New fellowship for aspiring school leaders who seek to reimagine high school.
Together, our organizations have spent years advocating for the reimagining of schools—specifically high schools. We know that young people will thrive in schools that offer them opportunities to develop identity, form authentic connections, find purpose, and master competencies that are meaningful and linked to their goals for the future. On a recent school visit in Boston, we asked a panel of students what they would do if they had a magic wand to change something about their high school. One student said simply, “I wish we were more involved and people noticed us more.”
Despite national reform efforts, many high schools struggle to prepare their students meaningfully and equitably for the future. Though the graduation rate in Massachusetts has increased over time, post-secondary readiness has not; a staggering 55% of students in the state need further attention and remediation to enroll in or be prepared for a post-secondary institution. Without question, high schools do not give young people the skills needed to pursue meaningful careers and lead lives of choice and purpose. The experience and outcomes of high school are failing our students. We are failing our students.
So how do we move the needle on making high school work for all students? Research tells us that school leaders are a key lever for improving high school experience and outcomes. School leaders can serve as multipliers—increasing the efficacy of a teaching staff, impacting an entire school rather than a handful of kids. Yet despite the critical importance of school leadership, both the role and the pipeline of principals is decidedly broken.
Nationally, the tenure of school leaders has decreased significantly over the last decade. One in five principals leave their school every year; for novice leaders, nearly half leave their schools within three years. This leaves us with a broken model for high school and a broken school leader talent pipeline—and the two are inextricably linked. Ill-prepared, inexperienced, and unsupported school leaders who do not represent the diversity of the students they serve are simply not equipped for success in their role.
What do teachers need to become effective school leaders?
Effective and innovative leaders are not born—they are nurtured. Educators need a pathway to build their leadership capacity in a way that feels supportive and manageable. Programs must provide what research and practitioners tell us is essential—a disciplined prioritization of school leader competencies that go deep on instructional, adaptive, and student-centered leadership, transformative learning experiences that bridge theory and practice, multi-layered supports for aspiring leaders over multiple years, and a meaningful apprenticeship that provides both robust field work and a gradual on-ramp to know and build success in the role. Above all, programs must support aspiring leaders to lead for equity—investing in diverse leadership and the cultural competence required to lead change.
Preparing the next generation of school leaders to do high school differently
This summer, Springpoint and the Barr Foundation are coming together to launch the inaugural cohort of the Transformative Leaders of Massachusetts fellowship. As we launch this fellowship, we will strive to prepare fellows to design and lead schools worthy of the students they serve, ensuring equitable, quality, transformative experiences and outcomes for all students.
As fellows, educators will participate in a two-year school design and leadership program that will build their leadership capacity and instructional experience so they can become innovative leaders and change agents in their schools and communities. The aim is to attract diverse educators who are motivated by ensuring schools are student-centered environments.
Participants in the Transformative Leaders of Massachusetts fellowship will:
Earn a stipend of $20,000 over two years in addition to current salaries
Have support to earn Massachusetts school leader licensure through the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education alternative certification apprenticeship pathway
Have a dedicated mentor at their current school and an experienced Springpoint coach
Engage with a small, diverse cohort of aspiring school leaders
Expand their professional networks
Work with a flexible class schedule of weekends, nights, and days off
Join school visits across the state to see transformational programs in action
We seek a small, committed cohort, as diverse as the students of Massachusetts, to build a new path to leadership.