Through the work of the PELP faculty and the hard work of our PELP partners in school districts, the PELP project has built a foundation of working knowledge that has both responded to and influenced the changing field of practice.

Entry Planning for Equity-Focused Leaders book coverEntry Planning for Equity-Focused Leaders: Empowering Schools and Communities

Jennifer Perry Cheatham, Rodney Thomas, and Adam Parrott-Sheffer, October 2022

Entry Planning for Equity-Focused Leaders introduces an equity-minded process for intentional entry planning that sets the stage for sustainable change within organizations. Jennifer Perry Cheatham, current PELP Co-Chair from HGSE, and her colleagues consolidate their extensive experience centering equity in leadership. They affirm that the entry of a new leader, or the pivot of an established one, affords an unparalleled opportunity to garner the insight, trust, and commitment that will establish a basis for positive, equitable transformation within a system.


Achieving Coherence in District Improvement book cover

Achieving Coherence in District Improvement: Managing the Relationship Between the Central Office and Schools

Susan Moore Johnson, Geoff Marietta, Monica C. Higgins, Karen L. Mapp, and Allen Grossman, June 2015

Achieving Coherence in District Improvement focuses on a problem of practice faced by educational leaders across the nation: how to effectively manage the relationship between the central office and schools. The book is based on a study of five large urban districts that have demonstrated improvement in student achievement. The authors—all members of Harvard University’s Public Education Leadership Project (PELP)—argue that there is no “one best way” to structure the central office-school relationship. Instead, they say, what matters is whether district leaders effectively select and implement their strategy by achieving coherence among key elements and actors—the district’s environment, resources, systems, structures, stakeholders, and culture.

" "

Managing School Districts for High Performance: Cases in Public Education Leadership 

Edited by Stacey Childress, Richard F. Elmore, Allen Grossman, and Susan Moore Johnson, November 2007

Managing School Districts for High Performance brings together more than twenty case studies and other readings that offer a powerful and transformative approach to advancing and sustaining the work of school improvement. At the center of this work is the concept of organizational coherence: aligning organizational design, human capital management, resource allocation, and accountability and performance improvement systems to support an overarching strategy. This central idea provides a valuable conceptual framework for current and future school leaders.

" "

Where Teachers Thrive: Organizing Schools for Success

Susan Moore Johnson, June 2019

In Where Teachers Thrive, Susan Moore Johnson outlines a powerful argument about the importance of the school as an organization in nurturing high‐quality teaching. Based on case studies conducted in fourteen high-poverty, urban schools, the book examines why some schools failed to make progress, while others achieved remarkable results. It explores the challenges that administrators and teachers faced and describes what worked, what didn’t work, and why.


" "

Improving Education Together: A Guide to Labor Management Community Collaboration

Geoff Marietta, Chad D'Entremont, and Emily Murphy Kaur, June 2017

Improving Education Together offers a step-by-step guide to Labor-Management-Community (LMC) collaboration, an intervention that has successfully improved student outcomes in a wide variety of school districts across the country. The authors illustrate how a culture of collaboration between labor, management, and community   stakeholders can be built using readily available tools for needs assessment, root-cause analysis, team norms, brainstorming, consensus-building, and long-term planning.  Chapter 1 draws lessons learned from case studies and research PELP conducted in Baltimore City Schools.

" "

Leading for Equity

Stacey M. Childress, Denis P. Doyle, and David A. Thomas, July 2009

Leading for Equity tells the compelling story of the Montgomery County (Maryland) Public Schools and its transformation—in less than a decade—into a system committed to breaking the links between race and class and academic achievement. In chapters organized around six core themes, the authors lay out the essential elements of MCPS’s success. They identify key lessons other districts can draw from MCPS’s experience and offer a framework for applying them. A dramatic departure from “business as usual,” MCPS has won nationwide attention as a compelling model for tackling the achievement and opportunity issues that confront our nation as a whole.

" "

Education Reform in New York City, Ambitious Change in the Nation's Most Complex School System

Edited by Jennifer A. O’Day, Catherine S. Bitter, and Louis M. Gomez, April 2011

Chapter 4: Managing for Results at the New York City Department of Education
Stacey Childress, Monica Higgins, Ann Ishimaru, and Sola Takahashi

The education reforms in New York City’s public schools begun under the administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and School Chancellor Joel Klein have been among the most ambitious of any large urban system in the country. Aimed at instituting evidence-based practices to produce higher and more equitable outcomes for all students, the policies that comprise the Children First initiative represent an attempt at organizational improvement and systemic learning that is unparalleled in U.S. public education. The tremendous scope of the reforms, the multiple and interrelated challenges involved in their implementation, and their undeniable impact all underscore their importance in providing lessons for the field and in framing the conversation about the next level of work in district-based reform.