The nation’s most prominent preparation program for urban school superintendents has been revamped, expanding its scope, doubling in length and placing greater emphasis on leadership development and helping leaders grow high-performing organizations.
In 2002, the “Broad Superintendents Academy” was launched with a single mission: Prepare passionate, proven leaders to transform America’s urban school systems so every student receives a world-class education. Since then, more than 150 distinguished Fellows have completed the program. Their feedback and experiences — in addition to the changing landscape of K-12 public education — prompted the programmatic shifts.
“Over time, we consistently heard from our Fellows that the focus on best practices in leadership and management helped them make progress. But they wanted to do more,” said Christina Heitz, managing director of The Broad Academy, a program of The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems.
“They wanted to develop breakthrough strategies that propel faster, greater improvements which are both systemwide and sustainable; to nurture the kinds of relationships and partnerships that help them do this work with people and communities; and to closely collaborate with colleagues across the nation, sharing resources and learning from each other’s successes as well as their mistakes,” Heitz said.
While preserving the mission to boost student learning and close gaps in achievement and opportunity, the Academy’s new model includes several changes, such as:
- Extending the length of the program from 10 months to two years, and adding more than 100 hours of personalized learning on topics such as public engagement, student assignment patterns and funding equity;
- Broadening the settings for Fellows’ roles from traditional, large city school districts to include other school-operating organizations like high-performing public charter school systems, state and federal departments of education and statewide public school turnaround districts; and
- Eliminating the commitment that Fellows take on a new role within a year of completing the program. The Academy now includes CEO-level leaders who are expanding their current organization as well as those whose ultimate aim is to lead a large urban school system.
In recognition of this wider range of public school systems that can be strong matches for its graduates, the program will drop the word “superintendents” from its name and now be known as The Broad Academy.
The first Academy cohort to complete this new program is comprised of 11 proven education leaders from across the country who are driven to improve the learning outcomes and life opportunities of the students they serve:
- Getting every scholar on track to enter and complete college is a team effort at Uplift Education, which is home to three of The Washington Post’s 30 most challenging high schools in the nation. That’s why, under CEO Yasmin Bhatia’s leadership, new professional evaluation, development and recognition programs aren’t just for classroom teachers; they’re for all employees. It’s one of the many ways they work to attract and retain top talent throughout the system as it continues to expand.
- Andrea Castañeda, chief of fiscal integrity and statewide efficiencies at the Rhode Island Department of Education, knows there is not a second or cent to spare when it comes to school improvement. She’s made state-local collaboration a focus of her efforts in leading the systematic redesign of career and technical education and helping make Rhode Island one of the region’s highest-performing charter sectors — efforts that have helped the state post record-high English/language arts and mathematics results.
- Access to rigorous curriculum is critical for low-income students and students of color. Led by president Justin Cohen, Mass Insight Education’s district transformation partners are creating decentralized urban school systems, focused on preparing all students for college success. Students who have completed the organization’s Advanced Placement program persist in college at rates that are 30-50 percent higher than the national averages for their low-income and African-American peers.
- Native New Orleanian and Recovery School District superintendent Patrick Dobard has seen what happens when the needs of the whole child go unmet. So, while working relentlessly to continue improving academic outcomes in the nation’s first all-charter school district — and to replicate those strategies in the Baton Rouge Achievement Zone — he navigated a landmark agreement with the Orleans Parish School Board to provide services for the city’s most vulnerable students, regardless of which system’s schools they attend.
- As the founder and CEO of STRIVE Preparatory Schools, Chris Gibbons has built one of Denver’s premier public charter school systems, which led the city in middle-school academic growth for seven consecutive years. STRIVE has nearly tripled enrollment over the past two years, opening neighborhood schools that operate with boundary admissions, serving larger proportions of special-education students and English language learners than district averages and opening special programs for students with severe needs.
- To achieve Shelby County Schools’ ambitious college and career readiness goals for its students, chief of strategy & innovation Bradley Leon knew there would be power in collaborating with others in the community who were aiming at the same targets. He negotiated a draft district-charter school compact that will allow Shelby County to work with and share with, as well as learn from, local public charters.
- Under the leadership of CEO Beth Purvis, Chicago International Charter School has added nine campuses and 6,000 students, nearly doubling the size of a system whose high schools were already among the top performing in the city in terms of student gains, graduation rates and college placement. CICS also led the state battle for equitable charter funding that resulted in an additional $25 million for Illinois’ public charter school students last year.
- High-quality professional development for educational leaders is essential to foster student success. As co-founder and longtime CEO of New Leaders, Jon Schnur created an organization that has developed more than 1,600 principals and other urban-school leaders across the U.S. In his current role as executive chairman of America Achieves, he is creating professional learning communities of experienced teachers, principals and superintendents and developing bipartisan solutions to expand evidence-based policymaking and federal investment in what works to help young people succeed.
- As deputy chancellor for the New York City Department of Education, Marc Sternberg drew on his personal experiences as founding principal of Bronx Lab School, which achieved a 94 percent graduation rate for its first senior class, while directing citywide school planning. He brings the same lens of fairness and what’s possible to his new role as director of K-12 education at the Walton Family Foundation.
- Supporting educators is a top priority at Achievement First Public Charter Schools, which has been widely recognized as one of the top charter networks in the country. In addition to ensuring her own team provides every student at their 29 schools with a rigorous, joyful education, co-CEO and president Dacia Toll takes seriously AF’s commitment to the broader education community. That is why they partner with other districts — both charter and traditional — on high-quality teacher training and principal residency programs.
- As assistant superintendent for Denver Public Schools, Antwan Wilson led initiatives that helped cut the district’s dropout rate in half, increase on-time graduation rates by 20 percentage points, triple Advanced Placement exam pass rates, close the performance gap with national averages on the ACT and cut student suspensions and expulsions by more than half. He is applying that laser-like focus on supporting student success in both the classroom and in life to his new role as superintendent of Oakland Unified School District.
“[The Broad Academy] has been one of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve had in my entire professional career,” said Dobard. “What makes it different is that it is full of a lot of ‘we’s. This work can’t be about just ‘I’ or ‘me.’ It’s about working with others, reaching out to others and how, together, we can transform communities and the lives of underprivileged youth.”
For more information about The Broad Academy or The Broad Center, visit www.broadcenter.org.