More than a dozen school districts are taking part in a leadership fellowship sponsored by the KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) charter network, in order to learn how the network trains its school leaders.
The KIPP Leadership Design Fellowship, which is funded through a $50 million federal Investing in Innovation grant, has also brought together representatives from charter management organizations and educator training programs.
The group will meet at least three times between now and October, and will cover areas such as leadership development, principal training and residencies, and evaluation and support of school leaders. The first meeting is taking place this week in Houston. The districts did not have to pay to partipate in the program. A full list of the participants can be found here. The districts participating include those with KIPP schools in their communities, such as New York and Denver, as well as smaller districts without KIPP schools, like West Contra Costa in California and Ascension Parish in Louisiana, about 65 miles west of New Orleans.
KIPP has trained more than 100 school founders and leaders, said Steve Mancini, the public-affairs director for KIPP, which has 109 schools in 20 states and the District of Columbia, educating 33,000 students. The organization plans to use part of its i3 grant to expand its operations to serve 55,000 students by 2015.
Mancini said that KIPP wanted to be a “convener of a conversation” about leadership training. “We do think we have a model that could be helpful to others,” Mancini said.
This is not the only example of school districts attempting to learn from charter networks. The Houston district is in the middle of an experiment to turn around some of its lowest-performing schools by importing the best practices of charter schools, including KIPP, which was founded in the city. I wrote an article about that work earlier this month.
KIPP’s signature training program is the year-long Fisher Fellowship, which operates in three phases, Mancini said; a 6-week summer institute where potential school founders learn about KIPP culture and operations; a residency where leaders spend several weeks in two or more KIPP schools shadowing the principal, and finally a school design phase, where leaders return to their communities and begin hiring teachers and recruiting students. The charter school network also has training programs for teacher leaders and future assistant principals. The participants in the fellowship will be exposed to all parts of KIPP’s training programs, Mancini said.