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Today's Family Magazine

Cleveland Transformation Alliance

By Stacy Turner

As the second-largest school district in Ohio, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) includes the cities of Cleveland, Newburgh Heights, portions of Brookpark and Garfield Heights, as well as the village of Bratenahl.  And while the CMSD contains 160 different schools, each is charged with one mission — to ensure that every child in the CMSD attends a high-quality school and every neighborhood has a variety of great schools from which families can choose.  But the road to educational success hasn’t been a smooth one.

In 2011, the CMSD had a 52% graduation rate at its public high schools, with a significant loss of school-age children in the district.  Then Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson charged the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, the philanthropic sector, the business community and charter school representatives to develop a plan to fundamentally reinvent public education in Cleveland. 

The Cleveland Transformation Alliance (CTA) resulted from this innovative collaboration, a response to the “sense of urgency that Cleveland wasn’t educating its children well,” explained CTA Executive Director Meghann Marnecheck. Now in its tenth year, the CTA has continued its mission to create a thriving community where every child is flourishes.  Marnecheck was pleased to note that in the 10 years CTA has been in place, graduation rates in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District have risen from 52% to 80%.  “While this is a significant increase,” she explained, “we’ve still got a long way to go.”

Things are looking up, however, based on results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (the Nation’s Report Card).  In the period from 2009 to 2019, CMSD was ranked in the top 15% in Ohio for improvement in kindergarten through 3rd grade literacy, the top 4% in Ohio for improved reading and math test scores, and the top 1% in Ohio for improvements in graduation rates.  The study named CMSD as the fourth fastest improvement district in Ohio, with most notable gains for African American and Hispanic students. 

The innovative program did so by moving the struggling school district from a traditional, single-source school district to a performance-based system of district and charter schools.  In the reinvented district, each school has autonomy over staffing, time and budgets in exchange for high accountability for performance.  A collaboration among philanthropic groups and businesses in the community makes this possible. Groups including the Cleveland Foundation, the United Way of Greater Cleveland, RPM International, Inc., and the Dominion Foundation support the CTA in the mission to improve educational opportunities for Cleveland’s youth. 

Through the Cleveland Transformation Alliance, families are provided with citywide choices and options to select the best options for their children.  By visiting, families can search through schools from preschool through grade 12, in 11 languages.  CTA complies the performance rankings, special programs, and community reviews of each school, providing families with a wealth of information at their fingertips to help them make their educational decisions. 

The search tool allows families to compare schools side by side to see pertinent programs, rankings, and community reviews of each facility. In addition to quality preschool through grade eight programming, high school programs feature college preparatory and industry certification for trade careers.  In addition, CMSD also offers specialized high school program options from aerospace, architecture, the arts and design, to engineering, international, IT, medicine, and science.  

To better assist families in selecting the best options for their students, CTA also provides School Quality Navigators in-person or via phone to assist them in sorting through the wealth of information.  Navigators aid families in school selections as well as solving additional challenges like housing issues, special education needs, and transportation.  “We’ve created as a one-stop-shop for busy families, providing all the resources they may need,” Marnecheck explained.

CTA navigator staff is often available on evenings and weekends, helping families narrow their search of the ideal programs, activities, and environment for their students.  To schedule an appointment, visit them online or call 216-592-2303, scan the QR code, or visit the following link to schedule an appointment with a navigator:[email protected]/bookings/

To search schools or connect with resources within the Cleveland Metropolitan School District community, visit