The Miami-Dade County Public Schools Project Lead Strong was designed to develop leadership capacity in chronically low-performing schools. The core, mission-critical target of Project Lead Strong is to build a bench of highly effective secondary principals who are prepared to turn around the most challenging, chronically low-performing senior high schools and to attract, empower, and lead high-performing teachers in order to improve student outcomes. Assistant principals and principals in higher performing schools are formally trained to lead turnaround schools by participating in professional development and job-shadowing experiences. Eight current principals or assistant principals in moderate- to high-performing schools will be trained during the five-year program.
AIR is conducting an evaluation study of Project Lead Strong, which will be organized around the following five questions:
- To what degree has Project Lead Strong been implemented as planned, and why have any changes to the implementation plan occurred?
- Has Project Lead Strong increased principals’ abilities to effectively lead and turn around low-performing schools?
- To what degree has Project Lead Strong increased and/or strengthened the leadership skills of participating administrators?
- To what degree have trained principals in residence improved teacher working conditions (e.g., professional community) and instructional leadership quality in their schools?
- To what degree have low-performing schools led by trained principals in residence improved student achievement and graduation rates?
The early years of the evaluation will focus on providing formative feedback regarding implementation, with an increasing emphasis on measuring summative program effectiveness as the evaluation progresses. Evaluators are using surveys, interviews, and extant program documents to examine program implementation and to track program effectiveness in improving intermediary outcomes, including school working conditions and quality of instructional leadership. The evaluation team is employing an interrupted time series design to track program effectiveness in raising student achievement.