College of Education Receives $4.8M Grant to Launch School Improvement Leadership Academy

A principal stands outside a classroom.

The University of Maryland College of Education has launched a program to support school leaders in their efforts to increase student achievement.

Funded by a $4.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Elementary & Secondary Education’s Supporting Effective Educator Development Program, the School Improvement Leadership Academy will bring together up to 180 principals and assistant principals from Title I, high-need and/or targeted support and improvement schools in Maryland, New Jersey and Delaware for comprehensive, evidence-based professional learning and development.

“To narrow achievement gaps and help advance education equity, we need to provide resources and targeted support to school districts where historical trends and society have not always allowed students to succeed,” said Segun Eubanks, director of the college’s Center for Educational Innovation and Improvement, which will lead the academy. “We know that high-quality leaders are critical to meeting student needs, and the center will provide school leaders with the skills and knowledge they need to help improve student achievement. We are excited about this academy and the impact it will have on schools and districts for years to come.”

The two-year academy will create webinars and synchronous and asynchronous course experiences that teach principles of improvement science. In addition, the academy will implement academic interventions, support equity-informed leadership, promote culturally responsive social and emotional learning, and focus on methods to advance literacy and mathematics outcomes.

Other activities include conducting an equity audit of participating schools, matching principals and assistant principals with leadership coaches, facilitating on-site visits, hosting a summer institute, and evaluating and measuring progress on school improvement plans.

In this work, the academy will operate under the premise that leaders can and should be developed.

“Obtaining a principal certification is just the tip of the iceberg; you need daily support in order to serve as an effective leader,” said Eubanks. “We want to give practical and applicable strategies that principals and assistant principals can bring to their schools and districts and share leadership practices that can help them demonstrate measurable improvement.”  

The first cohort of school leaders attended their first webinar in April 2023, representing nine school districts–seven in the state of Maryland (Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Baltimore County Public Schools, Caroline County Public Schools, Dorchester County Public Schools, Howard County Public Schools, Montgomery County Public Schools and Prince George’s County Public Schools) and two in Delaware and New Jersey (Christina Public School District and Plainfield Public Schools, respectively). 

“As we experience more turnover in educational leadership across our state, this program is a terrific way to help cultivate quality leaders and ensure our educational institutions continue thriving for the betterment of our students,” said Michael J. Martirano, superintendent of Howard County Public Schools “Moreover, the academy is a perfect example of how local school systems and institutions of higher learning collaborate to ensure we are supporting the continuous learning and development of our leaders.”