About Us

The U.S. Department of Education selected WestEd as the lead agency to operate the Center on School Turnaround (Center). WestEd is a nonprofit research, development, and service agency that works with education and other communities to promote excellence, achieve equity, and improve learning for children, youth, and adults.


The partners and collaborators in this Center—WestEd, the Academic Development Institute (ADI), the University of Virginia’s Darden/Curry Partnership for Leaders in Education (UVA-PLE), the National Implementation Research Network (NIRN), and a panel of nationally known education experts—strongly believe that efforts to turn around the nation’s persistently low-achieving schools can move from a system that focuses on islands of excellence to the “way we do business” in the United States.

The partnership supporting the Center offers an exciting opportunity to have significant impact on turnaround efforts nationwide. The organizations bring years of experience, vast expertise in education and, most importantly, proven track records in successfully building state and local capacity to turn around the lowest-performing schools. WestEd and ADI are recognized leaders in the nation’s efforts to turn around schools and were at the forefront of supporting U.S. Department of Education as it rolled out School Improvement Grants (SIG) and its turnaround initiative. The UVA-PLE adds an important leadership focus with its track record of building school and district leader capacity to effectively turn around low-performing schools. Finally, the NIRN adds a valuable component to the Center partnership, with its body of work on implementation, scaling, and sustainability.


WestEd is a preeminent educational research, development, and service organization with more than 600 employees and 16 offices nationwide in five states, as well as Washington, DC. WestEd is a leader in moving research into practice by conducting research and development (R&D) programs, projects, and evaluations; by providing training and technical assistance; and by working with national, regional, state, and local policymakers and practitioners to carry out large-scale school improvement and innovative change efforts. The agency’s mission is to promote excellence, achieve equity, and improve learning for children, youth, and adults. In developing and applying the best available resources toward these goals, WestEd has built solid working relationships with educational and community organizations at all levels, playing key roles in facilitating the efforts of others and in initiating important new improvement ventures.

Academic Development Institute (ADI)

ADI is a not-for-profit corporation founded in 1984 to assist families, schools, and communities with children’s academic and personal development. ADI’s work has focused on: (1) school improvement; (2) family-school programs; and (3) community services. ADI’s strengths include synthesizing research and applying it to practice; developing technological solutions in education; and developing and providing high-quality training and technical assiatance. ADI’s work focuses on district and school improvement, including school turnaround; state recognition systems, accountability, and support; family and community engagement; and change leadership and innovation. ADI administers the successful Center on Innovation and Improvement.

University of Virginia-Partnership for Leaders in Education (UVA-PLE)

In 2003, the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business and the Curry School of Education established a formal partnership—Darden/Curry Partnership for Leaders in Education. UVA-PLE’s mission is to raise educational outcomes significantly by strengthening district and school leadership. UVA-PLE is one of the most established school turnaround programs in the country and utilizes a systemic approach to change by working with schools, districts, and states to build internal capacity.

National Implementation Research Network (NIRN)

The NIRN’s mission is to contribute to the best practices and science of implementation, organizational change, and system reinvention to improve outcomes. For over 10 years, NIRN has led and engaged in national and global implementation initiatives and capacity building across human services, including education, child welfare, early childhood development, health, and criminal justice. NIRN’s goals are to advance the science of implementation across human service domains (e.g., health and education); to inform policies that promote implementation science and best practices in human services; and to ensure that the voices and experiences of diverse communities and consumers influence and guide implementation efforts.

Leadership Team

The Leadership Team of the Center on School Turnaround includes Director Carlas McCauley and Associate Director Sam Redding and the following staff:

Julie Duffield

Julie Duffield manages online learning for SchoolsMovingUp at WestEd, which has been conducting high-quality interactive webinars since 2003 to engage educators from around the country in conversations about educational research and practice. Duffield provides help on how to apply technology to enhance dissemination and technical assistance. She facilitates the design, development, and implementation of protocols using web communication and collaborative tools to support online communities of practice. Duffield works closely with researchers and practitioners to present their work in-depth and to help others engage with it. These partnerships produced interactive webinars and resources for SEA and LEA teams concerned with educational reform and district/school improvement.

Dean Fixsen

Dean Fixsen is Senior Scientist at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he serves as the co-Director of the National Implementation Research Network, which he founded in 2002. He is also co-Director of the Scaling-up Evidence-based Practices Center. He has spent his career developing and implementing evidence-based programs; managing change processes in provider organizations and service delivery systems; and working with others to improve the lives of children, families, and adults. He has co-authored over 100 publications, including the highly regarded monograph, Implementation Research: A Synthesis of the Literature. He has served on numerous editorial boards and has advised federal, state, and local governments.

Lauren Morando Rhim

Lauren Rhim is president of LMR Consulting, an educational policy, research, and evaluation consulting firm dedicated to leveraging research to inform practice in kindergarten through grade twelve education. She consults with state educational agencies, local educational agencies, and nonprofits committed to creating high-quality public schools for all students. A significant portion of her research, technical assistance, and writing focuses on characteristics of successful school turnarounds. Specifically, she has provided strategic program development, research, and instructional services to the University of Virginia for the School Turnaround Specialist Program. She is analyzing the role of school boards in school turnaround efforts with a publication in press.

William Robinson

William Robinson is the interim executive director of the Darden/Curry Partnership for Leaders in Education. Robinson is a graduate of Harvard Business School and Education Pioneers alum. Prior to joining the Darden/Curry Partnership, he completed consulting work for various education organizations including the DC Public Education Fund, the Center for Better Schools and Stand for Children. Robinson began his career at McMaster-Carr Supply Company, where he helped manage its supply chain operations in Atlanta. Robinson earned his BA in Economics from Princeton University.

Scott Sargent

Scott Sargent is a Program Coordinator with WestEd and his work focuses on the general management and operations of multiple projects, including the Center on School Turnaround and the California Comprehensive Center (CA CC) (both centers are part of the federal network of Regional Comprehensive Centers). He also gathers and synthesizes research and data related to school and district improvement strategies, interventions, and policies and is responsible for coordinating all internal and external grant reporting requirements. For the past five years, Sargent served as a Program Coordinator for the CA CC, where he managed the online workplan, monitored progress, and prepared reports.

Caitlin Scott

Caitlin Scott has extensive experience leading research and evaluation of school improvement and turnaround. She is interested in education as a social justice issue and particularly in research that will help improve K-12 education for traditionally underserved students. Dr. Scott currently works at Education Northwest as a Practice Expert and is the principal investigator for the evaluation of the federal Center on School Turnaround. She also oversees other Education Northwest research and evaluation of school-turnaround efforts in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. In addition, she is currently a consultant for the Center on Education Policy, where she assists with the Center’s studies of federal school-turnaround policies. Her evaluation and research projects use a variety of methods from randomized controlled trials, such as an experimental of a literacy program in Omaha, to qualitative case studies, such as a study of a collection of schools implementing student interventions in Washington state.

Caryn Ward

Caryn Sabourin Ward is a Senior Implementation Specialist at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Specifically, she works with the National Implementation Research Network’s State Implementation and Scaling up Center of Evidence Based Practices (SISEP). She provides intensive technical assistance for establishing an effective and affordable infrastructure for implementation of education innovations and practices in state education agencies, local education agencies, and schools. Caryn’s previous roles include district administrator for RTI, school psychologist, and project director for NC RTI Consortium.

Other Key Staff

Heather Mattson

As a Senior Research Associate with the Comprehensive School Assistance Program at WestEd, Heather Mattson conducts research, develops content, and disseminates information related to school and district improvement. Mattson’s primary focus is on topics related to improving outcomes for all students, especially the role of effective educators, professional learning, principal evaluation, school turnaround, district planning, and promising practices. Mattson is a key staff member for the Center on School Turnaround’s Journeys Project — a project designed to capture the day-to-day details of a school turnaround process.

Scott Vince

Scott Vince provides assistance on research-related tasks and projects for the Comprehensive School Assistance Program at WestEd. As a WestEd staff member, Vince has contributed to various projects by writing literature reviews, conducting case study research, and helping to develop a variety of other materials. Vince is a key staff member for the Center on School Turnaround’s Journeys Project — a project designed to capture the day-to-day details of a school turnaround process. Vince primarily focuses his work on school improvement research and labor-management collaboration research. He has co-authored two reports exploring labor-management collaboration in education.

Mark Williams

Mark Williams is the Vice President for Institutional Advancement at ADI and will co-coordinate the Center on School Turnaround’s Network of State Turnaround and Improvement Leaders (NSTIL). In his work at ADI, Williams is responsible for working with state and districts partners to provide research, training, and tools for leadership and supervision of rapid district and school improvement.

Scientific Council

The Center on School Turnaround has a Scientific Council that will include nationally recognized experts on educational topics, with a special focus on school turnaround issues. The Council serves a dual purpose. First, the Council members will provide information and advice to the Center’s leadership, helping to identify emerging issues, promising practices, and new thinking related to turning around our nation’s lowest-achieving schools. Second, individual members might be called upon to contribute to one or more projects for the Center. For example, they might author a briefing on expanded learning time, review publications drafted by Center staff, conduct a webinar, or provide a keynote presentation at a national or regional conference.

Brief descriptions of each Council member appear below.

Daniel Aladjem, Policy Studies Associates, Inc.

Daniel Aladjem has over ten years of experience leading large-scale, mixed-methods studies focused on school improvement, especially whole school reform and school turnaround. He directed the National Longitudinal Evaluation of Comprehensive School Reform, an Institute of Education Sciences-funded, large-scale study of the implementation and outcomes of comprehensive school reform. He currently leads an evaluation of the University of California Office of the President’s college readiness and access partnership program.

Jose Cole-Gutiérrez, Los Angeles Unified School District

Jose Cole-Gutiérrez, as Director of the Charter Schools Division, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), is responsible for developing and sustaining relationships with more charter schools than any other district staff nationwide. He leads LAUSD’s authorization of new charter schools and oversees 230 existing charter schools. Previously, he served as Academic Programs Director for the PUENTE Learning Center in Los Angeles for nearly seven years.

Julie Corbett, Corbett Education Consulting

Julie Corbett, Founder and Principal Consultant of Corbett Education Consulting, specializes in school and district educational reform and turnaround strategies. She works with school management organizations, districts, state educational agencies, and other nonprofit organizations on school and district improvement-related projects. Before launching her own educational consulting company, Corbett was Program Manager at Mass Insight Education and Research Institute in Boston.

Carol S. Dweck, Stanford University

Carol S. Dweck is a leading researcher in the field of motivation and is the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. Her research focuses on why people succeed and how to foster their success. More specifically, her work has highlighted the critical role of mindsets in business, sports, and education, and for self-regulation and persistence on difficult tasks in general. Her recent book Mindset has been widely acclaimed and is being translated into 17 languages.

Bryan Hassel, Public Impact

Bryan Hassel is co-Director of Public Impact. He consults nationally with leading public agencies, nonprofit organizations, and foundations working for dramatic improvements in K-12 education. He is a recognized expert on charter schools, school turnarounds, education entrepreneurship, and teacher and leader policy. His work has appeared in Education Next, Education Week, and numerous other publications and blogs. He is a senior affiliate with the Center on Reinventing Public Education, and a nonresident senior fellow with Education Sector.

Joseph F. Johnson, Jr., National Center for Urban School Transformation

Joseph F. Johnson, Jr. is Executive Director of the National Center for Urban School Transformation (NCUST) and the QUALCOMM Professor of Urban Education at San Diego State University. At NCUST, he identifies, studies, and promotes the best practices of high-performing urban schools and districts, and he prepares doctoral students for executive leadership roles in education. Johnson has published multiple articles, book chapters, and reports. His latest work is a book to be published entitled, Teaching in America’s Best Urban Schools.

Karen Mapp, Senior Lecturer, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Karen L. Mapp, Ed.D., is a senior lecturer on education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) and the faculty director of the Education Policy and Management master’s program. Over the past 20 years, Mapp’s research and practice focus has been on the cultivation of partnerships among families, community members, and educators that support student achievement and school improvement. Mapp currently serves as a consultant on family engagement to the United States Department of Education in the Office of Innovation and Improvement. Mapp joined HGSE in January 2005 after serving for 18 months as the deputy superintendent for family and community engagement for the Boston Public Schools (BPS).

Joe McKown, National Center on Time and Learning

Joe McKown is NCTL’s Vice President of State & District Engagement. He joined NCTL with deep prior K-12 education experience as a teacher, administrator and education advisor. Most recently, he was a Senior Principal and part of the management team at the business strategy consulting firm The Parthenon Group in Boston. At Parthenon he was on the firm’s education practice leadership team, and he led strategy projects for organizations including urban school districts, state departments of education and governor’s offices, charter school management organizations, and foundations.

Adam Urbanski,Teacher Union Reform Network

Adam Urbanski is the president of Rochester (NY) Teachers Association and a vice-president of the American Federation of Teachers. Urbanski is an active proponent of change in education. In Rochester, he proposed and designed an internship program for new teachers; a peer review intervention plan; a career ladder; and a homework hotline service for students. Urbanski is the founding director of the Teacher Union Reform Network aimed at creating a new vision of teachers’ unions that supports needed changes in education.