Case Study: UVA Partnership for Leaders in Education

“ClearView Consulting helps school leaders rethink what’s possible”

In 2003, the University of Virginia launched its Partnership for Leaders in Education (PLE) initiative. A joint venture between the Darden School of Business and the Curry School, the PLE’s mission is to raise educational outcomes significantly by building on the capabilities of the two respective UVA schools in order to strengthen district and school leadership.

Most importantly, the PLE believed the limited effectiveness of school system leadership and K-12 organizational design was the root of challenges faced by the US national education system. As part of its mission, the PLE launched the School Turnaround Program.

A three-year district and school leadership development program, the School Turnaround Program emphasizes improving the school system’s conditions through four main levers of change: Leadership, Differentiated Support and Accountability, Talent Management, and Instructional Infrastructure.

One of the Program’s core beliefs is that high-impact leadership is a primary driver of student outcomes and is necessary for school transformation.

To that end, the PLE partnered with ClearView Consulting to help districts choose and develop leaders that have the competencies needed to achieve lasting turnaround success.

ClearView Consulting helps UVA partners think strategically about leadership

Since its founding in 2010, ClearView Consulting has worked with the UVA’s School Turnaround Program, with the company’s initial role being to train district and school leadership in the Behavioral Event Interview (BEI) process.

Using the BEI and leveraging other complementary data, UVA and partner districts identify the school principals with the competencies needed to effect a successful school turnaround. ClearView has also been instrumental in helping UVA prepare districts to be ready to take on system-wide change by re-examining other practices and conditions for how they effectively serve schools.

In recent years, as UVA has expanded and updated its mission, vision and approach based on the data gleaned – and lessons learned – from successful school turnarounds that sustain, ClearView, too, has expanded its role to help UVA better meet its goals.

“What ClearView has done,” says William Robinson, Executive Director for the School Turnaround Program, “is help district and school leaders think more strategically about leadership development – to go beyond competencies.”

For example, the ClearView team helps district leaders and school principals consider the types of environments in which potential leaders will thrive and then exposes them to methods of selecting potential leaders from different recruitment pools, including teachers and assistant principals.

According to Robinson, once a district participates in the BEI process, they become empowered to leverage that data as part of their decision-making process — because they played a central role in producing the data from that process. “When that happens,” says Robinson, “a district superintendent or a principal supervisor puts their political capital behind their decisions and understands what it will take to support their chosen candidate.” Thus begin process of effective and sustainable change.

Achieving organizational transformation

A high school in Fulton County, Georgia had a once-in-a-generation chance to completely change the school’s culture. Working with the school’s leadership team in partnership with UVA, ClearView helped the school develop a strategy for using the BEI process to identify the teachers who wanted to be part of the change.

With this approach, the principal and his leadership team had the support needed to effect change throughout the organization versus a traditional (and often ineffective) top down approach.

“ClearView has worked with districts from San Antonio, Texas to Akron, Ohio to help reshape and rethink the actions their respective districts need to take to develop future leaders,” says Robinson.

Robinson goes on to add that ClearView’s real value is in helping leaders see possibilities – in the people they work with and in their own particular situations – that they might not otherwise. The ClearView team also helps UVA identify areas of growth for turnaround leaders.

“What it all adds up to is sustainable change, which is our reason for being,” says Robinson. “Working with ClearView, leaders feel more confident about what they can achieve and how they can reach their goals and vision.”