Making It Work: Building Ranks™ in Principal Leadership

Starting with this September issue of Principal Leadership and continuing throughout the year, selected articles will include a special section highlighting specific dimensions of the Building Ranks™ framework and how you can apply them to your practice.

Building Ranks is a standards-based, actionable leadership framework created by NASSP that identifies the “what” and “why” of effective school leadership through two domains: Building Culture and Leading Learning. These domains target 15 leadership dimensions, such as equity, relationships, innovation, collaborative leadership, global-​mindedness, and many more to guide principals in tailoring their practice to achieve a dynamic community of care and learning. Learn more about Building Ranks and download the Executive Summary at

Cursive Makes a Comeback

Parents nationwide are lamenting that technology is turning cursive writing into a lost art and a form of writing their children can’t read. In response, lawmakers in many states—particularly in the South—are creating time in the teachers’ classrooms to keep cursive writing alive for the next generation.

In 2016, Alabama and Louisiana passed laws requiring the inclusion of cursive writing in the curriculum. Other states, such as Arkansas, Virginia, California, Florida, and North Carolina, have followed and instituted their own cursive laws. Texas is the latest state in which educators have pushed to bring back cursive writing in elementary schools. The changes, which were adopted in 2017, will go into effect this fall during the 2019–20 school year.

DeEtta Culbertson, a spokeswoman for the Texas Education Agency, says that education standards released in Texas have included cursive writing, but the new standards will add “more emphasis” on cursive. With any luck, cursive writing will no longer be the perceived as the foreign written language it has become.

The SATs’ New Adversity Score*

In the wake of the recent college admissions scandal, the College Board is preparing to provide colleges and universities with a new “adversity score,” which represents a complete socioeconomic profile of each applicant. Creators believe the score will drive a more equitable admissions process at schools that currently rely solely on college entrance exams. Morgan Polikoff, associate professor of education at the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education, says, “I love this idea. Admissions officers often do these kinds of calculations implicitly on the back of an envelope. I think it’s great that the College Board is taking a more serious, scientific approach to it.”

Ditching Detention for Yoga

Students who misbehave in school understand that when they get into trouble, punishment is inevitable. For some, that punishment comes in the form of after-school detention.

In the Denver Public School System (DPSS) in Colorado, when students misbehave repeatedly, they are assigned to a new after-school activity—yoga.

DPSS’s alternative discipline is part of the school’s efforts to embrace social-emotional learning and reflects the growing trend of K–12 schools to cultivate school environments that are attuned to the social and emotional well-being of its students. One way they are doing so is through the use of mindfulness-based interventions in an attempt to tackle the reasons behind the disobedience.

The new form of discipline has led to fewer students skipping out on detention, and the yoga program also began drawing interest from students who weren’t ever likely to be referred for behavior reasons. Demand became so great that the school added an extra day for students who wanted to join yoga as a club activity.

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*Update: At the time of this writing, the College Board was planning to include the adversity score, but has since decided not to pursue it