Skip to main content

Meeting of the Board of Regents | June 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009 - 11:20pm

sed seal                                                                                                 






Signature of Johanna Duncan-PoitierHigher Education Committee

EMSC Committee



Johanna Duncan-Poitier




Progress made to create a cohesive school leadership system for New York State: an update on work underway to put in place a statewide professional development model in school leadership



June 12, 2009



Goals 1 and 2







Issue for Discussion


To update the Committee on progress made to create a statewide system of professional development for school leaders in New York State. The model under development  will provide school leaders with the knowledge, skills, and support systems they need to improve performance for all students and to help more students graduate from high school prepared for college and the workforce.


The process of developing this leadership system began with the development of a model for using professional development strategies to prepare school leaders in urban settings.  Work is now underway to put this new model in place in the Rochester City School District, with the support of the Wallace Foundation.  Rochester is the first urban area in New York State in which this professional development model is being introduced and implemented. Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard of the Rochester City School District and Dr. Sam Walton of St. John Fisher College will be attending the Regents June Higher Education Committee meeting to share with the Committee details on work underway and next steps in Rochester.  Based upon lessons learned in Rochester, we will be bringing the model to scale and expanding its reach to other urban areas across the State.



Reason(s) for Consideration


For Information


Proposed Handling


This item will come before a joint session of the Higher Education Committee and the EMSC Committee in June 2009 for discussion.


Procedural History


It is more important than ever that school leaders receive effective professional development that will help them support teaching and learning In addition to being prepared to carry out important leadership, academic, and business responsibilities, school leaders must also be prepared to lead schools into the future and to provide students with a strong, globally competitive education. This includes, for example, helping to strengthen teaching by supporting teachers as they seek out and integrate effective, research-based strategies into their teaching practice; strategically deploying new technologies to support student learning; using data strategically to drive decision-making; and strengthening and expanding collaborations with partners including colleges and universities, employers, libraries, cultural institutions, licensed professionals, community organizations, and others. 


To carryout these goals, the Board of Regents and the State Education Department were awarded a $3 million grant from the Wallace Foundation for a two year period to support the development of a cohesive leadership system in New York State.  The grant relies on strong state and national partnerships focused on enhancing leadership by transforming collegiate school leadership preparation programs, establishing professional development programs for certified school leaders focused on teaching and learning, and creating a school leaders performance evaluation system.  Our grant partners share a common interest in assuring high quality leadership in all of New York State’s schools.  Based upon input from members of the Board of Regents, grant partners, and other experts from the field, a new model was developed for using professional development strategies to serve school leaders.  This year, based upon this new model, the Rochester Leadership Academy is being established serving school leaders in the Rochester City School District.  Superintendent Brizard and members of the leadership education faculty at St. John Fisher College in Rochester have played a prominent role in the development of this program.


We are grateful to the Wallace Foundation which has supported the work of the Regents and the Department to strengthen school leadership since 2000.  The work that is now underway is also consistent with the Board of Regents leadership standards, which were put in place in 2004, based on input from thousands of educators from across the State.






Overview of the Wallace Grant Proposal:

Developing a Cohesive Leadership System in New York State


Research shows that as the Board Regents and the Department pursue strategies to strengthen student performance, close performance gaps, and help more students graduate from high school prepared for college, effective school leadership can be an important policy lever (see Attachment A). In addition, this spring, the Regents and the Department convened five forums with teachers working in urban settings in New York, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Albany.  In each forum, teachers stressed the critical role that effective school leadership plays to student learning and to recruiting and retaining teachers in urban schools.  Teachers shared that they felt like they experienced greater success with their students in schools where school leaders created supportive and collaborative working and learning environments.  Strengthening school leadership is fundamental to the Board of Regents work to improve student performance and to strengthen the preparation, recruitment, and retention of teachers in urban areas.


              The vision of the work that is underway to create a Cohesive Leadership System for New York State is:  “To create a world class system of school leadership centered on student learning and built upon research-based, actionable behaviors and practices to positively impact teaching and learning at every phase of the leadership continuum.” The primary goal of New York’s Cohesive Leadership System is to provide school leaders with the knowledge, skills, abilities, dispositions and support in their role as instructional leaders to better serve all students.  Transformation of pre-service programs, quality professional development for in-service school leaders through a network of leadership academies statewide, and an evaluation system for school leaders focused on enhancing their skills are the components that have been identified as levers to accomplish this goal.


The process of developing this Cohesive Leadership System began with the development of a model for using professional development strategies to prepare school leaders in urban settings.  That model is now being implemented in Rochester with plans to be extended to other areas in the State. 


Working with a number of partners including the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE), the New York City Leadership Academy (NYCLA), the New York State Council of School Superintendents (NYSCOSS), the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS), the Collegiate Association for Developing Educational Administrators (CADEA), the Metropolitan Council for Educational Administration Programs (MCEAP) and the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators (CSA), a series of key components were identified, upon which the cohesive leadership system is now being constructed.  The following describes each of these components and provides a brief overview of progress to date as well as proposed next steps in each area:





Professional Development Model for School Leadership


The process of developing this Cohesive Leadership System began with the development of a model for using professional development strategies to prepare school leaders in urban settings.  Work is now underway to put this new model in place in the Rochester City School District.  The first leadership academy will serve school leaders in the Rochester City School District.  In November, focus groups were conducted with principals in the Rochester City School District to identify leadership challenges to be addressed through the academy and to encourage principal ownership in the creation of the Rochester Leadership Academy.  Three of our grant partners, the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS), St. John Fisher College and the New York City Leadership Academy (NYCLA) played key roles in the development of the academy.  Curriculum has been developed and the academy is scheduled to begin serving school leaders from the Rochester City School District in July.


A second leadership academy is currently under development in the Mid-Hudson Valley JMT region serving school leaders in Sullivan County BOCES, Ulster BOCES, Dutchess BOCES and Orange-Ulster BOCES.  Planning is underway for a third urban leadership academy.  In the long-term, our goal is to provide ongoing professional development and support for certified school leaders throughout New York State focused on teaching and learning.  This could be accomplished by creating a network of leadership academies statewide. Regional academies could be put in place, for example, in each of the Joint Management Team (JMT) regions as well as an academy in each of the Big Five districts.  JMTs are a combination of a number of contiguous BOCES, which are organizational structures that presently exist in  New York State thus providing a permanent structure for the delivery of ongoing professional development for our State’s school leaders.


School Leadership Standards


Working with our partners, we researched national school leadership standards and have collectively agreed that the revised Interstate Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) standards, developed by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) in collaboration with the National Policy Board on Educational Administration (NPBEA), are the most comprehensive, research-based set of standards.  These standards will serve as the foundation for school leadership preparation programs, professional development and school leader performance evaluations.  The Higher Education Committee discussed and endorsed the use of ISLLC standards for these purposes at its July 2008 meeting. Integration of these standards into the Commissioner’s Regulations will be a future agenda item for the Board of Regents.


              ISLLC standards have served as the base in developing the curriculum for the first leadership academy to be housed at St. John Fisher College serving school leaders in the Rochester City School District.  Collegiate programs preparing school leaders were invited to apply for funds to transform their programs.  To qualify for funding, programs had to demonstrate that ISLLC standards were at the core of curriculum and embedded in the required clinical experiences for candidates, including the internship.  A set of “guiding principles” for a new school leader performance evaluation now under construction establishes the ISLLC standards as foundational elements.


Pre-service Leadership Preparation Education


              Our goal is to ensure that school leadership pre-service preparation programs become outcome-based, theory-driven, internally coherent and integrated, focused on teaching and learning, and grounded with an intensive clinical experience.  To this end, a Request for Proposal (RFP) was developed with the assistance of national experts on high quality school leadership pre-service preparation programs.  All institutions of higher education were invited to submit proposals to the Department by March 2009.  Twelve proposals were received and are currently being reviewed and rated.  Recipients will receive up to $300,000 for each of three years to transform their programs which will include a full-time internship.  Award recipients will be announced in June.


Evaluation of School Leaders


              Using the revised ISLLC leadership standards, the State is currently developing a school leader performance evaluation that is linked to meaningful personalized professional development.  A group of school principals, superintendents and grant partners are working with Dr. Joseph Murphy, a national expert on school leader evaluation, to identify the guiding principles and components to be included in the performance evaluation system. This performance evaluation will be comparable to the annual professional performance reviews required of all teachers in the State. Once completed, the design elements for the performance evaluation will be presented to the Regents.  Our goal is to assess school leaders’ performance based on what we value the most – quality teaching and student learning.  The assessment will be administrated locally and required through State regulations, with the approval of the Board of Regents.


Future Superintendents Academy


              The New York State Council of School Superintendents (NYSCOSS) has been asked to develop an academy to prepare the next generation of school superintendents.  A Future Superintendents Academy is currently under development and the selection process for the first cohort of participants is now under way.  Curriculum for the academy will be developed with fidelity to the ISLLC leadership standards.  NYSCOSS has identified highly qualified superintendents and former superintendents to work with national experts in the field to create job-embedded, real-world experiences for participants requiring application of learned skills.


NYSCOSS is also establishing a network of former and current superintendents to provide information on the Cohesive Leadership System to school districts throughout the State.  Research on the link between leadership and student achievement will also be disseminated through this network.



Next Steps


Strengthening and supporting the preparation and practice of school leaders is critically important as the Board of Regents and the State Education Department finalize next steps for improving achievement for all students and strengthening the preparation, recruitment, and retention in urban settings.  Models and strategies such as those described in this report will serve as the basis for more systemic statewide efforts to ensure that school leaders have the knowledge, skills, and support systems they need to carryout important leadership, academic, and business responsibilities, as well as to lead schools into the future and provide students with a strong, globally competitive education.

Attachment 1


Highlights of Research on the Importance of Effective School Leadership


In 2004, Kenneth Leithwood summarized three types of research that have linked effective school leadership to improved student learning. First, case study research was conducted during the 1990s (Gezi, 1990; Reitzug & Patterson, 1998), where effective school leadership resulted in student success in schools significantly above normal expectations. Leithwood also concluded that while the approaches to school reform differ nationally, all depend on the “motivations and capacities of local leadership” as a key factor in determining success.  On the issue of leadership as a factor impacting student achievement in high needs schools, Leithwood concludes that “leadership effects are usually largest where and when they are needed most.” 


The notion of a “powerful leader” requires clear definition.  Research (Marzano, Waters, and McNulty, 2004) has identified 21 specific actions/responsibilities of the principal associated with student achievement gains, all of which have a statistically significant impact on student achievement.  The research also concludes that principals need to share these responsibilities, a practice described as “distributive leadership.”  Leithwood notes that without training for principals and a clear understanding of its impact, “distributed leadership is in danger of becoming no more than a slogan unless it is given more thorough and thoughtful consideration.”      


In examining the effects of the 21 school leader practices, Marzano, Waters and McNulty have concluded that school leaders indeed have a significant impact on student achievement. Their research was based on a meta-analysis including 2,802 schools; 14,000 teachers; and, 1.4 million students.  Research findings determine the average correlation (r) between principal leadership behavior and student achievement to be 0.25 which means that a one standard deviation increase in a principal’s leadership ability is associated with a 10 percentile-point gain in student achievement.


The importance of a strong principal is perhaps best illustrated through successful school turnaround efforts.  In 2002, Dodge Renaissance Academy was one of three Chicago Public Schools that was closed due to its persistently low performance.  Serving a 99 percent Black and 93 percent free or reduced lunch student population, 85 percent of Dodge Renaissance Academy’s students were scoring below national norms in reading on standardized tests.  The building was re-opened in 2003 as part of the district’s Renaissance 2010 Initiative.  Two principals served in that initial year and student achievement did not improve.  By 2008, this same school, working with a similar student population, had 62.8 percent of its students meeting or exceeding proficiency levels on the state reading assessment.  Jarvis Sanford, the third principal of the school, is credited with leading the successful turnaround effort through leadership that was focused on developing a disciplined environment, building a cadre of talented teachers and implementing standards-based instruction. 


Also, during the 1990s, there were large-scale quantitative studies of the impact of school leaders on student learning. Hallinger and Heck (1996, 1998), concluded in their research that for school related variables, school leadership accounted for one-quarter of the “across school variation” in student learning.   This finding is supported by the Learning from Leadership Project Executive Summary, commissioned by the Wallace Foundation which concluded that “leadership is second only to classroom instruction among all school related factors that contribute to what students learn at school.”  Underscoring the need to address the principal’s ability to effectively serve as a true “instructional leader,” are the conclusions from Sergiovanni (2001) who found that principals spend less time on the job engaged in instructional activities than they feel they should.  Rather they spend the majority of their time on budget, administration, maintenance, and student discipline.  This may explain why teachers view principal’s classroom observations as, “infrequent and largely symbolic” (Johnson, 1990).