This RAND evaluation examines Wallace's "cohesive leadership system" initiative to meld school district and state policies so that principals are better able to improve teaching. The study analyzes efforts that were undertaken by 10 states and 17 affiliated districts to coordinate policies and activities related to school leadership so that they would reinforce rather than conflict with and undermine each other. These efforts included improving principal preparation, professional standards, licensure and on-the-job training, evaluation and working conditions.
RAND was not able to determine conclusively whether greater policy cohesion led to more time spent on instructional leadership in the sites studied. But comparing each state's progress, researchers were able to identify the eight most successful strategies that allowed participants to build stronger working relationships and greater policy coordination. One of the most effective was selecting project leaders who possessed enough political clout to overcome resistance to change.
Researchers identify a dozen local conditions, such as the stability of district leadership, that are influential in determining where collaborative efforts are most likely to flourish. They also make recommendations on how other states and districts wanting to align their education policies can best begin, build and sustain their work.