The California Institute for School Improvement (CISI) is a
membership organization created to support district and county
instructional leaders. Over 140 school districts and county
offices of education are currently CISI members.
The mission of CISI is to provide local education leaders with
the information on state policy and education research that they
need as they perform their day-to-day work in schools. Education
policy is continually being updated, and these changes affect the
curriculum and instructional work of all schools. CISI serves to
organize the constant flow of information on the critical issues
in education in a concise, unbiased and accurate manner. We seek
to save our members valuable time as we provide the vital
information and materials that they need on a regular
Christina Murdoch is the Director of CISI in the Center for
Applied Policy in the UC Davis School of Education.
CISI connects education leaders to one another, allowing them the
opportunity to reflect on experiences, share ideas with one
another, and work together to improve education at the district
and state level. Our bi-annual workshops aid the growth of
cooperative discussion and work that is viewed as vital in the
process of improving schools.
CISI members receive our monthly E-Bulletin, regularly published
Research Briefs, our comprehensive Fall and Spring Resource
Guides, and free and discounted admission to workshops, as well
as discounts on admission to other events.
The Goals of CISI
Focus on issues that matter or require attention. Other
issues may be interesting, but CISI helps local leaders stay
focused on the critical issues and provide the information they
Provide an integrated analysis across funding, instruction,
and political perspectives. CISI takes great pride that district
superintendents, business officials, and human resources leaders
also find our updates timely and accurate.
Respect the time constraints faced by school leaders. Our
workshops and e-bulletins are concise. If a member calls or
emails, we respond.
Share an impartial and knowledgeable perspective on policy
developments in Sacramento as they apply to the real work of
school districts and county offices of education.
CISI helps translate state policies into terms that are useful at
the local level. We help superintendents and district leaders
answer the following questions:
What must I do with this policy, update or information?
What can I do to help implement this change into my district
What resources are available that will help me make the
necessary changes in my district?
What are the timelines for making the updates or changes?
What funding is available? What are the funding
How does it fit into the larger picture? How does this policy
change or this research help drive school improvement?
Services and Consulting Overview:
Our monthly E-Bulletin is an electronic update provided to CISI
members on a wide range of curriculum and instruction issues,
such as the state budget and legislation, assessment
and accountability, and instructional
materials. Each update is concise, accurate
and timely. Access our archived E-Bulletins here.
History of CISI
CISI was created in the late 1970’s by Davis Campbell who at the
time served as the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Campbell served as the organization’s Executive Director until he
left the CDE to become the Executive Director of the California
School Boards Association (CSBA). He continues his affiliation
with CISI by serving on the organization’s advisory board.
Peter Birdsall took over the executive directorship of CISI and
served in that position until 2012 when he became the Executive
Director of the California County Superintendents Educational
Services Association (CCSESA).
In 2012, CISI found a new home at the Center for Applied Policy
in Education (CAP-Ed) in UC Davis’ School of Education. The
change was facilitated by Davis Campbell, now a member of the UCD
School of Education’s Advisory Board, and Peter Birdsall, both of
whom continue to serve on the CISI Advisory Board. Professor Tom
Timar led CAP-Ed and coordinated with CISI
director Tina Murdoch until 2015. Murdoch took over
as Executive Director of CAP-Ed and continues to serve
as Director of CISI.