CEELO’s Leadership Academy – The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes

Desired Outcomes and Mission: As one of 22 Comprehensive Centers funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) strengthens the capacity of State Education Agencies (SEAs) to lead sustained improvements in early learning opportunities and outcomes. CEELO works in partnership with SEAs, state and local early childhood leaders, and other federal and national technical assistance (TA) providers to promote innovation and accountability.
The CEELO Leadership Academy introduces concepts of leadership development tailored to state early education administrators designed to:

  • Build SEA leadership and management capacity to advance state agency visions for early childhood education.
  • Improve effectiveness of publicly-funded programs for children from birth through age five.
  • Advance SEA policies and initiatives that improve Kindergarten through third grade teaching and learning opportunities.
  • Partner with state leaders and organizations to build a more unified, equitable, and efficient birth through third grade early childhood system. This includes sharing best practices through Roundtable events.

Systems Thinking Desired Outcomes: Leadership Academy Fellows will be able to identify and apply systems thinking (ST) Habits and tools to their personal leadership development, their roles as state-level early childhood leaders, and their individualized job-embedded projects.
Highlights: Beginning in 2014, the CEELO Leadership Academy (L.A.) has incorporated systems thinking capacity building as a key component for four cohorts of leadership fellows who were accepted into the program. The Waters Center has worked with all cohorts including 20+ fellows from 20+ states, members of the CEELO leadership team and L.A. coaches to develop ST capabilities that positively impact leadership development and individualized job-embedded projects.

Evaluation data indicates the systems thinking component as a recognized program strength and significant influence on participating fellows’ abilities to practice and apply the Habits and tools to their roles as state-level early learning leaders. Study participants reported that seeing systems thinking modeled was beneficial. By focusing on systems thinking, fellows reported learning to reframe challenges into opportunities and to effectively manage both within and across their state agencies.

Specifically, several reported that since participating in the Leadership Academy and seeing how reflective practice was used, they now incorporate this into their work and personal lives. As a result, CEELO recommends that future Leadership Academies continue to model reflective practice and systems thinking.

You can read more about evaluation data in the CEELO Leadership Academy: A Retrospective Review After Three Years of Implementation.