How LBUSD's Principal Support is Improving

The Long Beach Unified School District’s principal support efforts are featured on the website of Learning Forward, an international nonprofit association of educators committed to excellent K-12 teaching and learning.

Among educators there’s a clear consensus that school leadership is second only to teacher quality in its potential to improve student achievement, and that’s why principal support is so important, states the website article by Jill Baker and Gary Bloom.  Baker is LBUSD’s Deputy Superintendent of Schools, and Bloom is senior program consultant and co-founder of the New Teacher Center in Santa Cruz.  The article is titled, “Growing Support for Principals.”

Over the past four years, principal supervisors have shifted away from a model of compliance and “at-a-distance” supervision.  Today’s principal supervisors spend more time at schools, collaborating with one another.  The approach emphasizes a “deeply rooted coaching orientation, support for addressing student achievement issues, and a focus on quality instruction in every classroom.”

To ensure that every principal receives support from a skilled principal supervisor, the school district created a professional learning community (PLC) for principal supervisors, who also participate in school-based “lab days” dedicated to helping principal supervisors improve through an in-depth case-study approach.  This model has built a culture of openness among principal supervisors, consistent with the school district’s vision of teacher professional learning communities as a place where professionals are open and honest about sharing their successes and challenges.

Long Beach has shared its principal supervisor practices with 14 school districts participating in a Principal Supervisor Initiative supported by The Wallace Foundation.  The initiative is a $30 million, five-year effort.

Early data on the Long Beach approach are encouraging, with an increase in the percentage of principals rated effective or distinguished in teaching and learning.  Even as expectations for principal performance are rising, the article states, principal performance is improving.

Go to learningforward.org for the full  article.