How Chesterfield County Public Schools Is Using Improvement Science to Stay Focused on Equity Amid COVID-19


In this webinar, held on August 5, 2020, leaders of the university-school division partnership of Chesterfield County Public Schools and University of Virginia highlight their use of the tenets of improvement science to redirect their efforts in response to the dual challenges of the pandemic and the fight for racial equity. After making the pivot to online virtual learning, the school division began to ask a series of questions:

  • What can we learn from the changes we are making about what students are learning and how? (Be problem-focused and user-centered)
  • How are students and their families responding to the changes? (Attend to variability)
  • What data should we be collecting? (Learn through disciplined inquiry)
  • How will we measure the impact of the changes we are making? (Embrace measurement)
  • Can we use this as an opportunity to better connect initiatives across our system? (See the system)

Leadership preparation and development is a crucial fulcrum for building capacity to address these questions. Specific emphasis across the partnership has been placed on:

  • How time is being used for teaching and learning in a virtual environment
  • What is being taught
  • How learning is being assessed in the absence of state-level tests
  • How the use of RTI (response to intervention) is being improved
  • How teachers are being prepared to produce high quality online instruction and school leaders to implement high quality online professional learning

Throughout the spring and summer—including the planning around how to reopen school in the fall—CCPS has been able to build on their learnings to improve outcomes with each new iteration. The university-school division partnership has provided support for addressing the emerging needs around racial equity, including through the use of inquiry as a strategy for facilitating racial equity conversations; a curriculum audit to examine cultural responsiveness; and social-emotional learning supports to assist students, staff, and families.


  • David Eddy Spicer, Associate Professor, Curry School of Education and Human Development, University of Virginia
  • Dr. Tinkhani White, Director of School Improvement, Chesterfield County (VA) Public Schools


  • Ash Vasudeva, Vice President, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching



August 05, 2020