Matthew Clifford 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 is co-principal investigator on 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 Arizona’s statewide Supervisors of Principals Academy, Tennessee’s Rural Principal Network, and the Wallace Foundation’s University Principal Preparation Initiative network.
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.
Clifford was part of the team that received a WestEd Strategic Investment grant to build training and technology that supports equity-focused coaching services. The coaching approaches will incorporate culturally responsive, evidence-based adult learning practices; foundational training for coaches across WestEd; and an online coaching log to support reflection and accountability.
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.