Mel Riddile

Want Reform? Principals Matter, Too

Teachers can’t do it all. The question of who leads a school is crucial.

Principals Said To Play Key Role In School Improvement.

Will Miller, president of the Wallace Foundation, writes in an op-ed in the New York Times (4/17, Subscription Publication) on the importance of principals for improving schools. He argues the need for getting great principals into “the schools that need them most — those with poor and minority students.” He also cites a study “covering 180 schools in nine states,” by “researchers from the University of Minnesota and the University of Toronto” concluding, “We have not found a single case of a school improving its student achievement record in the absence of talented leadership.” He argues that this means there should be much greater investment in training and development for principals.


The Principal-Counselor Relationship

Principal-counselor relationships are critical to student success.

“We hope that by sharing the results of our research – which we have undertaken in collaboration with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) and the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) – we can inspire principals, counselors and other educators to examine the principal-counselor relationships in their own schools. This can help them determine how they might be able to work together effectively to improve the educational outcomes for all students.”


New Brain Science Shows Brain Differences Between Poor and Affluent Kids

Research adds to the debate about the growing academic gap between poor and rich students.

The Washington Post (4/16, Layton) reports that neuroscientists have showed in a new study that the cerebral cortexes of affluent children are larger than those of their poorer counterparts. Theories posited by Noble and another scientist studying the matter include that poorer families lack the nutrition and healthcare needed to develop the brain and that poorer children undergo more stressful lives, which may “inhibit healthy brain development.” University College London psychologist James Thompson is paraphrased positing that intelligence has “a genetic component” and that less able, poorer families pass on their genes. The research and its implications are timely, as policymakers such as Education Secretary Arne Duncan seek to direct funding to promoting better education, especially in early education.


Literacy Lessons Learned – YouTube

Published on Apr 9, 2015

Literacy is the most important—and perhaps most difficult—initiative to implement in a secondary school. Yet new, more rigorous state standards view literacy as a shared responsibility across all disciplines. This makes implementing a schoolwide literacy movement even more critical.


Leading Literacy for Learning…in the Golden Age of Literacy

Literacy is the “cornerstone” of student success.

I have spent the last twenty years either developing or advocating for literacy at the secondary level. From my perspective as a school leader, the Common Core State Standards represent our greatest opportunity to finally make school wide literacy a permanent part of the culture and fabric of secondary schools.

On one hand, these are the best of times for adolescent literacy. On the other hand, the timing could not be worse.

At a time when expectations for student achievement have been completely reset, finally placing all students on a pathway to college and career readiness, schools across the country are experiencing budget shortfalls and, in many cases, staff cuts. Larger class sizes, retirements of veteran teachers, coupled with an influx of less experienced teachers and new, drops in enrollment in teacher preparation programs, and less experienced school leaders all add up to lower instructional capacity at a time when we desperately need all the experience we can get. Doing more with less is not exactly a recipe for success. (more…)

Principals Work with the Team They Are Given: 5 Musts

So why must leaders accept the team they are given?

The answer is simple: most of our teams are filled with people who care and want to do a good job. Presumably they were hired for their strong skills and may be having a difficult time navigating the different personalities on the team or tackling the more challenging assignments. Although the team may resemble the “island of the misfit toys”, it is not hopeless.

I work with imperfect teams all the time- some more imperfect than others. Some teams possess better managers and some teams have true leaders. Regardless, it is helpful to reframe our perspective a bit and instead of looking at imperfection as a pure negative, see imperfection as an opportunity to lead a change.

So why must leaders accept the team they are given? (more…)

5 Questions to Ask Before Buying Any “Common-Core Aligned” Product

You’d think this would be old news by now, right? I can’t think of an education company out there that doesn’t purport to have CCSS-aligned products. And yet just last month, EdWeek reported that 17 out of 20 math series that claimed to be aligned to Common Core still fail to live up to their…


PARCC Scores to be Used in Lieu of Placement Tests

Earlier this month, higher education leaders in Colorado took a significant step to close the persistent gap between the number of students who enroll in college and the number who graduate.

Officials at the Colorado Department of Higher Education and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) on March 8 announced that Adams State University and Aims Community College will begin using PARCC, the state’s K-12 assessment of college and career readiness, to determine whether entering college freshman are prepared to take college level courses.


Thus, for Colorado students, these tests matter!

“The More You Teach Students How to Learn, the Less Time You Have to Spend Teaching Curriculum”

How Memory, Focus and Good Teaching Can Work Together to Help Kids Learn

Technology enables students with nearly infinite information. But kids need help in learning how to learn in order to be creative and knowledgable.


“The more you teach students how to learn, the less time you have to spend teaching curriculum because they can [understand] it on their own,” said William Klemm, senior professor of neuroscience at Texas A&M University at the Learning and the Brain conference “Making Lasting Memories.” “I think the real problem is that students have not learned how to be competent learners,” he said. “They haven’t learned this because we haven’t taught them.”

“Students cannot build more complex knowledge without information in their working memory.”

College Preparedness Over the Years, According to NAEP – Education Next

For almost a decade, the National Assessment Governing Board studied whether and how NAEP could “plausibly estimate” the percentage of U.S. students who “possess the knowledge, skills, and abilities in reading and mathematics that would make them academically prepared for college.”


“What to make of all this? To our eyes, these pictures help explain why America’s college matriculation rate is up but its college completion rate is not: We’ve succeeded at motivating more young people to enroll, but we haven’t prepared more of them to succeed at it. All of the higher education reforms in the world—“fixing” remedial education, providing additional supports to students, easing the debt burden, making community colleges “free”—won’t add up to a hill of beans unless our K–12 system gets a lot better at producing young people with the academic skills to succeed once they arrive on campus. (The alternative is to make college easier, which would only diminish the value of completing it.)” (more…)