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Colorado Reformer Picked As Dallas Schools Chief Finalist

Michael Miles, a former West Point grad and Army Ranger who has drawn attention for the pay-for-performance plan he implemented as superintendent of the 11,200-student Harrison Two district in Colorado Springs has been named the lone finalist for the Dallas superintendent position.

In a press release, the 157,000-student district said the school board plans to approve Miles on April 26, with a start date of July 2.

My colleague Stephen Sawchuk wrote an article in 2010 about Miles, Harrison School District Two and its new teacher salary plan. From that article:

His early work in the district focused on building the capacity of principals to give teachers meaningful feedback on the quality of their teaching. Principals now use teacher-performance standards, tightly integrated with the district's goals, to determine areas of weakness in instruction and to address them individually and through professional-learning communities.

Teachers receive eight to 16 "spot" observations annually by their principals or assistant principals of 10 to 15 minutes each, in addition to several formal, class-long ones.

"It has been the biggest growth experience of my life," said Cheri L. Martinez, the principal of Harrison High School. "I had to become a student of instruction. I had to spend more hours of my day in the classroom. And it was the best thing for me and the building."

Accountability for principals in supporting the improvement of their teachers comes mainly in the form of twice-annual reviews conducted on-site by Mr. Miles and a core team of district administrators. Teachers' perceptions are taken into account in the reviews, too.

Miles also has a long history of trying for political offices. A Democrat, he ran for U.S. Senate in 2004 but lost the primary to Ken Salazar, who went on to win the post. When the Obama administration selected Salazar to be Secretary of the Interior in 2008, Miles made it known he was interested in being appointed to his remaining term. The Dallas Observer's humorously-titled "Edumication Blog" suggested that a good question to ask Miles is the state of his current political aspirations (and notes that during the interview process, Miles pledged seven years to Dallas.)

In other leadership news, R. Stephen Green, who had been interim superintendent of Kansas City schools since September 2011, was appointed the permanent chief on Monday. The district educates 16,700 students, and has been struggling with low achievement. This January, the district lost its state accreditation, which allows its students to leave for accredited neighboring districts.

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