On April 13 and 14, 2011, representatives from the New York State Education Department and Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Yonkers City School Districts participated in theSchool Improvement Grant (SIG) Regional Conference in Washington, DC. District participants were a mix of SIG school principals, central office administrators, and a teacher union representative. The conference, which focused on the role of state, district, and school leadership in leading school turnarounds, was co-sponsored, -planned, and -facilitated by the New York Comprehensive Center (NYCC).
Conference participants heard presentations by national experts and the United States Department of Education’s former Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana. The conference also offered breakout sessions on themes such as assessing effective teacher and principal practices, School Improvement Grant leadership, and instructional practices.
A breakout session on metrics for managing the performance of turnaround leaders, facilitated by the NYCC and Public Impact, explored concepts and indicators for managing school turnaround at the school, district, and state level. The NYCC also led a breakout session on the New York Formative Assessment Project.
The conference involved participants in several role-alike sessions on their turnaround experiences, where they discussed current issues they have and supports they might need. At the request of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, conference planners synthesized and delivered feedback from the role-alike sessions to the Committee.
New York participants, with facilitation by NYCC staff, also engaged in two ninety-minute dialogues characterized by candor about their successes and challenges in grappling with SIG opportunities. The opportunity for collaboration with peers in other districts, access to leading resources and expertise, and protected time for learning that participants enjoyed spurred one of the follow-up actions suggested by the districts: with NYCC support, the NYSED School Turnaround Office and districts with SIG schools have begun planning a cross-district network to support SIG work.
NYCC’s follow-up support for NYSED has also included exploring the applicability to New York State of several turnaround tools available from the Center on Innovation and the National High School Center.
Resources from individual sessions and all conference events are available at the Conference’s wiki. For more information, please contact Adam Tanney, NYCC Statewide System of Support Team Leader, at email@example.com.