Archive for May 3, 2014

Under Pressure

Recently I had a discussion with several principals from several different states…all in different sizes of schools/districts and varying demographics.  Despite our differences we all had one common concern…test scores.  Not on how to increase them (we’ve had that conversation enough times), but how to stop the constant pressure of having to raise them.  We admired the courageous leadership the Hudson ISD Superintendent, Mary Ann Whiteker has displayed to not focus on “the test” and even took down their school banners that flaunted their exemplary results (read more in her vision post).

This was a refreshing conversation for me, yet I still feel the pressure. top Why? Because our school does not have the exemplary test scores to be able to relieve that pressure.  Because a nearby school district uses our test score data as a comparison for why they are better.  Because a realtor selling a home in our district struggles to do so, because home buyers look at test scores.  Because I refuse to require our teachers to “drill and kill” with test prep.  Because as the leader I feel responsible for everything.  It is an overwhelming pressure.

I have had the pleasure of leading our school for six years now.  I can tell you so much about our amazing students and staff that test data could never show.  I can tell you how much our staff care about our students; how many of them purchase snacks and clothing items for those that need them frequently.  I can tell you how focused our teachers are on students’ literacy/math skills and have individual goal-setting conferences with students so that they have ownership of their learning.  I can tell you about the amazing tech skills our students have with their iPads and how engaged they are in fun learning each and every day.  I can tell you how much our students love to read, because they have choice in their reading during Daily 5 time.  I can tell you how kind and caring our students are for each other.  I can tell you that my own children attend my school, because I feel it is the best school they could attend.

But nobody gets to see that in one test score, so the pressure is still there.




PrincipalCast Podcast Hosts ASCD Authors

Innovation and Leadership:  Strategies & Tips from Three Authors

Screen Shot 2014-05-03 at 8.39.51 AM

Mark Barnes, Bill Sterrett, and Michael Fisher

On Sunday, May 4th, join the @PrincipalCast team (including‪@DrSpikeCook ‪@PrincipalStager) for an interactive discussion on the TeacherCast network  with three @ASCD authors (‪@markbarnes19‪@fisher1000 and @billsterrett ) as they discuss learning, innovating, and leading in education.  If you have never listened to the podcast, we broadcast live at 8:30 pm CST on  If you cannot listen live then you can download the podcast at itunes or elsewhere for your android (I use the app BeyondPod).


Author Mark Barnes (@markbarnes19) is a 20-year classroom teacher and the author of The Five Minute Teacher: How do I maximize time for learning in my classroom?

Mike Fisher (@fisher1000) is and instructional coach and educational consultant and the author of Digital Learning Strategies: How do I assign and assess 21st century work?

Bill Sterrett (@billsterrett) is an educational leadership professor, former principal and middle school science teacher and the author of Short on Time: How do I make time to lead and learn as a principal?  Bill spoke on an earlier PrincipalCast (#13) about time management and joins us again today to focus on collaborative and innovative leadership.

For more about the ASCD Arias series: