Colorado Highlighted Project - Turnaround Leadership Program

Posted on July 28, 2014

The Central Comprehensive Center at the University of Oklahoma, in partnership with the West Comprehensive Center at WestEd, is supporting the Colorado Department of Education in building state leadership capacity, increasing academic performance, and expanding high quality learning options for all its students, districts, and schools, with a focus on turning around the lowest-performing districts and schools.  Colorado joined the University of Virginia (UVA) Darden School of Business/Curry School of Education Partnership for Leaders in Education (PLE) in 2011 as a member of the Southwest Turnaround Leadership Consortium.  In addition to Colorado, four other states (Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and New Mexico) are members of this consortium started by the former Southwest Comprehensive Center at WestEd in 2010.  Three cohorts of school, district, and state leaders have worked in this program with a fourth cohort in the planning stages for Summer 2014.  Oklahoma also recently joined the consortium.  Oklahoma, as well as consortium member New Mexico, is supported by the South Central Comprehensive Center at the University of Oklahoma.

The UVA PLE Turnaround Specialist Program uses a systemic approach by working with school-, district-, and state-level leadership teams to help them build the internal capacity necessary to support and sustain effective school turnarounds.  The program uses innovative thinking from business and education to address the challenges and needs of education leaders that are in charge of turning around our nation’s lowest-performing schools.  Participants in the program commit to completing an intense two-year program that focuses on two components: high-impact school leaders and district capacity/conditions that support change.  Positive results have been shown already; schools in this program have experienced substantial improvements in performance on standardized tests.  This past year, the program was expanded to include a strand specifically designed for SEA executive teams to strengthen their organizational capacity to lead statewide improvement and reform initiatives.

The Central Comprehensive Center at the University of Oklahoma and its partner WestEd will continue to support Colorado's state-level leadership who attend this program alongside district and school leader participants.  The intermediate outcomes will be an improvement of instructional practices and highly effective turnaround leadership for all Colorado districts and schools.  The long-term outcome will be improved student learning.

For more information and resources, visit the Central Comprehensive Center website at

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