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September 28 - October 1, 2015
2015 Fall Leadership Institute
"The Next Generation of Innovation"

This Year's Theme

As the 50th anniversary celebration comes to a close, it's time to look toward "The Next Generation of Innovation."

How to Participate

Registrations for the Symposium can be made in addition to, or separately from, the full Fall Leadership Institute.

About the Symposium

Join NHSA and the Head Start community on September 28th for an investigation into what we've learned from three cycles of the Designation Renewal System, an exploration of what the measurement of quality in Head Start should actually entail, and an intense discussion of DRS reforms. With the findings of the DRS Evaluation coming out soon and the reauthorization of Head Start possibly coming in the next few years, this is a critical opportunity to come together as a community to strategize about how best to improve the Designation Renewal System - a system in desperate need of reform.

This event will be held at the Washington Court Hotel in Washington, D.C.


​9:00 am

Opening Remarks


9:15 - 10:30 am

Learning from 3 Cycles of DRS

NHSA’s Director of Policy, Data, and Research, Emmalie Dropkin, will present an analysis of the outcomes of the first three cycles of DRS based on program types, triggers, and other factors. Respondents from the fields of research, policy, and practice will offer interpretations and insights based on these findings and reflections on how they should inform our conversations about reform.


10:45 am - 12:00 pm

A Vision for High-Quality Head Start

If the genuine intent of DRS is to identify low performing programs, what are the best ways to truly do that? A panel of experts will discuss the approaches and measures that emerge from research and practice about what would truly let us identify strong and struggling programs. The conversation will also explore the political implications of the rhetoric around quality.


12:00 - 12:30 pm


Included with registration.


12:30 - 1:15 pm

Opportunities for Reform

Following lunch, Head Start leaders who are veterans of DRS will help the group frame the challenges of the system that are effective targets for reform.


1:15 - 2:30 pm

The Future of DRS

Working in groups, Head Start leaders in attendance will focus on tackling the most critical challenges posed by DRS and coming up with feasible alternatives. As the Symposium closes, attendants will present and weigh in on various proposals and NHSA will collect and compile the discussion for future advocacy and policy efforts.