Exploratory Study of the HOPE Foundation© Courageous Leadership Academy: Summary of Findings

Seth Brown, KC Choi, and Becki Herman

The HOPE Foundation (HOPE) commissioned the American Institutes for Research (AIR) to conduct an exploratory study of the implementation and impact of the Courageous Leadership Academy (CLA). This report introduces the school reform model, describes the study methodology, presents findings for each of the three research questions explored, and discusses the implications for the intervention and additional research.

This school reform model builds on the principles in Failure is Not an Option (FNO) Six Principles to structure and inform the thoughtful development and use of School Leadership Teams (SLT) functioning as professional learning communities (PLC) and embedded professional development to build school staff as change leaders. The FNO Six Principles are:

  1. Developing core mission, vision, values, and goals
  2. Ensuring achievement for all students: Systems for intervention and prevention
  3. Collaborative teaming focused on teaching and learning
  4. Using data to guide decision making and continuous improvement
  5. Gaining active engagement from family and community
  6. Building sustainable leadership capacity

CLA involves a three-phase process of (1) taking stock, learning the FNO Six Principles, and building a professional learning community; (2) developing and implementing a plan to improve instruction; and (3) institutionalizing the practices (see Exhibit 1). Full implementation is designed to occur over three years, and involves selected staff from participating schools working across the district and within their home schools.

The anticipated ultimate outcome of CLA is improved student achievement. CLA is designed to improve student achievement by creating a collaborative professional community that functions to improve instruction and school climate. Therefore, changes in teacher collaboration, instruction, and other conditions for learning could be considered proximal outcomes.