AU alumna Amanda Alexander (PhD, education) has been named interim school chancellor for the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS). Alexander will replace Antwan Wilson, who resigned earlier this week amid allegations of circumventing the city's lottery process.
Alexander was formerly the chief of schools for the District of Columbia Public Schools. She oversaw the city's elementary schools and supervised six instructional superintendents who managed and mentored the lower school principals. As chancellor, she will provide leadership for the entire district until a permanent chancellor is appointed.
"We are extremely excited and proud of Dr. Alexander," said Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy, dean of American University's School of Education. "She has made significant contributions to DCPS, and I couldn't be more pleased with her new appointment as interim chancellor. We look forward to supporting her efforts and continuing our partnerships with DCPS under her leadership."
A VETERAN EDUCATOR
Alexander received a BA in English and a MEd in curriculum and instruction from Howard University, and an MSEd in educational leadership from Baruch College before receiving her PhD in education from American University.
She began her career as a kindergarten teacher at Walker-Jones Elementary School in DC. She later served as an assistant principal at PS 40 and PS 2 in New York City before returning to DC to serve as the principal at Bunker Hill and Ross Elementary Schools. Under her leadership, both schools saw double digit gains in literacy and mathematics. The successes at these schools led former Chancellor Michelle Rhee to charge Alexander with redesigning the structure for principal supervision and managing a cluster of elementary schools as an instructional superintendent. Alexander's school cluster significantly outperformed others in the district in student achievement outcomes, attendance, and teacher quality,
FOCUS ON INSTRUCTIONAL AND CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT
In 2013, Alexander was chosen by former Chancellor Kaya Henderson to serve as deputy chief of schools. She was promoted to chief of elementary schools several years later. In this most recent role, she has been praised for her work in developing data-driven plans to improve teacher and student achievement.
By leveraging a grant from the Wallace Foundation, she provided extensive professional learning opportunities for instructional superintendents, which focused on the knowledge and skills necessary to support principals in an era of new rigorous standards for student learning. Alexander has also led literacy initiatives and a district-wide taskforce to identify and implement evidenced-based practices to improve student performance—earning her the Reading Recovery Council of North America's 2018 Excellence in Literacy Leadership Award.
Alexander steps into the role of interim chancellor during a difficult time for DCPS. A city-commissioned investigation released last month revealed that 1 in 3 graduates in 2017 missed too many classes or improperly took makeup classes to graduate. The report also uncovered system-wide pressure on teachers to graduate unqualified students so that graduation goals could be met.
Educators are hopeful that Alexander will be a stabilizing force in DC schools. Alexander agrees. She told the Washington Post that she is focused primarily on leading the city to a smooth finish of the school year. "I was surprised because it wasn't something I was expecting, but I am excited to make sure that we stay the course here," Alexander said in an interview on Wednesday. "I am very capable of keeping things in the right direction."