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Closing the Achievement Gap: Oregon's Bold Plan

Duration: 09:18

School principals are critical to establishing school environments in which all students can learn and succeed. But as student demographics change and achievement gaps between white and minority students remain wide, principals face growing challenges to serve an increasingly diverse population. While more diversity is an opportunity for school districts, school leaders must develop skills and receive support to effectively lead in this environment. What knowledge and skills do principals need to address large performance gaps between students from different racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds? What skills do they need to lead schools where a majority of students are English language learners? How does culturally responsive leadership benefit a school community where cultures, races and ethnicities intersect?

For over 30 years, Oregon has been committed to developing a diverse K-12 educator workforce with the skills necessary to educate all students – that is, educators who are “culturally competent.” This video vignette features the state’s effort to embrace its rapidly changing student demographics by preparing its school leaders to meet this challenge and highlights the work of a principal of a dual-language elementary school in Beaverton, Oregon.

THE PRINCIPAL STORY follows the journey of two elementary school principals throughout a school year as they strive to improve student achievement and implement school reform. Featured are novice principal Tresa D. Dunbar of the Henry H. Nash Elementary School in Chicago and veteran principal Kerry Purcell of Harvard Park Elementary School in Springfield, Ill. Their stories unfold in an hour-long documentary film that illustrates the struggles and successes these leaders encounter. In addition, a 23-minute clip reel, available on the film’s supplemental outreach DVD and website, draws from the documentary to highlight four themes critical to effective school leadership:

1. Stewardship of a vision;
2. Leading instructional improvement;
3. Creating the instructional environment; and
4. Holding people accountable.



Post Date: July 21, 2009