Carnegie Commons Blog

Category: Thinking about Improvement

  • September 20, 2017

    Quality Improvement Approaches: Positive Deviance

    By Sarah McKay

    Addressing complex educational problems using positive deviance requires detective work. The task: to discover “outliers” who have succeeded under conditions where most others fail; uncover the strategies they use; and design opportunities to share those strategies.

  • March 2, 2017

    Quality Improvement: Deliverology

    By Sarah McKay

    When the Kentucky Department of Education wanted a strategy to significantly increase the number of high school students prepared for college and/or careers, it turned to deliverology, a method used by British Prime Minister Tony Blair to make good on his campaign promises.

  • February 8, 2017

    Improvement is a Team Sport

    By Manuelito Biag

    User-centered design is key to developing meaningful change to improve student achievement, and networked improvement communities help ensure and maintain the focus on human needs.

  • January 5, 2017

    Acceptable Failure

    By Paul LeMahieu and Donald J. Peurach

    Failure can be a learning experience, but only under certain conditions. The work must matter, and there has to be a leader who can manage the costs of failure, understands improvement research, and keeps people focused on finding a solution instead of placing blame.

  • November 14, 2016

    Better Evidence and Better Research Yield Better Policy

    By Kathryn Baron

    Policy can do a lot to support positive changes, but policy alone isn’t effective in such large, diverse, and complex arenas as education, wrote policy analyst Paul Lingenfelter in comments solicited by the federal Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking.

  • June 9, 2016

    Getting “Moneyball” Right in the Social Sector

    By Gary Otake

    In a recent SSIR article, Srik Gopal and Lisbeth B. Schorr make the case that an uncritical application of the "Moneyball" ideal is a flawed approach that overlooks "the fundamental realities of how complex social change happens."

  • May 2, 2016

    Organizing for Transformational Change

    By Sarah McKay

    At the Carnegie Summit, Hahrie Han shared insights from her research on participation and activism. One of the big questions she addressed is, how can we best mobilize people to work toward change together?

  • March 31, 2016

    What is the Essential Nature of “Bright Spots”?

    By Anthony S. Bryk

    When we look for “bright spots,” we tend to see the tools or practices that we believe contribute to the positive results in certain classrooms, schools, or districts. In this way, we identify the what of improvement; but are we overlooking how these changes came to be?

  • March 17, 2016

    Fidelity of Implementation: Is It the Right Concept?

    By Anthony S. Bryk

    Studies on the effects of educational programs often focus on “fidelity of implementation.” But this approach often fails to consider the complexity both of the programs themselves and of the demands they place on the contexts in which they are carried out.

  • September 25, 2015

    Using New Research to Improve Student Motivation

    By Sarah McKay

    Teachers know that motivation matters. It is central to student learning; it helps determine how engaged students are in their work, how hard they work, and how well they persevere in the face of challenges. Though we hear mostly about the “achievement gap” between demographic groups, researchers have also identified…