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Posted at 09:17 AM ET, 10/27/2011

The fine print of the Prince George’s Wallace foundation grant

In case you missed it, Prince George’s County school superintendent William R. Hite Jr. wrote an eloquent explanation in Sunday’s Washington Post of what he hopes will strengthen the county’s pipeline for bringing in strong principals.

The efforts are going to be made possible in large part through a grant from the Wallace Foundation for up to $12.5 million.

I hope your eye didn’t skip over the words “up to.” They’re important. The point of the Wallace grant is to test previous research on whether certain leadership techniques can improve schools. So every year, the Wallace foundation will evaluate the school system. If their prescribed training techniques to develop school leaders work in Prince George’s, the school system gets more money. If they don’t, the foundation can pull the plug.

Just how the foundation will evaluate whether schools are improving is still being hammered out. But there’s no doubt that a part of the evaluation will include student performance (read: test scores).

I asked Hite on Tuesday night whether he thought the grant was high stakes. “Absolutely,” he said.

The prospect excites Hite, who has already charted some success raising test scores. The Wallace grant, in Hite’s words, is a “game-changer.”

In August the school system appointed 44 new principals in a single year. There are about 200 schools in the system. New principals, Hite writes, aren’t born that way; they are trained to be effective. He hopes the new money will help them toward that goal.

By  |  09:17 AM ET, 10/27/2011

 
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