The Harold K.L. Castle Foundation has made important investments to create instructional leadership teams in one third of Hawaii’s schools, seed development of a statewide mentoring system for all first and second year teachers, and improve the Hawaii Department of Education’s Strategic Plan implementation via better performance management. The net impact of these investments has been strong increases in K-12 student learning and college attendance. Though we are collectively headed in the right direction, more is needed to prepare all students for 21st century jobs.
Our refreshed public education strategy builds on these early investments, by helping the Department systematize its leadership development pipeline, address institutional barriers that prevent school leaders from leading, and arming leaders with new ideas proven to close achievement gaps and improve student learning. This three year strategy directly addresses several pressing concerns.
First, large scale leadership development efforts need to be more effective. Though the Department has recently created a Leadership Institute, the vision of leadership development is only slowly translating to an aligned set of training programs. Moreover, the distance between policy and practice often leads to challenging working conditions. And finally, when promising new ideas do emerge from the field, there is little seed capital to test and scale ideas that increase student learning system-wide.
By supporting the creation of a high quality Leadership Institute, addressing the conditions that stifle leaders, and scaling up promising ideas, we expect to significantly increase the number of effective school leaders capable of driving school wide change. Leaders have the second greatest impact on student achievement after classroom teachers. So by investing in leaders and the system in which they lead, we expect to further close achievement gaps and accelerate college access and success trends.