This case study describes a partnership between New Leaders and the Arlington Independent School District to develop a pipeline of well-prepared school leaders.
Powered by a perfect alignment between district priorities and New Leaders’ expertise, Emerging Leaders delivered immediate benefits for Arlington students: At the end of the first year, 72 percent of Emerging Leaders led achievement gains across the classrooms they supervised. In math, every participant met that bar, with 75 percent leading double-digit gains across their teams.
With solid skills and a record of strong instructional leadership, Arlington officials were confident that participants were ready to lead: more than half were promoted directly into principal or assistant principal positions.
The Emerging Leaders selection model ignited a culture shift across the Arlington Independent School District.
Arlington educators now recognize that leadership roles are earned based on instructional expertise and demonstrated leadership skills rather than seniority alone.
In 2012, the Arlington Independent School District launched a strategic plan with the goal of preparing every student for college and career success. To achieve that vision, they knew they needed strong school leaders, but they recognized that limited staff time and resources would make it challenging to develop the high-quality training program they wanted on their own.
In 2014, they engaged New Leaders as partners. Together, we implemented Emerging Leaders, ensuring that it was designed to elevate instruction and achievement, while preparing teacher leaders and assistant principals to step up to more senior positions.
Emerging Leaders embodies the four key elements Arlington officials sought in a leadership program:
- A selection model that identifies candidates with clear leadership potential
- A curriculum that helps participants master key leadership skills, particularly those related to instruction
- Job-embedded assignments, coaching and feedback, so participants can master new techniques in a real-world setting
- A robust system to measure program outcomes, including participants’ impact on student learning