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For Immediate Release
Thursday, July 14, 2005
Contact:Heidi B. Perlman 781-338-3106

State Launches Intensive Leadership Training for Urban Educators

BOSTON - Educators from some of the state's neediest districts are poised to start an intensive two-year training program this summer, aimed at strengthening their organizational and instructional leadership skills to lead their schools to higher student achievement.

The training will be delivered by the National Institute for School Leaders (NISL), a program of the National Center on Education and the Economy. The opportunity is being offered by the Department of Education in conjunction with the Urban Superintendents Network, and is part of the state's educator leadership agenda.

The NISL training will complement the Massachusetts' State Action for Education Leadership Project (SAELP), a policy initiative sponsored by the Wallace Foundation designed to strengthen the leadership of superintendents, principals and school leaders toward the objective of improved student performance. In June the state received a $700,000 grant from the Wallace Foundation to continue this work.

"We've seen significant improvements over the years and we continue to invest in our schools by giving educational leaders the knowledge and skills to provide our students with a high quality education," said Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey. "Effective leadership outside the classroom creates an environment that helps prepare our young people for the future."

Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll agreed.

"A good leader is often what turns a good school into a great one," he said. "By investing in leadership training for our educators, Massachusetts is taking an important step toward ensuring the progress we've made in our schools will continue for years to come."

Of the 84 NISL participants, 52 are taking part in a "train-the-trainer" model, so that next year they can become certified NISL trainers and provide training for other educators in the future. The remaining 32, which include all of the principals from Holyoke and school leaders from other western Massachusetts communities, are getting direct training, and will not be certified to train others.

Participants hail from more than 15 urban districts, including Brockton, Chelsea, Fall River, Fitchburg, Holyoke, Lowell, Springfield and Pittsfield.

The NISL curriculum was developed by experts in education, business and the military. Those who complete the training will partially fulfill requirements to earn a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Lesley University. Those who choose to pursue the advanced degree will earn 24 credits through NISL, and can complete their 60-credit doctorate by taking courses at Lesley and completing a qualifying paper and dissertation.

In 1999 New York's Carnegie Corporation identified school and district leader preparation as a priority and sought assistance from the National Center for Education and the Economy. As part of a program the Corporation provided funding to develop the ideas that culminated into the development of NISL. The program now is supported by the Broad Foundation, the New School Venture Fund, and the Stupski Foundation.

"The nation is asking for dramatic improvement in school performance without making the kinds of investments in the skills of school principals on which such improvement depend," said Marc Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy. "We cannot expect these leaders to be ready to rise to the challenge without making sure that they are armed with the best tools and knowledge we can provide."

The state's NISL training program will be paid for through state funds. In total, nearly 400 principals and mentor trainers are expected to participate in the program over the next five years. The first year's costs are estimated to be about $541,000.

The NISL training will help move forward the leadership work that has already begun in Massachusetts through SAELP. Massachusetts was one of 15 states selected by the Wallace Foundation in 2001 to participate in this grant program, aimed at assisting state leaders and decision makers in redesigning policies needed to strengthen the leadership abilities of their superintendents and principals.

Massachusetts' SAELP grant was just renewed for an additional three years. The state will receive $700,000 in FY06, 70 percent of which must be granted directly to high-need districts. Ongoing work includes superintendent training, support for Boston's principal and assistant principal preparation programs, coaching for leadership teams in high need urban districts and making statewide improvements to Massachusetts leadership preparation system.



Last Updated: July 14, 2005
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