NYCLA facilitated two presentations on principal supervision for more than 140 school and district leaders at the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) 2016 National Conference.

Irma Zardoya, NYCLA President & CEO, led a conversation with leaders from the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) – Dr. William Hite, Superintendent; Naomi Wyatt, Chief of Staff; and John Tupponce, Assistant Superintendent.  The discussion focused on how the district has revamped its approach to principal supervision in order to more effectively support school leaders in improving student outcomes.

Dr. Hite discussed SDP’s equity agenda, saying “too often, zip codes define destiny for many children.” In describing his goal of ensuring Philadelphia students have great schools in the neighborhoods where they live, Dr. Hite talked about his leadership team’s decision to invest in leadership as the most strategic lever for change.

All three shared insight into how, as one element of strengthening support for school leaders, the district transformed its approach to principal supervision. They talked about how they have made the move from having six part-time supervisors for the district’s 200+ principals to building a cohort of 13 full-time Assistant Superintendents charged with spending 80% of their time in the district’s schools. Ms. Wyatt highlighted how the development of performance standards for the Assistant Superintendent position, work the district engaged NYCLA to support, has helped move the role from one focused on compliance to one focused on supporting and developing school leaders. 

Mr. Tupponce described how he and the other Assistant Superintendents are working with the principals in their networks to make progress around key district “anchor goals,” including literacy and college readiness. He discussed how he and his colleagues are collaborating to build their shared practice, as well as how support he has received in the role, including coaching provided by NYCLA, has helped him hone key skills, such as listening, that help him more effectively understand the support his principals need. 

In a separate session, Kathleen Nadurak, NYCLA’s Executive Vice President, and educational consultant Andrew Cole, led an interactive dialogue with the audience on the new Model Principal Supervisor Professional Standards, released in 2015 by the Council of Chief State School Officers. Both Kathy and Andy sat on a committee that guided the development of these standards. Session attendees shared their thoughts on the implications of the standards on their work, challenges and opportunities in applying the standards, and dimensions missing that should be considered for future versions.

Both of these presentations provided NYCLA and our fellow presenters with the opportunity to share promising practice and engage in collective thought around issues central to district leadership development and improvement.