Effectively educating children in the current high-stakes testing and accountability era requires high performing leaders and efficient district-wide processes. New challenges are constantly emerging as education has moved from a period where change was episodic to a paradigm where change is continuous. More than ever, leaders must confront institutional resistance to change and create climates focused on continuous improvement to support student success.
Prior to the school accountability era, school and student achievement woes could be readily explained away by the 3 Ps: poverty, population, and parenting. Our students are too poor to perform. Their parents aren’t involved, and we have a very difficult population! While challenging external factors continue to influence student achievement, little is accomplished when one focuses on circumstances that are perceived to be unchangeable.
Education leaders must constantly guard against stakeholder perceptions of working in a terminally unique environment. Terminal uniqueness is a condition that afflicts many educators – including leaders! The disease sets in when individuals start believing their school or district faces such a unique set of circumstances that no other organization can relate. Nobody knows . . . the trouble I’ve seen!
The problem with terminal uniqueness is there is no cure. Lack of progress and success are guaranteed by focusing on those terminally “unchangeable” external factors. The truth of the matter is the entire education field is experiencing paradigm shifts. Other industries are as well. The Studer Group®, which includes both a healthcare division and Studer Education, works with two industries that are currently experiencing changes at a dizzying rate: education and healthcare.
Rather than lamenting change and fretting over external circumstances, highly effective leaders focus educator attention on those strategies and practices over which they clearly have control – particularly on those shown to positively impact student success.
The challenges that face educators and leaders today are very real. Rather than reverting to feelings of terminal uniqueness, strong leaders harness and navigate change in ways that create new opportunities. Studer Education’s Evidence-Based Leadership frameworkSM focuses on arming education leaders with the data, competencies, and processes necessary to: