Building Leadership Capacity in California’s Public Education Systems: Lessons From the SCALE Initiative

Educators and other stakeholders in the education field recognize the power of school systems to create the conditions for student success in our public schools. Indeed, a growing set of cross-district collaborative networks seeks to capitalize on the power of districts in effecting change for students. However, these approaches rarely focus on the capacity of system leaders themselves.

The Stuart Foundation California Leaders in Education (SCALE) Initiative is an effort to build the individual leadership capacity of system leaders in several of California’s traditional public school districts and charter management organizations. The initiative builds on the premise that in order to create school systems that maximize student success, the superintendents and chief executive officers leading those systems need to learn from best practices and from one another to build their individual skills.

This report addresses several questions key to understanding the SCALE Initiative:

  • What is the history of the initiative? What does it look like, and how has it evolved?
  • How do participants describe their experience with the SCALE Initiative?
  • What elements of the initiative have been the most effective?
  • What elements of the initiative have posed the greatest challenges?
  • What lessons can we learn from the SCALE Initiative?

In answering these questions, this report can inform the broader field of education stakeholders about ways in which school system leaders can best contribute to student success.