Madison School District Administration: Central office Transformation for Teaching and Learning Improvement

Superintendent Dan Nerad 45K PDF.:

This is a project whereby the University of Washington’s Center for Educational leadership (CEl) will support the District in its central office transformation by:
a. developing a theory of action to guide how central office leaders and principals work together to improve instructional leadership and to provide support to schools.
b. designing and implementing school cluster support teams with a focus on developing a common understanding of quality instruction and in developing stronger relationships between central office leaders and principals that are focused on growing principal instructional leadership.
The involved services draw from the research published by Dr. Meredith I. Honig and Michael A Copland

2 thoughts on “Madison School District Administration: Central office Transformation for Teaching and Learning Improvement”

  1. Approving this project at this time is premature, and I hope the School Board recognizes this and is not misled by terms such as “theory of action” and “school cluster support teams.” More internal review and preparation is needed before a project of this sort can be undertaken, which may have merit but it’s not clear at all that it does now no matter how highly regarded the outside professionals might be.
    From parents, students, and community members, concern continues to be raised about the District’s central administration’s curriculum, instruction and learning areas. The Superintendent’s response to that was to reorganize, which is one way to make changes, which he announced earlier this year providing some reasons. He more described the form he felt he needed with not much about function, or issues with the current function. Now he needs assistance implementing that change so everyone is “on the same page,” I assume, with the new form. That’s not an unreasonable request, but I suggest the help he needs on the instruction side of the organization is more basic and fundamental, as a first step.
    The Instruction side the of the District has been excellent at offering new terms and generating lots of paper, which has been hard to tie back to success for students. Not all teachers feel downtown’s effort supports their needs in the classroom, and it’s not clear this project will change that. The central administration’s “attitude” toward those “not downtown” can be arrogant and undertakings seem to be more directed at teachers and students vs. developed and implemented with teachers.
    On the surface, and from reviews of the Center’s work, the “action model” would not appear to change significantly the working relationship between central administration and the schools nor the current issues and challenges affecting the curriculum and instruction side of the organization. Is this what the teachers, school administrators feel they need to do their jobs well? What weaknesses have they identified with Central Administration’s current levels of support of their efforts helping students’ learning and academic achievement? How does this project address this?
    Also, I hope the School Board asks the Superintendent to ask the Center what a District needs to have in place to have a successful project with them, and I hope the School Board then asks from the Administration for their assessment of the District’s current strengths and weaknesses relative to this project.
    Lastly, the outcomes are not nearly specific enough and not nearly tied to students enough, which really does not merit support. I’d like to see the School Board request more specifics in this area before moving forward.
    Regarding this project – not yet, School Board, I hope. Something new can be exciting and offer hope, but…

  2. One of the Wallace Foundation’s current areas of focus is Educational Leadership. They have a number of reports and documents on this topic –
    A Wallace Foundation funded study by the University of Washington identifies five major changes that can help transform the focus of school district central offices from administration and compliance to improving classroom instruction. Another Wallace Foundation funded study by the RAND Institute examines efforts by ten states and 17 districts that have participated in Wallace’s education leadership initiative to develop “cohesive leadership systems” whose goal is to create well-aligned state-district policies to ensure that principals have the training and conditions they need to improve teaching and learning in their schools.

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