Changing School Talent Management Practices to Push Improvement in Student Achievement


New Organization to Link Student Performance Gains to Restructured Human Resource Practices

June 11, 2008, Madison, WI:  Two veteran education reformers today announced the creation of Strategic Management in Human Capital (SMHC), the first-ever comprehensive campaign to significantly change the school staffing system as we know it to advance talent management practices that will bolster teacher effectiveness and dramatically improve student achievement.  The launch of SMHC is a call to all involved in education to take a hard look at the outdated human capital systems in place, and to recognize the connections between them and the lack of movement in the achievement levels of too many students.  

SMHC co-directors Jim Kelly, founding president of National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and Allan Odden, director of the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE) and professor of educational leadership and policy analysis at University of Wisconsin, will oversee the core components of the movement, dubbed “Human Resources (or HR) 2.0.”  Moving SMHC forward will be a Task Force chaired by Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and comprised of other leaders in a variety of fields, an interactive participation-based Web site and information hub, a national reform network, and an annual conference.  These components are all designed to showcase and share the courses of action necessary to make these tough changes in the way school systems manage talent.  

“Recruiting and training top teaching and leadership talent are the key components to improving student performance,” said Governor Tim Pawlenty.  “SMHC will put these human capital issues on the national education reform agenda, and will provide tools and information to courageous local leaders.”

SMHC will document leading-edge ideas in recruiting, developing, rewarding, and retaining talent through in-depth case studies of districts engaged in HR reform, and national organizations working on providing high-quality teachers and leaders to high-need schools–and the related changes in school district operations to put those actions into place.  

“We know that cutting-edge HR management strategies can and must be implemented in large urban districts in ways that improve both instruction and student achievement,” stated Carl Cohn, former superintendent of Long Beach and San Diego Schools in CA and Task Force vice-chair.  “Training top talent around powerful instructional strategies was front and center in the improvement of student performance in Long Beach, and was only possible when we engaged the people with the will to make those changes happen.” 

SMHC’s Task Force also includes top leaders of urban school districts, such as Michelle Rhee (Washington, DC), Joel Klein (New York, NY), Carol Johnson (Boston, MA), and Beverly Hall (Atlanta, GA); union leaders, such as Antonia Cortese (American Federation of Teachers) and Dennis Van Roekel (National Education Association); experts on strategic talent management in the private sector, such as Edward Lawler (University of Southern California); organizations recruiting top talent into urban schools, such as Timothy Daly (New Teacher Project); and other influential leaders. The Task Force will encourage state and local initiatives to elevate the importance of talent management as a catalyst for improved student achievement. The full roster of Task Force members can be found at 

“Recruiting, placing, rewarding, and retaining top talent are the means to revitalizing Washington, D.C. schools, and these effective practices are at the heart of our current reform plan,” asserted Michelle Rhee, chancellor of the District of Columbia Public schools, SMHC Task Force vice-chair, and the founding president of the New Teacher Project.  “These practices represent a vast change from the way schools have operated in the past, and require hard work, tough decision making, and political backing to succeed.”

The SMHC Web site will host interactive dialogues that will drive the continued work of the project and the reforms it seeks to implement.  Instead of a group that conducts its work behind closed doors, the work of SMHC will be online, transparent, and inclusive. The Web home of SMHC aims to enhance creativity, information sharing, and collaboration among SMHC reformers.  The site can be found at  The Web site will assemble and prepare for action SMHC’s national reform network.  

As an additional channel for sharing information, SMHC will bring together policymakers, reformers, leading-edge districts, school practitioners, and other thought leaders in education with their first annual conference on November 18 and 19, 2008, in Washington D.C.  This conference will consist of featured speakers, expert panels, and break-out sessions presenting case studies and research on districts and other organizations that are effectively using talent management of teachers and school principals to boost student achievement and improve instruction.

“Strengthening human capital through effective human resource systems in public education that recruit, support, and retain high-quality principals and teachers is central to Carnegie’s National Program.  Putting these strategies into place is not easy, and will require new thinking, aggressive leadership, change in school bureaucracies, and broad political support,” stated Michele Cahill, vice president, national program coordination and director of urban education at Carnegie Corporation of New York.  

SMHC was launched with generous anchor funding from Carnegie Corporation of New York, with additional support provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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Strategic Management of Human Capital’s (SMHC) goal is to dramatically improve student achievement in America, focusing on the country’s large urban districts. SMCH will do this by:  1) defining strategic management of human capital in public education,  2) creating a network of leaders actively reengineering human capital management systems in public education, 3) documenting the nature and impact of leading-edge human capital management systems in several districts and states, 4) establishing Strategic Management of Human Capital (SMHC) as a prominent issue on the nation’s education reform agenda, and 5) advancing local and state policies to support widespread adoption of SMHC in public education. Strategic talent management involves the practices of recruiting, developing, rewarding and retaining staff in school districts that will drive improvements in classroom instruction that boost student learning.  SMHC  is operated out of the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and  funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  

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