WCER’s CALL Project Celebrated on IES Blog

June 6, 2023   |   By WCER Communications

On May 1, in honor of School Principals Day and the 20th anniversary of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), producers of the blog Inside IES Research asked UW−Madison education professors Rich Halverson and Carolyn Kelley to write a guest post describing their WCER project: Comprehensive Assessment of Leadership for Learning (CALL), along with Mark Blitz, project director for CALL from the Wisconsin Center for Education Products & Services, which commercialized the tool in 2014.

“The CALL project provides a model of how IES-funded research can have broad impact in schools around the country,” the blog post says. “We are thrilled that CALL developed into the rare educational survey that was embraced by the people who tested it as well as the research community.”

The CALL project resulted from a 2009 IES grant to provide information tools that could support the work of school leaders. CALL was built on a distributed leadership model designed to name the leadership tasks necessary for improving teaching and learning in schools.

CALL is a cloud-based survey tool that provides a school-level portrait of the state of leadership practice, developed using over 30 years of research on leadership for school improvement, drilled down to 100 key tasks in five domains of practice. Designed as a school-wide leadership assessment and feedback system, the tool leverages key practices that support instruction and enhance student learning, focusing on the effective school-improvement work of leaders rather than their positions or identities.


Rich Halverson


Carolyn Kelley

Halverson describes CALL as “a new way to think about how researchers can support school improvement.” Traditional survey tools take information from schools to answer the questions of policy makers and officials. Haverson noted that “CALL is designed in the language of local practice to help educators define the steps needed to better support teachers and learners.”

Kelley added, “In a policy environment often fixated on summative assessment, CALL provides formative feedback to educators to support improvement efforts. It recognizes leadership practiced by both formal and informal leaders and measures the extent to which high impact practices are distributed across educators throughout the school.”

In 2021, the project entered a new era of leadership for equity when, with support from the Wallace Foundation, CALL for Equity-Centered Leadership (CALL-ECL) was created to provide districts with feedback on leadership practices that create more equitable schools.

“Our $8 million, six-year CALL-ECL project will document the development of this new preparation and support program, and will create a new CALL survey as an information tool to describe and assess equity-centered leadership practices,” the blog post says.

You can see the full May 1 blog post here. There’s also an engaging, 2.5-minute YouTube video that provides an animated introduction to the CALL project linked off the blog here.