May 6, 2013

Bob Farrace, NASSP

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North Carolina Assistant Principal Wins Research Award
Leslie Ann Newman honored for dissertation on turnaround schools in rural North Carolina

May 6, 2013; Reston, VA–Leslie Ann Newman, assistant principal at Topsail Middle School in Hampstead, NC, has won the 2013 NASSP Dr. Ted Sizer High School Dissertation Award for her research, Pieces of the Puzzle: Improving Turnaround High Schools. The purpose of the annual competition is to focus professional and scholarly attention on the complex issues facing middle level and high school leaders.

The research examines three low-performing turnaround schools in rural North Carolina and investigates the school leaders’ perceptions of what elements contributed to their schools’ reform. The principals mainly credited their successes to progress monitoring; high expectations; collaborative leadership; curriculum, instruction, and assessment; shared mission, vision, and goals; and professional development.

“Dr. Newman’s research contributes to the national discussion on what it takes to turn around an underperforming school,” said John Nori, NASSP associate director of program development. “According to her findings, what practitioners perceive as the elements of school improvement align with the recommendations of the NASSP Breaking Ranks Framework.”

Newman completed her doctorate degree at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington under the guidance of Professor John Fischetti. As winner of this year’s high school competition for best research, Newman will receive a complimentary one-year NASSP membership, a cash award, and a commemorative plaque.

To read the research, visit

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About the Award
The NASSP Dr. Ted Sizer Dissertation Award program, named in honor of Dr. Ted Sizer, founder of the Coalition of Essential Schools, offers two dissertation competitions to encourage and recognize high-quality research in middle level and high school leadership. The annual award is open to doctoral students who complete and successfully defend their dissertations. The research is presented to a panel of impartial judges made up of university/college professors and consultants who are experts in the field of middle level and high school education.

The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is the leading organization of and national voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and all school leaders from across the United States and more than 36 countries around the world. The association provides research-based professional development and resources, networking, and advocacy to build the capacity of middle level and high school leaders to continually improve student performance. Reflecting its long-standing commitment to student leadership development as well, NASSP administers the National Honor Society, National Junior Honor Society, National Elementary Honor Society, and National Association of Student Councils. For more information about NASSP, located in Reston, VA, visit