The Licking Valley Instructional Core
By Dave Hile, Superintendent
Above you see a
graphic that I had designed to represent our focus here in the Licking Valley
Schools. As you may be aware, the model we have adopted for maintaining a
laser focus on student achievement is the Instructional Core, which is
comprised of three elements: a rigorous and relevant curriculum, teacher
knowledge and skill and student engagement. But I have always felt that
this model is lacking the ingredients essential for establishing and
maintaining the Instructional Core as our true focus, and for leading
continuous improvement in the three elements of the Core. Those two
essential elements are organizational
leadership and instructional leadership.
Organizational leadership is a function, not just a person. It
involves a mentality, structure, focus, and
commitment to create the environment in which learning is
optimized. Six primary functions of
Organizational Leadership are listed below.
Create a culture of high expectations. That culture must communicate and
• Why: the challenges of changing demographics, a wired
and tech-savvy generation of
students growing up in a digital world; as well as a global
economy in which America must
innovate and compete.
• To Whom: students, staff, and community stakeholders
• How: through active and ongoing communications and
messaging at staff development
events, community forums, business roundtables, and so on.
Create a shared vision. Culture needs to be embedded in goals and action plans focused
on instructional effectiveness that all stakeholders can understand, contribute
to, and commit to. In the LVLS these are our Building Instructional Core Plans
that help establish a common definition of effective instruction and student
Build leadership capacity. Organizational leadership needs to enhance existing
leaders and identify and
cultivate the development of emerging, future leaders. Doing so
broadens the leadership capacity of the
organization immediately and paves the way for continuous
development and growth of new leaders.
Align organizational structures and systems to vision. Once culture, vision and distributed
empowered leadership are established, Organization Leadership needs
• decide which external impediments to instructional
effectiveness can be changed or compensated for and which are beyond the
control of the education organization
• ensure enabling conditions and structures to support
instructional effectiveness are in place
which factors impacting effective instruction are most effective and efficient
Support decision making with data systems. Organizational Leadership needs to
ensure that a data
system is used to inform and enhance instructional effectiveness.
This includes building “data literacy”
stakeholders as well as emphasizing the importance of data-driven decision
Instructional Leadership is directly focused on instructional
effectiveness and ultimately student
achievement. Instructional Leadership can be provided by a
variety of people, functions, and means in
support of teachers, such as:
• district and regional instructional leadership
• principals, assistant principals
• department chairs
• expert teachers, counselors, social workers
• mentor teachers, teacher coaches, teaching peers/team leaders.
Instructional Leaderships four overarching elements:
Use research to establish urgency for higher expectations. The first job of Instructional Leadership
is to reinforce the vision set forth by Organizational Leadership. To do so,
Instructional Leadership must offer “proof statements” to staff, students, and
stakeholders: research and authoritative testimony that
corroborate the urgent need for improvement in student
achievement. Instructional leaders also need to see themselves as the key
change-agents in raising standards and expectations.
Align curriculum to standards. Instructional leaders also need to prepare teachers for
the new types of
instruction and formative assessments associated with the CCSS.
Facilitate data-driven decision making to inform instruction. To meet the needs of diverse learners,
teachers must use data to measure student growth and inform and
differentiate instruction. This means the instructional leaders provide
teachers with a clearer understanding of student data and how to
apply that understanding to actionable instruction and
interventions (e.g., MAP Assessments).
Provide opportunities for focused professional collaboration and
growth. The research
conducted by John Hattie (Visible Learning) and others clearly shows the
importance of teacher selection and development, and a continuous cycle of
evaluation and support. (Daggett, 2011)
Now when you
see our Instructional Core graphic around the district, it will have more
meaning for you.