AIOs who are successful in making progress happen for a group of schools possess a variety of skills, say education experts.

For one, they need to have a keen eye for hiring, says Barbara Radner, the director of DePaul University’s Center for Urban Education and Assessment. “The key is having an excellent team,” she says. “One person can’t do this job.”

They must also be good communicators who get along well with the principals who report to them, says Allen Grossman, a professor at Harvard Business School. It doesn’t hurt to have a big-picture understanding about how to get more resources for schools from the district.

Both agree AIOs also have to be good at strategic planning and making decisions, and they have to be experts in curriculum and assessment.

“The AIO job is an enormous job,” says Radner. “It is a 12-hour day. I have seen them in action.”

What AIOs do

* Help principals create data-based school plans to improve instruction and guide them to resources to support the plan.

* Supervise and evaluate principals and steer them to professional development and best practices.

* Recommend a principal’s removal to CEO.

* Help principals plan and present professional development for teachers.

* Identify and help develop principal candidates and work with LSCs to hire the best ones for their schools.

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