Washington State Leadership Academy
Year 1 Annual Report
The purpose of this annual report is to provide formative feedback about the development and implementation of the Washington State Leadership Academy (WSLA). This report contains information about Year 1, the pilot phase of the program. Although this is the second year of the program, Year 1 represents the first year with participating Educational Service Districts and school districts. Information in this report serves as the baseline evaluation for the Washington State Leadership Academy (see the Year 1 Progress Report for a description of the development of the academy). The general questions explored during the evaluation were:
District and school participants made steady progress during the pilot phase of the Washington State Leadership Academy, with the ongoing support from WSLA leaders and coaches. WSLA leaders and coaches maintained fidelity to the initial design of the program, and district and school participants’ focus in the first year consisted largely of identification of the problem of practice and the theory of action. Participants identified several areas as supportive during the pilot phase of the WSLA project, including the benefits of coaching, collaboration, and the focus on instruction.
WSLA participants, district and building administrators not participating in WSLA,coaches, and teachers took a survey, organized around the six curricular strands, to establish baseline data on leaders’ attitudes and practices. In nearly all areas, the scores are below a 4.0, indicating that attitudes and practices within each curricular strand are not evident to a high degree. WSLA participants generally scored higher on the survey than other participants, with three areas at or above a 4.0, including Lead Coherent System-Wide Support for Learning, Enhance Personal Leadership Skills, and “Why Change?”. These scores may be inflated because of the work WSLA leaders have been doing in these areas. The only other area above a 4.0 was the teachers’ ratings on Enhance Personal Leadership Skills, indicating that they have confidence in their administrators’ skills. During interviews and focus groups, WSLA leadersreported there have been some changes in their attitudes and practices, which they attribute to the professional development provided by the Washington State Leadership Academy. The areas of change in the pilot phase include developing a cohesive leadership team, operating learning meetings, and creating a shared focus. Similarly, teachers reported that they have confidence in administrators ability to support a focus on teaching and learning.
Very few participants report seeing any change in instruction in the first year of the program, largely because they are planning and piloting some strategies this year, with full implementation planned for next year. Teachers responded to survey items to establish baseline data on teaching practices. The teachers scored 3.84 on the Constructivist Teaching factor. This score is below a 4.0, which would reflect responses indicating the factor exists to a relatively high degree. These results suggest powerful teaching and learning is not occurring to a high degree in the districts participating in WSLA. However, WSLA administrators report making several changes because of the Washington Leadership Academy, which they believewillsupport instructional improvement at the classroom level in the next year. Some of the changes include developing a district-wide focus on instruction, implementing walk-throughs, and using data.
To determine if any of the changes impact student achievement, baseline achievement data were collected. In general, participating districtaverages on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning were lower than state averages in all four areas(Reading, Math, Writing, and Science). WSLA districts have shown improvement in writing and science scores but scoresin mathematics and reading have remained stable over the past three years.
During the pilot phase of the program, participants reported a range of opinions on the sustainability of changes. Most believe sustainability is possible if changes are embedded into the culture of the district. Some, however, do not believe the changes they are making are sustainable, given certain contextual issues.
Moving into next year, participants hope they will learn practical skills to support change at the classroom level. Teachers know little about the work that has occurred this year, and several administrators mentioned a need for additional support to make this a systemic change. Participants believe this can happen with instructors and coaches modeling effective instructional strategies, providing strategies to support classroom change, and assisting administrators in pushing these strategiesinto the system.
The BERC Group, Inc.
Duane B. Baker, Ed.D.
Candace A. Gratama, Ed.D.
Connie Thompson, Ph.D.
Mark Freed, M.A.T.
Bryn Chighizola, B.A.
The BERC Group brings experience and an extensive knowledge base to any evaluation project.