Contact Email:
Project Dates: January 2006-June 2007
At a time when the achievement gap in California is large and appears unchanging, some high schools are beating the odds. How these schools are accomplishing this and how their approaches can inform state policy so that more schools can realize the same success was the focus of this study, conducted by the School Redesign Network (a SCOPE-sponsored program) and Justice Matters in San Francisco.

The study focused on five urban, public high schools from across the state that have no selective admissions requirements, serve primarily students of color and low-income students, graduate students at higher rates than the state average, and send more than 80% of them to college. These five are not the only high schools succeeding against the odds, but they represent the types of educational approaches required to close California's educational achievement gap and to enable all students to move on to successful career and college pathways.


• Animo Inglewood Charter High School, Inglewood (Green Dot Public Schools)

• Leadership High School, San Francisco (independent charter)

• June Jordan School for Equity, San Francisco Unified School District

• New Tech High School, Sacramento Unified School District (supported by the New Tech Schools Foundation)

• Stanley E. Foster Construction Tech Academy, San Diego Unified School District

Related Topics:
Contexts for Learning
Curriculum and Teaching
Effective Schools
Federal and State Education Policy
Language, Culture, and Identity
Opportunities to Learn
School and District Reform
Student Assessment and Standards
Teacher Assessment and Development
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Project Dates: Fall 2012 - Fall 2014

There is growing recognition that successful 21st century workers and citizens will need a new set of critical thinking and performance skills, including the abilities to analyze, synthesize, evaluate, apply knowledge, collaborate productively, think critically and creatively, comprehend and manipulate data, formulate questions, be innovative, and create new solutions to problems that are not yet even currently known. The fast pace of knowledge growth means that students will need not only to understand core concepts and modes of inquiry in the central disciplines, they will also have to have well-developed metacognitive skills and the ability to learn to learn.

These new learning goals require new forms of assessment that evaluate student performance in ways that extend beyond the capacity of traditional standardized tests. Performance assessments are a critical element of curriculum, instruction, and evaluation in schools aimed at developing 21st century skills. Although there is substantial research and much experience with performance assessments both in the U.S. and abroad, very little of this information is available to policymakers and practitioners in an understandable and accessible form that addresses many of the questions they have about whether and how these approaches are feasible and worthwhile, and under what conditions and with what supports.

SCOPE’s work, in collaboration with Stanford’s Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity (SCALE), supports policymakers and practitioners in the Innovation Lab Network (run by the Council of Chief State School Officers) in a number of ways: developing a performance assessment resource and task bank; conducting performance assessment pilots in classrooms and schools in multiple states; designing online resources, tools, and protocols; developing training and scoring models; studying the results of the pilots; conceptualizing and developing policy structures that can incorporate performance assessments; helping states conceptualize compatible accountability systems; and working with higher education institutions to develop a context for informing and using performance assessments.

As part of this work, SCALE is launching a free online education course focused on building educators’ capacity to use, develop, and implement curriculum-embedded performance assessments. Designing for Deeper Learning: How to Develop Performance Tasks for the Common Core, a 9-week MOOC, is designed for grade 6-12 teachers working in the core disciplines of mathematics, language arts, social studies, and science. Course activities will include evaluating sample performance tasks and collaboratively creating and then implementing a performance task that is aligned with a specific curricular unit and performance outcomes. The course begins on September 8, 2014 and is open to the public. Teachers, school and district leaders, teacher educators, and policymakers are encouraged sign up now.

Contact Email:
Project Dates: Summer 2014 – Summer 2020

The Project:

The California Teachers Association (CTA), the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE), and the National Board Resource Center (NBRC) have received grant funding to support an Instructional Leadership Corps (ILC) of accomplished classroom teachers, site leaders, administrators and higher education professionals. The ILC provides professional development to assist California public school educators in the implementation of the California Standards for English Language Arts/English Language Development and Mathematics and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). 

ILC Funders:

Latest News:

On April 17th SCOPE announced Phase Two of the Instructional Leadership Corps project (, a collaboration among SCOPE, the NBRC at Stanford, and the California Teachers Association. Phase Two will continue through June 2020.

To date, the ILC has served over 77,000 California educators. ILC members are California educators focused on improving educational outcomes by building instructional capacity for continuous improvement of instruction and school conditions required by the California Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards. The primary goal of Phase Two is to expand and deepen partnerships to create and sustain self-supporting models of Educators Educating Educators.

To support Phase Two efforts, we are investing in Peer Support Providers, a role for experienced ILC members to provide learning support to their colleagues. A key addition in Phase Two is expansion of the ILC program into isolated regions, especially locations with few opportunities for learning with and from fellow educators. We are currently accepting applications from geographically isolated regions of California.

Details and link to apply here.

Indicators that the ILC is taking root:

  • Local community increases fiscal commitment to the work
  • Local stakeholders work together to meet professional learning needs of educators
  • Local community embraces and spreads the ILC work
  • Local community values ongoing teaching and learning
  • Local community values the knowledge and expertise of teachers/practitioners in facilitating professional learning
  • ILC members deepen their own professional knowledge and skills

Additional details about the Instructional Leadership Corps are available here.

ILC photos

Feedback From ILC Members & Professional Development Workshop Attendees:

“The opportunity to bring together teachers and administration to train was in itself a shift. To design processes to heal and build relationships among teachers with administration was definitely a highlight. To introduce the idea/concept of professional capital was a huge highlight.”
Administrator ILC Member

"[I learned] that ALL students are able to participate in academic discussions if given the opportunity. I realized that all students are learning academic language. I learned the importance of persistence and respect for the starting point of the strategy."
Workshop attendee (Topic: Productive Academic Talk) 

"That is PD at its finest when the teachers walk out both inspired and motivated to attempt to replicate what they saw...Kudos to ILC for empowering teachers to teach teachers...I've never walked away from consultant-based training with the same fervor or resolve."
Workshop attendee (Topic: Engineering Practices in Elementary School)

Related News:

Related Topics:
Curriculum and Teaching
Federal and State Education Policy
Leadership Development and Practice
School and District Reform
Teacher Assessment and Development
Teaching Quality
Project Dates: Summer 2013 – present

How do the highest-achieving school systems in the world develop their teachers?

To prepare students for an evolving and increasingly interconnected world, a growing number of countries have remodeled their education systems to deliver an education built for the 21st century, producing higher achievement and greater equity than the U.S. 

How are they doing it?

Among the strategies these systems have pursued, none have been more important than the policies they have developed to ensure that high-quality teaching takes place in every classroom, in every school, for every child.

With the support of the Center on International Benchmarking at the National Center on Education and the Economy, the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE) drew together a global team of education researchers in the three-year study, producing unparalleled insights for U.S. educators, researchers, and policymakers.

The researchers investigated seven jurisdictions across four continents.  

Their findings reveal two key answers to the central question of how other countries have surpassed the U.S. in preparing their students to compete in the 21st century global economy:

  • First, these countries have focused on building effective systems, opting not to chase silver bullets or short-term, narrow-focused solutions.
  • Second, these countries have held at the core of their work a commitment to professionalizing teaching as an occupation and have implemented comprehensive strategies to deliver on their commitment.

This project produced a book and three videos showing how countries with leading educational systems develop professional capacity. Five policy briefs examine the key strategy components in the high-performing countries, highlight some of the common features of the systems, and show where each system is unique. Five country briefs summarize the teacher strategies in each of the high-performing countries. 

Project Dates: July 2008-June 2010

This project examines how high achieving nations around the world have steeply improved student achievement and equity and to identify how those approaches can be replicated in the United States.

Related Topics:
Federal and State Education Policy
International Policies and Practices
School and District Reform
School Finance and Governance
Teacher Assessment and Development
Teaching Quality
Project Dates: Cohort I: 2007-2010; Cohort II: 2010-2013

The Leadership for Equity & Accountability in Schools and Districts (LEADS) network was established in 2007 to further the work of SRN specifically at the district level. LEADS applies cutting-edge knowledge from scholars and practitioners in education and business to the complex challenges confronting urban school systems. LEADS operates on the principle that equitable and high-achieving school systems require powerful classroom instruction supported by performance-driven central offices.

LEADS ended the formal network in June 2012. Albuquerque Public Schools and Dallas Independent School District continue to work with their LEADS Liaison on district improvement, with a particular focus on high schools.


Leadership for Equity and Accountability in Districts and Schools (LEADS) is a national network of districts launched by the School Redesign Network at Stanford University (SRN) and SRN’s parent program, the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE). Combining knowledge from research, policy, and practice, SCOPE and SRN work to support and sustain equitable schools and districts that provide every student with the opportunity to receive a high-quality education. LEADS was established to further this work specifically at the district level.

LEADS network districts join in cohorts that work together for three years, learning from each other and from faculty, practitioners, and researchers from Stanford’s School of Education, Graduate School of Business, and Institute of Design. Through sustained learning, inter-district networking, strategic planning, and professional accountability, district teams address the pressing needs of K-12 public education within their local contexts.


Program Features

Cross-District Collaboration

The knowledge and experience member districts bring to the network is what drives its synergy. Collaboration includes a commitment to fundamental practices such as identifying and sustaining the focus on shared goals, learning from each others’ successes and challenges, collective problem-solving, and supporting each other in monitoring progress around measurable goals.

Focus on Collaborative and Distributive Leadership

In network practices and professional learning events, LEADS emphasizes building team capacity and leadership development to support continuous and sustainable improvement.

Research and Professional Knowledge

As a Stanford University program, LEADS provides members with access to some of the nation’s leading practitioners, scholars, and staff from Stanford’s School of Education, Graduate School of Business, and Institute of Design ( These experts work with network members to provide critical knowledge to district-specific issues of reform. Network members access this knowledge through face-to-face contact at the annual Summer Session, residencies, special events, and virtual contact through teleconferences and webinars.

Opportunities for Specialization

Recognizing that there will be emerging areas of interest within the network over time and urgent demands to respond to, LEADS is structured to adapt to new priorities while also providing consistent support to develop capacity for specific agreed-upon network and district priorities.

Linking Research, Policy, and Practice

The United States is in a time of extensive education policy development and reform through national initiatives such as Race to the Top, Investing in Innovation, and the Common Core State Standards initiative. Through SCOPE — SRN’s parent program — LEADS enables members to access and contribute to emerging research on educational policy and practice.


Network Commitments

An effective network of education leaders requires a strong commitment to working together to learn through the network and to apply learning in practice. LEADS district teams share a commitment to the following:

Equity: Member districts share a commitment and willingness to actively challenge the inequities affecting schools and students and to improve access and opportunity.

• Continuous Learning and Action-Oriented Goals: LEADS functions as a professional learning community and districts commit to openly discussing, reflecting, and sharing progress with other district teams in the LEADS Network. LEADS districts are committed to identifying measurable goals, creating action plans, and tracking progress of implementation toward outcomes.

• Consistent Leadership Teams: LEADS empowers leadership teams to implement change strategies that engage staff and stakeholders across the district, in school sites, and in the local community. These efforts succeed through the consistent presence and involvement of district teams with core members who participate in all LEADS events. The core team should include superintendents, cabinet members, and other central office leaders.

• Distributive Leadership: LEADS is committed to distributive models of leadership. Districts are expected to work with key stakeholders to build ownership of reform. LEADS will work with districts to involve and engage key local education leaders, including principals, teacher leaders, board of education members, and community partners, appropriate to each district’s needs.

• System Innovation: LEADS supports districts to combine expertise about existing effective practices with innovative processes to implement improvement. Participants will experience multiple perspectives from different academic disciplines and from the intersections of practice, research, and policy. Teams will be challenged to apply new knowledge as they design strategies to advance equity, excellence, and opportunity for high needs students and schools.


Core Components

LEADS is structured on a three-year model of professional learning and development. Each year, the content and structure of professional learning progressively deepens and expands leadership capacity, while also responding to new and emerging needs and innovations. Following are the key elements offered each year:

Network Events and Meetings

• Annual summer institute at Stanford University

• District-hosted and theme-based residency

• Network conference calls: Regular check-ins on strategic goals, priorities, and challenges and collective problem-solving 

• Webinars

LEADS Liaison Support 

A dedicated LEADS liaison for each district provides:

• Initial consultation 

• Regular follow-up 

• Support at network events 

• Review and feedback on key district documents and action

Goals and Progress Assessment

• Guided goal-setting, action planning and progress reviews 

• Mid-year progress report

• End-of-year report

Research Briefs

• Research briefs focused on emerging issues and priorities for LEADS districts

Additional Opportunities

Along with LEADS-specific events, members may choose to access additional resources available through SCOPE, SRN, and Stanford University, including:

• Study visits to successful schools

• Research and policy briefs, reports, and multi-media presentations

• SCOPE-hosted webinars featuring leading researchers 

• Other SCOPE- and SRN-hosted learning events



LEADS teams will be supported to develop evidence of visible and measurable outcomes at different levels of their school system. To ensure broader systems change and strong alignment, participating districts will focus on multiple levels of practice and impact based on some core themes, including:

Equity: Member districts will investigate indicators of equity and identify opportunity gaps. This knowledge will inform district-specific strategies to address issues of resources, curriculum, supports for struggling students, and other concerns related to equity and opportunity.

Leadership: LEADS works with districts to improve structures, routines, and working cultures to develop effective leadership teams. The work includes attention to recruitment, retainment, and succession management for effective district and school site leadership that supports district initiatives.

Strategic planning: LEADS emphasizes mindful, planned approaches to systemically support positive, transformative change. Exemplary practices from both education and business are used to improve district strategic planning and to strengthen alignment between the central office, school sites, and students’ needs.

School improvement: Network learning will inform district strategies for raising student achievement, reducing inequities, and improving persistently low-achieving schools.




LEADS Cohort II officially launched with the November 2010 Fall Institute at Stanford University. The three-day event brought together district leadership teams from new and returning districts.


LEADS Districts: Cohort II

~ Albuquerque Public Schools (NM)

~ Alexandria City Public Schools (VA)

~ Dallas Independent School District (TX)

~ Knox County Schools (TN)

~ Mapleton Public Schools (CO)

~ San Francisco Unified (CA)




January 2011: LEADS Liaison Site Visit

Jan. 31st - Feb. 2nd, 2011: LEADS Residency in Washington, D.C.

March 2011: Release of LEADS Research Brief

April 2011: LEADS Webinar

May 4, 2011: Network Conference Call: Supporting Continued Progress as a Network

Week of June 6, 2011: LEADS Summer Institute at Stanford University

Related Topics:
Contexts for Learning
Curriculum and Teaching
Effective Schools
Language, Culture, and Identity
Leadership Development and Practice
Opportunities to Learn
School and District Reform
Contact Email:
Project Dates: Fall 2013 – Spring 2015

Across the country, states and districts are being challenged to create effective strategies for school-wide improvement and turnaround that can be replicated at scale. This project was designed to develop and study one such approach: the development of teacher learning communities organized around the standards of  accomplished practice defined by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. This project builds on lessons learned from other schools' successful efforts to engage all teachers in National Board Certification as a means of developing quality teaching and productive professional collaboration. It implemented a deliberate change strategy based on National Board certification in three schools and studied the process of the change, as well as the results for both teacher and student learning.

The project produced:

Contact Email:
Project Dates: 1998—present

NBRC logo
The National Board Resource Center (NBRC) is located at Stanford University and operates under the direction of the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education. Its primary mission is to offer support to educational systems and teachers around National Board certification, promote teacher leadership, and improve the quality of teaching in California schools. Its successful support program is staffed by Board-certified teachers and is open to all teachers interested in high-quality collaboration and professional development, as well as candidates working towards certification. The NBRC helps teachers and administrators learn about ways to use National Board certification to advance professional practice and promote teaching quality in schools by providing information and support at its sessions at Stanford and through related outreach throughout the state. 


For Candidates:

The NBRC at Stanford provides information about National Board certification, offers candidacy support, and advocates for advancing quality teaching through certification.

  • Introductory Seminars—Throughout the Spring and Summer, the NBRC offers Introductory Seminars so educators can learn more about National Board certification process. 
  • Candidate Support Program—The support group offers teachers an opportunity to collaborate with National Board Certified Teachers and other National Board candidates while completing their components. 

Visit NBRC's website 

Related Topics:
Curriculum and Teaching
Project Dates: June 2007-June 2009

This study completed a Phase II evaluation study of Oakland Unified School District’s (OUSD) New Small Schools Initiative. The Phase II evaluation study follows a Phase I study completed in September 2007 by Strategic Measurement and Evaluation, Inc.

Phase II took a deeper, longitudinal look at the 45 new small schools in operation during the 2007-08 school year and addresses questions raised by the Board of Education; district administrative leadership; community partners; and school principals, teachers, and parents based on the findings of the Phase I evaluation.

These questions were incorporated into and informed three overarching research goals for this study:

Research Goal #1
To understand how well new small schools and existing schools in OUSD are perform- ing over time, taking into account the students they serve and their process of start-up and development.

Research Goal #2 
To understand what factors influence schools’ achievement and their improvement trajectories over time.

Research Goal #3 
To recommend policy strategies that can build on current successes and address identified needs and issues.

SRN’s key findings and policy observations, considerations, and extensions — and the final report and school case studies from which they are drawn — were designed to facilitate an ongoing, results-based inquiry process for all district stakeholders, including teachers, parents, OUSD administrative leadership, and the OUSD Board of Education.

In sum, this study was designed to contribute longitudinal research on the district’s small schools initiative, provide an informative, research-based framework for examining district policy, and communicate empirical findings that are accessible to a broad audience of educators and laypersons.

Related Topics:
Contexts for Learning
Curriculum and Teaching
Effective Schools
Federal and State Education Policy
School and District Reform
School Finance and Governance
Contact Email:
Project Dates: 2014–present

PARB logo

While assessment in the United States has focused largely on “bubbling in” answers on multiple choice tests, educators are searching for better, more authentic, and higher quality assessment tools that measure the complex thinking necessary for success in our modern world. Scaling up performance assessment requires high-quality tools and content.

That’s why we’re built the Performance Assessment Resource Bank (PARB)—an online resource for K–12 teachers, administrators, and policy makers. The website is designed to serve as a platform for sharing high-quality performance assessments and resources curated from educators and organizations nationwide and building community among the educators and leaders who use, develop, and share these important tools. It includes performance assessment tasks and support resources for designing a system of assessment and building educator assessment literacy and capabilities, all focused on more meaningful learning.

This innovative approach provides an expanding resource base through community collaboration and sharing features that will support an expanding network of performance assessment content developers. Assessment resources, initially created by experts, will grow in breadth and depth because the site enables educators to work together, adapt, pilot, and provide feedback on existing tools, contribute new content, and build a performance assessment community.

Initial contributors of tools and content to the resource base include:

The website, now in its nationwide rollout, features:

  • Free, open access.
  • A growing library of high quality performance tasks, portfolio frameworks, learning progressions, research, and other assessment resources, all developed by educators and organizations and vetted by experts trained by UL-SCALE at Stanford University.
  • Personalized dashboards with saved resources for each community member.
  • A user rating system to guide content selection and facilitate continuous improvement of content.
  • The ability for registered users to share resources via email, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Educators can quickly and easily access and use content in classrooms, schools, and school systems or use the tools to develop their own performance assessment materials. Community members can also submit new content for review and vetting by experts.

After significant testing, the Performance Assessment Resource Bank is now available nationwide. Based on user feedback, we will continuously upgrade the site. 

PARB Collaborators: 

This new and innovative approach to assessment was created through a partnership between the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE) and Understanding Language-Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity (UL-SCALE), with the participation of member states of the Innovation Lab Network of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).

PARB Directors:

  • Elizabeth Leisy Stosich, SCOPE
  • Laura Gutmann, UL-SCALE 


The Performance Assessment Resource Bank was created with the generous support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Sandler Foundation. We gratefully acknowledge their support. The website is managed independently by Understanding Language/Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity and the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education and does not represent the views of the sponsors.

Reviews of PARB:

The Performance Assessment Resource Bank has been an empowering solution for my classroom for two years now. The tasks are interesting and engaging for students, and fit seamlessly into my curriculum. I love hearing students talk about how the tasks helped them become more critical thinkers through the reading and writing process and I find myself planning my own tasks now using the larger scope I've experienced in the performance assessments. This Performance Assessment Resource Bank is an important place where teachers have access to quality resources that can help us as we endeavor to produce competitive, 21st century students.
—Carisa Barnes, High School English Teacher, California

The Performance Assessment Resource Bank puts developed resources into the hands of people who are more than ready to use them.  They've created a peer-reviewed archive, based in solid research and connected to 21st century standards, that lets districts, schools and teachers do what we need to do:  Let kids use what they've learned to show us what they can do.
—Jonathan Doughty, High School Science Teacher, Maine

The Performance Assessment Resource Bank is very comprehensive and will provide outstanding support to educators in the development of high quality performance assessments.  It is “one-stop shopping.” Teachers will have access to high quality assessments and rubrics that have been piloted and vetted.  The professional development materials and resources that are available will assists Virginia’s teachers and schools as we continue our work with the development and implementation of performance assessments. One of the greatest resources available through the Performance Assessment Resource Bank is the opportunity for teachers to submit their locally developed performance assessments and have them vetted by the staff at SCALE. Having a professional staff to provide feedback and validate the quality of our work will be huge to Virginia as we move forward in our efforts to replace our multiple choice state assessments with valid and rigorous performance tasks
Dr. John W. “Billy” Haun, Chief Academic Officer for the State of Virginia

Related Topics:
Student Assessment and Standards