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DevelopIng leAdershIp For Tomorrow’s eduCATIon sysTems

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How have countries succeeded in developing effective school leaders at scale? The OECD’s study of innovative

leadership development programs

found that the more effective ones:

• prepare and develop school leaders using innovative approaches that address the broader roles and responsibilities

of leaders and the purposes of schooling, and that use core technologies to achieve intended outcomes;

• are designed to produce leaders who work to build student-centered schools with the capacity for high

performance and continuous improvement towards that end; and

• take a system-wide perspective, so that the programs are aligned with the larger goals and processes of the system

concerning school improvement, student performance, and enhanced efficiency and effectiveness.

effective leadership-development programs often also include networking among participants, which can help to

foster collaborative problem-solving and alleviate the sense of isolation that some school leaders feel. Based on

studies of what works for teachers’ professional development, coaching and mentoring could also have a place in

these programs.

through mentoring, newly appointed school leaders have access to the counsel and advice of

those with years of experience in leading schools.




While administrators grapple with the high costs of turnover, recruiting and retention, teachers are dealing

with their own unique sets of challenges. Meeting more stringent licensure requirements, added professional

development demands, and increasingly rigorous course content often add emotional and professional stress

to teachers’ lives. The added pressures of the accountability movement requirements such as increased

reporting, additional testing, differentiating instruction for diverse learners and involvement in their school

communities, add time to their already full schedules. Parental expectations for thorough communications

and rapid response to questions and requests add greater demands to their overflowing workdays.

And while teachers generally are committed to their students, enjoy their work, and are devoted to their

profession and their content areas, 21st century students come to school with very different sets of experiences

and expectations than their 20th century counterparts. These tech-savvy, multi-media, multi-tasking digital

natives navigate everyday life far differently than many of their digital immigrant teachers. Connecting with

them, relating to them, and motivating them now requires teachers who are open to new ways of teaching

and supporting students.

Given these challenges, teachers who are new to the profession often find themselves frustrated, disappointed,

and unsupported. They leave their schools and often the profession and the cycle continues.

STudEnTS nEEd moRE

Students across the achievement and socioeconomic spectrum need and deserve motivating, supportive

instructional environments, engaging content, and the opportunity to learn in settings that support

collaboration with peers, teachers, and the larger world community. Students today live digitally every day.

They use the Internet, text messaging, social networking, and multimedia fluidly in their lives outside of school

and they expect a parallel level of technology opportunity in their academic lives. There is a disconnect

between the way students live and the way they learn, and student engagement ultimately suffers. Closing

this gap is a challenge for our current school systems.


Among education’s many stakeholders, one point of agreement remains constant. As reported in the U.S.

Department of Education’s research including the 2003 report Teacher Quality: Understanding the Effects of

Teacher Attributes shows that “high quality teachers are the most important factor in a child’s education.”

In fact, this same report notes that teachers are the single most important factor in student achievement.

Lower achieving students are most likely to benefit from improvements in teacher effectiveness. In addition,

good teachers can make a difference of one grade-level equivalent in annual achievement gains. Teacher

quality continues to rank as the most reliable predictor of student achievement.


Technology-based collaboration and collaborative tools are also part of the emerging vision. Collaborative

practice gives teachers the ability to learn from one another, benefit from self- and peer-assessment, and

to plan and build instructional strategies together. Young teachers often report that they are isolated in

their first-year teaching, working in a “sink or swim” environment. Learning, including learning to teach, is a

social, collaborative process and according to NCTAF’s Thomas Carroll, it’s logical then to tap the power of

technology to support teacher-to-teacher collaboration across a building, a district or a wider network of

peers. That scaffolds teacher retention and accelerates new teachers toward proficiency and effectiveness.

3. T

eachers are the single biggest in-school influence on student achievement

and teacher quality is therefore central to improving education systems

around the world. While some countries have a plentiful supply of high-quality teachers, many countries struggle to compete with other sectors for teaching and

leadership talent. This challenge grows ever more acute as the demands on education systems become more ambitious—to prepare all students with the knowledge,

skills, and dispositions for success in an increasingly globalized and digital world.

This challenge brought ministers of education, teacher union leaders, outstanding teachers, school leaders, and other education experts from twenty-three

high-performing and rapidly improving countries and regions to New York City

on March 14 and 15, 2012, for the 2012 International Summit on the Teaching

Profession. The Summit was convened by the United States Department of

Education, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD),

and Education International in cooperation with U.S.-based education partners

the National Education Association (NEA), the American Federation of Teachers

(AFT), Council of Chief

State School Officers

(CCSSO), National Board

for Professional Teaching

Standards (NBPTS), Asia

Society, and the public

broadcaster, WNET.

Participating countries

and regions included

Belgium, Canada, the

People’s Republic

of China, Denmark,

Estonia, Finland,

Germany, Hong Kong

SAR, Hungary, Iceland,

Indonesia, Japan, the

Republic of Korea,

the Netherlands, New

Zealand, Norway, Poland,

The first International Summit on the Teaching Profession, held in 2011, was truly

a first in many respects. It was the first-ever international summit on the teaching profession. And it was the first to bring together ministers of education and

teacher union leaders at the same table. The goals of the first summit had been to

put a spotlight on the importance of the teaching profession, and to begin to share

the world’s best policies and practices in developing a high-quality profession.

The second Summit attracted even more countries and regions than the first.

Twenty-three countries and regions participated, up from sixteen in 2011. The

theme for the 2012 Summit, Preparing Teachers and Developing School Leaders,

was chosen based on feedback from the first year’s participants. It was designed

to delve more deeply into three specific topics:

• Preparing teachers to deliver twenty-first century skills

• Matching supply and demand

• Developing school leaders


he world is changing at seemingly breakneck speed. Throughout the

Summit was a palpable sense of urgency that the aims and processes of

schooling in the twenty-first century need to be fundamentally different

from those in the twentieth century. A wide-ranging, global discussion is taking

place about what knowledge and skills are most important in diverse, interconnected, innovation-oriented societies and economies. No longer is providing

basic literacy skills for the majority of students and higher-order skills for a few

an adequate goal. Technological, economic, and political trends have reduced the

demand for routine cognitive skills and increased the demand for higher-order

skills. The skills that are easiest to teach and easiest to test are now also the skills

that are easiest to automate, digitize, and outsource. Of ever-growing importance, but much harder to develop, are so-called twenty-first century skills (also

known as higher-order thinking skills, deeper learning outcomes, and complex

communication skills).

How these higher-order skills are defined, and the balance among various abilities, knowledge, and values, varies from country to country. The Assessment and

Teaching of 21


Century Skills consortium (which includes Australia, Finland,

Portugal, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States) provides one

widespread definition. This definition divides twenty-first century skills, knowledge, and attitudes into four categories.

• Ways of thinking: creativity/innovation, critical thinking, problem-solving,

decision-making, and learning to learn

• Ways of working: communication and collaboration/teamwork

• Tools for working: including information and communications technologies

• Living in the world: citizenship, life and career and personal, and social

responsibilities, including cultural awareness and competence

In the twentieth century, education centered on teaching a relatively fixed core

of content. This “knowledge transmission” model of education is no longer

adequate. Today, when students access unlimited content on search engines, and

knowledge itself changes rapidly, students need to be self-directed, lifelong learnPreparing Teachers to Deliver

“Teacher preparation programs should prepare teachers

with the values, skills, and knowledge to not just keep

abreast with the times but also be ahead of their time.”

Summit participants also reviewed the kinds of

learning environments that would be conducive

to the development of twenty-first century skills.

Contemporary research on learning shows that effective twenty-first century learning environments must

• make learning central and focus on student


• ensure a balance between individually focused

learning and collaborative, social learning

• be relevant and highly attuned to students’


• be acutely sensitive to individual differences and

provide formative feedback

• promote connections across activities and subjects both in and out of school

• challenge students without overloading them

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