Every month the staff at District Administration aims to create a magazine that makes the jobs of school leaders easier. We do this by offering analysis of K-12 news, expert opinions on pressing issues and successful case studies.
While I believe we have met these goals again this month, in another way we haven't. Just a glance through the topics covered in this issue is enough to make a superintendent ponder early retirement.
The list of requirements being heaped on school district leaders today is overwhelming. We all know about the myriad requirements of No Child, but just reading our Update section shows that administrators should lead the fight against child obesity, consider starting a district-wide fiber optics network, ponder eliminating middle schools, and try to create schools that serve as the hub of the community. Phew. That's a lot to bite off and that doesn't count the features we include about improving your district's Web site, how to build space for the growing pre-K movement, and the specific challenges that special education children face under NCLB.
In the face of all these requirements and suggestions, one piece of information could get lost. On the Research Corner page, we report that studies show it takes an average of three years for elementary schools to implement change that will significantly improve student performance and six years for the same progress at secondary schools. If you wait this long under NCLB, the government might make your decision about early retirement for you.
So what's a school leader to do? Take a deep breath and remember progress can be made. Chances are your district already has some wide-ranging plans in place, from how to improve technology to how to boost student test scores. Double-check these plans, tweak them if necessary, and then have the conviction to follow them.
Remember that just like the children you educate, progress isn't necessarily going to show up on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis.
And above all, remember these challenges are what brought you into this profession to begin with. If you didn't think your job as an administrator was important, chances are you wouldn't have it. You took the challenge because you knew you could make a difference in children's lives, and now you have the opportunity.