The Ounce PDI Study

Evaluation of the Ounce Professional Development Initiative

In fall 2011, the Ounce of Prevention Fund (the Ounce) was awarded a three-year Investing in Innovation (i3) development grant from the US Department of Education to accelerate the design of an embedded professional development framework for community-based urban early childhood education centers. Implementation of the Ounce Professional Development Initiative (PDI) occurred from January 2012 to November 2014, targeting four representative community-based centers in the City of Chicago. The Ounce commissioned the Center for Urban Education Leadership to conduct a three-year study of their ambitious, job-embedded professional development model. Read more about The Ounce Investing In Innovation.

Full Evaluation Report

Executive Summary

Appendix:  Measures and Instruments

Evaluation Goals

The central evaluation goal was to assess the effectiveness of the Ounce PDI in advancing the knowledge, skills and dispositions of community-based early childhood leaders and teachers in relation to creating the conditions for superior developmental outcomes and kindergarten readiness for low-income, under-served students attending these community-based centers.

The evaluation pursued three broad strategies:

1. Monitor and summarize patterns of implementation over the full span of the PDI in order to assess fidelity and feasibility of implementation.

2. Assess impacts of implementation on the professional learning of teachers, leaders and coaches, and more distally, upon the growth and development of children in all intervention centers.

3. Drawing on Improvement Sciences methodology, create a productive balance between the roles of independent, external summative evaluator and collaborative formative evaluator providing rich and timely data and feedback to the design development process.


-The key components of the PDI were implemented as intended. This evidence suggests that establishing routines supportive of teacher collaboration and learning is feasible in urban community-based early childhood centers.

-The PDI learning experiences for leaders appeared especially effective in broadening narrow “transactional” leadership frames to include the more inclusive and ambitious mindsets associated with a “transformational” leadership repertoire.

-The PDI for teachers supported the development of a more accurate, coherent and comprehensive understanding of the why and how of their teaching practice.

-An examination of trends in average social-emotional and organizational support domain scores, as measured by the Classroom Assessment Scoring System, did suggest an “upward” improvement trend at the infant, toddler and pre-K levels. However, no statistically significant trends emerged, in part due to small sample sizes and low statistical power.

-Children with greater exposure to the PDI yielded a statistically significant growth rate in their Social Emotional Learning and Development.

Looking ahead

CUEL’s evaluation produced information on strategies and outcomes that has been used to scale up the PDI across Illinois and is informing policy conversations on how best to develop leaders as a cost-effective lever for improving preschool program quality through job-embedded professional development. Read more about The Ounce Lead Learn Excel.

Co-Principal Investigators: Samuel P. Whalen and Steve Tozer

Project Manager: Heather L. Horsley

Recent Research

Center Research in Progress
  • External Evaluation of the Ounce of Prevention Fund's i3-Funded Professional Development Initiative (PDI). January 2012 through December 2014.  CUEL is conducting a 3-year impact and implementation evaluation of an innovative, job-embedded design for ambitious professional development for community-based early childhood educators in Chicago, based on the Ounce of Prevention Fund's highly-regarded EduCare early childhood education model.  The project is funded through the US Department of Education's Investing in Innovation (i3) grant program.

  • School Leadership Program Grant. U.S. Department of Education Office of Innovation and ImprovementSchool Leadership Program Grant. U.S. Department of Education Office of Innovation and Improvement. $1,000,330, funded 2013-2017. Principal Investigator, Steve Tozer, Department of Educational Policy Studies. Co-principal investigators Sam Whalen, Shelby Cosner, Andrea Evans, and David Mayrowetz.

  • Examining pre-service preparation of school leaders. Finnegan Family Foundation, $30,000, funded 2013-2014. Lead Researcher: Shelby Cosner

  • Examining the principal residency experience and its impact on candidate competency, role, and identity development. Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, $200,000, funded 2013-2015. Principal Investigator: Sam Whalen, Center for Urban Education Leadership. Lead Researcher: Shelby Cosner.

  • Building a suite of measures for assessing the development of leadership capacities for transformational school leadership. Two years, $200,000 from an anonymous donor. Principal Investigator: Steve Tozer, Director, Center for Urban Education Leadership. Research couples with the Fry Foundation project above. 

UIC Faculty Research: Selected Recent Publications
  • Cosner, S., Kimball, S., Barkowski, L. Carl, B., & Jones, C. (under review). Principal roles, work demands, and supports needed to implement new teacher evaluation. Research on Urban Education Policy Initiative.

  • Cosner, S. (in press). Advancing a phase-based model of school leadership for the support of collaborative data practices as a school-wide improvement strategy. Journal of School Leadership.

  • Cosner, S. (in press). Strengthening collaborative data practices in schools:  The need to cultivate developmental perspectives and diagnostic approaches. In A. Bowers, A. Shoho, & B. Barnett (Eds.), Using data in schools to inform leadership and decision making. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

  • Cosner, S., Tozer, S., & Smylie, M. (2012). The Ed.D. Program at UIC: Using cycles of inquiry and improvement to advance leadership preparation. Planning and Changing, 43(1-2), 127-148.

  • Cosner, S. (2012). Leading the on-going development of collaborative data practices: Advancing a schema for diagnosis and intervention. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 11(1), 26-65.

  • McDonald, J. P. with Christman, J. B., Corcoran, T. B., Fruchter, N., McLaughlin, M. W., Pradl, G., Reich, G., Smylie, M. A., & Talbert, J. (in press). Cities and their schools. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  • Murphy, J.; Smylie, M.; Mayrowetz, D.; Louis, K.S. (2009). The Role of the Principal in Fostering the Development of Distributed Leadership. School Leadership & Management, 29 (2), p181-214 Apr 2009

  • Shoho, Alan R.; Barnett, Bruce G.; Martinez, Peter (2012). "Enhancing 'OJT' Internships with Interactive Coaching," Planning and Changing, 43(1-2). Illinois State University

  • Superfine, B. M., Gottlieb, J. J., & Smylie, M. A. (2012). The expanding federal role in teacher workforce policy. Educational Policy, 26(1), 58-78

  • Superfine, B. M. (2013). Equality in education law and policy: 1954-2010. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

  • Smylie, M. A., (2009). Continuous School Improvement (Leadership for Learning Series). Newbury Park, CA: Corwin Press. 

  • Smylie, M. A. (2010, June). Never good enough: Tips for continuous school improvement. The Leader’s Edge (a monthly publication of the American Association of School Administrators).

  • Superfine, B. M. (2010). New directions in school funding and governance: Moving from politics to evidence, Kentucky Law Journal, 98(4), 653-701.

  • Superfine, B. M., Smylie, M. A., Tozer, S.E., & Mayrowetz, D. (2009). "Promising strategies for improving K-12 education in Illinois: Improving the educator workforce," The Illinois Report 2009 (pp. 49-64). Urbana-Champaign, IL: Institute of Government and Public Affairs, University of Illinois.

  • Tozer, S.E., B. Gallegos, & A. Henry, eds. (2011). "Handbook of Research in the Social Foundations of Education," New York: Routledge/Taylor Francis, Inc.  

School Leadership Knowledge Base Exemplars
Policy Briefs
  • Wallace Foundation: Research Findings to Support Effective Educational Policies: A Guide for Policymakers, 2nd Edition. March, 2011. Illinois cited as an example in multiple areas. Read the full report here

  • Göncü, A., Main, C., Perone, A. & Tozer, S. A. (2012). "Crossing the Boundaries: The Need to Integrate School Leadership and Early Childhood Education." UIC Research on Urban Education Policy Initiative, Vol. 1, Book 2. November 2012. 

Assessment and Cycles of Inquiry
  • UIC data model adopted by Evanston school district - UIC's principal preparation coach Paul Zavitkovsky inspired the school district to become the first in the state to adopt UIC's model of test-score interpretation. The model is one of many innovations developed by UIC's EdD program and supported by the Center to help leaders transform education.

  • UIC report shows how school leaders can better slice test scores to improve teaching and learning - 2009 presentation before the American Educational Research Association