Lacking Leaders: The Challenges of Principal Recruitment, Selection, and Placement, which Public Impact’s Daniela Doyle and Gillian Locke wrote for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, put a needed focus on the importance of finding the best principal for each school. By getting an inside look at the hiring processes of five urban districts around the country, Doyle and Locke highlighted how far short those processes fall, even in districts they deem “ahead of the curve.”
When states consider taking over chronically underperforming schools or districts by creating “extraordinary authority districts,” they have few examples to follow. Since Louisiana first established a statewide turnaround district in 2003, though, a small but increasing number of states have created “EADs,” providing lessons others can follow in planning their own turnaround approach.
A wide-ranging discussion at a 2013 convening of leaders of five early-implementing EADs–Connecticut, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Tennessee–yielded many lessons, as well as demonstrating the variety of options available to states thinking about an EAD. In “Extraordinary Authority Districts”: Design Considerations—Framework and Takeaways, Public Impact, in partnership with America Achieves, offers these EADs’ key takeaways. States just contemplating an EAD will find insights into policy areas to pursue; states implementing EADs now will find practical lessons on operations and strategies.
The brief considers a four-part framework of EAD design choices: political and legislative context; strategies for using takeover authority, timelines, and sustainability; structure of the EAD’s “central office” and within the state’s education authority; and the capacity needed within the EAD and from external partners to carry out the turnaround.
Blended learning holds unique promise to improve student outcomes dramatically. Schools will not realize this promise with technology improvements alone, though, or with technology and today’s typical teaching roles. In a new Public Impact policy brief, A Better Blend: A Vision for Boosting Student Outcomes with Digital Learning, which we co-authored with Joe Ableidinger and Jiye Grace Han, we explain how schools can use blended learning to drive improvements in the quality of digital instruction, transform teaching into a highly paid, opportunity-rich career that extends the reach of excellent teachers to all students and teaching peers, and improve student learning at large scale. We call this a “better blend”: combining high-quality digital learning and excellent teaching.