Chief Academic Officer
Minneapolis Public Schools - Minneapolis, MN

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Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) is a large, diverse urban school district with one of the largest achievement gaps in the country. The district serves students who are achieving at levels exceeding the state average and comparable to those of students in affluent suburbs and many students who are achieving far below state standards. MPS is on a reform journey, and is in the process of implementing an aggressive 2007-2014 Strategic Plan to make Every Child College Ready by 2014, through raising expectations and academic rigor for all students, strengthening teacher effectiveness, strengthening principal instructional leadership and transforming or restarting the lowest-performing 25% of schools. These core strategies are being supported by strategies to address policies and practices that perpetuate the achievement gap, improve relationships with families and the community, introduce accountability at all levels, and strengthen MPS’ financial position.

Of particular relevance to the Chief Academic Officer position is a joint Board-Superintendent commitment to design and implement a comprehensive aligned instructional system, building upon the findings of a recent curriculum audit. The Chief Academic Officer will have the opportunity to fundamentally transform the lives and futures of MPS’ 35,000 students.


The Chief Academic Officer (CAO) is responsible for creating the infrastructure to support the core work of the district, teaching and learning, and for leading and managing all aspects of the instructional mission including the educational policies and practices that address student academic achievement. The CAO is a change agent who creates a culture of high expectations and conditions that result in dramatic, accelerated student achievement, closing of the achievement gap and improving school performance of all schools. The CAO leads the Division of Academic Affairs.


Overall: Delivers higher academic achievement for all students, contributing toward achieving district achievement targets agreed to with Board of Education. Facilitates the development of a shared vision, clear goals, high performance standards and research-based strategies to support and strengthen teaching and learning at school sites.

Strategic priorities and responsibilities

  • Establishes and reinforces a culture of high expectations and conditions that facilitate accelerated academic achievement for students and a sense of urgency to improve student outcomes and close the achievement gap between racial, ethnic and economic groups.
  • a. Establishes the expectation that all academic programs will address diversity of needs and allows for the inclusion of all students, including English Language Learners and students with special needs.

    b. Motivates and inspires administrators and teachers to perform at the level of excellence necessary to meet these goals.

    c. Sets clear expectations and holds all academic team members accountable for maximum results.

  • Building upon MPS’ recent curriculum audit, oversees the development of a robust implementation plan for aligned instructional system and begins implementation.
  • Provides leadership to all academic departments in evaluating existing curriculum, eliminating redundancies and ensuring alignment of standards, curriculum, assessment and professional development.
  • Ensures professional development is aligned, job-embedded and allows for differentiation.
  • Ensures teachers, principals, key department staff and other stakeholders are intimately involved in developing the system.
  • Aligns the prioritization of the work and allocation of resources with desired implementation time line.
  • Works in collaboration with the Associate Superintendents to support and reinforce consistent and successful implementation of curriculum, assessment, professional development, policies and practices.
  • Uses research and data to drive decision-making.
  • Works in collaboration with Research and Evaluation to provide research and testing for measuring the effectiveness of all educational programs.
  • Aligns resources to most effective programs.
  • Works in collaboration with Accountability to monitor student results and school performance trends, and uses data to adapt intervention strategies and to facilitate sharing of internal best practices.
  • Monitors the latest educational research, reform strategies and best practices and provides leadership in bringing effective, innovative strategies and programs into the schools.
  • Translates relevant information into the day-to-day work to maximize academic results for students.
  • 4. Provides transformational leadership to assess, plan, develop, implement and manage educational reform across the district, with an immediate focus on under-performing schools.

    a. Develops intervention strategies and technical assistance for lowest-performing 25% of schools and Turnaround Schools.

    b. Supports implementation of intervention strategies in Turnaround Schools.

    c. Develops continuous improvement approaches for middle and high performing schools.

    d. Strengthens educational strategies for ELL and Special Education students.

    e. Refines and continues implementation of middle and high school redesign.

    5. Strengthens MPS’ instructional talent and pipeline

    a. Works in partnership with Human Resources to develop appropriate job descriptions and selection criteria for positions that impact the teaching and learning process.

    b. Works in partnership with Human Resources and other key stakeholders to facilitate the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the teacher assessment and evaluation system and the principal performance management system.

    Management and leadership functions and responsibilities

  • Leads the Division of Academic Affairs
  • Leads Curriculum and Instruction, Special Education, English Language Learners, Diversity, Indian Education, Assessment and Student Activities, Early Childhood, Student Support (Behavior, Mental Health, Counseling, etc.), Alternative Learning Center, and Instructional Technology departments and other related programs.
  • Establishes practices, procedures, and inclusive decision-making that ensure consistency and alignment between all academic programs.
  • Supervises and conducts personnel management duties for direct subordinates, including hiring, assignment of job duties and responsibilities, performance management and accountability.
  • Manages and monitors the division’s budget and ensures all expenditures are within the defined budget parameters.
  • Monitors and evaluates the results and effectiveness of district educational programs based on data and stakeholder feedback and make recommendations for expansion, modification or discontinuation to the Superintendent.
  • Assumes a leadership role in the Superintendent’s Cabinet and assists with activities and decision-making that impact school and district performance.
  • Collaborates within and outside of MPS to build support for the division’s and district’s work.
  • Cultivates and maintains collaborative, cross-departmental relationships and work teams to facilitate continuous improvement, ongoing communication and to increase efficiency of operations.
  • Serves as a resource and thought-partner to principals, associate superintendents and other key district educational leaders.
  • Establishes and maintains partnerships with leading districts, educational and community organizations, locally and nationally, to support and enhance district programs and policies.
  • Works in conjunction with the Legislative lobbyist to proactively develop, monitor and implement legislative actions/changes that impact the educational process.
  • Effectively and consistently communicates with internal and external stakeholders to share the district’s instructional goals, priorities, programs and progress towards the accomplishment of these goals, including schools, departments, the Board of Education, parents and community groups. Serves as liaison to various external stakeholder groups.
  • Performs other duties as deemed appropriate by the Superintendent of Schools.

    RESPONSIBLE TO: Superintendent of Schools


  • Graduate degree in education or related fields, PhD or EdD preferred.
  • Hold or be eligible for a Minnesota superintendent license.
  • Progressive educational administrative experience, minimum of seven years, including school and district leadership experience.
  • Mission-driven, with a persistent and relentless focus on doing “whatever it takes” to raise academic achievement and close the achievement gap.
  • Successful experience in working with an urban population and diverse cultures is highly desirable.
  • Experience implementing an aligned instructional system preferred.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of, and experience in, using assessment, curriculum, instructional strategies, professional development, instructional leadership, educational best practices in literacy, math, English as a Second Language and Special Education, and instructional technology to support teachers and school leaders in order to improve student achievement.
  • Deep knowledge of educational reform models and school turnaround strategies, and demonstrated success in leading school improvement initiatives that resulted in improved student achievement results and the closing of the achievement gaps between racial, ethnic, and economic groups.
  • Thorough knowledge, understanding, and implementation of No Child Left Behind Act.
  • Demonstrated superior management and change leadership skills, i.e.,
  • Demonstrated ability to manage multiple responsibilities and organizational units and demonstrated success in building a high-performing team.
  • Strong organizational skills and demonstrated success in setting clear direction, prioritizing work, coaching, supervising, and evaluating the work of others.
  • Demonstrated ability to effectively manage limited resources to deliver results.
  • Strong interpersonal communication and influencing skills, including expert relationship- building and collaboration skills at all levels of the organization; skill in consensus building and conflict resolution.
  • Demonstrated ability to effectively communicate with diverse groups and deliver high quality written and verbal communication and presentations.
  • Demonstrated success in developing and maintaining positive working relationships with school personnel, parents, students and district administrators.
  • Demonstrated success designing, organizing and leading a systemic change process in a large, complex, diverse organization.
  • SALARY: ELT, $127,855 - $150,417 - $172,980


    Diversity is one of Minneapolis Public Schools core values and is essential to our goal of putting children first and making them college-ready. Diversity of our workforce provides us with a competitive advantage and allows us to better understand, communicate with and educate our diverse student body. Minneapolis Public Schools will not deny anyone the opportunity for training or employment because of sex, race, religion, color, creed, national origin, marital status, age, sexual preference, disability or status with regard to public assistance.

    Minneapolis Public Schools strongly encourages diverse candidates to apply.

    All applicants, including MPS employees, must complete an on-line application at (click on Careers). In addition, upload an electronic copy of both your cover letter and resume to your application at the time that you apply. Make sure that you apply for the specific position in which you are interested.

    Only complete applications, which include all of the following items, will be considered:
    • · Cover Letter
    • · Resume
    • · On-Line Application
    Final candidates may be invited to interview with a committee. Final appointment to this position will be contingent upon passing a criminal background check

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