PA LEADS: Pennsylvania Leadership, Empowering, Advancing and Diversifying our Schools
The Pennsylvania Leadership, Empowering, Advancing and Diversifying our Schools (PA LEADS) school improvement model is built around shared leadership in a Standards Aligned System (SAS). Nine academically achieving school districts participated as early implementers of the program focused on data analysis, systemic change, peer to peer networking and governance restructure through empowerment. The development of the focus areas was based in face to face and virtual professional development and communication structures.
Using SAS as the foundation early implementers are ready to seek partnerships with low performing schools to identify, implement, record and disseminate models of effective practice for improved student performance. The district partnerships will highlight specialties and expertise within each district to build a foundation of trust and mutual respect. There are nine (9) districts participating in cohort 1 and five (5) charters and five (5) districts participating in cohort 2.
PA LEADS is a monitored and accountable school improvement model focusing on data analysis, curriculum mapping, assessment, instruction with coherent and focused professional development. The level or intensity of support is dependent on the needs of the identified low performing districts. The success of the program firmly rests with Districts working collaboratively with each other and with the Pennsylvania Department of Education to design professional development and ongoing program implementation principles. For example: the early implementers have expressed an urgent interest in learning more about the Algebra I Keystone Exams. As such, the content area focus in mathematics and particularly Algebra during the 2012-2013 school year will allow the districts to work hand in hand with the Department in implementation of the content exams.
To encourage commitment and sustainability Districts provide financial support for the implementation of the peer to peer network in the form of release time and in district resources. The Department’s financial commitment is in the development, planning, training and evaluation stages of the project.
The Department views PA LEADS and their partner districts as in the field practitioners who offer valuable input and insight into the next level of academic improvement. The system is designed to facilitate communication at the teacher, principal and superintendent level and to provide an ongoing feedback loop to the Department. PA LEADS is designed to empower educators at all levels to reach beyond their walls and seek the support and experience from job alike peers.