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Evaluation of The Philadelphia Academy of School Leaders

Investing in Philadelphia’s education leadership
July 2023—Present

The challenges facing educational leaders today are unprecedented. Students have just emerged from the most severe pandemic in a century, with many several years behind grade level in literacy and mathematics, and with those with greatest economically disadvantaged the most severely affected. Resources for schools – particularly those in urban high poverty areas are in short supply. The political environment is fraught, with advocates pressing schools like never before on issues like the books available to students, the role of socio-emotional learning, and the place of current events in the curriculum. Social media has changed the way that students consume information and divisions over teaching about the role of identity, race, and gender – things that are omnipresent in students’ lives – have been contentious lightning rods in education.

Fortunately, there are organizations like the Philadelphia Academy for School Leadership (School Leaders), which provide much needed capacity building and support for brave but beleaguered school leaders. Positioned as a partner to the education system, but operating on the outside, providers like School Leaders have a special opportunity to work at the leading edge of education reform. School Leaders can provide much needed support to educational leaders while developing and testing theories of leadership reform that can contribute to the next generation of leadership development.

In this spirit, School Leaders has chosen to advance promising leadership improvement strategies, including capacity building, individualized coaching, and support networks. Working from the latest findings of the Wallace Foundation on the current evidence of the impact of principals on school, teacher, and student outcomes (Grissom, Egalite & Lindsay, 2021) and what makes for effective leadership development (Darling-Hammond et al. 2022), School Leaders has chosen to further emphasize contextualized and individualized coaching as a pillar of their strategy for leadership improvement.

Over the next 3 years, CPRE researchers will conduct a mixed-methods evaluation to inform School Leaders about the impacts of its work and to provide directions for strengthening its programs. The research team will begin by working closely with School Leaders to understand its needs and current research directions and capacities. CPRE will then collect its own original data over the course of the evaluation, as well as use school district administrative data to conduct analyses. This project began in July 2023 and is scheduled to conclude in 2026.

Consortium for Policy Research in Education

University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education
3440 Market Street, Suite 560
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Tel: 215.573.0700
Fax: 215.573.7914


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