WestEd is pleased to announce a new research collaboration to study a major new effort by the Wallace Foundation called the Equity-Centered Principal Pipeline Initiative (ECPI). The research project, titled A CALL for Equity-Centered Leadership (CALL-ECL), will document networked improvement efforts by districts, universities, and state departments of education as they seek to enhance a district’s own vision of equity and student success through educational leadership supports.

Matthew Clifford at WestEd is co-principal investigator on this collaborative research project and joins other researchers from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, University of California at Los Angeles, Teachers College at Columbia University, and American Institutes for Research.

“The CALL-ECL project addresses some of the most important educational questions today: How can leaders create more equitable school systems for students and their communities? and How can school districts, universities, and states attract and retain a more diverse school leadership workforce?” says Dr. Clifford. “The CALL-ECL project examines how leadership networks create solutions to these pressing issues and creates measures for equity-centered leadership practices in schools.” This next generation of Wallace Foundation research will explore successful strategies for developing and selecting high-quality principals who can be effective in identifying and overcoming the deep structural causes of inequity that shape many schools.

The Wallace Foundation’s Equity-Centered Pipeline Initiative includes eight large school districts, 16 universities, and national organizations from across the United States that will enhance principal pipelines to prepare and support school-level leaders.

The Wallace Foundation estimates the cost of the initiative to be $102 million over the next five years. Beginning this fall, each district will lead these efforts at the local level in partnership with community organizations, two university leader preparation programs, and the state education agency. There are eight participating districts:

  • Baltimore City Public Schools, Maryland
  • Columbus City, Ohio
  • District of Columbia Public Schools, District of Columbia
  • Fresno Unified School District, California
  • Jefferson County School District, Kentucky
  • Portland Public Schools, Oregon
  • San Antonio Independent School District, Texas
  • Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, North Carolina

WestEd is uniquely poised to collaborate with the Wallace Foundation as part of the agency’s overall work to support principal leadership through enhancing principal pipelines, networked learning opportunities, and research-practice partnerships. Developing the effectiveness of our nation’s education leaders through high-quality research is a top agency priority because school principals have a powerful influence on student learning, access to great teaching, and education equity.

The Wallace Foundation has a sound record of supporting school leadership practice and research. Over the past 20 years, Wallace-supported research has found that effective principals have a strong, positive impact on students and schools. A 2021 Wallace Foundation Report, “How Principals Affect Students and Schools,” explains how an effective principal has nearly the same impact on student achievement as an effective teacher — but across an entire school. There is similarly firm evidence for the benefits of comprehensive, aligned principal pipelines of the kind that the eight districts across the country plan to develop.

“We are honored that Matt will be serving as a co-principal investigator on a six-year implementation study to measure equity-centered leadership,” says WestEd CEO Glen Harvey.

“As a nation, we need school-level leaders who create equitable conditions for teaching and learning. As an agency, we appreciate opportunities for our researchers to apply rigorous research methods to the work of redesigning principal pipelines.”

For more information about the CALL-ECL project, contact Education Leadership Research and Technical Assistance Director Matthew Clifford at mcliffo@WestEd.org.