AZiLDR Develops School Leadership Teams for Continuous Improvement

School leadership is essential for continuous school development and effectiveness. With today’s accountability policy demands, curriculum changes, reforms, and other external pressures (e.g. poverty), principals cannot lead school improvements alone. Arizona Initiative for Leadership Development and Research (AZiLDR) is a research-based school development process that prepares leadership teams to build capacity for continuous school development. AZiLDR is co-directed and facilitated by UA faculty members, Rose Ylimaki and Lynnette Brunderman. Maria Menconi, retired deputy superintendent from TUSD and adjunct faculty member, is also a lead facilitator and trainer for coaches.

Teams vary according to school size and level, but they most often include the principal, assistant principal or coach, teachers, and a district representative. These participants attend ten days of Institutes spread throughout the academic year as well as monthly follow-up meetings (regional PLCs), and individual school visits (walk-throughs). Topics for the institutes and regional meetings include team building, culture and climate, step-back coaching, curriculum standards, quality instruction, data literacy, and culturally responsive practices. With support from the districts and AZiLDR, teams develop and lead data-driven plans for improvement throughout their schools. In so doing, teams build capacity for curriculum work-leadership throughout their schools. Teams also examine their own school /district data as well as results from a leadership survey and periodic interviews that they use for reflection about their progress and for the development of next steps.

The school development process was initially developed in a statewide ITQ project in 2011-2012. Based upon findings from the statewide project, we refined the content and delivery system. During 2013-15, 8 additional Southern Arizona school teams competed the refined project with funding from the state of Arizona. Preliminary results indicated improvement in the state letter grade for all participating sites as well as growth in the capacity of the sites to implement change; these results have been presented at UCEA, AERA, and the European version, ECER, and published in Leadership and Policy in Schools and Journal of Educational Change.

During 2016-2017 Dr. Rose Ylimaki and Dr. Lynnette Brunderman worked on sustainability for school development with leadership teams in schools across Arizona. For more information, contact Dr. Lynnette Brunderman at