Leadership Makes a Difference

Jp-schools-1-popup The New York Times takes a brief look at one school in Massachusetts that is succeeding, despite being a large school. Reformers have long believed that small schools worked better, but this school is an example of how a large school can function well.

It is also an example of how school improvement is possible when school leadership is there. When you have school leaders that set high standards and demand a change in the status quo, then improvement can happen.


5 thoughts on “Leadership Makes a Difference

  1. I must admit, knowing what I know about Brockton and having been there many, many times, I was a skeptical when I first heard about Brockton High’s awards and accolades. But after seeing the numbers, the improvement is impressive, not only because of the student populations the school serves, but also because of the size of the school. I still believe small is easier to manage, but with the right leadership, a large school can work.

  2. Obviously I was lying when I said I’d be absent. Oh wait, the alternative was that I’d be rude and/or profane. Well, fuck that. 😉
    We work with an elementary school (I don’t, but our department has “adopted” a local elem school). When we started the partnership, “S” was principal. She was so good that they moved her over to a different failing elem school to do her leadership magic. Now our school isn’t quite as good. I wish we could clone “S.”
    I get a lot of Brockton students who have bad things to say about Brockton as a community. But they’re coming out college-ready. And their baton-twirlers are great.

  3. They had complete, or almost complete, buy in. That is also essential. Everyone has to be on the same page and be willing to work together.

  4. I’d also guess that they had a school leadership whose first (and really, only) priority was the school and its improvement; they had a school leadership that stayed in place over a longer period of time; they had a leadership that actually knew what it was doing; they had a school board that didn’t bring in sweeping changes every couple of years; they had a school system that was not coping with state-sponsored discrimination (could be wrong here, it’s Boston after all) and may still be aiming as much at avoiding court orders as at educating students.
    Over my mom’s teaching career, I’ve seen her dealing with all of these problems, sometimes it seemed like all of them at once. She’s so very happy when her school gets a principal who’s reasonably competent and committed to the school. If the school board — and the state legislature for that matter — can avoid mucking around with things for a couple of years, that’s just gravy.

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