Sousa Middle School principal Dwan Jordon, who became a star in the Michelle A. Rhee era for turning around test scores and culture at the Ward 8 school, has left. Prince George’s officials announced Monday that Jordon--who served as an assistant principal in the county before coming to DC--is the new leader of Suitland High School.
He is the latest high-profile departure from the D.C. school leadership ranks this summer. Instructional Superintendent Wayne Ryan, who led Noyes Education Campus to big test score gains--along with allegations of cheating--resigned last month.
Jordon’s exit had been rumored for months, but his reasons remain unknown. He did not return a cell phone message Tuesday. DCPS chief of staff Lisa Ruda said only that Jordon had resigned and that Clarence Humes, a former assistant principal at Deal Middle School, is the interim leader at Sousa.
“Principal Jordon was a strong, dedicated and focused leader and we are grateful for his work,” Ruda said in an e-mail. “He created a solid foundation upon which we must continue to build. We are confident in Principal Humes’ ability to do just that and take Sousa MS to even higher levels.”
Jordon’s three-year tenure puts him below the average for middle school principals, which a major Texas study placed at 4 1/2 years. He was one of the huge cohort of new leaders hired by Rhee in 2008 to shake up failing schools, and she gave him one of the system’s most challenging assignments. Sousa was portrayed in last years edu-documentary “Waiting for Superman” as an academic sinkhole.
But in Jordon’s first year reading scores grew 16 percentage points and math scores by 25 percentage points. The results carry a slight taint following questions about possible cheating. Data unearthed by USA Today shows that two of its 26 classrooms had unusually high rates of wrong-to-right erasures, a marker for possible test security problems. Jordon has never been accused of wrongdoing.
A revealing 2010 profile by my colleague Stephanie McCrummen depicted Jordon as methodical and relentless in his pursuit of improved results and a more orderly school environment. He was also notoriously tough on teachers, many of whom quit or were ousted on his watch.
Sousa never came close to duplicating the quantum jumps in scores that it produced in 2008-2009, nor was it expected to. Subsequent gains have been steady but more modest. Reading was up slightly more than 2 points and math about 5 in 2009-10. This year, math scores rose another six points while reading was flat.
The big question Jordon leaves behind: was Sousa’s progress largely the product of his force of personality, or can it be sustained --and grow--under new leadership?