Multi-School Leadership: Tools to Extend Excellent Principals’ Reach

by | June 12, 2018

By Sharon Kebschull Barrett, June 12, 2018

An Opportunity Culture® extends the reach of excellent teaching—what about doing the same for excellent schoolwide leadership? Public Impact®, which founded the national Opportunity Culture® initiative, today releases a set of practical materials on Multi-School Leadership: How to extend the reach of excellent principals by having them lead a small group of schools, for more pay, funded within the budgets of their schools.

Multi-school leaders (MSLs) are excellent principals with a record of high-growth student learning who lead a small group of two to eight related or closely located schools. They lead a collaborative team of their schools’ principals while typically continuing to lead one school in the group directly.

The cornerstone of Multi-School Leadership is instructional leadership within each school by multi-classroom leaders. Together, these create a leadership career path with multiple levels, all focused on instructional excellence, frequent guidance and support for teachers and principals, and keeping great educators working directly with students.

These new roles also allow paid, full-time residencies for both aspiring teachers and principals—entirely within schools’ regular budgets. (Public Impact® will be publishing more on residencies in the near future.)


New Multi-School Leadership Materials

Multi-School Leadership modelsummary

Job descriptions: Multi-school leaderprincipalinstructional assistant principal/principal residentoperations manager 

Other toolsMSL Schedule SpecificationsMSL Critical Design Decisions

More: Look for selection guidance, tools for managing multiple schools, and more—coming soon!


Benefits of Multi-School Leadership

  • Reach more teachers and their students with excellent leadership
  • Let outstanding principals advance with higher pay, while continuing to lead instructional excellence
  • Help all principals and teachers continuously improve their leadership and instruction
  • Retain principals longer by helping them handle the job well and succeed with students
  • Build a strong pipeline of excellent instructional leaders, with a career path for development


How Do Multi-School Leaders Lead?

Multi-school leaders:

  • Lead their team of school principals to review data for each school and for the schools overall to identify the best approaches to achieve student success.
  • Guide each school’s top instructional leader in key elements of instructional and administrative leadership.
  • Observe and give feedback, coach, and lead performance data analysis and problem-solving throughout the multi-school team.
  • Rotate working in person in the schools they lead, connecting personally with teachers, staff, and families.
  • Take accountability for student learning, teacher satisfaction, and other outcomes in all schools led. Multi-school leaders earn supplements above principal pay, typically 10 to 40 percent, depending on spans and budgets. All pay supplements are funded within the total budgets of the schools in the group.


The Foundation: Multi-Classroom Leadership

Multi-classroom leaders:

  • Are teacher-leaders with a track record of high-growth student learning and leadership qualities.
  • Lead a small grade or subject team: co-planning, coaching, co-teaching, and modeling instruction and data analysis for and with the team.
  • Continue to teach part of the time, often by leading small-group instruction.
  • Work with other multi-classroom leaders as a team to help principals lead instruction, behavior policies, and other critical activities affecting learning in each school.
  • Take accountability for student learning, teacher satisfaction, and other outcomes in all classrooms led.

Because multi-classroom leaders co-lead instruction schoolwide, other changes in schoolwide leadership roles to allow multi-school leadership become possible. Research indicates that multi-classroom leadership helps teams of teachers produce substantially higher student learning growth than in typical schools, forming a strong foundation for adding multi-school leadership, too.

Opportunity Culture® now includes more than 20 districts in nine states. See the Opportunity Culture® Dashboard for more details.

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