Magazine article Curriculum Administrator

Balancing Act: This Superintendent Leads His New Hampshire School District by Getting the Most out of Technology and the Arts. (Profile)

Magazine article Curriculum Administrator

Balancing Act: This Superintendent Leads His New Hampshire School District by Getting the Most out of Technology and the Arts. (Profile)

Article excerpt

Raymond Yeagley knew at a young age he wanted to reach music. He saw himself conducting school orchestras and choirs, but his real talent turned out to be conducting school systems.

As a professional musician, he was average, he says. As an educator, he is unequivocally a Yo-Yo Ma.

Yeagley, superintendent of the Rochester, N.H., school system, was one of four finalists this year for the AASA's National Superintendent of the Year Award.

"He is among the most modest leaders I have ever met," says Mark Joyce, executive director of the New Hampshire School Administrators Association. "He is quiet, steady and ever thoughtful.... Prior to his arrival, the district was regarded as tumultuous. He has brought about steady and continuous improvement."

Yeagley has made a career out of rescuing districts. "I never looked for exclusive districts, but ones in trouble," Yeagley admits.

In 1998, he joined Rochester, the seventh largest district in New Hampshire and one of the most economically disadvantaged.

"It just seemed like a really good match. There has not been a single day I have regretted coming here. I saw real room for growth. The community was interested in education and fighting a reputation undeserved at the time," he says.

Improvement does not come about easily or with one approach, he says, which is why he has stayed in Rochester. "In order for changes to become permanent, you need stability."

Yeagley's latest challenge has been to immerse this small New England city in one of the latest educational trends: data-driven decision making.

Due to a friendly offer to help out a man whose laptop had crashed, Yeagley became introduced about two years ago to the Quality School Portfolio research project, developed by the Center for Research in Evaluation Standards and Student Testing at UCLA and now an AASA pilot program. His district has learned techniques in analyzing data, much of which is already electronically available, and how to use the resulting information to improve instruction.

Yeagley says districts generally use simple test data to assess learning and instruction, and are unable to perform multiple levels of disaggregation. QSP, he says, is an easy-to-use database that can pinpoint each classroom's strengths and weaknesses, detect patterns among specific groups of children, like those who are behind in reading, and track a district's progress on goals. …

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