August 11, 2022
New Guidebook to Help K-12 Systems Implement Large-Scale Initiatives

Chiefs for Change, a bipartisan network of district and state education leaders, today released a strategy implementation guidebook that K-12 systems can use to launch and strengthen large-scale programs. With a historic infusion of federal Covid aid, districts are planning and executing a range of initiatives to help students catch up in their learning and recover from pandemic-related disruptions. The resource guides leaders through key aspects of the process from initiative planning to execution. This includes engaging the community; establishing a goal and outlining plans for how to achieve it; defining roles and responsibilities; creating workstreams; and ultimately implementing programs and evaluating their impact.

The federal government approved approximately $190 billion in emergency, time-limited funding for K-12 education. Districts have worked with their communities to determine how to best invest these funds. Teams have identified various approaches and have created, or are in the process of creating, plans to effectively implement or expand critical programs throughout their systems. The extent of implementation required poses a complex challenge given the urgency and wide spectrum of student needs. Chiefs for Change worked with a large school system to develop the guidebook based on what that district said it needed to oversee more than 90 initiatives enabled by federal Covid aid.

“This guidebook can help education leaders ensure important projects get off to a strong start and everyone is aligned on how they will carry those projects forward to make the greatest impact,” said Chiefs for Change Board Member Janice Jackson, the former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, who provided input on the resource. “So often when initiatives go awry, it’s because they are not tied to long-term strategic goals, or teams rush into the execution phase without thinking about potential opportunities or roadblocks. This tool will help school districts do their work in a methodical fashion, factoring in the perspectives of various subject matter experts and others, and then designing programs so they support the district’s overall goals.”

With checklists, templates, and planning exercises, Chiefs for Change created a ready-made resource that can be customized based on each district’s needs. The guidebook complements other materials the network has produced to support systems in their Covid recovery. See the Resources page to access other tools.

“Chiefs who are currently leading K-12 systems will benefit from this new guidebook. The tools also provide a great roadmap for aspiring superintendents to learn sound strategies for managing complicated projects that cut across multiple teams in a large school system,” said Chiefs for Change Chief in Residence Peter Gorman, the former superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina, who also contributed to the guidebook and coaches members of the Future Chiefs leadership development program. “The guide will be a key part of the curriculum for our Future Chiefs going forward. In addition, I’m glad that Chiefs for Change is making the tool available, free of charge, to any system that wants to use it. We need education leaders everywhere to be focused on ensuring the federal Covid aid–and all resources–are spent wisely to help our nation’s students.”

About Chiefs for Change

Chiefs for Change operates the largest community of practice for education leaders in the nation and has produced resources, available here, to support K-12 systems in responding to the pandemic. The network advocates for policies and practices that are making a difference today for students, and builds a pipeline of talented, diverse Future Chiefs ready to lead major school systems.