking off the annual fall fundraiser and important details and deadlines need to be communicated to all stakeholders. A quick tease on Twitter can alert followers about the kickoff and direct them to the campus website or Facebook page for more information.Those same details can also be included in a short email to parents, the campus weekly newsletter, and a backpack flier. Staff can also take that same flier and place it on the school bulletin board. Place a short message on the school marquee and the annual fall fundraiser has now been communicated across eight different platforms. The best part of the entire process is the fact that the basic message never changed, only altered slightly depending on the method of communication used.

On page 37 we can look at this process in detail with a chart of several real-world examples. As you can see from the sample messages, only slight modifications were made depending on the method of communication. So as long as the channels are established, pushing your message to the masses just got a whole lot easier.

Promoting choice So now back to the topic of choice. Providing families a customizable experience will only be successful if they know their options.That’s why the third step of this process is just as important as steps one and two. A great way to gain some marketing leverage is to utilize various established communication channels for cross promotion. For example, if the school has an established website it can be used to promote social media; just place a link to the campus Facebook page or Twitter account on the home page. Utilize the campus newsletter to promote the website and vice versa.Announcements on the school marquee can remind stakeholders to “Sign up for the e-newsletter,” “Like us on Facebook,” or “Follow us on Twitter.” Even the simple act of asking parents how they would prefer to receive information can go a long way. Add check boxes to the enrollment/registration form that lists the various communication methods and ask parents to indicate their preference. Once it is clear there are several channels to choose from, the choice is up to them. Right now, schools may not offer as many options as Starbucks, but the constant quest to connect and engage with students and their families should be commended. Parent involvement and support is key to student success both inside and outside of the classroom. Essential to that involvement is open lines of communication. Customizing those lines means schools are one step closer to not only connecting with the families they serve, but creating meaningful and lasting relationships. n

Lorette Williams is Director for Communications, Corpus Christi ISD, and serves as Parliamentarian for the Texas School Public Relations Association.

about TSPRA The Texas School Public Relations Association (TSPRA) is a nonprofit, professional organization dedicated to promoting public schools through effective communications.TSPRA, an award winning chapter of the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA), was chartered in 1962 and incorporated in 1977.With more than 800 members, TSPRA is comprised primarily of public information and communications professionals who serve the public school districts and education organizations of Texas. In 2004,TSPRA opened its membership to education foundation staff and boards that support our public schools. The membership also includes superintendents, school administrators, principals, executive directors, web/technology/electronic media and graphic professionals, school consultants, vendors, and others who support public education in the state.



Message to be communicated: Changes to school dress code Twitter


ABC Middle School announces changes to school dress code #ABCdresscode

Dear Parents, Please note that the school dress code for ABC Middle School will be changing for the 2014-2015 school year.The new dress code includes specific changes to school uniform colors. Click here to view a complete listing of the new dress code requirements. Please make plans to attend an informational meeting on Tuesday,April 22, at 6 p.m., in the school cafeteria to review the changes and discuss potential questions.

Facebook PARENTS PLEASE NOTE: ABC Middle School has announced changes to the school dress code which will be implemented for the 2014–2015 school year. The new dress code includes specific changes to school uniform colors.Visit the campus website at www. for details. A parent meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 22, 6 p.m., at the ABC Middle School cafeteria, 1234 ABC Drive, to discuss the changes. Principal Smith will be attending to review the changes and answer potential questions.

Website PARENTS PLEASE NOTE: ABC Middle School has announced changes to the school dress code which will be implemented for the 2014-2015 school year.The new dress code includes specific changes to school uniform colors. Click here for a complete listing of the new dress code requirements. A parent meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 22, 6 p.m., at the ABC Middle School cafeteria, 1234 ABC Drive, to discuss the changes. Principal Smith will be attending to review the changes and answer potential questions.

If you have questions, please feel free to contact my office. Sincerely, Principal Smith,ABC Middle School

Backpack Letter Dear Parents, Please note that the school dress code for ABC Middle School will be changing for the 2014-2015 school year. The new dress code includes specific changes to school uniform colors.Attached you will find a complete listing of the new dress code requirements. Please make plans to attend an informational meeting on Tuesday, April 22, at 6 p.m., in the school cafeteria to review the changes and discuss potential questions. If you have questions, please feel free to contact my office. Sincerely, Principal Smith,ABC Middle School

Press Release

Newsletter PARENTS PLEASE NOTE: ABC Middle School has announced changes to the school dress code which will be implemented for the 2014-2015 school year.The new dress code includes specific changes to school uniform colors. Attached you will find a complete listing of the new dress code requirements. Please make plans to attend an informational meeting on Tuesday, April 22, at 6 p.m., in the school cafeteria to review the changes and discuss potential questions. If you have questions, please feel free to contact the front office at 123-4567.

School Marquee Ask us about changes to the School Dress Code for 2014-15

Parent Meeting Flier

For Immediate Release April 10, 2014 Contact: Principal Smith,ABC Middle School, 123-4567 ABC Middle School announces changes to dress code for 2014-2015 school year ABC Middle School is announcing important changes to the student dress code to be implemented for the 2014-2015 school year. New dress code requirements include specific changes to school uniform colors. A parent meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 22, 6 p.m., at the ABC Middle School cafeteria, 1234 ABC Drive, to discuss the changes. Principal Smith will be attending to review the changes and answer potential questions. A detailed listing of the new dress code requirements can be found on the school website at www.

ABC Middle School would like to invite all parents/guardians to a parent meeting to discuss changes to the student dress code for the ABC Middle School Parent Meeting 2014-2015 school year. Please join us on Tuesday, April 22, at 6 p.m., Tuesday,April 22, 6 p.m. 1234 ABC Drive in the school cafeteria. Light refreshments will be served. For more information, please contact Principal Smith, ABC Middle School, at 123-4567.




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