Donald J. Peurach

Associate Professor

Donald J. Peurach, School of Education

Donald J. Peurach is an Associate Professor of Educational Policy, Leadership, and Innovation in the University of Michigan’s School of Education. He is also a Senior Fellow of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, a Faculty Associate in the Center for Positive Organizations in the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, and a Senior Research Specialist at the Consortium for Policy Research in Education at the University of Pennsylvania.

Peurach’s research, teaching, and outreach focus on the production, use, and management of knowledge in practice, among social innovators and those they seek to serve. Peurach examines these issues in the context of large-scale educational improvement initiatives in public school districts and in school improvement networks, focusing specifically on how districts and networks continuously learn and improve over time.

Currently, Peurach is engaged in three lines of work that advance this agenda:

Peurach is the author of Seeing Complexity in Public Education: Problems, Possibilities, and Success for All (2011, Oxford University Press) and co-author of Improvement by Design: The Promise of Better Schools (2014, University of Chicago Press). Peurach's perspectives and research have been featured in commentaries, press reports, and op-ed pieces, as well as in blogs from Education Week, the Huffington Post, the William T. Grant Foundation, and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Peurach is also the lead designer of the Leading Educational Innovation and Improvement MicroMasters program: a series of five massive open online courses available on the edX platform that has engaged a global community of over 40,000 learners in the theory and practice of network-based continuous improvement. Leading Educational Innovation and Improvement was developed with support from the Microsoft Corporation and in collaboration among the University of Michigan School of Education, the Ross School of Business, and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Peurach chairs the Faculty Committee on Massive Open Online Courses and serves on the Academic Innovation Advisory Committee, both for the University of Michigan’s Office of Academic Innovation.

In 2017, Peurach received an Outstanding Reviewer Award from Educational Researcher. In 2016, Peurach received an Outstanding Reviewer of the Year Award from Educational Administration Quarterly. In 2013, Peurach received the School of Education's Evan G. and Helen G. Pattishall Junior Faculty Research Award. In 2011, he received the Paula Silver Case Award from the University Council of Educational Administration for the most outstanding case published in the 2010 volume of the Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership.

Prior to joining the School of Education as a faculty member in 2011, Peurach served as an assistant professor at Michigan State University and at Eastern Michigan University. He also served as a researcher on U-M's Study of Instructional Improvement. Before pursuing an academic career, Peurach was a high school mathematics teacher and, before that, a systems analyst in manufacturing, health care, and higher education.

Peurach holds a BA in computer science from Wayne State University, an MPP from the Ford School of Public Policy at U-M, and a PhD in Educational Studies from the School of Education at U-M.

Peurach teaches courses in the following program(s):  
Educational Policy, Leadership, and Innovation
Educational Leadership and Policy
Program Evaluation and Improvement Research
Leading Educational Innovation and Improvement

Peurach teaches courses in the following program(s):
Educational Policy, Leadership, and Innovation


Selected Publications


Peurach, D.J. (2011). Seeing complexity in public education: Problems, possibilities, and success for all. New York, New York: Oxford University Press.

Cohen, D. K., Peurach, D. J., Glazer, J. L., Gates, K., & Goldin, S. (2013). Improvement by design: The promise of better schools. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Journal Articles

Peurach, D. J., Cohen, D. K., & Spillane, J. S. (2019). Governments, markets, and instruction: Considerations for cross-national research. Journal of Educational Administration. DOI 10.1108/JEA-09-2018-0172.

Peurach, D. J., Cohen, D. K., Yurkofsky, M., & Spillane, J. P. (2019). From mass schooling to educational systems: Changing patterns in the organization and management of instruction. Review of Research in Education, 43(1-38)

Cohen, D. K., Spillane, J. P., & Peurach, D. J. (2018). The dilemmas of educational reform. Educational Researcher, 47 (3), 204-212.

Peurach, D. J. (2016). Innovating at the nexus of impact and improvement: Leading educational improvement networks. Educational Researcher, 45 (7), 421-429.

Peurach, D. J. & Glazer, J. L. (2016). Reading Recovery as an epistemic community: A case of occupational control ineducation. Journal of Education for Students Placed At Risk, 21 (1), 1-9.

Peurach, D. J., Glazer, J. L., & Lenhoff, S. W. (2016). The developmental evaluation of school improvement networks. Educational Policy, 30 (4), 606-648.

Peurach D. J., & Lenhoff, S. W., & Glazer, J. L. (2016). Large scale highschool reform through school improvement networks: Examining possibilities for "developmental evaluation." TeachersCollege Record (Yearbook), 118 (14). 

Glazer, J. L. & Peurach, D. P. (2015). Occupational control in education: The logic and leverage of epistemic communities. Harvard Educational Review, 85 (2), 172-202.

Peurach, D. J. & Neumerski, C. M. (2015). Mixing metaphors: Building infrastructure for large scale school turnaround. Journal of Educational Change, 16 (4), 379-420.

Glazer, J. L. & Peurach, D. P. (2013). School improvement networks as a strategy for large-scale education reform: The role of environments. Educational Policy, 27(4), 676-710.

Peurach, D. J. & Glazer, J. L. (2012). Reconsidering replication: New perspectives on large-scale school improvement. Journal of Educational Change, 13 (2), 155-190.

Peurach, D. J. & Gumus, E. (2011). Executive leadership in school improvement networks: A conceptual framework and agenda for research. Current Issues in Education, 14 (3), 1-17.

Book Chapters and Policy Briefs

Peurach, D. J., Penuel, W. R., and Russell, J. L. (2018). Beyond ritualized rationality: Organizational dynamics of instructionally-focused continuous improvement. In C. James, D. E. Spicer, M. Connolly, & S. D. Kruse (Eds.), The Sage handbook of school organization (pp. 465-488). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Peurach, D. J. & Yurkofsky, M. (2018). Organizing and managing instruction in US public school districts: Considerations for families, communities, and states. Boulder, CO: National Education Policy Center.

Peurach, D. J. (2015). Intelligently partnering for Common Core implementation. In J. A. Supovitz and J. P. Spillane (Eds.). Challenging standards: navigating conflict and building capacity in the era of the Common Core (pp.113-122). Lanham, MD: Rowman-Littlefield.



Research Affiliations


8/1/2018 - ongoing Designing School Systems to Support Next Generation Science Standards
Granting Agency: National Science Foundation

9/1/2015 - 8/31/2018 A Comparative Study of School Systems: Infrastructure, Practice, and Instructional Improvement
Granting Agency: Northwestern University/Spencer Foundation

12/1/2014 - 8/31/2015 Leading and Managing i3-Funded Projects: New Perspectives on the Practice of Educational Reform
Granting Agency: WT Grant Foundation

1/1/2013 - 8/31/2014 Collaborative Learning in School Improvement Networks
Granting Agency: Spencer Foundation

1/1/2010 - 9/30/2011 Building Capacity for Instructional Leadership
Granting Agency: Michigan Department of Education

1/1/2009 - 6/30/2010 Nongovernmental Support for School Improvement: Executive-Level Practices, Capabilities, and Learning
Granting Agency: Michigan State University College of Education

1/1/2006 - 8/30/2007 Extending the Study of Instructional Improvement
Granting Agency: National Science Foundation


Room 3115

Curriculum Vitae