CISI About Us

About CISI


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 basis. 

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 need.
  • 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 and/or school?
  • 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 restrictions? 
  • How does it fit into the larger picture? How does this policy change or this research help drive school improvement?

Services and Consulting Overview: Electronic Updates

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.

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