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: