Giving Compass' Take:

• School districts can use the concept of improvement science to solve problems and find the best solutions to sustain school initiatives.

• The improvement science process requires educators to set goals clearly at the outset and identify and track variables that will impact performance and implementation. 

• Read about some examples of school districts using networks and improvement science to reflect on district-wide problems. 

Improvement science is a concept developed by the Carnegie Foundation that uses a six-step process to solve problems and implement change:

  • making sure that the problem is addressed in a specific and user-centered way
  • identifying and focusing on the variables that affect performance
  • fully understanding the systems that affect current outcomes
  • identifying and finding a way to measure outcomes so the process can be scaled
  • using disciplined inquiry to identify successes and failures and learn from them
  • using networked improvement communities to collaborate and improve

As district leaders consider ways to improve practices and ultimately produce better results, they are constantly pondering the next new initiative. In many cases, these initiatives involve the acquisition and implementation of new technology, such as the push for 1:1 technology access. In other cases, it may involve new approaches to classroom discipline, pedagogy, grading systems or other elements that make up the complex world of education.

These initiatives often live or die based on the amount of planning involved in their creation and rollout, as well as the level of buy-in they have from teachers and administrators. Clearly identifying the problem to be solved is the first step, and this often requires input from educators on the front-line.

Improvement science helps solve some of these issues by engaging participants in the process early, setting clear goals and means of measurement, and embracing the wisdom of the educational community by developing networked improvement communities to help accelerate progress, even if that means embracing failure as a path to future success.

Read the full article about improvement science by Amelia Harper at Education Dive.