The American Indian School Leadership program at Northern Arizona University
In the current political context of high-stakes accountability, there is a critical need for a preparation program that trains Native American principals to lead improved instruction and school change, not just manage budgets and buildings. Many states including Arizona link teacher and administrative evaluations to student performance outcomes (Arizona Senate Bill 1040). The mandate of this new state law (33-50% of administrative performance evaluation will be linked to student outcomes) underscores the need to train aspiring principals to be competent instructional leaders.
While state education leaders have been stressing common core standards, there is less emphasis on a state-wide collaboration to address the need for training principals on effective core competencies like instructional leadership (Norris, et. al., 2012). This project builds on a research-based model implemented in 2011 at Northern Arizona University’s (NAU) Department of Educational Leadership, specifically to improve performance by rural school principals (Helios Rural Principal Pipeline Project, 2011).
Important information on NAU’s AISL program
Project priority points Accordion Closed
The project is organized around a consortium agreement and has the committed involvement of NAU’s administration, the College of Education, Navajo Technical College (NTC), and four tribal partners. The project will serve the public schools and Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools serving the four reservations. We are requesting preference points under “Competitive Preference Priority Two” consortium of eligible applicants “tribal college, tribe and university applicant” with NAU serving as fiscal agent, and Absolute Priority 1 “Enabling More Data-Based Decision Making”. Since 1998 these 4 Arizona federally-recognized tribes and NTC and NAU have maintained a consortium to support the American Indian School Leadership (AISL) project. The overarching goal of the AISL is in line with the purpose of the Indian Professional Development Grants Program, to prepare American Indians and Alaskan Natives (AIAN) to become administrators whose knowledge, skills, and cultural responsiveness will bring about long-term, educational improvements in the early childhood, elementary, middle, and high school experiences of AIAN youth. The AISL project design will enhance the recruitment, preparation, and retention of a critical mass of AIAN students into the administrative profession. Ultimately, the project will increase the number of AIAN principals by 25. The roles and responsibilities for each consortium member are spelled out in the Memorandum of Understanding.
Payback provision Accordion Closed
The project will be administered according to provisions established by the Indian Fellowship and Professional Development Program sections 263.8, 263.9 and 263.10 payback requirement and payback period. Candidates will be required to sign an agreement acknowledging that their continued participation is directly tied to satisfactory progress and that they understand the payback requirements.
Northern Arizona University
NAU has a strong commitment to Native American students. The University has one of the largest enrollments of Native American students among public, four-year institutions in the United States (2011 IPEDS: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System). NAU ranks near the top among all public, four-year institutions in Native American student enrollment. In Fiscal Year 2011, NAU ranked 8th out of these public, four-year schools for bachelor’s degrees granted to Native American students. The Native American students themselves are diverse and originate from 102 different tribes, the largest contingents being from the Navajo and Hopi tribes.
Why existing programs have not worked Accordion Closed
- They enable, but do not ensure success (NIEA Study, 2012).
- They lack guidance for principals on proven ways for how to turnaround a struggling school (why schools never improve).
- There is no emphasis on being instructional leaders, rather an emphasis on being managers.
- They attack small pieces of the under-achievement in the school.
- We adopt programs or use them despite a complete lack of credible data showing it has impact; we are not rigorous enough.
- We will never know how smart our children are and how good our teachers cab be unless we have a proven model.
Challenge of running a reservation-based school Accordion Closed
Reservation Principalship assumes a myriad of responsibilities that are important in running a school, but many of these duties are not ESSENTIAL to improving student achievement.
Example: maintenance, finance, law, human resources, and public relations are important—but not necessarily essential in terms of improving student achievement.
Why do schools miss AYP?
- no vision
- lack of, or poor plan action
- lack of instructional leadership
- misaligned curriculum
- use of non-effective instructional strategies
- lack of appropriate rigor, unwillingness to change
Attack these issues!
Success is dependent on leadership Accordion Closed
Principals are the most critical for raising achievement
- Strong leadership + average staff = high achievement
- Average leadership + strong Staff = average achievement
- Average leadership + average staff = poor achievement
- Focus on student learning “good to great”
- Teach the right “stuff” at the “right” time
- Student learning is the “most important thing” (right assignment, right match)
- Hire the “best” people in areas of need
- The best teachers with most needy students
The most important person
- A team is reflective of the personality of the coach
- A school is reflective of the personality of the principal
Principal leadership approach
- authority to make decisions
- control budget
- responsibility for school improvement
Five key components necessary for improvement – AISL model Accordion Closed
- A proven principal training program (candidates nominated by the school).
- Cultural-based & turnaround leadership emphasis.
- Instructional leadership emphasis ￼￼(mentored) throughout the program.
- Clear bottom line – not waiting for something to be different. Knowledge of assessment – focused on improving instruction.
- Strong, steady principal – keep pushing ahead, no matter what. Collaborative process – problem solving pushed thru the ranks. Stick to a program – select the most effective and stick with it. A training program that produces: disciplined thought, disciplined people, disciplined action.
Participant results suggest leadership application that get at these areas of need early in their tenure Accordion Closed
- Signal the need for dramatic change with strong leadership.
- Maintain a consistent focus on improving instruction.
- Make visible improvements early in the process of being a first year principal.
- Build a committed staff/team.
What is instructional leadership? Accordion Closed
Instructional Leadership are those actions that a principal takes, or delegates to others, to promote growth in student learning. Such as setting clear goals, allocating appropriate resources for instruction, managing the curriculum, monitoring instruction, analyzing data, and evaluating teachers.
B. Flath “The principal as instructional leader”.
Manager versus instructional leader
- Managers spend MOST of their time working with administrative details. Moving from crisis to crisis, putting out fires, never in control of their own time (managers work in the system).
- Instructional leaders spend MOST of their time working with teaching and learning (instructional leaders work on the system).
- For questions about tuition, financial holds, books, etc. contact Savannah Sydney by email or at (928) 523-8033.
- For questions about academic holds and other advisor needs, contact Tomantha Horseherder by email or at (928) 523-6154.
- For technical or system questions, contact the Student Technology Center at: