Partnership for Leaders in Education

UVA-PLE - Creative Partnerships

Creative Partnerships



In our commitment to advance strong leadership practice across the entire education space, the UVA-PLE designs and facilitates various custom programs and partnerships to meet the needs of state education agencies; nonprofits; and previous, current and new district partners.

See the Contact Us page to inquire on behalf of your team.

  • Accelerate

    Accelerate Partnership Overview

    It is rare for a public school system to create and sustain high levels of growth in a multitude of high-poverty, previously underserved schools and ultimately create performance far above the state average. But given positive results in a number of the UVA-PLE’s partner districts, there are many of our partners striving toward or achieving just this.

    In 2016, UVA-PLE launched Accelerate, its first ever national sustainability program to further establish proof points of school excellence in these districts and to inform broader efforts to improve the systems and schools within these communities. Since its inception, only a select group of schools from each district were invited to join the program, with a particular focus on including those that have experienced significant growth over the course of their change initiative and have school leadership and system conditions most ready for next-level change.

    In this partnership in pursuit of systems of excellence, we encourage school and district partners to deepen their existing change efforts while tackling next-order challenges. During the partnership, we hope to accelerate efforts to institutionalize systems and cultures of continuous improvement that will last beyond changes in district or school leadership and inform what is possible to other schools in the system. Doing this well requires engaging teacher leaders more intentionally in the process of transformational change and thus serves a dual purpose of helping to build leadership pipelines.

    Outcomes for Accelerate Partnerships Include:

    Insight: Generate insight from continuous improvement efforts, informed by a deep understanding of stakeholder experience and multiple measures of data.

    Co-creation: Create structures for team members to champion day-to-day improvement efforts and engage stakeholders in co-creating success. 

    Vision to Inspire: Create a next-level vision for sustainable high-performance and leverage that vision to inspire improvements in key capabilities.

    Iteration to Achieve: Launch, iterate and refine an innovative project that directs talent and resources in pursuit of achieving the vision.

    Redesign to Evolve: Institutionalize lessons learned, develop a plan for scaling them, and continue evolving a culture of continuous improvement. 

    Research Basis for Accelerate Partnership

    Beyond turnaround: a synthesis of relevant frameworks for leaders of sustained improvement in previously low-performing schools

    Relatively little is understood about change — not just during the initial turnaround stage, but change that endures on the larger journey as the school becomes a healthy organization for adults and students. This study synthesizes existing frameworks relevant to implicated constructs of (1) school turnaround, (2) effective educational leadership, (3) turnaround external to education, and (4) sustained improvement external to education through developing a cohesive set of practices to inform the work of researchers and practitioners. 

    Enduring Myths That Inhibit School Turnaround

    The concept of school turnaround — rapidly improving schools and increasing student achievement outcomes in a short period of time — has become politicized despite the relative newness of the idea. This book is the first in a new series on school turnaround and reform intended to spur ongoing dialogue among and between researchers, policymakers and practitioners on improving the lowest-performing schools and the systems in which they operate. 

  • State Education Agency

    State Partnerships

    We’ve designed and delivered various custom programs and partnerships to meet the needs of state education agencies (SEAs) to pursue bold and sustainable change. Our work with state-level teams has included identifying and confronting their most critical challenges and enhancing the cross-functionality and culture of their organizations. Our work has also at times focused on enhancing each state’s school transformation strategy, helping lead New Mexico to establish the nationally acclaimed Principals and Teachers Pursuing Excellence endeavors.

    Most recently, the UVA-PLE and WestEd partnered to provide an executive team leadership partnership for SEA chiefs and their executive teams. This partnership has provided SEA teams in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah opportunities to build capacity of executive teams to lead, align, support, monitor and promote statewide initiatives that make a difference for students and communities.

    From 2006–09, the UVA-PLE developed the Executive Leadership Program for Educators (ELPE) with the support from the Wallace Foundation to partner with six states to help senior educators at the state and district level; build capacity to identify, focus and align key priorities; and develop a system-wide process for leading organizational change. Thanks in part to lessons learned from the ELPE and other programs, the UVA-PLE now places more emphasis on building systemic capacity and pursuing enhancements in district-level conditions. The partnership also played a vital role in crafting the Center on School Turnaround’s four domain framework that over 20 states leveraged from 2016–18 to enhance their systemic school improvement strategy.

  • Elevate and Custom

    Elevate and Other Custom Partnerships

    The UVA-PLE has customized Core Partnerships and tailored executive education programs to existing partnerships to meet the collective organizational leadership needs of school systems. 

    For instance, we’ve supported cabinet-level leaders with aligning on strategy, advancing talent and equity initiatives, and creating a strong central office culture. We’ve also supported district principal supervisors and academic teams with advancing their skillsets to identify and support the most relevant needs of schools and enhance leadership development. Some of these custom approaches have engaged school boards and community stakeholders, and many of them have been connected to extending the impact of our Core Partnership work.

    One current, ambitious custom partnership is Elevate. A multiyear approach, Elevate tackles the root needs of systems and builds ambitious strategic execution plans and lasting leadership capacity for system level leaders. Our vision through this partnership is to empower and strengthen district leadership to identify and tackle their most critical strategic challenges and to provide ongoing thought partnership to ensure strong execution and learning. We’re currently partnering only with school systems that have made dramatic gains in student achievement to support them with next-level effort. 

    We understand boldness, urgency and willingness to adapt are necessary to overcome the strong forces of institutional inertia and the national history of districts and schools that make initial strong gains but have a hard time expanding impact. We design the work to help partners more deeply understand school experience of the system, assess their own performance against the principles of effective change and school systems that matter most, and be more strategically responsive to emergent needs and build capacity that lasts far beyond partnership with the UVA-PLE.