Center on System Leadership

District System Design Partnership

The District System Design Partnership (DSDP) strengthens district leadership teams as they create high-performance organizations that can scale and sustain improvements in instruction and student learning. Participants begin by developing a shared understanding of their district’s unique context while delving deeply into the research on high-performance educational systems. They consider how to apply the lessons learned in light of their district’s unique needs and opportunities. District teams then develop a research-based plan to redesign their district as a system wherein each component of the organization is individually strong and yet works to support and enhance other elements of the system. The DSDP strengthens the skills of each leadership team member and increases the cohesion and effectiveness of the team itself. The DSDP serves as a catalyst for reenergizing and reengineering a district to drastically improve student achievement, equitably and efficiently.


The DSDB is a year-long partnership that consists of two phases. Cohorts are made up of a minimum of 20 participants and a maximum of 30 participants. They include the district leadership team, and may include board members, union leaders, community leaders, deans of education and local philanthropic leaders.

Phase 1: View Your District Context Through the Lens of Top-Performing Education Systems
4-6 months

Phase 1 begins with an iterative inquiry process that helps district leaders conduct a root cause analysis to better understand what is driving the district’s results across multiple dimensions. This contextual analysis informs and is informed by four two-day facilitated, tailored, executive development sessions drawing from NCEE research on the highest-performing education systems, organizations and leadership development programs in the world.

Phase 2: Draft Your District Redesign Plan
4-6 months

Develop a detailed and clear vision for the district and, together with the contextual analysis from Phase 1, craft the theory of action, strategies and tactics to realize that vision based on the mutual learning from Phase 1.

Questions? Next Steps?

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