Carnegie Commons Blog

Living Improvement: Leadership Resources from the 2021 Summit, Vol 1

Between August now and November 2022, we will publish a series of blog posts as a part of our Living Improvement: Resources from presenting selected resources for education practitioners from the 2021 Carnegie Summit on Improvement in Education (and elsewhere). Resources will focus on leadership, equity, data, and coaching. In this post, we present resources focusing on the role of leadership in continuous improvement.


In any large system, change is constant; but sustained improvement in large systems is rare. This is doubly true for education, one of the largest systems there is. This is why we start with leadership as our first release in the series, Living Improvement: Resources for Educators.  In the sets of resources pulled from 2021 Summit sessions below, you will see video clips, articles, activities, and more examples of how education leaders can be powerful catalysts for improvement within systems that are notoriously resistant to reform. As you will see, leadership that is focused on learning starts with a strong foundation of principles and values, and it enables an organization to generate and act on insight and innovation at all levels.  Most importantly, this kind of leadership is rooted in equity. It is people-centered and culturally responsive. 

To view the resources, click on each set title and then scroll through to view video clips, download articles and papers, and so on. 

We hope that these resources on leadership in continuous improvement show how powerful this way of working can be. It’s not just implementing a new initiative or curriculum, but about systems transformation, changing how education organizations work and learn. While leadership, on its own, is not enough to improve, it can go a long way to lay the foundation by fostering the values, mindsets, culture, and practices that enable organizations to learn.

Set 1: Transforming Educational Systems and Leaders

The resources below introduce leaders to frameworks and tools for reflecting on their own practice, and include three examples of how leaders have approached transforming their systems. These resources were included in the Leading Transformation of Education Systems to Continuously Improve session at the 2021 Summit.

Presenters:
  • Christina Dixon, Improvement Advisor and Independent Consultant, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
  • Patricia Greco, Superintendent Emeritus, School District of Menomonee Falls, Senior Director of Thought Leadership, Studer Education
  • Michael Hanson, Former Superintendent, Fresno Unified School District , Senior Fellow, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
  • Simone Palmer, Associate, Networked Improvement Science, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
READ

Transforming Educational Systems Guide

This guide, published by the Carnegie Foundation, summarizes learnings from systems-level improvement leaders across the K–12 field to support teachers, administrators, and leaders in their work towards continuous improvement.

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WATCH

Introduction to the Reflection Guide

This video clip provides context for understanding the Reflection Guide for K-12 Leaders, explaining ways to implement its key principles.

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READ

The Education Changemaker’s Guidebook to Systems

This guidebook introduces education stakeholders and changemakers to the theories, language, mindsets, and tools of systems thinking for the purpose of informing approaches to systems change.

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READ

The Shingo Model

Principles are like gravity—they are true whether or not you decide to believe in them. Journeys into continuous improvement often begin with tools; however, transformative and sustainable change only comes from principle-based leadership. The Shingo model gives a solid framework for those seeking to better understand how to lead systematically.

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READ

Continuous Improvement: What it Means and How It’s Being Applied in a Wisconsin School System

In its March 2019 edition, the AASA School Administrator magazine focused on continuous improvement in school districts. Articles in this issue explore Menomonee Falls’ approach to improvement in both instruction and operations and describe tools and tactics that district leaders can use to advance organizational excellence.

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READ

Turning Around a High Poverty District: Learning from Sanger

This case study of Sanger Unified School District tells the story of how it managed to transform its culture, reverse declining outcomes, and create a system to identify and solve problems grounded in evidence.

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SET 2: Creating Learning Systems

Investigate the importance of a learning-based education system and how to shift towards this system in the links below, and hear from two leaders engaged in this work as they respond to the COVID-19 context. These resources were included in the Prioritizing Learning Systems During & After the COVID-19 Pandemic session at the 2021 Summit.

Presenters:
  • LaVerne Srinivasan, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Vice President, National Program and Program Director, Education
  • Dan Gordon, EducationCounsel LLC, Senior Legal and Policy Advisor
  • Scott Palmer, EducationCounsel LLC, Managing Partner and Co-Founder
  • Cathy Quiroz Moore, Wake County Public School System (NC), Superintendent
  • Donna Harris-Aikens, U.S. Department of Education, Senior Advisor for Policy and Planning, Office of the Secretary
READ

Learning System Report 2019

This paper is based on interviews with leaders in the education field and identifies the need for a learning-based education system, appealing to stakeholders across the education community.

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READ

Transforming the Education Sector into a Learning System (2020)

Through leader interviews, data collection, and research, this paper grapples with the critical question of how to accelerate the shift from the education system we have to the learning system we need.

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WATCH

What is a Learning System?

Through leader interviews, data collection, and research, this presentation grapples with the critical question of how to accelerate the shift from the education system we have to the learning system we need.

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WATCH

Panel of Leaders

In this video clip, two leaders—Cathy Quiroz Moore, Superintendent, Wake County Public School System (NC), and Donna Harris-Aikens, Senior Advisor for Policy and Planning, Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Education—discuss how they see school systems leveraging aspects of a learning system in their efforts to respond to COVID-19.

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SET 3: Practicing a Culture of Improvement in a Pandemic: A Case Study

Through the links below, learn more about Tulsa Public Schools’ effort to implement effective equity-focused and data-driven continuous improvement practices at multiple levels in the district in support of school reopening, student support, and instructional excellence during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the strategies they used to strengthen a culture of improvement. These resources were included in the Building Data Use and Continuous Improvement Muscles During COVID-19: The Tulsa Leadership Story session at the 2021 Summit.

Presenters:
  • Elaine Farber Budish, UPD Consulting, Director
  • Jenni Greene, UPD Consulting, Senior Consultant
  • Caitlin Richard, Tulsa Public Schools, Director of Grants and Special Projects
  • Sean Berkstresser, Tulsa Public Schools, Executive Director of Information and Analytics
WATCH

Leadership Story Context

This video clip provides [school leaders, practitioners, and teachers] with adaptive and technical recommendations for building capacity for racial equity-focused improvement science.

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WATCH

Focused Leadership

This video clip explores the strategies that district leadership in Tulsa Public Schools used to organize their team and create a shared vision of transformational change through an equity lens at the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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WATCH

People Centered Practices

This video clip explores the “people centered practices” and strategies that district leadership in Tulsa Public Schools used to create cohesive school and district network teams for equity and improvement projects at the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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WATCH

Learning Cultures

This video clip explores strategies that district leadership in Tulsa Public Schools used to implement an aligned “culture of learning” with multiple stakeholders throughout the district and school levels.

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SET 4: Living Your Improvement Values

Learn how leaders of school districts, community colleges, and county health departments have built organizational improvement infrastructure to accelerate and measure their improvement toward what matters most, even in times of crisis. These resources were included in the Continuous Improvement: The Path to Living Your Values session at the 2021 Summit.

Presenters:
  • Christina Dixon, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Improvement Analyst and Independent Consultant
  • Patricia Greco, Studer Education, Superintendent Emeritus, School District of Menomonee Falls; Senior Director of Thought Leadership
ACTIVITY

Group Organizational Values

This group reflection activity prompts teams to critically analyze how an organization lives up to its values by gathering and using evidence.

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VIDEO

Case Studies

This video clip focuses on three case studies of organizations—Waukesha County, School District of Menomonee Falls, and San Mateo County Health—that use continuous improvement to enact their organizational values.

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ACTIVITY

Reflection & Application

This reflection and application activity provides guided questions for groups to interpret three case studies of organizations that are using continuous improvement to live up to their values.

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