Giving Compass’ Take:
• In this excerpt from Learning to Improve: How America’s Schools Get Better at Getting Better, Anthony S. Bryk discusses teaching educators how to disassemble structural gaps in equity across schools.
• Why are educators essential in bridging gaps in equity? What can we do to help educators learn about where these gaps exist and how they can address them?
In Learning to Improve, we brought together a compelling set of ideas, tools, and examples about how educators might better engage to make real progress on longstanding problems of educational inequity. We introduced a guide to continuous improvement organized around six principles. The first principle—to be problem specific and user-centered—offers a deceptively complex question: “What is the specific problem or problems you are trying to solve?” The critical word here is specific. Educators typically know what outcomes they want, but often do not know exactly what they need to change to achieve them.
As concerns arise about some educational issue, educators typically move to draw on a standard set of solutions, such as adding a new curriculum, more professional development, hiring extra staff, or introducing a new service. In contrast to just jumping on solutions like this, improving organizations take time to analyze the root causes of the particular problem they aim to solve and they do it by being user-centered. Improvers seek to understand problems through the eyes of the students they serve and the adults who work with them. What are they actually experiencing, and how are they making sense of the environment in which they work?
This examination of root causes leads us to the second principle: Attend to the variability in outcomes. Education is complex work and wide variability in performance typically accompanies it. This requires moving beyond knowing that something can work on average to learning how to achieve improved outcomes reliably for different subgroups of students and their teachers, and in the many varied contexts in which they work. This focus on variability, and the sources creating it, is central in attacking disparities in educational outcomes.
Read the full book review about educational gaps in equity by Anthony S. Bryk at Stanford Social Innovation Review.
K-12 Education is a complex topic, and others found these selections from the Impact Giving archive from Giving Compass to be good resources.
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