Olivia Jenkins closes the door to her office at the end of “day one” as the new superintendent of MidCity Schools. The district faces some tough challenges: unacceptably low student outcomes, a stubborn achievement gap, a shortage of teachers in key subjects and schools, new more rigorous state standards, and a $20 million budget deficit. The mayor wants progress in the school system before the city election in two years, and several community groups are eager to get Ms. Jenkins’ ear. She feels very deeply her responsibility to improve thousands of children’s lives.
Where to turn?
New superintendents face big challenges when it comes to putting the system’s resources behind a coherent and effective strategy:
Whether new to the role of school system chief, or a seasoned veteran in a new city, new superintendents must establish priorities, make but tough but strategic resource decisions, and lead the districts’ hundreds of employees. In this overwhelming role, they can learn from the experiences of other leaders.
Districts At Work
Profiles of eight school systems transforming how the central office supports schools, and seeing student results.
Two-Way Conversations: How first-year superintendents are using data to build political capital that enables system change
An article in School Administrator Magazine that shares fives examples of how new superintendents leveraged key data points to create fertile two-way conversation.
How New Superintendents Can Kick-Start Momentum
A blog by ERS's David Rosenberg and Karen Hawley Miles for Real Clear Education.
How Three Districts Are Confronting the "Triple Squeeze"
A blog by ERS's Karen Hawley Miles
The “triple squeeze” is a set of challenges school systems inherited and that require sustained, strategic action and political will to address. See how leaders in Baltimore, Boston, and Oakland are addressing these challenges.
Professional Learning Diagnostic Tool
Does your school system have the conditions and practices in place to connect professional learning to the everyday work of teaching—and to a systemwide strategy for student success? Find out with this self-assessment tool.
Budget Hold'em for Districts and Budget Hold'em for Schools
We played Budget Hold'em for Districts during our session. Both versions are interactive explorations of the thoughtful trade-offs district and school leaders have to make as you consider how to invest your limited resources on what matters most—improving outcomes for our students. Play with your leadership teams.
Strategic System Snapshot | Mini and School Check
These web-based tools are designed to help you dive into the transformational strategies that lead to better resource use. The Strategic System Snapshot | Mini (district level, previously called "Resource Check") and School Check (school level) are questionnaires that tally and analyze your responses to show how close you are to best practices and where there's potential for improvement. They both connect to resources to help you take action.
Learn about upcoming events and conferences where you can connect with other new Superintendents and collaborate on similar challenges.
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We welcome the opportunity to partner with your district to better align resources and generate a significant impact for your students, your schools, and your communities.
New Superintendents must develop a comprehensive strategy for student success. The Strategic School System is ERS' framework for understanding transformational system reform, based on nearly 15 years of partnering with school system and state leaders from across the country. Some topics that new superintendents might want to explore include:
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