Case Study: Fulton County Schools, Georgia

Challenge: Fast-Track a Principal Selection Hiring Process

Shortly before beginning their work with the University of Virginia’s School Turnaround Program in 2014, the Fulton County School District’s Banneker High School was on state’s Chronically Failing list. District leadership needed to fast-track the hiring of a new principal.

UVA recommended district leadership work with ClearView Consulting for guidance with the selection process.

Process: Use the BEI to assess potential leaders

“Prior to working with Dennis Woodruff and his team,” says Dara Jones-Wilson, Area Superintendent, “we would assess potential leaders around content knowledge versus the competencies needed to be a successful leader.”

ClearView Consulting, which helps districts in the turnaround process evaluate high potential district leaders and principals, trained district leadership in the BEI, or Behavioral Event Interview process. ClearView Consulting uses the BEI to identify the competencies needed in leaders for successful school turnarounds.

“ClearView brought together the content knowledge needed, as well as the competencies, correlated through research, successful leaders possess. The BEI process allowed us to look at potential principals in a much more comprehensive way, and then to base the selection on objective data,” says Jones-Wilson.

Once the new principal was chosen, Jones-Wilson and her team used the data gleaned from the BEI process to create a baseline. “We wanted to use it to assess and then develop the school leaders already in place,” she says.

For example, if a school leader wasn’t exhibiting a strength, which had been identified through the BEI, Jones-Wilson could then develop specific training to help the principal develop that specific competency.

“We had one principal, for example, who was quite knowledgeable, and was great at working one-on-one with teachers, but wasn’t engaging with the instructional leadership team. This lack of engagement was having a detrimental impact in the school.”

Using data from the BEI, Jones-Wilson was able to focus on helping the principal overcome this one weakness, and by doing so, completely changed student outcomes.

“Seeing the change in this principal, and the positive results, really excited me and other leaders in the district,” says Jones-Wilson.

Sustainable change: Developing a leadership pipeline

Jones-Wilson and her team re-engaged with ClearView Consulting to build the capacity of school principals to select teachers possessing turnaround competencies – as well as to increase teacher retention rate.

“While working with UVA,” says Jones-Wilson, “our human resources department also engaged with ClearView to refine and tweak our hiring processes. Our goal is to base hiring, across our organization, on the competencies we’ve identified, and then develop the high-potential leaders.

“ClearView Consulting has worked with us to create a leadership development pipeline – and to make it a more systematic, and sustainable, component of our district’s hiring process.”

By partnering with UVA and ClearView Consulting, implementing change across the organization, and hiring the right leaders, Jones-Wilson and her team helped Banneker High School improve its graduation rate from 40% to 71%. This significant achievement also meant the school was finally removed from the state’s Chronically Failing list.

“What I find most impressive about Dennis Woodruff and his team is their ability to tailor their work to individual needs,” says Wilson. “They have a willingness to stretch themselves. They genuinely seek and act on feedback. They stay with you through the work.

“Most important, they demonstrate a genuine interest in the success of schools and students. ClearView Consulting is, in short, an amazing partner.”