Why Districts with Award-Winning Schools Should Consider Partnering with NCUST

Over the past 16 years, NCUST has bestowed the America’s Best Urban Schools Award on 167 schools. Many of those schools are part of amazing school districts that established the foundations that nurtured outstanding school cultures, curriculum, and instruction. Often, however, districts find themselves struggling to help other schools establish similar successes. NCUST might be a great partner in helping districts build upon their successes and develop more schools where all demographic groups achieve remarkable results.

While many organizations provide a wide array of services to school districts, NCUST offers some special attributes. For example, all members of the NCUST professional team have served as classroom teachers. Furthermore, all members of the NCUST professional team spend time each year visiting classrooms, studying outstanding teaching, and supporting leaders in their efforts to improve instruction in their schools. All members of the NCUST professional team have served as principals and many have served as district-level administrators or superintendents. Furthermore, the members of the NCUST professional team have been highly successful school administrators who have influenced impressive outcomes for the students they served. Also, the members of the NCUST professional team have experience supporting principals in ways that helped leaders generate outstanding outcomes for all demographic groups of students. The NCUST professional team is racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse. Our commitment to diversity and inclusion starts with who we hire and extends throughout all of our efforts to support schools and districts.

Our studies of high-performing schools have helped us learn that schools and districts can attain equity and excellence only if they have a deep, sincere, and sustained commitment to do so. There is no quick fix. As such, we tend to avoid short-term, one-shot interactions. Instead, we focus our efforts in support of districts where there is a sustained commitment to building capacity in ways that will result in equitable and excellent schools.

While NCUST is always willing to tailor partnerships to meet the specific needs of districts, support is provided largely through the following programs:

Equity and Excellence Audits:  
NCUST has been providing these audits for 13 years. The audits help school and district leaders understand how their schools are similar to and different from the high-performing schools NCUST has awarded. The audit findings highlight the strengths that are contributing to school and district successes. As well, the findings highlight opportunities for improving outcomes for the various demographic groups served. Each audit provides school and district leaders practical recommendations for improving school culture, curricula, and instruction in ways that are likely to improve learning outcomes for all demographic groups, but especially for groups that are not performing well. One reason the NCUST Equity and Excellence Audits are so powerful is that the audits are conducted by the same NCUST Executive Coaches who visit and study the high-performing schools NCUST awards. Our Executive Coaches are skillful at helping school and district leaders understand what needs to change and why in to ensure equitable and excellent learning results.


Advancing Principal Leadership in Urban Schools (A-PLUS) Networks:
 NCUST has been providing A-PLUS Networks for 14 years. Early in our study of outstanding schools, we recognized that leadership was the central element of each school’s success. A-PLUS Networks were designed to create “Professional Learning Communities” for principals who were committed to advancing equity and excellence in their schools. NCUST Executive Coaches lead these networks in coordination with district leaders. NCUST Executive Coaches use their experience studying outstanding schools (as well as their experience leading schools to achieve outstanding results) in ways that help district and school leaders focus on building systems and structures that will maximize the likelihood that all demographic groups will experience high rates of academic growth.


Leadership Certificate Programs in Equity and Excellence
 National Principal Certificate Program
 National Principal Supervisor Certificate Program
NCUST offers a National Principal Certificate in Equity and Excellence for individuals who currently serve as principals or assistant principals. Unlike many traditional programs, our National Principal Certificate cannot be earned through seat time or by completing assignments. Instead, the only way to earn our National Principal Certificate is to demonstrate the attainment of a specific, objective target that advances equity and excellence for students served at the candidate’s school. Candidates propose a target (with their superintendent’s approval) in the first few months of the program. When NCUST approves the target, the remainder of the entire program is focused on helping the candidate provide leadership in a manner that results in the attainment of the target. NCUST Executive Coaches provide five virtual courses based on key lessons learned through our study of high-performing schools. As well NCUST Executive Coaches provide each candidate one-on-one coaching designed to maximize the likelihood that their school achieves the approved target. In particular, the Executive Coaches utilize their knowledge and experience to support candidates in navigating the various “leadership challenges” that often derail progress toward equity and excellence.

Parallel to the National Principal Certificate in Equity and Excellence, NCUST offers a National Principal Supervisor Certificate in Equity and Excellence for individuals who currently supervise principals. Like the Principal’s Certificate, the only way to earn our National Principal Supervisor Certificate is for the candidate to demonstrate the attainment of a specific, objective target that advances equity and excellences for students served in the schools the candidate supervises. The Principal Supervisors program was developed with support from the Wallace Foundation, a national leader in advancing educational leadership. The program includes both virtual courses and one-on-one coaching designed to maximize the likelihood that each candidate achieves the approved target.


NCUST Clear Administrative Service Credential Program:
NCUST collaborates with San Diego State University’s Educational Leadership Department to offer a California Clear Administrative Services Credential Program. This program is designed to support novice administrators in California who have already earned a California Preliminary Administrative Services Credential Program. The program is designed to meet all of the requirements of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing; however, the program is enhanced with an intensive focus on equity, based on NCUST’s study of high-performing schools. For the past six years, NCUST Executive Coaches have been leading cohorts of candidates to clear their administrative services credential. Many of those candidates are achieving remarkable successes as they advance equity and excellence in the schools and districts where they provide leadership.


Concourse Village Elementary School
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