Meeting the Challenge: The Role of School Leaders in Turning Around the Lowest-Performing High Schools
Alliance for Excellent Education
January 2011


District policies play a considerable role in determining principals’ instructional behaviors and successes in transforming high school culture, according to this brief from the Alliance for Excellent Education. States and districts must support school leaders in organizing professional development opportunities for teachers to learn how they can support the school’s mission, particularly in schools serving the most challenged students. According to the brief, without policies that focus on a schoolwide, systematic approach to improving professional learning and collaborative practices, higher standards and curriculum reforms can fall flat.

The report outlines three key state and federal policy recommendations for developing and supporting effective school improvement leaders:

  • Embrace high expectations and goals for all students by establishing college and career readiness as the core mission of the K–12 education system.
  • Support the development of school leader preparation programs that develop essential skills and competencies necessary for leading effective high school improvement.
  • Replace the fairly ineffective federal improvement system for high schools within the No Child Left Behind Act with requirements and support for the implementation of coherent and comprehensive state and district systems of high school improvement.

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