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Leading School Improvement


Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest and its School Turnaround Research Alliance hosted the filming of a one-hour public television special with WVIZ/PBS ideastream titled “Leading School Improvement.” Basing their discussion on existing research, our moderator and panelists explored the qualities and competencies that characterize effective school turnaround leaders. In addition, the panelists shared tools and policies that are designed to support turnaround leaders and highlighted the example of a turnaround school in Cleveland, Ohio.


The event featured Kerstin Le Floch, Ph.D., a managing researcher at American Institutes for Research (AIR), who discussed current research related to school improvement and turnaround leadership. Carlas McCauley, Ed.D., director of the Center on School Turnaround, highlighted policies and research-based tools and resources that are designed to assist local and state education agencies in their efforts to turn around their lowest performing schools. Melissa Watts, the principal at Robinson G. Jones Elementary School in Cleveland, Ohio, shared her experiences in leading turnaround schools. Taishya Adams, a senior technical consultant at AIR and the alliance lead of REL Midwest’s School Turnaround Research Alliance, moderated the discussion.  


This event was designed to address the U.S. Department of Education’s priority area of school improvement. Please click here to view the draft agenda. 



  • Taishya Adams, Senior Technical Consultant, AIR



  • Kerstin Le Floch, Ph.D., Managing Researcher, AIR
  • Carlas McCauley, Ed.D., Director, Center on School Turnaround
  • Melissa Watts, Principal, Robinson G. Jones Elementary School


Who Should Attend?


Participants may include school leaders, local and state education agency staff, policymakers, and representatives from departments of research and evaluation.


Related Resources


Center on Great Teachers and Leaders, Center on School Turnaround, Public Impact, and the University of Virginia, Darden/Curry Partnership for Leaders in Education. (2015). Recruit, select, and support: Turnaround leader competencies. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from


Le Floch, K. C., Birman, B., O’Day, J., Hurlburt, S., Mercado-Garcia, D., Goff, R., et al. (2014). Case studies of schools receiving School Improvement Grants: Findings after the first year of implementation (NCEE 2014-4015). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance. Retrieved from


Player, D., Hambrick Hitt, D., & Robinson, W. (2014). District readiness to support school turnaround: A users’ guide to inform the work of state education agencies and districts. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia, Darden/Curry Partnership for Leaders in Education. Retrieved from


Steiner, L., & Hassel, E. A. (2011). Using competencies to improve school turnaround principal success. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia, Darden/Curry Partnership for Leaders in Education. Retrieved from