“School Leadership in Transition” Forum at Touro College Focuses on Principals and Growing Use of Testing

Date: November 16, 2007
Left to right: Dr. Rudolph
Left to right: Dr. Rudolph "Rudy" Crew, former Chancellor of the New York City public schools; Dr. LaMar Miller, director of Touro College's Lander Center for Educational Research; Dr. Olaf Johansson, an educator from Omea University in Sweden; and Anthony Polemeni, vice president of Touro and dean of its School of Education and Psychology.
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Touro’s Lander Center for Educational Research Brings Together Former NYC Chancellor Dr. Rudolph “Rudy” Crew and Dr. Olaf Johansson, Swedish Educator.

New York, N.Y. - Dr. Rudolph “Rudy” Crew, former Chancellor of the New York City public schools, and Dr. Olaf Johansson, an educator from Omea University in Sweden, shared their knowledge about accountability and the transition of authority in education this week at The Lander Center for Educational Research, a division of the School of Education and Psychology of Touro College. Dr. LaMar Miller, director of the Lander Center, moderated the discussion.

The symposium, “School Leadership in Transition,”was held on Monday, Nov.12 at the Center for Jewish History in lower Manhattan.

Dr. Crew is currently the superintendent of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools, and Dr. Olof Johansson is director of the National Head Teachers Training Program at Umea University. The discussion centered on the expanding influence of principals in the educational hierarchy, and the growing use of testing for accountability in the educational process.

Dr. Johansson noted that while Swedish educators do not rely on standardized testing and students receive no grades prior to the eighth grade, there now is more interest in accountability of teachers and schools. There are standardized national tests given after the eighth grade, and the country is considering requiring them in the lower grades.

Dr. Crew said that more emphasis should be placed on teaching children civil, community and global responsibility and less on standardized testing, in which tests differ from state to state. He also noted that Miami-Dade has also instituted a grading system for schools similar to that recently implemented in New York City. In New York last week, the city issued new A-to-F “Report Cards” for public schools based on a variety of factors, including student performance and students’ improvement on standardized state tests.

While Dr. Crew said he does not oppose the school grading system, he believes that the system in its present form is not an accurate indicator of the quality of schools.

The three educators agreed that since there is mounting reliance on testing as a measure of student progress, there is increasing pressure on education leaders to produce results.

“There is a growing consensus, backed by measurable criteria, that effective, involved principals of schools have the most impact in the success of students,” said Dr. Miller. “However, there is little data regarding what the principals actually do that has an impact on students’ academic achievement.”

The Lander Center was founded in 2005 to expand educational research with a focus on underserved populations. The Center recently was awarded a five-year, $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education Office of English Language Acquisition to provide high school teachers in New York City with the skills needed to educate students with limited proficiency in English.