Back to School: Innovation & Leadership in Education

Around the country this month students, teachers and administrators to go back to school and we are featuring the Leadership Matters Innovations Projects focused on making changes in schools as a result of participation in the Leadership Matters Program.

Portsmouth, Rhode Island

Portsmouth started the 2019 school year with a vision statement of “All Portsmouth, RI students are successful in our community of learners and have received academic and/or social-emotional interventions as appropriate.” 

This launched a system-wide innovations project which screens all students and aims to address behavioral as well as academic issues. The goal of MTSS (stands for multi-tiered system of support) is that many schools provide targeted support to struggling students. MTSS is designed to intervene early so students can catch up with their peers.  It is an approach that supports both academic achievement and social and emotional capacity as well.  It provides interventions if needed and real time support not a wait-to-fail approach.  Parents can request an evaluation at any time.

Portsmouth created school-based target teams that review data and develop intervention plans.  School coaches lead intervention teams and the district team meets to analyze academic and behavioral data collaboratively.  The district provided skills to all team and staff leaders to learn improved meeting design and facilitation skills.  Although the 2019-2020 school year was interrupted the district has seen measurable improvements in both math and reading.  Click here to learn more about this successful project.

Pawtucket, Rhode Island

Pawtucket School Leaders who attended Leadership Matters lowered student suspension rates at all levels and credited their attendance in the program as a key driver for this major success. At one Pawtucket school, the principal reported that there were 231 ‘behavior instances,’ meaning a student was disrespectful of the teacher or disruptive in class during the 2014-15 school year. Due to a ‘shift in the alternatives created’ there were only 15 instances reported in the first half of the 2015-16 school year. In another school there were approximately 3,500 suspensions, and now it is down to 150 in that same school. Click here to read more.

What We’re Reading

For a great back to school read about leadership issues in education check out this month’s book The Prize: Who’s In Charge of America’s Schools? by Dale Russakof. The book discusses how the intersection of public and private sectors in Newark, NJ shaped the outcomes of the school system there and discusses the roles of Cory Booker, Mark Zuckerberg and Chris Christie as each sought to lead the school system.

For more leadership reads check out our resource library.