School & District Management Report Roundup

Study Examines Leadership Needs

By Lynn Olson — October 30, 2007 1 min read

A Mission of the Heart: Leaders in High Needs Schools Talk About What It Takes To Transform a School

Principals and superintendents from high-needs districts believe that higher salaries and signing bonuses could help entice higher-quality leaders into school administration, but few think that money alone will keep them there, a study concludes.

Produced by the New York City-based Public Agenda Foundation, the study draws on five focus groups with principals in urban districts and interviews with superintendents and other high-ranking education officials. All the principals held leadership positions in schools where more than half the students receive federally subsidized school meals.

Participants identified young teachers or vice principals already in the school as the best source of future leaders. Principals unanimously said the most important element in attracting and keeping top-notch talent is to provide the support needed to do their jobs. Nearly all complained about bureaucracy and paperwork.

The small-scale, exploratory study, funded by the New York City-based Wallace Foundation, was designed to capture what school leaders in high-needs schools say they do. It categorized most participants as either “transformers,” who had clear visions for their schools and focused squarely on working with teachers on academic problems, or “copers,” who were frequently overwhelmed by the demands placed on them.

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A version of this article appeared in the October 31, 2007 edition of Education Week

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