A new report offers insights into how to shift the focus in urban school districts’ central offices from “buses, budgets, and building” to improving teaching and learning.
Written by researchers at the University of Washington, the report draws its lessons from three districts with promising central-office reforms under way. They are Atlanta public schools, the Empowerment School Organization network in New York City and California’s Oakland Unified School District.
According to the report, all three enacted common, key changes to refocus central-office staff on learning. They created and supported partnerships with principals that were aimed at deepening principals’ abilities to become instructional leaders, reorganized and reoriented departments around a teaching focus, led in developing a theory of action and laying out steps to guide changes, and used evidence to continually refine and improve practices.
The report was funded by the New York City-based Wallace Foundation, which also supports coverage of leadership and other issues in Education Week. It was published by the Center for the Study of Teaching and Learning at the University of Washington’s college of education in Seattle.
A version of this article appeared in the May 19, 2010 edition of Education Week as Reinventing Central Office