(the following is an excerpt from a forthcoming issue of The School Administrator.  See AASA.org)

Part 2: Face the facts and your fears.

Data reflecting poor performance, especially among subgroups, often become the catalyst to action. In Abington, Pa., the data showing gaps between the majority of the student body and minority and special education students compelled district leaders to ask whether being a good district was enough. In North Carolina’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg district, with its 147,000 students, Superintendent Ann Clark used data indicating wide gaps in reading proficiency to galvanize the schools and the community to change course.

Courageous leaders don’t use data as a weapon but rather as a tool for improvement. They don’t leverage fear to achieve greater results, but focus on how to collectively face the challenge and become mutually supportive and accountable for meeting the needs of students. The goal is improving the action, not punishing the actor.

Awash in data, courageous leaders focus on making data manageable, meaningful, and a catalyst for improvement. Sichel uses what she terms “getting results teams.” They are building-based, mixed groups that analyze student results, select focus areas of concern, develop a specific action plan and prepare progress reports for her toward continuous student achievement.

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