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Project Dates: Summer 2014 – Summer 2017

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:

Now moving into its third year, the ILC has served over 30,500 public school educators as of April 30, 2016. In Year 3 (2016–17), we will continue to deepen, sustain and spread ILC work through expanding the connections to local efforts for instructional improvement. Our goal is to help this work take root in communities across California.

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 and Year 3 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)

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

The purpose of the study is to produce a comprehensive description of the policies and practices related to teaching quality used by jurisdictions that have highly developed systems of support for teachers and teaching: Australia (New South Wales and Victoria), Canada (Ontario and Alberta), China (Hong Kong and Shanghai), Finland, and Singapore. Because these jurisdictions have demonstrated considerable success on international indicators of educational quality, their policies and practices may offer useful insights for educators around the world.

The policies will include not only those associated with teacher recruitment, preparation, retention, and professional learning, but also those that structure the work of teaching: curriculum and assessment policies; school organization, as it influences working conditions and the use of teacher time; and school funding, as it shapes the compensation and teaching resources available to teachers. The study will examine the implications of these policies for the nature, quality, and stability of the teaching force; the skills developed by and tools regularly available to teachers; and the kind of learning opportunities and classroom practice encountered by students in different settings.

The research is intended to reveal both how the teaching occupation is structured and supported in different international jurisdictions and the outcomes for teachers—what they know, what they do, and how teaching knowledge evolves. Although the study cannot make causal claims regarding specific policies and student achievement, it will provide an analysis of the common principles underlying high-quality systems, and the differences in strategies that different jurisdictions have pursued to actualize these principles within different contexts. This knowledge may then permit policymakers and practitioners to draw upon the data in ways that are useful for understanding and shaping teaching in their own contexts.

The study will include data from teachers, teacher candidates, teacher preparation faculty, school administrators, education organization leaders, and policymakers about their views regarding the specifics of teaching policies and practices, as well as such proximal outcomes as teacher knowledge, skills, retention, and learning. Researchers will triangulate these data to explore the links key stakeholders perceive with particular policies and practices.

A goal of the study is to provide not only print descriptions of policies and practices that emerge as highly salient to the outcomes we identify, but also 1) video documentation of key practices; 2) links to documents and resources that illuminate the details of these efforts; and 3) an analysis of the context and change processes that led to the development of these policies and practices, so that others can understand what might be necessary to undertake strategies they deem worthy of exploration.

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:

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
Project Dates: December 2003-June 2007
Principals play a vital role in setting the direction for successful schools, but existing knowledge on the best ways to prepare and develop highly qualified candidates is sparse. What are the essential elements of good leadership? What are the features of effective pre-service and in-service leadership development programs? What governance and financial policies are needed to sustain good programs.

Preparing School Leaders for a Changing World is a major research effort that seeks to address these questions. Commissioned by The Wallace Foundation and undertaken by the Stanford Educational Leadership Institute (a former program administered SCOPE) in conjunction with The Finance Project, the study examines eight exemplary pre- and in-service program models that address key issues in developing strong leaders. Lessons from these exemplary programs may help other educational administration programs as they strive to develop and support school leaders who can shape schools into vibrant learning communities.

Related Topics:
Federal and State Education Policy
International Policies and Practices
Leadership Development and Practice
School and District Reform
Teacher Assessment and Development
Teaching Quality
Contact Email:
Project Dates: Summer 2012 - Winter 2014

The Research Use by Federal Policymakers on Student and School Success study examines whether, why, and how research will influence upcoming reform efforts. By tracking what research gets included in policy talks and public discourse, the study aims to reveal the ways in which elite policymakers perceive and utilize education research as they formulate new ideas. Specifically, it aims to investigate several key questions as federal legislation evolves:

1. How do theories of action shape the ways in which policymakers gather, use, synthesize, and mobilize research as new policies develop?

2. What social differences do we find among those who hold either similar or different theories of action/ideologies?

3. What are the main knowledge fields that congressional aides, Department of Education officials (including Institute of Education Sciences staff), White House staff, and think tank and policy center staff draw on as they draft legislation and convey information to lawmakers?

4. How do theories of action and the knowledge fields in which policymakers are situated work together to influence what research they deem either useful or noteworthy of mention in the policy hearings and political debates?

The study also entails a discourse analysis of how education issues and policies are discussed, framed, and portrayed in top mainstream and education-focused news outlets before, during, and after the 2012 presidential election. The ways in which the media portray education issues, relevant research, and policy solutions powerfully shape how both the public and policymakers understand effective education reform (e.g., Henig, 2008a). Tracing how education research and theories of action are represented and disseminated in the media will enable researchers to further characterize some aspects of the knowledge ecology in which policymakers operate. To do so, researchers will track the frequency and content of theories of action and types of education research prevalent in mainstream, national news outlets, such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal; education-focused outlets, such as Education Week; and political outlets, such as Ed Next, National Review, and Politico. To be included in our sample, news articles must: be printed during the time frame of our study (January 1, 2011-June 30, 2013), discuss particular keywords related to student and school success, and be published in that particular news organization (e.g., cross-references to articles from other publications or reprints will be excluded).

The first paper emerging from this study will be presented at the 2014 American Educational Research Association annual meeting and is titled "Heroes and Villains in Media Coverage of Teacher Quality, 2011-2013." Additional papers and policy briefs will be released in the coming months.

Contact Email:
Project Dates: July 2009-June 2010
Contact: Linda Carstens

San Juan Unified is increasing its emphasis on second language education throughout the district. Concurrently, the district is updating its ELL Master Plan in preparation for the CPM cycle of visitation in 2010-11. SCOPE is providing technical assistance and support to the district, as well as specific ongoing professional development for two years for a cadre of district staff (including central office, principals, language specialists, and lead teachers).SCOPE is also providing  technical assistance to the school for a dual language program in 2010-11.

Related Topics:
Leadership Development and Practice
School and District Reform