From the Apollo 20 school turnaround project, we know that by applying the practices of achievement-increasing charter schools to low-performing traditional public schools, we can dramatically reduce or eliminate the racial achievement gap. If we can improve the management practices of school leaders using high-leverage but low-cost strategies, will student performance in these schools improve?
Using Paul Bambrick-Santoyo’s Leverage Leadership and the lessons learned from the Apollo 20 project, we have designed a school management protocol to be implemented in a randomized control trial. The protocol is organized around the seven levers presented in the text: data-driven instruction, observation and feedback, instructional planning, professional development, student culture, staff culture, and managing school leadership teams. The overall goal of the identified management practices is for leaders to purposefully use their time to focus on ensuring high-quality instruction for all students and organize the management of their school around this goal.
Twenty-nine schools in Houston ISD – ten elementary, ten middle, and nine high – have been randomly selected from a pool of fifty-eight schools for participation in this project. In advance of the 2014-15 school year, the leaders from these schools participated in intense summer training to learn these leadership strategies. Throughout the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years, participating principals received ongoing support from the HISD Chief Officer for School Leadership and his team to implement these high-leverage management practices.
The identified management practices include ensuring that all teachers are observed at least biweekly and given feedback about their observation; regularly collecting data on student performance through the use of interim assessments and working with teachers to ensure that this data informs future classroom instruction and interventions; and implementing consistent, carefully planned behavior systems throughout a school.
This project is ongoing and analyses will be forthcoming.