Mike McMahon AUSD
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Leading To Learn

I am sumarizing the Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy Leading for Learning framework and its related Sourcebook to assess what Alameda can do to accomplish "Student Success -Whatever It Takes" in the AUSD Strategic Plan for 2003-2008.

Each action area is broken down into sections:

  • Framework Summary – Overview of materials presented in the article
  • Reflective Questions – Questions presented by authors of the framework
  • Strategic Plan Review – Identifying what parts of the Strategic Plan are related to the framework
  • Establishing a Focus on Learning

    Framework Summary

    Underlying ideas and values

    Establishing a focus on learning can not be a general goal but a focus on learning that is powerful an equitable. To establish and sustain our focus on learning, leaders need to hold a fundamental set of values and norms. The following values serve as the foundation for learning improvement:

  • Ambitious standards for student learning – a high level of understanding and skills in critical subject areas is essential
  • Belief in human capacity – students can meet ambitious learning standards if they have effective instruction and support
  • Commitment to equity – achievement gaps among students who differ by class, race, ethnicity and language must be narrowed and ultimately eliminated
  • Belief in professional support and responsibility – Teachers and administrators must share responsibility and hold one another accountable for improving educational quality and equity
  • Commitment to inquiry – Using evidence to evaluate and change practice is essential to continuous improvement of teaching and learning
  • Process and challenges

    In seeking to establish a focus, leaders encounter competing interests and difficult questions. Leaders inevitably are forced to address conflicts over competing interests, learning priorities and beliefs about education. Leaders need to establish a collective focus on learning without compromises that dilute this focus or that results in oscillation from one focus to the next (e.g. this year we’ll do math, next year literacy). In confronting testing and accountability issues, leaders face fundamental questions concerning how to represent what know and can do. Leaders can play a critical role in guiding productive responses to the testing and accountability pressures by influencing how the public perceives standardized test scores and other data that are used to inform instruction.

    Reflective Questions

    1. How is learning defined and demonstrated in our schools or our district? How is learning distinguished from test performance?
    2. How (how much) do the leaders focus their attention on student learning? What prompts to focus on learning?
    3. What values do leaders share in our schools and district, and do they support a focus on learning? How are these values demonstrated?

    Strategic Plan Review

    Alameda Unified School District has a history of supporting values and norms that serve as a foundation for learning improvement. The development of Vision in 1991 with a tag line of “Learning: The Experience of a Lifetime” to establishing programs to narrow the achievement gap are prime examples of this support. The Mission Statement: “Alameda Unified School District is a team unified to ensure that every school creates a learning environment where every student succeeds” makes reference to learning.

    Ongoing Practice

    In 2003/04 Alameda Unified School District modified its Single School Plan process. At the heart of the change is a focus on using data to inform changes in instructional practices. Go to the Single School Plan home page for additional information.

    Supplemental Materials

    In the October 2003 Volume of Edcuational Leadership there is an article Deciding to Teach Them All. The premise of the article is "Asking the right questions has an enormous impact on how we pursue equity and excellence in our classrooms. I have a summary of the questions and principles here.

    Center for Research on Education, Diversity and Excellence is a federally funded research and development program focused on improving the education of students whose ability to reach their potential is challenged by language or cultural barriers, race, geographic location, or poverty. The center has developed five standards for effective instruction.

    Back to Leading to Learn Summary

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    Last modified: May 24, 2004

    Disclaimer: This website is the sole responsibility of Mike McMahon. It does not represent any official opinions, statement of facts or positions of the Alameda Unified School District. Its sole purpose is to disseminate information to interested individuals in the Alameda community.