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McREL delivers evidence-based processes, programs, and professional learning to schools, districts, and education service agencies to drive quick wins and long-term school improvement and innovation.

Through our on-site and online services we help principals, school supervisors, superintendents, and other education leaders respond to their current and emerging needs to improve instructional practice, increase student expectations and achievement, and promote school and system effectiveness.

Contact us today to learn more about our school improvement services and see how we can help your school or district achieve its goals!

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The Right Approach: Evidence-Based Services Customized to Your School’s Needs

McREL’s expert staff are former district leaders, principals, and teachers themselves who have experience leading successful school improvement initiatives, and they have deep knowledge of evidence-based best practices that support school improvement. Our team has worked with hundreds of schools across the U.S. and around the world, helping plan and enact effective school improvement strategies in a variety of setting. As your improvement partner, we’ll work side-by-side with you to plan and implement important changes, and monitor the results. We’ll also help your leaders and staff build their own professional skills and capacity to improve outcomes and sustain momentum over the long term.
Every school has unique conditions and needs, and at McREL we prioritize context and collaboration when working with our school and district clients. We don’t deliver one-size-fits-all, off-the-shelf, prescribed programs. Before proposing any solutions or services, we first focus on learning about you and your school community: your strengths and traditions, your values and goals, your culture, and your areas of concern. We then tailor our services to fit your specific needs, building contextualized solutions on a solid foundation of evidence-based best practices, forward-thinking concepts, an equity lens, and a systems approach to continuous improvement.

McREL’s School Improvement Services include:

  • Capacity building of in-district expertise
  • Continuous improvement planning and implementation
  • Curriculum analysis and alignment with standards and assessments
  • Diagnostic review, needs assessment, program evaluation, and recommendations
  • Educator development and coaching
  • Leadership development and coaching
  • Professional learning
  • Turnaround and priority school improvement planning and implementation
All of McREL’s school improvement services, trainings, coaching, and strategic advice are built on a solid foundation of our research-based and evidence-based frameworks for school improvement.

What our clients are saying . . .

“McREL has helped our staff to grow professionally and have a bigger impact on student learning.”

—Darrel Kohlman, superintendent, Kansas

“Our partnership with McREL has been extremely beneficial and is a
contributing factor toward the increase in our student achievement scores.”

—Rik Devney, principal, Nebraska

What to Improve: What Matters Most®

McREL’s meta-analysis of decades of research on effective schools and districts revealed five  high-leverage, high-payoff areas for school systems to invest inthat are most likely to have positive effects on student success.
McREL helps educators gain the knowledge, skills, and procedures needed to create and sustain these important conditions through our professional learning, coaching, analysis, and technical assistance services.
  • Challenging, engaging, and intentional instruction
  • Curricular pathways to success
  • Whole-child supports
  • High-performance school cultures
  • High-reliability district systems

How to Improve: Curiosity Works® Improvement Phases

McREL’s analysis of improvement science, professional learning and curiosity, and the principles of high-reliability organizations led to our development of a six-phase process for school improvement. This approach called Curiosity Works, works for schools of all performance levels and helps guide school leadership teams understand and move through each phase at their school, using our proven tools, strategies, and methods to support collaborative growth and collective efficacy.
  • Phase 1: Get Ready—Establish Shared Values, Moral Purpose, and Compelling Vision
  • Phase 2: Create Hopeful Urgency and Chart a Course
  • Phase 3: Focus on Teaching and Learning
  • Phase 4: Support Professional Learning and Collaboration
  • Phase 5: Embed Consistent, Deep Practices
  • Phase 6: Build a Purposeful Community

School Improvement Resources

Curiosity Works: Moving Your School from Improvement to Innovation (2018)

In this white paper, Kristin Rouleau lays the groundwork for a powerful new model for school improvement—an inside-out, curiosity-driven approach—that looks for and builds on schools’ bright spots in ways that go beyond improvement and help unleash both student and educator curiosity. This innovative approach relies on a school’s readiness to commit to shared values within a purposeful community, a focus on teaching and learning, support for professional growth among teachers using a triad peer coaching model, and a consistent, deep practice that weathers the storms of change.


Curiosity Works: A Guidebook for Moving Your School from Improvement to Innovation

Curiosity Works incorporates key elements of McREL’s What Matters Most framework and Balanced Leadership program that teachers and leaders globally are already using to gain actionable insight into their profession, and layers on improvement pathways and phases of development to guide you and your team through a six-phase journey toward powerful, continuous improvement and innovation—with 17 tools you can use to reflect on where you are as a school and where you want to go, and implement the action steps needed to get there.

Simply Better: Doing What Matters Most to Change the Odds for Student Success

Bryan Goodwin presents research findings and real-life examples to show how “less is more” in education reform. Understand why five specific principles—instruction, curriculum, student support, high-performance school cultures, and data-driven districts—are key to helping all students succeed. Learn how strategic “touchstones” can challenge and nurture students, standardize yet personalize curriculum, counteract negative out-of-school factors, and reduce variance in teacher quality.

Contact McREL to learn more and see how we can help your school flourish.

phone: 800.858.5830  | email:  |  web form: contact us