What's the Problem?

Submitted By:
Robert Jackson, Tirana International School, Tirana, Albania

Learning to Improve: How America's Schools Can Get Better at Getting Better by Anthony Bryk, Louis M. Gomez, Alicia Grunow and Paul G. LeMahieu
Harvard Education Press, March 1, 2015

In Learning to Improve, Anthony Bryk et al. explore a new model for improvement that engages practitioners in guiding research-based change in schools. The authors recognize the failure in top-down fad initiatives that often do not address the real needs or causes of problems that teachers face day-to-day. They suggest that school improvement should be a partnership between educators, administrators and researchers that asks, "What is the problem we are trying to solve?" By exploring variations in performance, participants reveal what is or is not working within schools. This candid problem analysis scrutinizes the entire educational system in order to form theories of improvement that will guide incremental changes. As small-scale implementation of correctives is introduced, participants test and measure results to gauge improvement or possible retrogression. Throughout the process, educators continue to ask inquiry-based questions that allow them to learn quickly as they introduce ideas that eventually might lead to systemic change. The authors cite several examples of bringing this research model into schools and classrooms, noting that accelerated timelines are very possible when schools with similar problems connect.

Leadership Practice