Spring 2010

Culture

CEO Message: Elevating the Importance of Culture

CEO Message

As schools and school systems seek ways to continuously improve, they often focus on data systems, aligned curriculum, interventions, and staff professional development. How often, however, do we consider how culture plays a part in helping schools and school systems increase student achievement and organizational effectiveness?

As schools and school systems seek ways to continuously improve, they often focus on data systems, aligned curriculum, interventions, and staff professional development. How often, however, do we consider how culture plays a part in helping schools and school systems increase student achievement and organizational effectiveness?

This issue of the AdvancED® Source is focused on Culture. In a day and age where we attempt to measure school quality by results of student achievement, we overlook what makes a school unique and successful over time – culture. When it comes to curriculum, instructional practices, co-curricular activities, and organizational structure our schools look more alike than dissimilar. However, when we look inside a school and examine its culture, we find the uniqueness and the strength that differentiates an effective and quality school from an average school.

Leadership, including the governing authority of the school, set the tone and conditions that define the culture of an institution. Strong and effective leaders influence the instructional climate for teachers and students. Setting high expectations for all (adults and students) with an unrelenting attitude towards success and continuous improvement are the foundation upon which a strong culture can manifest and endure. In this issue of the AdvancED Source, successful leaders in our field, based on their rich and diverse experiences, share their perspectives on the importance of a healthy school culture.

AdvancED Source begins with a piece from Dr. Jay Cummings, Dean of the College of Education at Texas Southern University, “Cultural and Academic Excellence as Antecedents to Teacher Quality and Continuous School Improvement.” Dr. Cummings explores how culturally responsive teaching incorporates the everyday concerns of students into the curriculum, helping students prepare themselves for meaningful roles in their community.

Patrick Bassett, president of the National Association of Independent Schools, offers practical steps for schools and school systems in his piece, "Nurturing Positive Relationships with Parents." Yvonne Caamal Canul, explores cultural competency preparedness with a look at the past, present, and future of culture in organizations in her piece, "A Culturally Competent Citizenry for the 21st Century."

In their article, "Building Strong School Cultures through Intensified Leadership," authors Sharon Kruse and Karen Seashore Louis challenge administrators to consider how they can broaden the leadership team in their institutions for greater success. Educator and author Sandra Harris shares a teacher-centric approach to building relationships that show value to others in her piece, "BRAVO Educators Improve Student Learning."

The article entitled "Leaders Creating a Culture for all Students to Learn at a High Level" includes recent research on the leadership actions that can influence improved student achievement. Dr. Eddie Krenson rounds out this issue with a look at how AdvancED is embracing and elevating the importance of the culture of a school in our partnership with other accrediting agencies. His piece is entitled, "AdvancED Accreditation Embraces Cultural Relevancy."

Truly the tone we set each and every day as educators, through our words and deeds, influences the experiences of each student. How will you create a culture that excites learning and nurtures success?

I want to thank each of our expert contributors to this issue of the AdvancED Source as they have challenged us all to think deeply and creatively about the culture we establish in the lives of the students we serve.

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