High Tech High, a group of 12 public charter schools in San Diego County, is committed to ensuring that all students have the opportunity to attend and complete college. The schools have been succeeding, with 98% of graduates enrolling in college and 75% going directly to 4-year colleges. Yet within this success, there is variation: a lower portion of African American and Latino males have directly matriculated into 4-year institutions.
Troubled by this pattern, the High Tech High Graduate School of Education set out to increase the number of African American and Latino males who directly attend 4-year colleges. Instead of using traditional methods of problem solving, the team embraced the mindset and tools of improvement science. Recognizing the improvement adage that “Every system is perfectly designed to achieve exactly the results it gets,” the team saw improvement science as a way to test new practices and scale learning across the entire system to achieve their goal reliably at scale.
A new article by Isaac Jones, school director at High Tech High North County, outlines how he used the tools of improvement science to drill down into the college application process for students as a means to improve their direct enrollment in 4-year colleges. Jones articulates how he developed his understanding of the problem and developed his own theory of practice improvement. He then shared his own learning with other practitioners through ongoing improvement reviews.