Over the course of the initiative, PELP has partnered with 58 urban school districts from across 27 states representing more than 5.5 million students in annual student enrollments. Each school district, at different times, worked closely with PELP to test and refine new management theories and practices aimed at improving teaching, learning, and student outcomes. The participating school districts involved at varying capacities and at different intervals, include:

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States highlighted in yellow indicate states with participated districts. Click on the state to see specific districts.

Milestone Reflections: PELP after 10 & 15 years

In 2018 and after 15 years of work with over 42 large urban districts, PELP recognized prior and ongoing impact in four of its partner districts with a collection of written vignettes available here.

In 2013 and after 10 years of work with over 22 large urban districts, PELP’s work was spotlighted in the HBS Alumni Bulletin with a special emphasis on Principal Cindy Harcum and the deep partnership with Baltimore City Public Schools.

Stories of PELP Impact

The PELP Summer Institute returned to HBS campus for the summer of 2022. Both co-chairs, superintendents, and facilitators reflected on their experience, which is documented in the article School Leaders Learning from Each Other.

During the COVID-19 crisis in 2020, the PELP Project had to postpone its annual on-campus gatherings with partner school districts, but this offered a new opportunity to engage remotely with a cohort of 11 large urban school districts wrestling with planning for the restart of schools for the 2020-21 academic year. Some of those lessons learned are captured by co-chair Jen Cheatham in an article for Usable Knowledge entitled Confronting the Challenges of Restarting School.

In early May 2020 after the full impact of the COVID-19 crisis was being felt in school systems across the country, PELP convened our spring virtual triad discussion with the three largest systems in the country to discuss lessons learned from the inital 60 days of reacting to the school closures and rapid shifts. Former PELP colleague and current fellow at The Century Foundation Stefan Lallinger documents the lessons surfaced in the session.

In the summer of 2020 and in response to the impact of the pandemic on school districts, HGSE launched the Dean's Education Fellows initiative which was administered by the PELP project to better serve our partner districts in the field. Included here is a compilation of testimonials from many of the fellows who participated as well as a summary video. The fellowship was renewed for the summer of 2021, and the 2021 fellows shared their impactful experiences.

With the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) celebrating its centennial in 2020, the school chose to highlight the PELP Project as one of its 100 Stories of Impact: PELP.

After a recent three-year partnership with PELP, Los Angeles Unified School District is experiencing measurable gains in chronic absenteeism, graduation rates, reduced suspensions, and math achievement as it pushes for improved student performance. In an interview with Local District South Superintendent Michael Romero, the collaboration with the PELP project to drive improvement is highlighted.

In 2019, Mississippi achieved the No. 1 spot in the nation for gains on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report Card, and State Superintendent of Education, Dr. Carey Wright, attributes the improvements to a coherent strategy which has been explicitly informed by the PELP coherence framework. Dr. Carey Wright was a one-time PELP participant and valued facilitator for many years working with our PELP partner districts.

PELP Testimonials

“The PELP institute is one of the most dynamic professional learning experiences that I’ve been involved with. And I would recommend it to any superintendent, or school leader, or district office person.” – J. Alvin Wilbanks, CEO/Superintendent, Gwinnett County Public Schools

"The environment at PELP creates a unique and special forum for school district leaders. The most valuable elements of the program are the experiences with world-class faculty, time together as a district team, and time with other districts – away from the day-to-day demands of our district jobs. The program helped us define what success would look like and got us thinking about goals and strategy."  –  Arne Duncan, former US Secretary of Education & prior PELP participant as CEO of the Chicago Public Schools