Teachers work around a table.

Barr Announces New Grants and Partnerships to Strengthen School Leadership in Massachusetts

10 Massachusetts school systems will work together in a strategic planning process exploring the challenges and solutions to the principal pipeline.

Earlier this year, we announced a new RFP for partnerships of schools to explore the challenges and solution to the principal pipeline. Today, we are excited to announce a partnership of four grants as part of the Strengthening School Leadership cohort. These schools and systems demonstrate a commitment to explore all potential solutions to strengthening school leadership. This cohort represents diverse regions across the state, and includes:

Over the next 9 months, these districts and partnerships will embark on a planning process to understand what it will take to have a high-quality principal in each school. With technical assistance provided by Attuned Education Partners, grantees will gain a deeper understanding of their local principal pipeline; gather important feedback and perspectives from local stakeholders; share findings and insights among each other; and develop a plan for a systematic leadership development approach.

Background on this work:

What will it take to ensure there is a high-quality principal in every school in Massachusetts? What are the key challenges and essential ingredients to strengthen the principalship and drive better outcomes for students – especially the students of color and English learners that the state is currently serving least well? Studies have consistently shown that the largest in-school factor in student learning, after teachers, is principals (see: “How Leadership Influences Learning,” a 2004 research review commissioned by the Wallace Foundation).

To answer these questions, the Barr Foundation convened a Working Group last year. Drawing on experiences of a dedicated group of Massachusetts district leaders, state education leaders, and charter management organization leaders, in addition to published research and publicly-available data on Massachusetts school leaders, Barr and Attuned Education Partners released "Strengthening School Leadership in Massachusetts."

Read Strengthening School Leadership report

In response to the findings and set of solutions offered in the report, Barr invited public school systems (district or charter) or groups of public schools to apply for a grant to engage in a strategic planning process aimed at strengthening school leadership. There are many small school districts in Massachusetts. This RFP presented an opportunity for school system partnerships across geographic or governance boundaries to take on and champion this work together.

What will it take to ensure there is a high-quality principal in every school in Massachusetts?

The Strengthening School Leadership cohort represents the first major initiative of Barr’s Invest in Educators portfolio and we are eager to learn from a cohort of leaders and school teams who are supporting all students to be successful. To learn more about the cohort and the Invest in Educators portfolio, please visit our new strategy page.

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Kate Dobin

Former Senior Program Officer, Education