Institute for Strategic Leadership and Learning

Institute for Strategic Leadership and Learning

Institute for Strategic Leadership and LearningInstitute for Strategic Leadership and LearningInstitute for Strategic Leadership and Learning

Education Research and Policy Consulting

Our Mission

 Our mission is to promote innovation and meaningful change in public education through strategic leadership and learning within and across all levels of the  education system. We believe that all members of society - students,  parents, educators, organizations and policymakers - have an important  role to play in developing and implementing strategies that will improve  educational outcomes for all. 

We work to cultivate strategic leadership and learning, the construction of a policy environment conducive to innovation and successful implementation of effective strategies, and engage in meaningful evaluations of the various strategies and interventions employed to support teaching and learning.

Guiding Principles

Our work is guided by a set of core principles and a continually refined set of primary source documents and research. We invite you to review our principles and the research that guides our work. 

Areas Of Expertise

District and School Turnaround


Building upon a research- and practice-based set of Turnaround Practices, we specialize in working with states, districts, and individual schools to engage in strategic planning (e.g., root cause analysis, needs assessment) and the development of strategic objectives and actions leading to accelerated improvement. We use networks as a mechanism for accelerating learning and building the leadership capacity of individuals and organizations to support sustainable improvement. Because context matters, we customize our work to build upon the context, needs, and assets of our clients

System Design and Strategic Leadership


 We work with leaders across the education system (NGOs, states, districts, schools) and incorporate systems thinking into the design of accountability systems, support systems, and policies that incentive the use and sharing of evidence-based best practices so that all students are able to thrive and succeed in school and through college and career. We focus on urban and high poverty locales, emphasizing strategies for closing achievement gaps. We incorporate Improvement Science methodology into our work, building the capacity of leaders and teachers to successfully design and implement solutions.

Evaluation and Policy Analysis


We provide  detailed analysis and evaluations of state and federal education  policies and regulations as they impact local improvement efforts,  focusing on how policies are interpreted and enacted by individuals  across the education system. Using our analysis as a starting point, we  work with educational leaders to consider how to best construct, adapt,  utilize and communicate education policies so as to create a productive  policy environment that supports innovation and transformational  change. 

Recent Publications in our Areas of Expertise

District and School Turnaround

INSTLL has worked closely with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education since 2010, focusing on district and school turnaround. Our partnership led to the development of a set of Turnaround Practices that provide a framework for planning and support, including a variety of research and practice-based publications and guides.

Rapid District Improvement

Through our work, we have developed multiple tools, guidance, processes and rubrics to support districts engaged in significant improvement efforts, including a Framework for District Improvement. Please visit our Rapid District Turnaround site for additional information.

Systems Improvement

Our recent work (2014-2019) has focused on the use of networking and improvement science methodology to explore how to accelerate improvement efforts within and across school districts. We recently completed a three year partnership with Mass Insight Education that involved a network of five urban districts and over 20 schools working on a shared problem of practice and we have since expanded this work by focusing on building networks of schools within districts. 

The five-district Gateway to College Success initiative led to the publication of a policy brief, Using Networked Improvement Communities to Accelerate Improvement, and a detailed Technical Report that provides the research and evidence base for the brief. school turnaround

Systems Design and Networking

Additional information on our approach to systems design and networking is provided on our Systems Improvement page, including a preview of the suite of networking and improvement science tools and processes we are using, and hope to use with districts interested in this approach to improvement.  

Evaluation and Policy Analysis

Three recent evaluation reports showcase our approach to providing customized and rigorous evaluation support to organizations, state departments of education, and districts: 

  • Implementation evaluation of the Bay State Reading Initiative as part of a five-year Investing in Innovation (i3) grant.
  • The Improving School Initiative Final Evaluation Brief: A three-year evaluation of Boston-based school improvement effort, focusing on coaching, data-use, and building teacher and leadership capacity in three urban schools.
  • Achieving College Success: In partnership with Mass Insight Education, INSTLL is evaluating the impact of the Advanced Placement STEM and English Initiative on students' matriculation, persistence and success in college. 
  • The proceedings from the 2014 College Success Research Forum provide an integrated policy and research agenda for improving the college attendance and persistence of minority and low income students. Bringing together national and state leaders (Massachusetts), this document summarizes the key findings, challenges, and action items for improving college success. 

Evaluation and Policy Analysis

Additional information on our approach to evaluation and policy development is provided on our Evaluation and Policy Analysis page, including description of our approach to evaluation and how we work with states and district to analyze and construct policy that incentives accelerated improvement among district and schools.  


We will respond directly to inquiries within 24 hours. 

Please feel free to email directly to


INSTLL, LLC. 30 Overbrook Road Catonsville, MD 21228 US

(443) 635-4816

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