Since its inception in 1943, the Center for School Study Councils (CSSC) has worked to improve the quality of education in school districts across Pennsylvania and New Jersey. As the longest continuous study council organization in the country, CSSC serves as a catalyst for public school superintendents to be proactive leaders and facilitates their professional learning and application of that learning.

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About The Center for School Study Councils

Four people present on a speaker panelTo realize our missionmembers identify key issues which affect public education across districts and participate in a unified series of monthly professional development workshops to address those issues. Those workshops provide a setting for intellectual stimulation, skill development, and professional problem solving all focused on the superintendents' leadership roles. Members also engage in a variety of activities to learn more about those issues and enhance leadership in their schools, districts, and communities. Affiliation with Penn GSE includes a variety of benefits, connecting participating superintendents and their districts to faculty and other resources at the University of Pennsylvania.

A speaker presenting in front of a screen

The Center also works with affiliated districts and other organizations to design and implement initiatives to address educational and community challenges.

The Center for School Study Councils is part of CATALYST @ Penn GSE, a center connecting people and ideas across diverse constituencies to develop innovative ways to address persistent and emerging problems in education.

Our Mission

Superintendents Learning, Speaking Out, and Acting on Important Issues

Participants in the Center for School Study Councils identify key issues affecting public education and engage in the following leadership activities:


Council members participate in workshops and seminars featuring nationally recognized experts. These workshops and seminars enable members to develop and share their knowledge and expertise.

Speaking Out

As educational leaders, superintendents create the context for public conversation about education. The Center supports members in articulating issues and solutions in their districts and across the region. 

Acting Together

The Center for School Study Councils provides a platform through which members develop a support network for collaborative action. This platform includes sharing ideas and successful practices as well as developing new ways to share resources and expertise.

The Center accomplishes this mission through four series of monthly professional development workshops for school superintendents as well as through special projects developed in response to requests from affiliated school districts and Intermediate Units.

A speaker presenting to a group of educators

Benefits of Membership

The Center for School Study Councils provides the following benefits of membership.  These benefits are in addition to monthly workshops that are intellectually stimulating, build the superintendent’s professional tool kit and provide rich and focused problem-solving and networking.  These workshops are eligible for Act 45 credits through the Pennsylvania Department of Education with a yearly membership and a prescribed minimum attendance for the year:  


  • The ability for assistant superintendents (or other administrators seeking Act 45 credit) to affiliate with the Study Councils at half-price and receive Act 45 credit for required participation.
  • The ability to bring up to two guests from your district to the meetings, thus extending the basic benefit of membership across your leadership team.
  • Access to just published articles on education, leadership, management and other areas of concern and interest to school superintendents.
  • Access to the University of Pennsylvania library system.
  • Discounts to participate in special Catalyst @ Penn GSE sponsored programs (e.g., short cycle inquiries on problems of practice, workshops on strategic leadership, training in designing and leading public meetings, etc.).
  • Notification of and free access to lectures at GSE and across Penn (including Wharton, the School of Arts and Sciences, Social Work, etc.).
  • Discounted consulting services and technical assistance (e.g., community budgeting process, strategic visioning, board goal setting, program evaluation services, etc.).
  • Free books from our speakers at Joint Council and other meetings.
  • Access to notes from all study council meetings (from study council in which you belong as well as from meetings of other study councils).
  • Increased access to University facilities for educational programs (Annenberg Center and University Museum.
  • Access to a database of outstanding consultants from the University of Pennsylvania, the Delaware Valley, and across the country who have participated in Study Council Activities.
  • A free or reduced-fee consulting service of faculty from the Graduate School of Education across the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Invitations to serve as guest lecturers in University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education courses. Study Council members also teach courses on educational leadership and administration.


The Center for School Study Councils provides three broad kinds of programs and technical assistance to superintendents and their affiliated school districts.

Customized Professional Development

The Study Council staff works with affiliated school districts and other educational organizations to develop professional development workshops and retreats to meet identified organizational needs. Sample programs include:

Workshop Series

  • Excellence and Equity Workshops
  • School Leadership for Community Engagement
  • An Appreciative Look at Change

Organizational Retreats

  • System Thinking and Acting Systemically
  • Understanding and Applying Appreciative Inquiry to Leadership Activities 

Strategic Planning

The Study Council staff has adapted a variety of strategic planning models for use with educational organizations. Those adaptations incorporate aspects of idealized redesign, appreciative planning, future search, and deliberative planning into more traditional models of strategic planning to create a process that best fits the needs of our clients.

Public Leadership and Community Engagement

Public leadership is an essential component of the superintendency. This leadership goes beyond traditional public relations and beyond making district policies and practices available to parents of children in schools. Given the essential role of parents and communities in the education of the children, both must be engaged as partners, as co-producers of the educational program.We work with districts to design ways to engage stakeholders in productive deliberative dialogue that can inform superintendent and board decision-making, building stronger school-parent-community collaboration.

Contact Us

For more information, contact:

Tim Foxx

Tim Foxx
Center for School Study Councils
University of Pennsylvania