Empowering school leaders to help all students achieve

Center for the Future of Arizona recognizes the critical link between a strong principal and student success; our goal is to provide tools and resources that will help school leaders improve student performance and academic achievement, and drive equity and excellence in education. School leaders need the training, tools, and resources necessary to rapidly accelerate achievement for struggling students, while ensuring at the same time middle and high-achieving, low-income students and students of color continue to excel. Beat the Odds delivers training and materials designed to help principals improve student achievement, a peer group with whom they share and learn, plus a mentor.

Demography is not destiny

The Morrison Institute’s 2001 report, Five Shoes Waiting to Drop, concluded that the achievement gap between Latinos and Whites represents a threat to Arizona’s economic future. Center for the Future of Arizona responded in 2006 with a new study that asked one question -- What does it take to get great results in schools with mostly low income, mostly Latino students? With the active involvement of Jim Collins, a research team embarked upon a comprehensive study to answer the question. Applying Collins’ “Good to Great” methodology, researchers identified six keys to drive change and overcome obstacles in predominantly Latino and low-income schools. These are the foundation of the leadership program:

Strong and steady principal
Leaders are focused on the things that truly improve schools and keep pushing ahead, no matter what the roadblocks.

Clear bottom line
Emphasize the achievement of every student in every classroom and take responsibility for that performance. No excuses.

Ongoing assessment
Assess student performance early and often. Use information to drive improvement rather than to assign blame.

Collaborative solutions
Responsibility for improvement is shared among all, not concentrated at the top.

Built to suit individual students
Customize instruction and intervention to fit the needs of each student. One size does not fit all.

Stick with the program
Magic occurs when the school finds a good program and sticks with it.


The program is open to principals and assistant or aspiring principals in K-12 public, charter and tribal schools throughout the state.

If you are interested in Beat the Odds, please contact:

Amanda Burke
Senior Director, Education

Successful schools do things differently

Since the program was created in 2007, almost 200 schools have participated in the program. Nearly 50 schools are taking part this school year.

Read our Success Stories

Can a first-year principal beat the odds?

More About Beat the Odds

Center for the Future of Arizona
541 East Van Buren, B-5
Phoenix, Arizona 85004-2211
Phone: 602-496-1360
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