STRENGTHENING LEADERSHIP CAPACITY IN THE INSTRUCTIONAL CORE - A SYSTEMIC APPROACH TO LEARNING FROM BOARD ROOM TO CLASSROOM
Since 2010, Perry and Associates has joined with the Panasonic Foundation and San Diego Unified School District to (1) develop a strategic process with a robust set of indicators of quality schools and protocols that help schools and the central office align their efforts to improve student achievement; (2) facilitate board, superintendent, senior management team, and area superintendent alignment and support to schools; and (3) provide leadership coaching to schools in using models of distributive leadership, data analysis and professional learning communities. The emphasis is on implementation of the Common Core State Standards and support for English language learners. San Diego Unified was one of four finalists for the 2013 Broad Prize as the Outstanding Urban District.
ENHANCING SPECIAL EDUCATION
Beginning in August 2011, Perry and Associates began gathering and analyzing evidence and data to inform and influence the NYC Department of Education (DOE) in its city-wide policy development and school-based implementation of special education reform. This collaborative effort between the Chancellor of Education, the Office of the Public Advocate and us was sponsored by philanthropies. Over a three-year period, our independent, objective inquiry into DOE’s efforts at implementation included nearly 1,000 hours of interviews with key district and school stakeholders, union members and advocates as well as experts in special education reform. It also included monthly coordination meetings with the deputy chancellor and DOE staff, focus groups, mini-case studies of 25 schools, examination of best practices in another 25 schools and analysis of internal documents and communications. Our staff provided suggestions and findings to the deputy chancellor and her senior staff during periodic informal meetings, and these contributed to mid-course corrections in DOE policy and directives. To inform the policy community, advocates and the general public, we published comprehensive reports of our findings and recommendations in August 2012 and November 2013, and our summary findings and recommendations to inform the new administration taking office in January 2014.
TRANSFORMING THE CENTRAL OFFICE
In 2012-13, Perry and Associates facilitated the reorientation and redesign of the central offices of Montgomery County (MD) Public Schools and Stamford (CT) Public Schools. In both districts, we supported superintendents in changing the purpose of central offices to “know schools well so they can serve them well.” Support was provided in (1) breaking down silos across central office units and between units and schools, (2) rethinking data collection and calibrating knowledge of curriculum and instruction by introducing a process of instructional rounds and data analysis protocols, (3) rewriting position descriptions and accountability measures to better align central office unit responsibilities with service to schools and (4) designing and executing an “on-boarding” process including communication and work structures.
STRENGTHENING PRINCIPAL LEADERSHIP
Perry and Associates's three-year effort in Long Beach Unified School District contributed to the development of a system of principal-led initiatives. The initiatives resulted in continuous improvement in teaching and learning, increases in performance of students on state assessments, and success in implementing small learning communities. Long Beach, the third largest district in California with 25,000 high school students, was awarded the Broad Prize as the outstanding urban district of 2003 in recognition of its steady growth in student achievement and closing the achievement gap.
ASSISTING TURNAROUND SCHOOLS
Since 2001, Perry and Associates has supported more than 75 urban schools in California, Michigan and Texas including those that have been designated Program Improvement Schools or schools needing state monitoring. Almost all have made and sustained progress in improving student achievement. In recognition, the California Department of Education selected us to be a State Assistance and Intervention Team and District Assistance and Intervention Team provider, working with underperforming schools across the state.
PROMOTING SYSTEMIC REFORM TO BREAK THE LINKS BETWEEN RACE, POVERTY AND STUDENT OUTCOMES
Perry and Associates worked on behalf of the Panasonic Foundation to bring about systemic change in seven major school systems: Atlanta, GA; Boston, MA; Flint, MI, Hayward, CA; Norfolk, VA; the Northern New Mexico Network and Providence, RI. The Broad Foundation designated two of these districts – Norfolk and Boston– the Outstanding Urban District of 2005 and 2006, respectively, for raising student achievement and closing achievement gaps.
ACCELERATING MIDDLE-GRADES AND HIGH SCHOOL REFORM
Under the umbrella of the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation’s Program for Student Achievement, Perry and Associates supported four urban school systems in their efforts to accelerate learning for middle-grades students. The four systems were Jefferson County, KY; Corpus Christi, TX and Long Beach and San Diego, CA. Having experienced improvement at the middle level, district leaders in Long Beach asked us to assist its high school office and the leaders of five Long Beach high schools in accelerating reform.
FACILITATING CROSS-SCHOOL NETWORKS
Under the auspices of the National Staff Development Council (now Learning Forward), Perry and Associates facilitated the 12 Under 12 Network, a group of schools committed to using high-quality professional development, in combination with other reforms, to ensure that all students would be academically proficient before 2014. The Network's efforts to close achievement gaps were highlighted in the fall 2006 issue of the Journal of Staff Development. Learning Forward used the Network’s experience to develop and organize its Learning School Alliance that continues to operate successfully.
USING PROTOTYPE CURRICULA AS A LEVER FOR CHANGE
Early attempts to improve instructional leadership in Flint Community Schools were unsuccessful due to great disparities in teacher knowledge and access to curriculum across grades and among schools. To align teaching and learning to rigorous state standards and grade-level expectations, the district asked Perry and Associates to develop five-week units of study for teaching English/language arts and mathematics to be used by all K-12 teachers in the district. The units included daily lessons and weekly assessments to inform instruction. Once the units were developed, we provided training and support to teachers and mathematics/literacy staff developers in implementing the curriculum and guided them in writing additional units of study. Two independent reports by the Busara Group describe our success in implementing the new curriculum and document the rapid and significant gains in student performance on the MEAP in the participating schools.