Promising Leadership Practices for Rapid School Improvement That Lasts

A new report from the Center on School Turnaround presents promising practices for how to sustain the advances made in schools that have demonstrated rapid improvement. The practices presented are derived from a comprehensive review of relevant literature, and from the experience of five school principals who not only facilitated school turnaround but also sustained considerable ongoing growth in student achievement for at least four years following their school’s initial turnaround.

The promising practices are organized into five focus areas as follows:

Focus Area I. Continually Conveying an Invigorating Vision

Promising Practice 1. Monitoring Short- and Long-Term Goals and Aligning Resources to Support Their Achievement

Promising Practice 2. Building Acceptance of the Vision

Focus Area II. Motivating Teachers to Maintain Commitment to Transforming the School

Promising Practice 1. Matching Teachers’ Strengths with Organizational Needs

Promising Practice 2. Shaping Staff Perceptions of the Principal

Promising Practice 3. Proactively Managing and Retaining Talent

Focus Area III. Leading Instruction for Ongoing Teacher Growth

Promising Practice 1. Setting Teacher Performance Expectations and Anticipating Needs

Promising Practice 2. Ascertaining, Implementing, and Praising

Focus Area IV. Insisting on a High-Quality Learning Experience for All Students, Regardless of Their Background

Promising Practice 1. Expecting Academic Excellence for Students

Promising Practice 2. Constantly Supporting Students in Pursuit of Academic Excellence

Focus Area V. Garnering and Maintaining Support from Partners

Promising Practice 1. Co-Creating Success with the District

Promising Practice 2. Connecting with Families and the Community


At the school level, principals and leadership teams can use these promising practices to guide their teacher- and community-directed efforts and also to guide reflection on their own practices and their specific actions related to the practices. At the district level, principal supervisors can use them to design their support and coaching efforts. Superintendents or other district leaders can consider how to build the structures and interactions that are needed in order to enact these practices and related actions in district schools. For their part, state education agency (SEA) staff can consider these practices in thinking about how to encourage local education agencies to better support principals and schools.

To read the report, see: