Sustaining Reform: Effective Race to the Top Transformation Team Practices
Project Team: 
Kristen Heimdal, PhD
Principal Investigator, Strategic Research Partners
Mark Glasbrenner, MS
Collaborative Learning Leader, Battelle for Kids
Erin Joyce, MA
Client Engagement, Battelle for Kids
Key Words: 
Transformation Teams
Effective Practices
Race to the Top

This study investigated Race to the Top (RttT) Transformation Teams, the district-level governance structures mandated as part of RttT to manage the local implementation of the initiative. The teams are responsible for ensuring that districts meet their RttT commitments, and ideally, they provide leadership that moves RttT participation beyond compliance to system transformation and sustained improvement. As Ohio’s Race to the Top initiative winds down, this study sought to identify the practices of effective Transformation Teams and provide findings and recommendations to assist districts as they transition from the final year of RttT implementation to sustaining reform.

This study was a two-phase project. Phase 1 (spanning the 2012-2013 school year through Fall 2013) built upon an existing study of Transformation Teams in districts participating in the Ohio Appalachian Collaborative (OAC), an initiative of 21 rural Ohio school districts, serving more than 34,000 students. Phase 2 (2013-2014) expanded the study to the SOAR Collaborative, a statewide collaborative of 122 districts participating in RttT that is more geographically and demographically diverse than the OAC.

The research team conducted interviews of administrative and teacher members, examining the skills, roles, functions, and organizational routines of effective leadership teams. Based on these interviews and a literature review, a web-based diagnostic tool was developed to measure the effectiveness of Transformation Teams. The tool is comprised of factors such as role clarity, team cohesion, team impact, accountability, trust, and overall effectiveness. The tool was first administered to approximately 265 OAC team members. Modifications were made in order to streamline the instrument and improve its validity, and then it was administered to 603 SOAR team members. There was strong consistency in the results across the two administrations of the diagnostic tool. The tool results will help districts strengthen their leadership teams to sustain the reforms initiated through RttT.