The Georgia State Board of Education moves forward with their search for their new Chief Turnaround Officer (CTO) to improve Georgia’s lowest-performing schools. The State Board has announced the “core competencies” they are looking for to complete the hiring of the CTO.
In November of 2016, Georgia voters denied Governor Nathan Deal the ability for the state to take over low-performing schools through a constitutional amendment. That did not stop Gov. Deal from leaving his mission to correct failing schools.
After voters denied Deal his opportunity to improve Georgia’s lowest-performing schools, Deal tasked Representative Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) to craft legislation that would allow the state to intervene in failing public schools. After much deliberation with a variety of leaders and special interest groups across the state, the First Priority Act ( HB 338) was passed into law in May. The law allows the state to intervene in the bottom 5 percent of failing public schools in Georgia along with creating a new position called the Chief Turnaround Officer to oversee the intervention.
The First Priority Act uses a combination of collaboration and political coercion to interact with local school leaders within failing schools.
State law allows the Georgia Department of Education to intervene in failing schools, but that not consistently been funded through state funds. Instead, the state would use the federal school improvement program to intervene, which has not had a great track record nationwide. However, Governor Deal place over $2 million this past budget cycle to help with the implementation of the First Priority Act.
The Chief Turnaround Officer will be appointed and work directly with the State Board of Education members to improve failing schools. Similarly, The elected State School Superintendent Richard Woods (R-Tifton) hired a new Deputy State School Superintendent of School Improvement, Stephanie Johnson, in June to implement school improvement programs through a variety of staff already within the Georgia Department of Education.
Under the First Priority Act, the State Board of Education must work with an Education Turnaround Advisory Council, made up of primarily education organizations, to define the core competencies for the Chief Turnaround Officer.
Here are the following competencies –
- Technical leadership. The CTO needs an understanding of schools and school system complexity and an ability to see the big picture of school operations. The CTO should possess deep skills in data analysis, issue diagnosis, and program implementation.
- Human leadership. The board recognizes the critical role of interpersonal relationships. They are looking for a CTO who models empathy, integrity, and emotional intelligence.
- Educational leadership. The CTO needs experience working with students and supervising educators in multiple, diverse settings and across a wide range of levels. He or she also must display a deep understanding of research on effective school turnaround models and practices.
- Cultural leadership. The new CTO should be able to work collaboratively with stakeholders in local communities, school districts, and statewide; build teams and trust in order to make staff effective, and build a culture of innovation and risk-taking that moves beyond a compliance mind-set.
- Symbolic leadership. The board is seeking a CTO who can champion public education, convey the importance of the work and a sense of urgency in launching it, and who will actively solicit public engagement in the turnaround process.
The board received over 60 applications for the job. Mike Royal, appointed by the Governor, chair of the State Board of Education, noted, “The applicant pool is deep, diverse, and includes a number of highly experienced educational leaders.”
After the first round of telephone interviews, the board will now conduct in-depth interviews with approximately ten candidates. Then a small group of finalists will come to Atlanta for in-person interviews with the State Board of Education and the Education Turnaround Advisory Council. Once the board has narrowed its selection to the top tier of candidates, their names will be released to the public.