Schools That Lead
Schools That Lead
advancing powerful student learning

Schools That Lead: advancing powerful student learning

We help educators learn the tools of Improvement Science to solve complex problems, so that every student learns powerfully.




Our Mission

Equitable outcomes for students is our mission. We bring educators together in collective action to solve problems of practice identified in research to accelerate improvement across networks of schools.


Our Schools

Schools That Lead is partnering with 34 North Carolina K-12 district and charter schools that serve 17,000 students, 70% of whom live in poverty.


Improvement Team from W. A. Pattillo Middle School, Edgecombe County, NC

Our Work: Networked Improvement

North Carolina Networked Improvement Communities

Schools That Lead teaches teachers and principals how to lead improvement efforts at the classroom level, thus elevating student outcomes, with special attention paid to the schools’ most vulnerable children. We are investing in the people already employed in schools, rather than importing solutions that may or may not be relevant in their contexts.

Our Network Outcomes

  • High schools will increase on-time graduation

  • Middle schools will reduce 9th grade retentions; and 

  • Elementary schools will reduce the number of students with early warning indicators in course failures, absences and discipline 

How do we do that?

Schools That Lead teaches schools to use Improvement Science, a clearly defined and rigorous method of continuous improvement, to articulate their theories and assumptions, determine the effectiveness of change ideas and measure impact over time as they work to solve a shared persistent problem of educational practice.

Key tenets of Improvement Science:

1.     Work on a shared, specific problem.

2.     Understand the problem deeply before jumping to solutions.

3.     Context matters.  Use rapid cycle, small scale testing to better understand what works, for whom, under what conditions.   Because “it worked” here doesn’t mean it will work there.

4.     Ask the user.  People closest to the work understand important things about the problem.

5.     Data is essential -- It helps us know the difference between a change and an improvement.

6.    Network:  Learn together to accelerate improvement.

Why it matters

It’s not that schools don’t have inventive teachers. They do. It’s not that people don’t care about or pay attention to the problem. They do. In public education, we simply don’t have the mechanism to understand what is working, for whom and under what conditions -- and because of that, we don’t consistently remove barriers for the children who need support the most. 

Hear from a principal and teacher leader about the work of Schools That Lead's Networked Improvement Communities in North Carolina.

December 2018

Schools That Lead is heading in a direction that will help all districts and the network between us.

Principal, North Carolina

Join us!


Look here for future announcements.