Superintendent training program yields dividends

A new data analysis suggests that school districts led by graduates of an executive management training program who have served as superintendents for three or more years are outpacing other school districts in their states in academic gains.

Sixty-seven percent of Broad Superintendent Academy graduates who have served as superintendents for three years – such as Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Mark Roosevelt, Broad Academy Class of ’03 – have improved student achievement faster than other districts in their states. Eighty percent graduates who served as superintendents for four years – such as former Charleston County Public Schools, S.C. Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson, Class of ’03 – improved student achievement faster than other districts in their states.

In another example, the Houston Independent School District narrowed 83 percent of income and ethnic achievement gaps faster than other Texas districts after four years under the leadership of former Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra, Class of ’02. While districts led by Broad Academy superintendents have outpaced their peers in improving student achievement, graduates’ districts, which are primarily urban districts serving significant percentages of low-income students, still lag behind higher income suburban districts in overall performance on average.

The data analysis compared student achievement the year prior to a Broad Superintendents Academy superintendent joining a district to student results two or more years into their term, and examined 26 school districts across 16 states. The analysis compared student achievement growth within these districts against other districts statewide, as well as against other demographically similar districts in their state.

The analysis examined several measures of student performance and improvement including:

1. State assessments in reading and math: a) overall growth in proficiency, b) movement of students across performance levels (e.g. from “below proficient” to “proficient” or from “proficient” to “advanced proficient”), c) closure in income and ethnic achievement gaps and d) whether students performed above or below expectations given the district’s poverty level.
2. Graduation rates based on state-reported figures.

On the heels of these results, The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation announced it has awarded The Broad Center an additional $20 million to continue recruiting, training, placing and supporting school district leaders nationwide.

Since 2002, academy graduates have filled 71 superintendent positions and 87 senior school district executive positions. Graduates of the program currently work as superintendents or school district executives in 53 cities across 28 states. In 2009, 43 percent of all large urban superintendent openings were filled by Broad Academy graduates.

“Effective, stable leadership in America’s school districts is critical to ensure that all schools across a school district, not just a handful of high performing schools, successfully educate children,” said Becca Bracy Knight, executive director of The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems, which operates The Broad Superintendents Academy. “We plan to use these results to improve the academy’s curriculum and training efforts to better meet student needs on the ground.”

The Broad Superintendents Academy is a 10-month executive management training program to prepare leaders from education, military, business, nonprofit and government sectors to lead urban public school systems. The Broad Superintendents Academy is the only program in the country that recruits and trains non-traditional superintendent candidates, such as military generals and executives from business, government and non-profit organizations, as well as stand-out career educators. The academy is funded by The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, a national venture philanthropy advancing entrepreneurship for the public good in education, science and the arts.