Skip to main content

ESSA Leadership Learning Community

In 11 states, community, district, and state stakeholders regularly discussed how to promote effective, equity-minded school leadership. Innovations and policy ideas emerged.
A group of mixed race woman in a conference room, one in an orange dress, is standing holding an open book

What we did

An institute to help five Wisconsin cities strengthen their sitting principals. A rural Nebraska alliance to train aspiring school leaders. What do these two endeavors have in common? Both emerged from a six-year effort in 11 states to bring together community, school district, and state voices. The idea was to provide a forum for discussion about how best to improve school leadership, especially for schools with the highest needs. This effort was organized by Wallace. It was spurred by the enactment of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in late 2015. ESSA, as it is commonly known, gave states and locales new authority over spending federal education dollars. 


What we learned

Researchers from Policy Studies Associates studied the ESSA Leadership Learning Community. They said the community was unusual because of its composition. It was made up of teams of people who don’t usually have extended conversation about public schools. This lack of communication was surprising because of the big stake in education held by the trio of participants:

  • Community members who rely on schools to provide their children with a strong education, 
  • School district leaders
  • State education officials.

Team discussions could sometimes get fraught, the researchers found. But much creative thinking about how to improve school leadership emerged, too.  

Our Grantee Partners


Sign up to receive our monthly email newsletter and news from Wallace.