Study: Effective Principals Embrace Collective Leadership

In the world of education, prevailing theories and modes of reform are usually a long time coming. In the last decade a body of research emerged and supported the connection between collective leadership in successful schools and is a key philosophy in the work we do at California GEAR UP.

A new and expansive study recently released further supports collective leadership and the role principals have in successfully implementing shared power at the school site.

Effective principals encourage others to join in the decision-making process in their schools, said the study, which was commissioned by the New York-based Wallace Foundation and produced by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement, in St. Paul, and theOntario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto.

The long-awaited study, published this week, is the largest to date to focus on the principals role in collective leadership. It attempts to get beyond the broad statement that school leadership is important and digs into just what types of leadership appear to make the most difference when it comes to improving schools. In order to answer that question, the foundation devoted $3.5 million and six years to surveying more than 8,400 teachers and 470 school administrators. Additional interviews were conducted with more than 1,000 educators at the school, district, and state levels. In addition, researchers observed 310 classrooms. The study also tied the data to student test scores in mathematics and English.


  • Successful principals  are “setting the conditions that enabled the teachers to be better instructors”
  • School improvement efforts have to have a focus on the leadership of the school
  • Effective principals use data and show teachers how to use information in a timely, effective way
  • Structured opportunities for leadership and data (collegial groups and time for data use)
  • In best performing districts, all of those elements have a voice in the decision making process
  • The need for comprehensive, targeted professional development in areas that are new and emerging, such as how to best utilize data to inform decision making
  • How does this study influence our work in schools? What do you think about the study?

    Arne Duncan’s Live Radio Town Hall with Nation’s Teachers

    On Thursday, July 29, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will take part in a live town hall meeting with the nation’s teachers on Sirius/XMs Satellite Radio’s POTUS public affairs channel. The program will air from 11:00 AM EDT-12:00 PM EDT and will feature a studio audience of teachers from a cross-section of public schools, drawing from a variety of districts, grade levels, and disciplines. Tim Farley, host of POTUS’s “The Morning Briefing,” will moderate the event.

    Since his appointment in 2009, Secretary Duncan has spoken with thousands of teachers from around the United States together input on the Obama administration’s blueprint for K-12 education reform. Duncan has been a supporter of GEAR UP and has consistantly urged educators to challenge the status quo.

    As Congress prepares to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the purpose of this town hall is for teachers to voice their ideas and concerns directly to the Secretary and to discuss the critical issues in education with the educators who work daily in America’s classrooms. In addition to the studio audience, those listening to the program online or via radio will be able to call in free of charge with questions and comments.

    The town hall will be broadcast on channel 110 on Sirius Radio and channel 130 on XM. Nonsubscribers may access the program free of charge through these live online feeds by going to and clicking on “Free Online Trial.”

    Let us know if you plan to take part in the town hall by commenting below.

    GEAR UP Student Wins Insider of the Year Scholarship

    At this years NCCEP/GEAR UP National Conference, University of Texas Pan American GEAR UP student Lazaro Leal was presented a $1,000 scholarship from Texas Instruments to the higher education institution of his choice. As you might be able to tell from the photos, he wasn’t aware he was getting the award and was extremely surprised.

    The TI Insider program is a secure online community where students provide feedback to TI Education Technology about products, programs, etc.  The students who participate are nominated by their teachers and must complete an application process.  This online community currently had approximately 300 members.

    Yet another great story of GEAR UP and Texas Instruments changing lives forever.

    For more information on Texas Instruments Insiders, contact Terri Grosh

    Day 3: LiveBlog 2010 National GEAR UP Conference

    Chad Foster, best selling author and nationally acclaimed speaker addressed the crowd on our last day of this years national conference. He shared with the crowd the importance of imparting students with 21st Century Skills. Other key thoughts:

    • Students must understand the connection what they are being asked to learn and how that content will apply to their workplace journeys later in life.
    • If education is about knowledge, then preparation must be all about skills.
    • It is essential that all students be exposed to the essential 21st century skills they will need to succeed.
    • It is equally important that these skills be taught in an engaging environment where students will have the greatest chance of acquiring these critical skills.
    • All skills must be learned and skills only improve if they are practiced.


    We had time to chat with the Mexican delegation who are visiting from the international offices in Mexico. You can read their updates on their blog:


    Attended todays GEAR UP state directors meeting today. Here is what Shelley Davis had to say:

    The Directors meeting was a provocative dialogue and exchange of ideas and planning for the upcoming grant cycle. The session was driven by key questions to encourage and solicit full audience participation. It was especially helpful to have James Davis, Acting Director of Teacher and Student Development and Program Officer McNeil join us for this discussion.

    Shelley Davis, Director, CA GEAR UP

    We also visited our friends at Shasta college presenting on their excellent GUTS University student services program. GUTS is a 3 week comprehensive summer program that combines academics, career exploration, leadership, and character development. See a slideshow HERE.


    Another great program is SLiCK (student leadership inspired by Consuelo Kickbusch) presented by CoolSpeak. They engage students with combination of:

    • motivational presentations
    • team building
    • small group discussion
    • individual personal development assignments.

    Share with us your insights on these topics or if you attended the conference and have stories to share.

    Youth Leadership Summit Blows the Crowd Away

    The flagship program in NCCEP’s Youth Services programming is the Youth Leadership Summit. In an effort to include student perspectives and the opinions of young people, NCCEP created national opportunities for youth to participate in the NCCEP/GEAR UP Annual Conference. More than 200 GEAR UP high school students have participated in the Youth Leadership Summit since the inception of the program in 2003. NCCEP has been partnering with GEAR UP for Excellence to present the Summit since 2005.

    Blending leadership development with the experience of participating in a professional conference, the Summit teaches participants how to be advocates for their schools and communities, empowering them to become the voice for their peers. Youth leaders, known as GEAR UP Scholars, work together to compile a Summit report focused on what educators should consider as they design strategies and programs for increasing student achievement.

    The culmination of the Summit, and the highlight of the NCCEP/GEAR UP Annual Conference, is the presentation of the report to the conference attendees. For a half an hour, the Scholars are given the stage to voice their opinions and share their ideas. Conference attendees frequently comment that the Summit report brings a fresh and energized perspective that reminds them why they became engaged in the education arena.


    NCCEP Announces International Fellowship Program

    The National Council for Community and Education Partnerships has established the Dr. Peter A. Dual International Fellowship Program in honor of NCCEP founding board member and chairman, who was a champion of providing students and young professionals the experience of global education.

    The program was created to develop research projects and education initiatives that will better prepare students to operate in a global society. As part of the NCCEP mission, this project seeks to expand education opportunities for low income students and their families in the US and Mexico, as well as other countries.

    The fellowship will be awarded to recent college graduates and young professionals who plan to become engaged with international education development and implementation.

    Applications will be accepted from individuals within the US, Mexico, and other countries in which NCCEP has an international presence. For more information contact or visit the website.

    Day 2: LiveBlog 2010 National GEAR UP Conference

    Long time GEAR UP champion Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island received an award for Educational Achievement this morning and spoke about education reform efforts in his home state, including investment in community colleges and technical schools.

    The key note speaker was Ruby Payne, best selling author of “A Framework for Understanding Poverty”. She shared her insights on the “hidden rules of poverty” as well as:

    • The knowledge that is taken for granted are the hidden rules of that socioeconomic class.
    • Characteristics that make generational poverty different from situational poverty.
    • Support systems that can be used in schools to help students of poverty.
    • Relationships are significant motivators in poverty and therefore can lead to achievement for students.

    The highlight of the morning was the GEAR UP Parent Leadership Awards sponsored by CollegeEd.

    More to come as the day unfolds. Looking forward to the lunch plenary as I understand there will be some surprises!


    Sessions we attended today:

    • “How to get male students in college and keep them out of trouble” (hint: you involve them early in the college process)
    • “Self determination: A strategy for enhancing postsecondary outcomes for students with disabilities.”  (hint: you prepare them for a non-structured environment and start early)
    • “Successful transitions from middle to high school”  (hint: use student academic-year clubs and articulation strategies)


    The last function of the day is the Movie at 8, which premiered “El Juego Perfecto“. Based on a true story, in 1957 a ragtag, shoeless group of poor kids in Mexico shocked the world by winning 13 games in a row and won the Little League World Series. The encounter many adversities along the way to Williamsport, PA for the championship game. A really heartening movie that was attended by many. Check out the trailer HERE.

    Day 1: LiveBlog 2010 National GEAR UP Conference *UPDATE*

    Today kicked off the first day of one of the largest conferences of college access and education professionals in the entire country.  Among many highlights of the opening session, Congressman Chaka Fattah, the author of the original GEAR UP legislation, spoke about the importance of “Investing in smart kids, not just smart bombs.” See the video interview of the congressman on our Twitter feed:

    The Honorable Martha Kanter, Under Secretary, US Department of Education added further support for GEAR UP and similar innovative programs across the country. Highlights of her speech include:

    “GEAR UP supports the President’s vision of having the worlds most educated workforce by 2020…the work of GEAR UP has never mattered more.”

    “Education is the premier civil rights issue of our time.”

    “GEAR UP along with other complementary programs and key collaborations…a whole community comes to the table in support of Secretary Duncan’s ‘Cradle to Career’ agenda.”

    Dr. Kanter bolstered the crowd with her words and further supported GEAR UP’s mission.

    Dr. Kanter shared the importance of institutionalizing what we know that is working with GEAR UP.  Their efforts are guided by the goal of President Obama for America: to have the best educated workforce in the world by 2020. Dr. Kanter is personally motivated by the acknowledgment of our President that “education is the civil rights issue of our time.”

    Shelley Davis Director, CA GEAR UP

    Other speakers include NCCEP International President Hector Garza, Laura Rendon, Weiya Liang, and California’s own Shelley Davis.

    The “Father of GEAR UP” Congressman Chaka Fattah, continues his reign as our champion in the House and now Chair of House Appropriations Committee. He shared encouraging news from President Obama as he continues to extol our program success. The Congressman graciously acknowledged the presence of the delegation from Mexico, including comments celebrating GEAR UP expansion in the international community under Dr. Garza’s leadership. Words of wisdom: “Ignorance is far more costly than education”.

    Shelley Davis Director, CA GEAR UP

    Follow us on Twitter for up to the minute happenings and to see the great video of Congressman Fattah talk about California GEAR UP.

    The lunch plenary was punctuated with an award for Congressmen Ruben Hinojosa for his outstanding support for GEAR UP. He was unable to make it due to flooding in his home district, but his staff accepted on his behalf presented by Roberto Rodriguez of the President’s Domestic Policy Council.


    Many of the morning and afternoon breakout sessions on the first day have included:

    • Customizable online education communities with EduGuide.
    • Vermont Student Assistance Corp: career and college planning resources for middle and high school students, as well as adults. Includes scholarships and grants.
    • Oregon GEAR UP Principal Leadership Program in conjunction with Education Partnerships Inc. shares leadership strategies for principals in 12 clusters with systematic, school-wide, and local site planning to create a sustainable school culture.
    • The awesome staff at Wooster High School in Reno, NV shared how they engaged families and parents throughout the community through detailed engagement plans, resources such as EdLine, Connect Ed, and Infinite Campus, use of bilingual community reps, mentoring programs, and engaging community parters as key collaborators.
    • 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens presented by Franklin-Covey. The training attended by mostly students talked much about taking control of teens lives, improving relationships, finding balance, and long term planning.
    • SAISD GEAR UP advanced mathematics coursework to prepare students for college. Concepts from Agile Mind.


    We also had a chance to meet with many of the gallery presenters such as:

    Check back soon as we continue to update. Let us know what you think!

    California GEAR UP to Blog Live from 2010 National Conference

    We will be collaborating with National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP) at this year’s GEAR UP National Conference in Washington D.C. July 18-21. In order to provide vital information to families, GEAR UP program staff, and college-going students across the country, California GEAR UP will be ‘live-blogging’ the entire conference and providing timely updates on Twitter and Facebook. This years conference is titled: GEARing UP For Excellence: Linking Programs, Practice and Policy. This conference will convene GEAR UP and other college access professionals, as well as their partners for informative concurrent sessions, exciting speakers, and valuable networking opportunities. Starting July 18, follow us as we blog live at the conference.

    Some of the featured events at the conference include presentations by conference sponsors on resources such as student data systems, literacy improvement strategies, the role call of GEAR UP states (which is always exciting), keynote speakers such as Juan Williams and Ruby K. Payne, Ph.D., as well as timely and informative concurrent sessions for all attendees.

    Here is the schedule at a glance.

    Here is the list of confirmed keynote speakers.

    Information for first time conference attendees.

    Washington DC visitors guide.

    Follow all the action on our blog HERE (link will be live starting Monday July 19).

    Mesa Intermediate is Proud of Their Awardees

    2010 Education Trust Award Recipients

    As part of the California GEAR UP cohort of schools, Mesa Intermediate in Palmdale, CA has worked hard the past two years to create a college-going culture on campus.

    The principal and members of the school GEAR UP team lead the effort to realize their school vision of academic excellence and college access. The team includes A GEAR UP staff person provides on-site guidance and support to schools and serves as liaison with GEAR UP partners, such as AVID, PIQE, and College Board. The Regional Coordinator helps to clarify expectations and monitor school progress.

    In addition, schools receive a number of Education Trust Awards to give to students based on a team selected criteria. Each award is worth $2000 and is put in a Scholarshare account to accrue interest until the students enter college or other qualifying education institution.

    Special thanks to the leadership team at Mesa Intermediate for all their hard work this year in supporting their students and the goals of GEAR UP.