Focus on leadership needed to raise student performance on NAEP test


For Immediate Release                                  Media Contact: Melissa Ludwig, 210-380-0733

April 10, 2018

(Austin, TX) — Student scores remained largely stagnant across the country in the latest round of the National Assessment of Education Progress, often called “America’s report card.” With the exception of Austin, which scored above the national average on all but 4th grade reading, students in major Texas cities performed below the national average, and Dallas saw overall scores decline across the board.

“We believe the key to improving student performance is to focus on strong leadership in our public schools,” said Kate Rogers, Executive Vice President of The Holdsworth Center, an education leadership institute based in Austin, Texas.

She added: “Research has shown that students thrive when there is great leadership in the classroom, at the campus level and at the district level. And high-quality leadership must be a team effort, not the work of one person. When the whole school system is working from the same page in terms of vision and values, not only do students perform better, but everyone is more inspired to do their best work.”

A study by the Wallace Foundation, How Leadership Influences Learning, found that school leadership is second only to classroom instruction and is responsible for as much as 25 percent of the total school effect on student learning.

Founded by H-E-B Chairman and CEO Charles Butt, The Holdsworth Center partners with Texas public school districts to help them cultivate a pipeline of effective leaders to ensure that every classroom and campus thrives under inspired and dynamic leadership.

The Holdsworth Center makes a five-year investment in each of its partner districts, working with superintendents and their administrative teams and campus-level leaders to drive system-wide improvements to talent and leadership development practices. Change is led by each district with support from The Holdsworth Center staff and is designed to continue beyond the district’s current leadership and Holdsworth’s involvement.

“There is no quick fix or one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to great leadership development. Even big corporations with far more resources than public schools struggle to get it right,” Rogers said. “But the first step is to recognize that leadership development is critical, and that it deserves our focus and resources. If we can get the leadership development piece right, research shows that improved achievement and student results will follow.”

The Holdsworth Center is currently partnering with seven Texas school districts: Arlington ISD, Grand Prairie ISD, Klein ISD, Lamar CISD, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD, Round Rock ISD and Southwest ISD – which were selected from a total of 19 finalists from around the state last year.


The Holdsworth Center

Headquartered in Austin, Texas and founded by Charles Butt, a lifelong advocate for public education, the Holdsworth Center offers world class training and leadership development to school districts selected to participate through a generous multi-year investment.  Named after Charles’ mother, Mary Elizabeth Holdsworth Butt, an educator and dedicated philanthropist, the Center’s goal is to successfully support and develop the leaders of the more than 1,200 school districts in Texas and the thousands of campus leaders in the state in order to improve the quality of education offered to every child in every classroom. For more information, visit