To the Editor:
Sheldon H. Berman and Arthur Camins (“Investing in Turnaround That Endures,” Commentary, Nov. 2, 2011) are certainly on the right track when they address the sustainability of turnarounds and their essential ingredients. The Investment Model certainly proved itself in the Jefferson County, Ky., schools under Mr. Berman.
One thing missing from this informative essay was any mention of the leadership behind the successes of the Investment Model. In order to have enduring efficacy, a school must have a leader committed and skilled to transform the culture and climate of the school to one where all faculty members believe all students can achieve. Once this is accomplished and continually nurtured, the leader must turn his or her attention to increasing teacher capacity.
The three core elements discussed in the Commentary—time for teacher collaboration, formative assessments, and flexible schedules—are all strong levers to increase student success if the leader of the school has the capacity to truly transform culture and faculty capacity. Without this foundation, efforts for collaboration, excellent assessments, and great schedules become missed opportunities which do not hold strong over time.
The nation can have this fifth, and maybe even more turnaround models, but without a skilled leader who has strong support and who knows how to mold a culture and support increased teacher expertise, any and all turnaround models will fall short of success.
Chief Executive Officer
School Leaders Network
A version of this article appeared in the December 07, 2011 edition of Education Week as School Leadership Critical to Turnaround Success