Matthew Clifford is the Director of Education Leadership for Educational Leadership and System Design. He oversees a portfolio of WestEd research, policy, and professional development projects focused on educational leadership workforce development. He is responsible for overseeing business strategies that match client interests with WestEd expertise.
Clifford leads client-focused research studies that examine how leaders create schools focused on student equity and achievement. The studies use rigorous methods to answer questions about what works in school leadership and they examine how systems are designed to develop principals, from preparation through professional development and evaluation. Clifford currently leads several large-scale studies on principal professional development effects, including the Wallace Foundation’s Equity-Centered Principal Pipeline research study. Previously, Clifford has completed multiple large-scale studies for Leading Education Partnerships at Illinois State University, George W. Bush Institute, National Institute for School Leadership, and Teach for America.
With the view that research is essential to improving policy and practice, Clifford leads research-to-practice partnerships, networks, and professional development programs for principals and their supervisors. He currently leads the Bridge Project, which is a demonstration project aimed at supporting educators’ successful transitions to the principalship and the Supervisors of Principals Academy (SOPA), a professional learning network for central office administrators.
He also consults with states, districts, and charter management organizations on policy and program design aimed at attracting and retaining talented school administrators. He has led and co-led multiple task forces on school leadership supports and working conditions. Currently, he is working with New Mexico and Utah policy networks on principal evaluation design, and consulting with the Illinois State Board of Education on principal preparation program metrics.
Prior to joining WestEd, Clifford served as principal researcher at American Institutes for Research. He has been studying and working with school principals for 20 years and is a lifelong educator, having worked as a school teacher and administrator.