Just think about it. Every time a new superintendent joins a school district, things change. It is out with the old and in with the new. That works well with redecorating but causes havoc in large organizations like school districts.
Most new superintendents want to make a dramatic mark. This leads to new curriculum approaches, new staff reporting relationships, new leaders throughout the district, cancellation of massive and expensive programs and much more change. This change often takes a year or more to settle out. Now teachers who have committed to programs and training must scuttle those and take on new approaches with new training. Fredrick Hess highlights this in his book, Spinning Wheels.
Students in the classroom, as well as their teachers, are whipsawed with the changes. It often takes a year or more for teachers to become proficient with the new approaches and to receive the new training. If you count the time it takes to find a new superintendent, and let that new leader make his/her changes and train staff on the new way, more than three to four years have passed. During those years, student achievement is at risk.
Just think about the unintended potential consequence of change at the top.
At the Center for Reform of School Systems (CRSS), this is why we think it is critical to have school board training so that boards put major programs and approaches into policy. If the major programs and approaches to improving student achievement are not in policy, a new superintendent can easily change things without meaningful and public dialogue and potential damage to student achievement gains.
If your district is not making student achievement gains, however, perhaps new leadership and new approaches are indeed called for.
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