Our history

An Unwavering Mission: Excellence and Equity in the Classroom

At CEL, we believe that equity cannot be achieved until every student in every classroom experiences rigorous and meaningful learning every day. And we believe that will not happen without strong, skillful leadership that supports great teaching. These beliefs have driven our work since CEL’s inception in 2001 as an integral service arm of the UW’s College of Education.

Our center began with a clear mission: To create research-based programs focused on improving the quality of teaching, learning and leadership in our nation’s schools. In the early years, the work was mostly program-based and centered almost exclusively in the Pacific Northwest. Over time, CEL began to develop comprehensive, long-term partnerships with school districts across the country designed to improve the quality of instruction and the outcomes for students.

Researchers from the UW Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy conducted an extensive, multi-year study of three of CEL’s early partnerships.  They documented positive changes in leadership and teaching practices designed to improve student learning.


Improving Instructional Leadership

To  help school leaders develop a shared vision for high-quality teaching, CEL developed its instructional framework, The 5 Dimensions of Teaching and Learning™ (5D™), in 2007.  This widely recognized body of work grew out of an exhaustive research and development process by UW CEL faculty.

The 5D Framework is the only comprehensive instructional framework in the country accompanied by an on-line assessment tool that measures leaders’ ability to observe and analyze instruction, provide useful and timely feedback to teachers, and guide teachers’ learning. More than 5,000 district leaders, school leaders, and coaches nationwide have participated in the 5D/MILE™assessment process since its development.

Today, after 18 years of service, CEL has become a national thought leader, working with hundreds of schools, districts, universities, service districts, and professional groups to enhance professional practice and develop strong leadership for student learning. In Washington state alone, our current and past work has touched more than 100 school districts.

As a research-affiliated center, we are always examining our own practices, always deepening our own understanding, and always moving forward with one unwavering goal: To eliminate educational inequities by creating cultures of rigorous teaching, learning and leading.