Recommended Insights
Recommended Insights

Leadership Development Drives Positive School Outcomes

South Carolina Department of Education
CLIENT:South Carolina Department of Education
SIZE:Serving over 700K students in in 85 school districts

Client Profile & Challenge

At the turn of the 21st century, the South Carolina Department of Education found itself facing a dilemma. Personnel statistics showed nearly half the state’s principals would be eligible to retire within just 5 years. That meant the department soon would face an unprecedented demand for new school leaders who could perform at the top of their game across the system, which serves 701,749 students in 1,100 public schools in 85 school districts.

State executives turned to our Education and Nonprofit Sector to help them address the looming challenge. Together we created a 2-year School Leadership Executive Institute (SLEI) that has trained hundreds of K-12 principals and school superintendents since its inception in 2000.

The Institute is now a yearlong program that delivers a powerful, 3-pronged curriculum: leadership training from CCL, instructional excellence training from the Department of Education, and management skills training from the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business. Quarterly, 3-day sessions bring together between 25 and 30 principals and superintendents from diverse backgrounds, schools, and school districts.

Solution & Results

As a result of the Institute’s work, South Carolina has a new cadre of leaders creating a student-centered environment and improving outcomes in schools across the state.

Surveys show program graduates are putting lessons learned into practice. They are taking an entrepreneurial approach to their work and promoting collaboration and consensus-building. They are strong problem solvers, navigate systems effectively, and know how to create a culture of ethics. They communicate their own excitement about learning and focus attention on student achievement.

In fact, the program is developing the level of public school leadership that research demonstrates is linked to student achievement. Importantly, the gains in leadership effectiveness seem unrelated to years of service. So early-career principals and superintendents are performing at the same level as those with far more experience, helping the Department of Education maintain high competency levels as senior educators retire.

Follow-up studies at 2 elementary schools led by SLEI graduates confirm the positive — and tangible — impact of the program. Students are performing at higher levels, discipline problems have plummeted, and teachers are far more satisfied in their work. Strong, effective leadership is helping principals achieve results that matter.

In a survey of South Carolina Leadership Executive Institute Alumni:
say the program prepared them to lead effective school change.
report a change in their school’s culture as a result of their participation.
agree or strongly agree that the program taught them how to positively impact student achievement.
say the experience will accelerate improved results

Participants Say

“The discussions with colleagues from around the state really provided some firsthand knowledge of different programs and best practices. These conversations led to the implementation of best practices that were not utilized prior to the SLEI program. As educators, we are isolated in our buildings. SLEI opened doors to see what schools like ours were doing to increase student achievement.”

– Lerah Lee, Principal, St. James-Santee Elementary School, McClellanville, SC

“Of all the professional development I have been involved in over my 13 years in education, SLEI and CCL far surpass any learning experience I have ever been privileged to attend. This program is a MUST for all South Carolina administrators, I believe.”

– Amy Mims, Principal, Grove Elementary School, Piedmont, SC

Partner With Us

Our Youth Leadership solutions provide educational leadership for the classroom, the school, and the community. Whether you are an organization seeking to improve education in your community, or a principal eager to participate in research-driven educational leadership training, we have a program to meet your needs.


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