Jun 5 2013

 

By Meredith Honig

Published by the American Enterprise Institute

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 largely mandated that US school district central office leadership should help schools dramatically improve their performance and significantly shrink decades-old achievement gaps. However, central offices have traditionally focused on business and compliance functions rather than on supporting schools in their efforts to help all students realize ambitious learning goals.

To address this mismatch between new performance demands and long-standing central office work and capacity, district leaders must set aside old ways of working and fundamentally transform their central offices.

The experience of districts pioneering such efforts suggests that central office transformation should involve creating partnerships between principals and executive-level central office staff, developing and aligning performance-oriented central office services to support district-wide instructional improvement, and establishing superintendent and other central office leadership that will help staff build their capacity for better performance.

Key points in this feature from Education Outlook:

• US school district central offices can lead for better school performance, but the current work practices and capacities of central office staff are generally ill-equipped for supporting better student outcomes.
• District central offices must tackle the mismatch between new school performance demands and traditional central office work and capacity.
• The experience of pioneering districts suggests that transformation should involve creating intensive partnerships between principals and executive-level central office staff, developing and aligning performance-oriented central office services to support district-wide instructional improvement, and establishing superintendent and other central office leadership that will help staff continuously build their capacity for better performance.
Read the full article in the latest American Enterprise Institute Education Outlook »