ERIC Number: EJ914944
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Jun
Reference Count: 5
The Can-Do Central Office: With an Eye on Student Achievement, Illinois District Redefines Its Roles and Goals
Hillman, Deanne; Kachur, Donald S.
Journal of Staff Development, v31 n3 p18-20, 22 Jun 2010
Facing a superintendent change in 2006-2007, Decatur Public School District 61 in Illinois was already confronting the major challenges of a widening student achievement gap, increasing dropout rate, and schools not meeting Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). From the beginning, Superintendent Gloria J. Davis professed several simple beliefs that resonated among all district staff: "We understand all of our children can learn and achieve at high levels. It is our responsibility, as a district, to do all we can to help them reach those high levels. All of our children can learn, and we can teach them!" However, it was going to take more than words to turn such beliefs into realities for schools. It would call for transforming the roles and functions of the central office to form a consistent, systemic partnership with schools across the district. Together, schools and the central office would establish a clear directive for teaching and learning that would generate the initiatives and efforts to make the district's vision a reality. This transformation called for the central office to take the lead in building the capacity of all staff to make sound decisions about their own ongoing professional learning that would impact student learning and achievement. The district has experienced some early success through this transformation. Graduation rates have increased to 87.9% in 2009, up from 73.3% in 2007, and 80% of the graduating seniors are moving on to higher education. The key to District 61's success was not to capitulate to pressures to return to the former modus operandi as a central office. Beginning at the superintendent's level, the district continually reinforced efforts to transform the central office to become instrumental in creating a districtwide collaborative professional learning culture, one where educators were learning from and with one another, introducing ideas, sharing practices, and making decisions that benefit the students that pass through their doors each day.
Descriptors: Educational Improvement, Academic Achievement, Superintendents, Central Office Administrators, Board Administrator Relationship, Administrator Role, Board of Education Role, Goal Orientation, Educational Objectives, Administrative Change, Change Strategies, Educational Change, Organizational Change, Organizational Culture
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Illinois