WestEd is pleased to announce that Carlas McCauley, Director of the Center on School Turnaround, is joining a new nationwide peer review network committed to improving all schools for all students. The bipartisan peer review network, comprising approximately 25 policy experts, is part of the new Check State Plans: Promise to Practice campaign, led by the nonprofit Collaborative for Student Success in partnership with HCM Strategists.

Extending the Collaborative’s mission to prepare every child for college and career success, the new campaign will showcase innovative ideas and practices related to the implementation of state plans required by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). “The success of this project is incumbent upon garnering true expertise in school turnaround efforts to ensure we are highlighting best practices and providing meaningful feedback to states and stakeholders,” says Jim Cowen, Executive Director of the Collaborative.

As Director of the Center on School Turnaround at WestEd, McCauley is nationally recognized for his work developing, supporting, and monitoring education improvement initiatives, and building state leaders’ capacity to assist districts and schools in meeting student achievement goals.

“A national leader in developing and supporting school improvement efforts, Carlas was selected because of his experience working with states as they tackle this important mission. Few individuals have his experience [and] understanding of the research into best practices, and are as highly regarded in the field,” says Cowen.

Fall 2018 marks a critical point on the ESSA timeline, as states embark on the implementation portion of ESSA planning. The new peer review network is designed to provide comprehensive, in-depth analyses to help states in this work. “Our best chance at closing achievement gaps around the country is through well-thought-out school improvement plans, and that is why the implementation work being done by states is so critically important,” McCauley says.

“We hope to see meaningful state progress,” he adds, “but also know these efforts will take time. We are looking forward to working with partners and education officials in states to highlight best practices that can serve as a resource for everyone involved in work to improve low-performing schools.”

Check State Plans: Promise to Practice builds on previous work, led by the Collaborative and Bellwether Education Partners, to convene the only independent peer review of state ESSA plans and to produce comprehensive reports highlighting national best practices that all states can reference as ESSA implementation and planning work evolves.