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Formerly known as the National School Change Awards, this award is unique because it recognizes failing schools that embraced new and innovative strategies and dramatically improved.  

Why Apply

  • The very valuable submission process requires schools to self-assess

  • The process brings school stakeholders together

  • NPLI will provide ongoing support and assistance throughout the application process  

  • The guided submission process will be completed on-line

  • The winners receive the following:

    • $10,000 award to support the school’s ongoing change efforts

    • A full scholarship for the principal of the winning school to attend the National Principals Leadership Summer Institute, July 8-13

    • A private leadership consultation for the winning principal with a member of our distinguished national coaching team and ongoing access to mentoring support

    • Participation in an ongoing research project

    • A local and national recognition ceremony

Application process

Achieving significant school change is challenging and hard won. The School Innovation and Change Awards (SICA) recognizes schools that have been failing and managed to become exemplary. It is the only award of its type because it is not another “blue ribbon” school award. Instead, it salutes the ability to innovate and change. It provides proof that change leaders can make a difference. 

Make a case for why your school should be a winner of this award by measuring it against the SICA Change Criteria. The SICA team has developed four change dimensions, each with four indicators, which your school should address in applying for the award.

In applying for the this award, please submit the following items:

  1. School Profile

  2. School Change Story (essay)

  3. Supporting Documentation

  4. Reflection on Innovation

  5. Sustainability Plan for How to Use the Award

  6. Description of Community Building (NEW)

  7. References


To prepare your application, review HERE the PDF document with further detail on the four dimensions of significant change listed below, identify the innovative strategies your school is using and project how you will use the $10,000 award to sustain your school’s success. The application deadline is April 20, 2017. Visit this page on a regular basis to get advice and helpful hints. Good luck!

Four Dimensions of Significant Change

1. How meaningful is the change? Is it substantial and sustainable, rather than superficial and temporary?

2. How deep and broad is the change? Is it systematic rather than isolated?

3. How is the change focused? Is it student-centered looking at teaching and learning?

4. How is it measured? Is it solution or outcome oriented?

18 years promoting change

Since 2000, 892 schools from 47 states, three Canadian provinces and St. Croix Virgin Islands have applied. Furthermore, 81 schools have won this award and this year, there were five new winners and two finalists from an applicant pool of 32 entries. Schools measure themselves against 16 specific criteria and consider the degree to which they have improved, grown, and significantly changed. They must also include how they embraced new and innovative strategies to achieve the change. Nine judges comprised of teachers, principals, superintendents, professors, former awardees, SICA officials and other proponents of educational improvement review each application. The School Innovation and Change Award is made possible with the generous support of TD Ameritrade.