through Evidence-Based LeadershipSM
High performing school system leaders understand the important role central office departments and staff play in improving school and student success throughout the district. Recent research by the Wallace Foundation and other education research firms now confirms what many practitioners have known for ages: a district’s central office organization, focus and departmental effectiveness weigh heavily on the results achieved by schools. Providing quality services to schools and stakeholders is a critical ingredient for system-wide success.
Achieve and Align High Quality Support Services
A 2010 Wallace Foundation research study entitled “Central Office Transformation for District-wide Teaching and Learning Improvement” investigated leadership practices in urban schools and districts that are working to improve learning outcomes through improved leadership. The primary recommendation from the study speaks volumes to the importance of central office practices’ on school and student success:
“District leaders seeking to improve teaching and learning district-wide need to engage in central office transformation as a focal point of their efforts. While this may seem counterintuitive, the most powerful ways to change teaching and learning in schools are likely to prominently feature vigorous efforts to change central office work practice at the same time.”
At Studer Education, we coach executive district and department leaders on strategies for purposefully aligning the quality services they provide to desired instructional outcomes at schools with students. As then-superintendent of San Diego City Schools said to his workforce when beginning a focused continuous improvement effort that included schools and the central office departments in the district — there are only two types of employees in a school district: those who teach and those who support teaching and learning.
In highly effective school districts, quality central office services go well beyond previous metrics that primarily emphasized departmental efficiencies (which were sometimes achieved by requiring school personnel to perform additional tasks unrelated to teaching and learning). Instead, shared visions are created in every department that focus personnel on how their work can and should improve the instructional program at schools throughout the district. In some cases, the impact a department has on instruction is direct. Information Technology departments, for example, provide hardware and services that allow teachers and students to connect to valuable learning resources that improve instruction. In other instances, the relationship to teaching and learning is indirect, but equally critical. An effective Human Resources department, for example, may execute recruitment, hiring and onboarding procedures so well that school leaders may be aware that certain logistical processes are in place (such as background checks, fingerprinting, etc.), but they are the beneficiaries of those processes rather than a critical cog in the wheel that makes the process run. The important distinction is that the above scenarios are defined more by the impact they have on allowing school personnel to focus on planning and improving their instructional program rather than on the degree to which school employees help department staff run their processes more efficiently.
Studer Education coaches engage with school district and department leaders to implement continuous improvement strategies and processes aligned to our Evidence-Based LeadershipSM Framework to help central office personnel engage in meaningful and worthwhile work that furthers the academic mission of the district. We offer reliable, benchmarked survey tools to assess District Support Services and Employee Engagement to provide leaders with essential data for establishing goals, aligning processes, and assessing progress towards attaining the vision of fully supporting student success at each district school.
We offer services that span a continuum of district needs and align to our Execution Flywheel:
Our services and survey tools will help you align quality central office and departmental services to your vision for improving school results.
- Our collaborative visioning process includes a review of modern research that defines what quality central office and department services look like, when the goal is to improve results at schools.
- The District/Department Support Services Survey is an online tool our partners use to measure, monitor, and improve quality services that improve school outcomes.
- The Employee Engagement Survey helps department leaders identify growth opportunities and provides data we use to help each leader fully engage employees to support the department and district’s mission.
The Studer Education coaches will provide tailored professional development to district and department leaders throughout the process to teach specific research-based tactics to improve outcomes in desired areas of focus. Reach out to us today to engage your central office staff in the meaningful and worthwhile work that occurs when they see how their duties can and should align with getting results in schools and improving student outcomes.
Our goal is to help school system leaders create best-in-class school environments where parents want to send their children, students want to learn, teachers want to teach and employees want to work. While some schools can achieve great results on their own, many cannot. It takes a district of highly effective and focused central office departments.
Engage with us for all or some of the following actions:
- Professional learning experiences with district and department leaders to review modern research on effective central office practices that have the greatest impact on improving student achievement.
- Support leaders in developing department-specific visions for how the services their employees provide will impact schools and students.
- Administer our stakeholder surveys and receive reports, analyses, and recommendations in the areas of district support services, and employee engagement.
- Support leaders with rolling out survey results to employee groups to improve engagement and alignment with district and department goals.
- Engage central office leaders in custom-tailored professional development in research-based tactics to continuously improve the quality of service delivered to schools and stakeholders.