Alvoid and Black Report on Changing Role of Principals


Lee Alvoid, Ph.D., chairs the Department of Education Policy and Leadership in SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development.

Lee Alvoid and Les Black, clinical associate professors in Simmons’ Department of Education Policy and Leadership, co-wrote The Changing Role of the Principal: How High-Achieving Districts Are Recalibrating School Leadership, a report that delineates how school leadership has changed, especially with increased expectations for instructional improvement and teacher development.

The report, released by the Center for American Progress, also incorporates six case studies of school districts that have changed proactively to support principals.

Alvoid and Black  examine Gwinnette County Public Schools in Georgia; Denver Public Schools in Denver, CO; District of Columbia Public Schools in Washington D.C.; Charlotte-Mecklenburg in Charlotte, NC; Uplift Education in Dallas, TX; and Northeast Leadership Academy at North Carolina State University.

These schools have re-structured their positions so principals can focus strategically on coaching and instructional feedback, customized professional development, more streamlined job duties and ways to partner with universities and nonprofits.


Watt Lesley Black, Jr., Ph.D., is a faculty member in the Department of Education Policy and Leadership, SMU Simmons School of Education and Human Development.

To read the report, click here.

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Simmons Receives High Program Rating for Teacher Prep Elementary

smu_3201221The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) ranks Simmons 22 out of 1,668 national programs that prepare undergraduates to teach elementary school.   This top rating is from the second nationwide assessment the organization has conducted. Last year, Simmons received two out of four points, under a different rating system. Texas, Ohio and Tennessee have the most top ranked programs. Click here to read the report.

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Australian Broadcasting Corporation Interviews Dean Chard on Importance of Learning Math

IMG_1556A keynoter in the Successful Learning Conference hosted by the University of Sydney, Dean David Chard talks about math being a gateway for learning on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s radio program, Life Matters. Click here to listen to the podcast.

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Paige Ware Recognized with Altshuler Distinguished Professor Award

The Center for Teaching Excellence has named Paige Ware, chair of the Dept. of Teaching and Learning, a recipient of the 2014 Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor Award. This yearly award recognizes four SMU faculty members for their notable commitment to and achievements in DSC_3409fostering student learning. Recipients receive $10,000 and membership in SMU’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers.

Dr. Ware will be involved in supporting exceptional teaching across campus for the next two years. She is the first Simmons  faculty member to be recognized with this award.

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Reading Interventions Work for Students with Low IQs Say Simmons Researchers

Professor Jill Allor and research colleagues in Simmons release findings of a four-year, pioneering study of reading interventions with students Allor (2)who have intellectual disabilities or low IQ. With persistent, specialized instruction, these students learned how to read at a first grade level.

Students identified with intellectual disability account for nearly one in every 100 public school students, according to the study, which cites the U.S. Department of Education. Of those identified with intellectual disability who do graduate, most don’t receive a diploma, only a certificate of completion, said the study’s authors, who include Patricia Mathes, TI Endowed Chair in Evidence-Based Education and a professor in the Simmons School; J. Kyle Roberts; Jennifer P. Cheatham, research associate; and Stephanie Al Otaiba, Simmons professor.

To read more about the study, click here.

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Budd Family Gives $2.5 Million To Endow Center In Simmons

Russell-and-Dorothy-BuddBuilding on their donations and work with the Dallas Faith Communities Coalition and SMU Simmons’ Center on Communities in Education, Russell and Dorothy Budd ’06 are endowing the University with a $2.5 million gift to transform collaborative work in West Dallas to combat poverty by improving education.

The Budd Center for Involving Communities in Education will help families succeed by recognizing, assisting with and tracking success in overcoming myriad issues that afflict struggling communities such as healthcare, education, legal services, safety and nutrition. This effort, originally spearheaded by Simmons’ Center on Communities and Education,   will strengthen work done by the School Zone, a coalition of  29 nonprofits and 16 schools in West Dallas. Read more.

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Candace Walkington Receives Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Candace Walkington, assistant professor in Simmons, conducts research on connecting students to algebra.

Candace Walkington, assistant professor in Simmons, conducts research on connecting students to algebra.

The National Academy of  Education has selected Simmons Assistant Professor Candace Walkington for the distinguished 2014 Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship. Funded by the Spencer Foundation, Walkington will receive a $55,000 award to support her research.

Her project consists of a classroom intervention in which students generate personalized connections between concepts they are learning in algebra and their out-of-school interests in topics like sports, video games, and social networking. Students will create their own “algebra stories” where they describe how linear relationships can approximate things they encounter in their everyday lives. She will look at the impact of the intervention on students’ classroom discussions and on learning of and interest in algebra.

The Academy created the fellowship program to encourage high-caliber researchers at the postdoctoral level to pursue research projects that may improve education in the U.S. and around the world.


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Scott Baker Presents Webinar on New ELL Practice Guide

S.Baker Simmons3Scott Baker, executive director of Simmons’ Center on Research and Evaluation, chaired an Institute of Education Sciences panel to create a new practice guide for teaching and supporting English learners. The result of the panel’s work will be discussed in a free webinar, May, 1 from 3:00-4:15 p.m. ET.

The panel will review the recommendations, evidence and implementation. Baker also says panel members will outline what barriers might be encountered and what the desirable remedies are. To download the guide, click here.  The first guide was developed in 2007.

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Birdie Barr Receives SMU’s Prestigious “M” Award

BarrBMarilyn “Birdie” Barr, senior lecturer and associate director of Wellness, was awarded SMU’s “M” Award, the highest recognition that can be bestowed upon students, faculty, staff and administrators. The recipients are recognized for their continuous efforts of service at the University.

The “M” Award honorees are characterized by being an inspiration to others, giving unselfishly of their time and talents in order to make the University and the world a better place.

Barr was recognized at the 2014 Awards Extravaganza Monday, April 21. Read more here.

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Harris Participates in TEDxSMU

IMG_7723Associate Professor Michael Harris, who teaches in Education Policy and Leadership, took to the TEDxSMU stage during Founder’s Day activities at the University. His topic was “Why Businesses Should Work like a University.”

See slide show here

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