Cultivating and Supporting Effective Rural School Leaders Community of Practice (CoP) Summary
This Rural CoP, Year 2 was developed to increase state capacity to support rural school principals in their efforts to implement ESEA plans and initiatives in rural districts with a focus on challenges related to human capital, struggling schools, and increasing desired student outcomes.
CoP: Cultivating and Supporting Effective Rural School Leaders
CoP Description: During the Rural Community of Practice (CoP), which focused on differentiating State support for rural schools, the State Support Network (the Network) observed the additional need by States to cultivate and support rural school leaders. In particular, States needed assistance in having clear theories of action and coordinated plans for rural school leaders as they design and implement priorities under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), to ensure that all students receive effective, high-quality services.
This Rural CoP, Year 2 was developed to increase state capacity to support rural school principals in their efforts to implement ESEA plans and initiatives in rural districts with a focus on challenges related to human capital, struggling schools, and increasing desired student outcomes. To support member states in achieving the objectives listed below, the CoP provided opportunities for members to learn from one another, from exemplar school and district leaders, from subject matter experts, from relevant non-profits, from states outside the CoP, from established regional education service agencies (ESAs), and from other federal technical assistance providers, including the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders (GTL Center), the Center on School Turnaround (CST), and regional comprehensive centers. These centers, and the state collaborative efforts they are leading, provided opportunities for cross-collaborative work in a CoP learning cycle, as well as leveraging resources.
In this Rural CoP, states built their knowledge and capacity to:
- Identify strategies to overcome challenges to developing effective leadership pipelines and supports for principals, through newly established connections with CoP member states with similar issues (e.g., sharing related theories of actions) and inventory rural leadership development strategies, resources, and assets.
- Build an understanding of promising practices and research on effective rural leadership pipelines, identify strategies to improve quality and viability of rural principal pipelines (i.e. preparation, recruitment, selection, retention, and development), and develop a deeper understanding of the profile of rural principals (i.e., gender, tenure, and community leadership roles).
- Develop a coherent rural principal support action plan, including an equity-based theory of action, and identify strategies to strengthen their state’s theory of action related to growing both principal and teacher talent in rural settings.
- Learn about and connect to USED and other resources to support the implementation of their state’s theory of action and support rural principals as change agents within the context of implementing ESEA priorities.
The resources below were used during learning cycle virtual meetings and asynchronous activities. The resources were provided to CoP members from subject matter experts (SMEs), and are comprised of resources those subject matter experts created for the work of the CoP and items curated from other technical assistance providers.
Participating SEAs: Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee, Utah
CoP Duration: October 2018 through May 2019
CoP Subject Matter Expert (SME) Resources
- Human Capital Leaders in Education Standards: The Human Capital Leaders in Education Standards were designed specifically for PK‒12 education. They are focused on four main sections: Strategic Staffing, Talent Management and Development, Culture and Total Rewards, and Performance Excellence.
- Human Capital Management System Assessment: The Human Capital Assessment is designed to help districts reflect on their human capital system and identify strengths and opportunities for growth in attracting, selecting, developing, and retaining talent, while fostering a culture of continuous improvement.
- Ohio Human Capital Resource Center: The Human Capital Resource Center is designed as the source for helping Ohio educators make decisions about finding, supporting, and elevating the people working in our districts.
- : This framework builds a coherent rural principal support action plan, including an equity-based theory of action. Context/rationale identifies key factors to consider in current and desired state, the primary drivers represent the specific steps necessary to realize the aim, and the aim is the improvement in rural principal leadership development sought.
- : This template builds on a typical SWOT analysis – identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats – by matching opportunities and threats with your strengths and weaknesses to create solutions.
- The Tennessee Leaders for Equity Playbook: The playbook was developed by a statewide team of school, district, community, higher education, and state leaders with feedback received from a set of stakeholder groups which features an action plan framework, equity shifts continuum, and key actions and resources.
- Equity-based Design Framework: This presentation presents the design thinking process re-imagined to promote equity. Two new design modes were added to the existing hexagonal design thinking visual: Notice and Reflect.
- Increasing Access to Great Teaching in Rural Communities: Opportunity Culture, an initiative of Public Impact, aims to restructure pre-K–12 schools to extend the reach of highly rated teachers, principals, and their teams to more students, for more pay within recurring school budgets. This initiaitive uses yearlong, paid residencies to enable job-embedded professional learning.
- Developing Excellent Principals to Advance Teaching and Learning: This document presents considerations for state policy. It includes a set of considerations and potential policy levers that can help policymakers.
- The Center on Great Teachers and Leaders (GTL Center): The GTL Center’s mission is to support states and districts in their efforts to grow, respect, and retain great teachers and leaders for ALL students, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds. The GTL Center works with states and districts to identify and implement innovative, evidence-based programs, practices, and interventions that improve both educator and student outcomes. Their team works directly with regional centers, state education agencies, and school districts to develop customized strategies that speak directly to local needs and context.
- : This technical assistance memo was prepared for states by the GTL Center. The GTL Center examined Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan analysis documents, interviewed experts in this area, and performed an internet search. This resulting memo provides a summary of the research on the topics, a table outlining the actions that states are taking to recruit and retain principals in rural areas (including links to resources, where available), and a list of resources on recruiting and retaining quality principals, along with a brief description of each resource.
- Rural Principal Residency and Grow Your Own Programs: The GTL Center provides the following resources around grow your own and residency programs as promising options for rural communities.
- Coalition on Teacher Quality: Building a strong and diverse teacher and principal recruitment pipeline
- Recruiting and preparing teachers and principals
- NC State University Principal Preparation, Wake Principal Leadership Program
- The University of Tennessee Knoxville Center for Educational Leadership, AsPIRE
- Principal efficacy: Implications for rural “grow your own” leadership programs
- The Wallace Foundation. Beyond the pipeline: Getting the principals we need, where they are needed most
- Western Kentucky University, Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research Principal Certification Program
- : This technical assistance memo was prepared for states by the GTL Center. Although Grow Your Own programs are increasingly gaining attention as a strategy for state and local educator pipeline development, only a select set of states have made their Grow Your Own curriculum materials available online. The memo includes a list of programs, descriptions, and the materials publicly available.
- Securing and Supporting Effective Rural Principals in Low Performing Schools: The Center on School Turnaround provides the following resources on school improvement and turnaround:
- Examples of Actions Taken by Principals to Lead Turnaround
- Journeys Project
- Prioritizing Talent in Turnaround
- Thought Leadership Forum Brief, Turnaround Leadership and Leadership Competencies
- Transformation academy. Jump-Starting Instructional Transformation for Rapid School Improvement: A Guide for Principals
- ROCI (Rural Opportunities Consortium of Idaho): ROCI brings together current thought leaders to conduct research on the challenges of rural education, such as hiring leaders and teachers, migration, economic development, and post-secondary success. Their goal is to inform the national body of work on rural education and explore its implications for increasing educational attainment and economic competitiveness of Idahoans and other Americans who live and work in rural communities.
- Technology and Rural Education
- Boosting Idaho Students’ College Prospects by Expanding Access to Great Teaching
- The Rural Opportunities Consortium of Idaho research page
- Survey of Rural Schools and Communities: Data collected from the survey helps inform efforts to recruit, train, and retain highly effective educators to rural communities.
- Diversity in Rural School Leadership: This issue of the Journal of Research in Rural Education is devoted to rural educational leadership in diverse contexts.
- How to Build a 21st-Century School System, Strong Performers and Successful Reformers in Education: This brief examines promising practices for redesign of shool systems from a range of countries to attempt understand what works in which contexts.
- How does the primary economy of rural community influence the leadership practice of school principals: This is a study proposal by Linda Carrier Plymouth, New Hampshire. The role of the school principal has long been positively associated with student achievement. In rural areas in the U.S. retention of principals is a documented issue. The study examines geographic and community context as potential influences on the leadership practices for rural principals.
- Leadership and community: This article contains a reference list of research on many concepts about leadership and community/place.
- Leadership Practices of Effective Rural Superintendents – Connections to Waters and Marzano’s Leadership Correlates: This study examined the leadership practices of seven rural superintendents, selected via a sampling strategy which identified disadvantaged rural districts that had experienced marked increased in test scores during the superintendent’s tenure. Researchers examined how the practices of these superintendents were linked to Waters and Marzano’s (2006) six correlates of effective leadership practices.
- Reshaping Rural Schools in the Northwest Region: This blog presents lessons from Federal School Improvement Grant Implementation.
- A Focused Look at Rural Schools Receiving School Improvement Grants: The National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance presents a scan of rural schools that received SIG grants.
Department of Education Resources
- The Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP): REAP awards grant funds each July so that SEAs may have ample time to make sub-grant awards to LEAs, and budget their administrative costs (up to 5%).
- Technical Assistance: The Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) offers technical assistance across grant programs to address state needs through one-on-one individualized support for states to problem solve specific state needs; through peer-to-peer interactions that provide opportunities for collaboration with peer states, communities of practice, and interstate working groups around relevant issues and challenges; and through building awareness of information and resources in response to needs identified in the field through ongoing guidance and technical support to all states.
- Listening Sessions: The Department of Education, through the Office of Rural and Community Engagement, holds listening sessions with rural leaders at the state and district level on an ongoing basis.
- The Education Almanac Rural Newsletter