School & District Management

Study to Profile Secrets of 15 Urban Leaders’ Success

By Mark Stricherz — November 14, 2001 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A new study will profile 15 successful urban superintendents, examining how they seek to raise student achievement and overcome urban woes.

The American Association of School Administrators, a membership organization based in Arlington, Va., has named 11 superintendents for the study and plans to add four more. They will serve as examples for the two-year, $1.2 million study, much of which will deal with student learning.

“We know that outstanding superintendents are able to anticipate, to communicate, and to bring communities together,” Paul D. Houston, the executive director of the association, said in a statement announcing the choices.

How urban superintendents spend their time and whether they have improved achievement will be among the questions posed, said Sharon Adams-Taylor, the director of members’ networks and child initiatives for the association.

The study will also look at how the district chiefs deal with budget crunches, large numbers of needy students, and clashes with school boards, AASA spokeswoman Barbara Knisely said.

The study is being conducted in the hope of influencing how urban school leaders are trained and recruited. Once wrapped up, Ms. Taylor said, the case studies will be given to school boards and state education agencies.

Schools Chiefs Tapped

Carol Johnson, the superintendent of the 49,300-student Minneapolis public schools, isn’t slated to meet with the project’s researchers until at least February. But she said she plans to tell them about her wide-ranging programs. Among those efforts are forging partnerships with local businesses, expanding the use of data for schools, and targeting poor and minority students for improved achievement.

Ms. Johnson added: “This is my fifth year on the job, and the average tenure of urban superintendents has been less than three years.”

The Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund is paying for the study, which the Cosmos Corp. of Bethesda, Md., will conduct. The urban superintendents to be studied were nominated by researchers, national and state association representatives, and fellow urban schools chiefs.

Besides Ms. Johnson, the superintendents chosen so far are: Alan D. Bersin of San Diego; Barbara Byrd-Bennett of Cleveland; Carl Cohn of Long Beach, Calif.; Beverly Hall of Atlanta; Clifford Janney of Rochester, N.Y.; Diana Lam of Providence, R.I.; Joseph Olchefske of Seattle; Thomas W. Payzant of Boston; Eric Smith of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C.; and Carrol Thomas Jr. of Beaumont, Texas.

A version of this article appeared in the November 14, 2001 edition of Education Week as Study to Profile Secrets of 15 Urban Leaders’ Success


Student Well-Being K-12 Essentials Forum Boosting Student and Staff Mental Health: What Schools Can Do
Join this free virtual event based on recent reporting on student and staff mental health challenges and how schools have responded.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Curriculum Webinar
Practical Methods for Integrating Computer Science into Core Curriculum
Dive into insights on integrating computer science into core curricula with expert tips and practical strategies to empower students at every grade level.
Content provided by

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Rising Tensions From Israel-Hamas War Are Seeping Into Schools
As effects of the war reverberate in school communities, schools have federal responsibilities to create discrimination-free environments.
5 min read
People gather in Pliny Park in Brattleboro, Vt., for a vigil, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023, for the three Palestinian-American students who were shot while walking near the University of Vermont campus in Burlington, Vt., Saturday, Nov. 25. The three students were being treated at the University of Vermont Medical Center, and one faces a long recovery because of a spinal injury, a family member said.
People gather in Pliny Park in Brattleboro, Vt., for a vigil, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023, for the three Palestinian-American students who were shot while walking near the University of Vermont campus in Burlington, Vt., Saturday, Nov. 25. Tensions over the Israel-Hamas war are playing out in schools and colleges across the country, including some K-12 schools.
Kristopher Radder/The Brattleboro Reformer via AP
School & District Management The Missed Opportunity for Public Schools and Climate Change
More cities are creating climate action plans, but schools are often left out of the equation.
4 min read
Global warming illustration, environment pollution, global warming heating impact concept. Change climate concept.
Collage by Gina Tomko/Education Week and iStock/Getty Images Plus
School & District Management 13 States Bar School Board Members From Getting Paid. Here's Where It's Allowed (Map)
There are more calls to increase school board members' pay, or to allow them to be paid at all.
Two professional adults, with a money symbol.
School & District Management Opinion Bad Sleep Is a Problem for Principals. Here’s What to Do About It
Our new study highlights the connection between stress and sleep among school leaders, write three researchers.
Eleanor Su-Keene, David E. DeMatthews & Alex Keene
5 min read
Stylized illustration of an alarm clock over a background which is split in half, with one half being nighttime and one half being daytime.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week via Canva