2019 Summit Program

The Summit general conference includes over fifty sessions from four strand themes as well as a series of sponsor-hosted sessions, facilitated lunch roundtable conversations, and poster sessions.

Strand: Methods of Improvement Science and Networks
Strand: Improvement Science in Practice
Strand: Networks in Practice
Strand: Leadership for Improvement
Sponsor-Hosted Sessions
Lunch Roundtable Conversations
Poster Sessions


April 16–18, 2019


San Francisco Marriott Marquis


Strand: Methods of Improvement Science and Networks

This strand focuses on building attendees’ capacity to practice improvement science and lead networked improvement communities (NICs). Most sessions are taught as “learning-by-doing” experiences intended to equip participants with practical techniques and tools to bring back to their organizations.

Introduction to Improvement Science: A Learning-By-Doing Simulation

This two-block session will introduce participants to the methods and tools of improvement science. Using a simulation about a chronic attendance problem that mixes instructional lessons with guided, hands-on teamwork, participants will advance their understanding of how improvement science can enhance the capacity of classrooms, schools, districts, and other institutions to produce high-quality outcomes reliably for every child and across the diverse settings. Participants will experience the work of an improvement team at key stages including investigating the problem, articulating a focused aim, identifying changes, and working through Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles to test and learn from those changes. This interactive experience will allow participants to understand how a multi-month improvement journey might build and take shape. Participants are expected to attend both blocks of the session. Capacity is limited.

  • Barbara Shreve, Networked Improvement Science Fellow, Carnegie Foundation
  • Benjamin Cooper, Networked Improvement Science Fellow, Carnegie Foundation
  • Cierra Cooper, Post-Baccalaureate Fellow, Carnegie Foundation
  • Christina Dixon, Associate, Networked Improvement Science, Carnegie Foundation
  • Kelly McMahon, Networked Improvement Science Fellow, Carnegie Foundation


  • Patrice Dawkins-Jackson, Networked Improvement Science Fellow, Carnegie Foundation
  • LaRena Heath, Networked Improvement Science Fellow, Carnegie Foundation
  • Simone Palmer, Networked Improvement Science Fellow, Carnegie Foundation
  • Camila Velasquez, Post-Baccalaureate Fellow, Carnegie Foundation
  • Ke Wu, Associate, Networked Improvement Science, Carnegie Foundation

Understanding the Problem You Are Trying to Solve: Causal System Analysis

We are often so driven to improve education that we pursue solutions without first deeply understanding the problem we’re trying to solve. This session will introduce causal system analysis (CSA), a method for gaining a common understanding of the problem around which an improvement team works. Participants will be introduced to a variety of tools for CSA and will explore in depth the fishbone diagram, an essential improvement tool that reveals key leverage points that improvers must address to solve a problem.

  • Ke Wu, Associate, Networked Improvement Science, Carnegie Foundation
  • Jon Benjamin, Director of Facilities, Director of Post-Baccalaureate Fellowship Program, Carnegie Foundation
  • Marie Deininger, Post-Baccalaureate Fellow, Carnegie Foundation

Surfacing and Building on Bright Spots to Guide Improvement

A central principle of improvement is to understand the problem. And as Dan Heath noted in his keynote last year, to inspire change across a system we need to both reduce negative variation and increase positive variation. In this workshop, we will share strategies and tools for surfacing and building on bright spots when launching and sustaining improvement work. In particular, participants will experience a success analysis protocol in small groups, which they can use in their own contexts. The protocol encourages people to reflect on high points, identify the conditions that made them possible, and generate high-leverage change ideas to move their improvement work forward. This session will be highly interactive, providing participants a chance to reflect on successes in their own improvement work, experience a powerful protocol, and practice/debrief facilitation.

  • Stacey Caillier, Director, Center for Research on Equity and Innovation (CREI) and Deeper Learning Hub, High Tech High Graduate School of Education
  • Daisy Sharrock, Project Director, Mathematical Agency Improvement Community, High Tech High Graduate School of Education
  • Christina Dixon, Associate, Networked Improvement Science, Carnegie Foundation

Measurement for Improvement

When we hear the word “measurement” in education, we often think of accountability systems or research paradigms. But in the improvement community, measurement is essential for learning. In this session, participants will get an overview of how measurement is used in improvement science and an introduction to the kinds of measures that are useful in an improvement context.

  • David Sherer, Network Improvement Fellow, Carnegie Foundation
  • Catherine Miller, Associate, Networked Improvement Science, Carnegie Foundation
  • Marie Deininger, Post-Baccalaureate Fellow, Carnegie Foundation

Run Charts: A Tool for Analysis in Improvement Science

Have you ever wanted to know more about run charts? Now’s your chance! In this session, we will go over run charts in detail, including guidelines for interpreting data so that you can develop the analytic skills to make evidence-based decisions in your own work. We will undertake two hands-on run chart activities that will help you develop your run-chart-related data skills. This session is ideal for people already working with data who want to hone their analytic skills related to this particular tool.

  • Jon Norman, Associate, Analytics, Carnegie Foundation
  • Manuelito Biag, Associate, Networked Improvement Science, Carnegie Foundation
  • Edit Khachatryan, Associate, Networked Improvement Science, Carnegie Foundation
  • Marie Deininger, Post-Baccalaureate Fellow, Carnegie Foundation

The Engine for Improvement: Coaching PDSA Cycles

The plan-do-study-act (PDSA) cycle is the engine for learning in networked improvement work, and improvement coaches play an important role in ensuring that PDSA cycles are efficient and effective. In this session, Carnegie improvement coaches will teach participants how to coach PDSAs. Participants will receive PDSA coaching tools, learn how coaching PDSAs helps to build improvement capacity, and leave with techniques to try with their own improvement teams.

  • Alicia Grunow, Co-Founder, Improvement Collective; Senior Fellow, Improvement Science, Carnegie Foundation
  • Edit Khachatryan, Associate, Networked Improvement Science, Carnegie Foundation
  • Benjamin Cooper, Network Improvement Fellow, Carnegie Foundation
  • LaRena Heath, Network Improvement Fellow, Carnegie Foundation

Understanding the User Experience: Effective Use of Empathy Interviews

One of Carnegie’s Six Principles of Improvement is to “make the problem work-specific and user-centered.” The empathy interview is a common strategy for seeking to understand the user perspective and operationalize an equity lens. However, in practice, the interviews often look similar to traditional interviews that ask for opinions and feedback on narrow topics instead of uncovering the real needs and perspectives of the user. In this session, participants will understand the importance of defining a clear purpose for empathy interviews, as well as how to select diverse interviewees, structure and conduct empathy interviews, and effectively analyze and use the interview data to inform improvement work.

  • Sandra Park, Co-Founder, Improvement Collective; Senior Fellow, Improvement Science, Carnegie Foundation
  • Kari Nelsestuen, Improvement Advisor, Chalkboard Project
  • Jon Norman, Associate, Analytics, Carnegie Foundation
  • Julie Smith, Deputy Director, Chalkboard Project

Orchestrating Learning: How a Shared Theory Can Facilitate Learning Across Sites

Collective improvement efforts often use a driver diagram to communicate their shared theory of improvement. This shared theory allows for distributed learning across sites and is regularly updated based on the learning. In this session, participants will learn different ways for organizing distributed learning in a network and routines for updating the network’s shared theory.

  • Alicia Grunow, Co-Founder, Improvement Collective; Senior Fellow, Improvement Science, Carnegie Foundation
  • Sandra Park, Co-Founder, Improvement Collective; Senior Fellow, Improvement Science, Carnegie Foundation
  • Emma Parkerson, Associate, Networked Improvement Science, Carnegie Foundation
  • Barbara Shreve, Network Improvement Fellow, Carnegie Foundation

High-Reliability Organizations: Lessons from Other Industries and Their Application to Education

High-reliability organizations (HROs) avoid serious accidents or catastrophic failures in domains where accidents are often the norm due to complexity and risk factors. These kinds of organizations exist in many industries including healthcare and, arguably, in our schools. In this session, participants will learn about the key tenets that guide the operation of HROs and explore how the practices of HROs can be applied in education to reduce unwanted system failures and improve student outcomes.

  • Alicia Grunow, Co-Founder, Improvement Collective; Senior Fellow, Improvement Science, Carnegie Foundation
  • Uma R. Kotagal, Executive Lead, Community and Population Health, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital; Senior Fellow, Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI)
  • Louis Gomez, Professor of Education and Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles; Senior Fellow, Networked Improvement Science, Carnegie Foundation

Seeing the System: Linkage of Processes

Educational systems are highly complex, with multiple interrelated processes coming together to produce the outcomes we currently achieve. If we are to intervene effectively, we must be able to see and understand the organization as an entire system. In this session, participants will learn about an advanced improvement tool called a “linkage of processes,” which is used to visualize the key processes in an organization and how they interconnect.

  • Brandon Bennett, Principal Advisor, Improvement Science Consulting; Fellow, Improvement Science, Carnegie Foundation
  • Emma Parkerson, Associate, Networked Improvement Science, Carnegie Foundation
  • Kelly McMahon, Network Improvement Fellow, Carnegie Foundation
  • Camila Velasquez, Post-Baccalaureate Fellow, Carnegie Foundation

Developing a Theory of Action to Deliver Your Theory of Improvement

So you have deeply studied your problem, identified an aim statement and represented your theory of improvement as a driver diagram. Your driver diagram hypothesizes that each driver contributes to your aim and only by working on all drivers will you achieve your aim. How do you know how to operationalize your driver diagram to achieve its intended goals? Which drivers and change ideas should you work on first? How should you sequence your testing? This session will explore considerations for developing a theory of action to operationalize your theory of improvement. The focus will be on developing a theory of action which incorporates the how to of the work, as well as a learning system designed to capture if and when improvement is occurring in practice.

  • Brandon Bennett, Principal Advisor, Improvement Science Consulting; Fellow, Improvement Science, Carnegie Foundation
  • Melissa Chabran, Associate, Networked Improvement Science, Carnegie Foundation
  • Patrice Dawkins-Jackson, Network Improvement Fellow, Carnegie Foundation

Spreading Successful Changes

How do you design your improvement initiative for spread and scale? How do you take a successful change or change package and spread it to other parts of your system, whether those be other teachers, classrooms, grades, schools or departments? And how are PDSA cycles adapted for this process? This session will provide the guidance needed to address planning, infrastructure and sequencing of tasks helpful to teams/staff charged with the adoption and adaptation of changes. It will also address determining when those changes result in replicated, measurable improvement. 

  • Brandon Bennett, Principal Advisor, Improvement Science Consulting; Fellow, Improvement Science, Carnegie Foundation
  • Manuelito Biag, Associate, Networked Improvement Science, Carnegie Foundation
  • Catherine Miller, Associate, Networked Improvement Science, Carnegie Foundation

Theory of NIC Development

What are the distinguishing features of a networked improvement community (NIC), and how do NICs change over time? In this session, NIC scholars and coaches will share Carnegie’s current theory of NIC development and a measurement framework that can be used to assess a network’s health. Methods and findings will be explored through a case study of the Better Math Teaching Network (BMTN), a NIC that aims to improve student engagement in algebra.

  • Jennifer Lin Russell, Associate Professor, Learning Sciences and Policy, University of Pittsburgh; Senior Fellow, Networked Improvement Science, Carnegie Foundation
  • Jennifer Zoltners Sherer, Research Associate, Learning Sciences and Policy, University of Pittsburgh
  • David Sherer, Networked Improvement Science Fellow, Carnegie Foundation

Fostering a Shared Identity through the Power of Narrative

A dynamic and unified narrative fosters an improvement community’s vital norms and identity.  This session draws on the experiences of the National Writing Project and provides an interactive process for participants to construct their own draft narrative in the context of their improvement effort and to learn strategies and routines to lead their improvement team in crafting a collective narrative.

  • Elyse Eidman-Aadahl, Executive Director, National Writing Project
  • Melissa Chabran, Associate, Networked Improvement Science, Carnegie Foundation
  • Simone Palmer, Network Improvement Fellow, Carnegie Foundation
  • Melissa Bowden, Communications Post-Baccalaureate Fellow, Carnegie Foundation

NILS: How Technology Scaffolds and Accelerates the Improvement Science Learning Journey

This session explores the uses of the Networked Improvement Learning and Support (NILS) platform to support the initiation and development of Networked Improvement Communities (NICs). Participants will engage with “Chartering Phase” activities on the platform and run a PDSA cycle to gain an understanding of NILS’ capacity to accelerate a NIC’s work.

  • Jojo Manai, Senior Associate, Director of Analytics & Collaborative Technology
  • Hiro Yamada, Associate, Director of Analytics
  • Susan Haynes, Partner Success & Implementation Manager
  • Robert Gutierrez, Web Developer


Strand: Improvement Science in Practice

This strand highlights the real-world applications of improvement science. Participants will hear from groundbreaking practitioners and organizations that are using improvement science to translate learning into improved practice and to systematically spread improvements reliably at scale.

Teachers Leading School-Based Improvement

Schools are increasingly utilizing improvement methods to support faculty and staff to solve their own challenges, whether operational, instructional, or beyond. In this session, participants will learn about a key function that supports high-quality improvement work at the school level: improvement management. Summit Public Schools will introduce a role called the Site-Based Research Manager that was built to bridge the gap between theory and practice. The School District of Menomonee Falls has distributed this body of work through Grade Level Improvement Boards. This session will focus on the affordances and limitations of each approach, as well as the lessons learned from practitioners. Participants will leave understanding how each approach facilitates the people closest to the work to be the ones problem-solving; how quality improvement schools assist with focusing improvement efforts; and how these approaches have resulted in focused discussions and improved student results.

  • Kyle Moyer, Director of Continuous Improvement, Summit Public Schools
  • Jackie O’Connor, Site-based Research Manager, Summit Public Schools
  • Tina Posnanski, Principal, School District of Menomonee Falls
  • Kathleen Kuhn, Reading Coach and Interventionist, School District of Menomonee Falls

Launching, Supporting, and Sustaining School-Based Improvement Teams

The CORE Districts — a non-profit collaborative of eight districts in California representing over 1 million students — is in the midst of its second year of supporting school-site-based improvement teams. Through this work, CORE hub and district staff have been learning how to make improvement work accessible, feasible, and sustainable for educators at school sites. Participants will explore tools developed within the CORE to establish roles and responsibilities, launch effective teams, structure and facilitate team meetings, and develop a sustainable rhythm for their team’s improvement work. Participants will have the opportunity to examine specific resources and templates and will leave with ideas for how they might apply or adapt those resources within their own contexts.

  • Amanda Meyer, Director of Improvement, CORE Districts
  • Juli Coleman, Deputy Chief of Improvement, CORE Districts

Developing Intrapreneurs: Design as a Tool for Improving from Within

Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College has embarked on a transformation built around a belief in the power of intrapreneurs: those who seek to bring about positive change and innovative ideas from within organizations. The college uses a design-based approach to problem-solving as a key tool for developing intrapreneurial thinkers. This session will feature a game-based exploration of how a college of education might work to support school communities’ efforts to reimagine and redesign their educational services. Participants will assume the role of design partners supporting schools to understand the systemic forces at work in their contexts, as well as engage in inquiry to improve outcomes. Along the way, participants will hear stories of success, failure, and the general muddiness of working to support educational change in the 21st century.

  • Punya Mishra, Associate Dean, Scholarship and Innovation, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Arizona State University
  • Ben Scragg, Lead Design Strategist, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Arizona State University

Identifying and Addressing Adaptive Challenges to Accelerate Improvement

Improving outcomes for students requires significant shifts in the way we work. While there are practices or programs that help accelerate results, many shifts require changes in the way individuals or systems work together. These types of challenges are called adaptive challenges: problems that have no known solution and often stop improvement science work in its tracks. During this interactive working session participants will learn tools and techniques for uncovering and addressing adaptive challenges. Participants will have the opportunity to hear examples of challenges encountered by improvement teams from StriveTogether’s prenatal to age 3 network, which, despite these challenges, produces improved outcomes for children ages 0 to 3.

  • Heidi Black, Director of Collaborative Improvement, StriveTogether
  • Davida Casey, Manager of Coaching and Programs, StriveTogether

Using Practical Measures to Support Secondary Math Instruction

Partnerships between institutes of higher education and school districts have the potential to unlock great power and capability in using practical measures for instructional improvement. In this session, participants will learn about instructional improvement efforts in secondary mathematics in two districts, both of which are aiming to improve the quality of mathematical discourse in classrooms. The districts are using the same practical measures and associated data representations to assess and enhance different strategies. Presenters will highlight key features of district context as well as practitioners’ knowledge, perspectives, and practice that influence whether use of the practical measures supports rather than impairs instructional improvement efforts.

  • June Ahn, Associate Professor, University of California, Irvine
  • Starlie Chinen, Doctoral Student, University of Washington
  • Paul Cobb, Research Professor, Vanderbilt University
  • Kara Jackson, Associate Professor, University of Washington
  • Nicholas Kochmanski, Doctoral Student, Vanderbilt University
  • Jessica Slayton, Director of Mathematics, Metro Nashville Public Schools
  • Kimberly Tarnowieckyi, 9-12 Math Facilitator, Federal Way Public Schools

Transforming Instruction and the District/School Relationship Through Data-Driven Inquiry

Volusia County Schools in Florida has used the principles of improvement science and evidence-based practice to develop a new model for school leaders and district staff to jointly work toward high-quality, standards-aligned instruction in English Language Arts. The session will examine how district leaders facilitate disciplined, data-driven inquiry cycles with teams of district and school leaders to plan meaningful improvement ideas, implement those ideas, study the results of their actions, and act or adjust based on results. This continuous improvement effort yielded a new model for the district-school relationship that is guiding long-term, system-wide changes to Volusia County Schools’ existing professional learning and school leader engagement structures.

  • Nick Cheng, Consultant, UPD Consulting
  • Kati Dyer, Coordinator, Professional Learning & School Improvement Services, Volusia County Schools
  • Meg Roa, District Administrator, Professional Learning and School Improvement Office, Volusia County Schools
  • Carlos Scott, Principal, Woodward Avenue Elementary
  • Teresa Marcks, Chief Academic Officer, Volusia County Schools

Inquiry and Iteration to Seed and Spread Improvement Science

Infusing improvement capability at multiple system levels and across role groups is essential to build a culture of continuous improvement and realize measurable gains. In this session, participants will hear about two cases of public school systems that have seen marked improvement by strategically planning for and developing human capital to do improvement work. In Shue-Medill Middle School, teachers, administrators, students, and parents all hold active roles in leading change. As a result, they have reduced the percentage of students retained in 9th grade from 20% to 14% in just two years. The Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD staff apply principles of improvement science to measure, analyze, and continuously improve instructional and operational services to schools. Working together across operational and instructional domains, staff have identified savings of over $3 million to redirect to classrooms, while continuing to provide high-quality service to schools that enable students to demonstrate improved performance

  • Greg Gibson, Superintendent, Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD
  • Christina James, Teacher, Improvement Leader, Shue-Medill Middle School, Christina School District
  • Casey Montigney, Teacher, Improvement Leader, Shue-Medill Middle School, Christina School District

Improving How Early Career Teachers Learn with Disciplined Inquiry

In the current educational context, it is essential that we understand how to quickly prepare novice teachers to be more effective. In this session, participants will hear from two organizations that are using disciplined inquiry to improve how early-career teachers learn. The Boston Teacher Residency’s Early Career Teaching Network will describe how the use of disciplined inquiry methods, measures, and tools has been essential to the refining, scaling, and spreading of an instructional activity called Excavating Teaching in Boston Public Schools. Similarly, Trellis Education will share how they leverage improvement science to provide long-term support to new STEM teachers that ensures they can “walk the talk,” practicing high-quality STEM practices in their own teaching.

  • Julie Sloan, Director, BTR Early Career Teaching Network, Boston Teacher Residency, BPE
  • Brianna Wilson, Improvement Specialist, BTR Early Career Teaching Network, Boston Teacher Residency, BPE
  • Megan W. Taylor, CEO, Trellis Education
  • Wendy Yau, Data Analyst, Trellis Education

Improving Literacy Instruction and Student Outcomes Through Inquiry Cycles

Teaching students to read is one of the hardest jobs in education; teaching students who are behind grade-level to read is even harder. When children fall behind in literacy development, it becomes difficult for them to catch up to on-grade-level peers. Teachers working with these students often have insufficient data to improve their reading abilities. In this session, participants will learn from two networks leveraging plan-do-study-act (PDSA) inquiry cycles to improve literacy instruction. Teaching Matters will share how they apply the PDSA model to test an intensified intervention, act upon learnings in order to improve program implementation, and plan for scale. Participants will hear from UChicago Impact about how one elementary school used a formative literacy assessment system to transform its approach to getting students on track to reading proficiency.

  • Maggie Walsh, Co-CEO, UChicago Impact
  • Lynette Guastaferro, CEO, Teaching Matters
  • Pam Abramson, Senior Educational Consultant, Teaching Matters

Practice-Driven Data in Chicago

How did University of Chicago dramatically improve the proportion of freshmen on track to graduate? A distinctive, practice-driven approach to using data for school improvement played a pivotal role in this improvement story. This session explores the features of this approach, which was developed by entities at the University of Chicago as improvement partners with the Chicago Public Schools. The approach has implications for those working with educational data, from the research and analysis that guides investigation to the design of the data system to the efficacy of schools-based practitioners who use data to guide their practice.

  • Eliza Moeller, Director of Research and Continuous Improvement, Network for College Success, University of Chicago
  • Alex Seeskin, Director of the To&Through Project, Urban Education Initiative, University of Chicago

Using Improvement Science for Teaching Diverse Learners

Language, and its role in a learner’s ability to process and acquire knowledge and skills, is an essential factor in our ability to support the needs of diverse learner populations. In this session, participants will hear about two teacher education programs that use the principles of improvement to prepare educators for teaching diverse learners. Participants will learn about a pedagogical approach at Arizona State University that resulted in the improved development of teachers as they prepared their classroom environments for the diverse needs of their English Language Learners. Presenters from University of Albany will share how pre-service preparation faculty have used improvement science to address teacher staffing shortfalls in local districts.

  • Melanie Baca, Business Analyst, Arizona State University
  • Sarah Schmaltz Saltmarsh, Lead, Instructional Coach, Arizona State University
  • Gretchen Oliver, Visiting Assistant Professor, University at Albany
  • Kristen C. Wilcox, Associate Professor, University at Albany
  • Carole Basile (reflector), Dean, Mary Lou Teachers College, Arizona State University

Building Connections across Network Levels with Measurement

While educational agencies have a well-established history of monitoring data on student outcomes and some teacher inputs, their attention to implementation data is less systematic. This lack of robustness hinders improvement efforts from being able to attribute changes in outcomes to changes in practices. Developing district-wide focus and support for sites to measure their practices can strengthen connections, not just between implementation and impact, but also between leadership and instruction, and thus between levels of the network. This workshop will explore concrete supports to facilitate system-wide understanding and routines for collecting and using implementation data for improvement to strengthen network coherence.

  • Ritu Khanna, Chief of Research, Planning, and Assessment, San Francisco Unified School District
  • Norma Ming, Supervisor of Research and Evaluation, San Francisco Unified School District

Spotlight on National Implementation Research Network and Kentucky Department of Education

Anchored in the synergy between implementation and improvement science, this session focuses on the National Implementation Research Network’s partnership with the Kentucky Department of Education and educators to build an implementation infrastructure to successfully use evidence-based mathematics practices at the elementary and middle school levels and scale those practices using continuous improvement approaches throughout the state.  Moving the locus of responsibility from evaluation of the teacher to evaluation of the system, their capacity-building infrastructure includes networked implementation teams focused on providing teacher supports including training and coaching, explicit communication routines, and common data protocols to assess and improve progress. Eventually, each level is responsible for providing the needed support and resources to assure success at the next level and applying Plan Do Study Act (PDSA) improvement cycles to solve specific challenges along the way.  The learning at each level is constantly communicated back up to inform the “level above” so Practice informs Policy and Policy enhances sustainable Practice.

  • Kathleen Ryan Jackson, Implementation Specialist, National Implementation Research Network
  • Amanda Waldroup, State Transformation Specialist, Kentucky Department of Education
  • Penny Carver (moderator), Principal, Carver & Company; Senior Fellow, Strategy and Business Development, Carnegie Foundation

Adopting Successful Work Processes System-wide through Inter-visitation

Across the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE), there are pockets of strong practice in every content area; however, they fail to deliver this equitably across the entire system. Showcase Schools, part of the NYCDOE’s Office of Leadership, will share school-based standard work processes through a combination of inter-visitation and professional learning for educators, by educators. They lead a yearly cohort of about 45 schools, hosting more than 100 learning days at their schools to study a standard work process. This session will highlight ways NYCDOE’s Showcase Schools program illuminates system-wide variability in instructional practice and empowers educators to pilot standard work processes in their own practice. Participants will consider how to adapt their program to their own context and engage with their Bridge to Action tool, which helps visitors generate a change idea and plan a pilot of their own.

  • Brigid Timlin, Evaluation Manager, Showcase Schools, New York City Department of Education
  • Anna Zucker Johnson, Senior Director, Showcase Schools, New York City Department of Education
  • Chau Ngo-Rayman, Executive Director of Showcase Schools

Scaling Up Without Screwing Up

The ultimate goal of improvement efforts is often to affect outcomes at scale. This is no easy task—it is precisely in the scaling up of promising interventions where many of them fail. Educators are not alone in this challenge; scaling up is a core challenge across many industries. In this session, participants will learn from others’ efforts, and discuss core obstacles to scaling and strategies for overcoming them.

  • Hayagreeva “Huggy” Rao, Atholl McBean Professor of Organizational Behavior and Human Resources, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University


Strand: Networks in Practice

Networks are an increasingly popular strategy for organizing collective improvement work and accelerating our ability to learn. This strand illustrates what it takes to bring a network to life and support it in reaching its improvement goals. Presenters will share their experiences with key aspects of initiating and developing networks, including engaging stakeholders, creating network charters, and sustaining improvement.

Improvement Science in Leadership Preparation

A network within the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED) — a consortium of 100+ universities and colleges of education working to undertake a critical examination of the EdD — is focusing on making improvement science a signature methodology for the EdD. The organizations in this network work with faculty to equip educational leaders with practical know-how to elicit positive change. Participants will explore approaches for preparing professional practitioners to apply improvement science as a method of inquiry in improvement practice. Participants will also learn to recognize the distinct training needed in improvement science as a frame for EdD dissertations, and the research skills and standards of rigor and quality necessary for this work.

  • Jill Perry, Executive Director, Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate
  • Robert Crow, Assistant Professor of Educational Research, Western Carolina University

Conditions for Meaningful Change in Schools: The Case of Two NICs

Identifying the conditions, structures, and roles that need to be in place in order for meaningful change to occur is a challenge that all networked improvement communities face. This session highlights how two NICs responded to these issues. The New York City Department of Education will provide participants with real-world examples of improvement science leveraged in their South Brooklyn NIC’s 17 schools to raise achievement for English Language Learners. By highlighting common threads among the schools they work with, they will share the conditions they have found are necessary for meaningful change to occur in educational organizations. In Eskolta’s work as a convener and developer of networked communities, they have learned how to differentiate the roles of schools and educators in a NIC in order to create mutually reinforcing supports across the network. In this workshop, they will share their unique four-stage structure for schools across a network to grow, sustain, and support each other.

  • Rhena Jasey, Instructional Coach, New York City Department of Education
  • Alida Maravi, Instructional Coach, New York City Department of Education
  • Emily Kleinman, Director of Knowledge Development, Eskolta School Research & Design
    Fuschia Ray, Research & Design Associate, Eskolta School Research & Design

Getting Better Results for Students Using Improvement Science

Understanding both the challenges and successes involved with engaging in an improvement process is key to learning from it. Participants will hear from two organizations working to improve outcomes on two different student-level problems. Eight districts and the state of Ohio are working collaboratively with Proving Ground to address chronic absenteeism. Participants will hear from different partner districts about their experience using the continuous improvement process, their work with the network, and the actions they are currently taking to address chronic absenteeism. Participants will also hear from an innovative statewide NIC in Virginia working with eleven districts—rural, suburban and urban. They have been working in collaboration to address the support assessment for, not of, learning.

  • Beth Blankenship, Education Specialist, Fairfax County Public Schools
  • Melissa Ponce, Program Director, EdLeader21
  • Bi Vuong, Director, Proving Ground, Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University
  • Robert DiFlorio, Executive Director of Early Childhood and Elementary Education, Syracuse City School District

Improving the Core: Features and Challenges of Instructionally Focused NICs

Networked improvement communities are becoming a popular strategy for work on complex problems of practice in education. Instructionally focused NICs face unique opportunities and challenges as teams grapple with ways to deeply address content-specific improvement in teaching and learning. In this session, presenters identify several critical elements of instructionally focused NICs and discuss common challenges they face. Presenters will use cases from three instructionally focused NICs (The Better Math Teaching Network, the Student-Centered Assessment Network, and the Tennessee Early Literacy Network) to examine these opportunities and challenges, followed by a mediated discussion of the implications this has for the design and support of instructionally focused NICs.

  • Jennifer Lin Russell, Associate Professor, Learning Sciences and Policy, University of Pittsburgh; Senior Fellow, Networked Improvement Science, Carnegie Foundation
  • Jennifer Zoltners Sherer, Research Associate, Learning Sciences and Policy, University of Pittsburgh

Building Relationships and Scaling Systems that Support All Students

Through panel discussion, role-play, and an interactive I-Time lesson, this session will explore the impact and lessons learned from the BARR Network’s growth to over 100 schools nationwide. Presenters will share insights into the network’s proven strategies to close achievement gaps in course completion and graduation rates, as well as BARR’s theory of improvement, and use of shared measurement and disciplined methods of improvement. Participants will gain a greater knowledge of the strategies and structures used to develop and scale the BARR Network, and a better understanding of how school systems can empower educators and support all students.

  • Angela Jerabek, Executive Director, BARR Center
  • Maryann Corsello, Director of Quality and Analytics, BARR Center

Harnessing the Power of Developmental Evaluation and Network Health Assessments to Support NICs

NIC initiation and development is complex work that must be simultaneously strategic and responsive, and for which there is little empirical guidance to support design and implementation decisions. This session draws on the case of the Student-Centered Assessment Network (SCAN) Hub and its developmental evaluation to identify and describe the tools and routines that supported critical Hub decisions in the early formation and implementation of the network. The National Board will explore how the Network to Transform Teaching adapted and tested an early version of the Carnegie NIC Member Survey. This enabled them to move beyond NIC initiation to continuously assess the health of the network, uncover emerging needs, and use this information to develop supports and structures to strengthen community within the network. Participants will leave this session with a concrete sense of the challenges of developing a NIC and how developmental evaluation and assessing network health can support overcoming those challenges; identify key features of a productive partnership between a Hub and developmental evaluators and be familiar with tools and routines used by Hub/Developmental evaluation teams to strengthen the development of a NIC.

  • Jennifer Iriti, Research Scientist, Learning Research and Development Center, University of Pittsburgh
  • Stephen Plank, Managing Researcher, American Institutes for Research
  • Laura Benedetto, Senior Manager, Network Engagement, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
  • Dereck Norville-Bowie, Senior Manager, Improvement Analytics, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
  • David Sherer (reflector), Network Improvement Fellow, Carnegie Foundation

Lessons in Launching Cross-Sector Local Improvement Networks

This session will share a framework for designing local improvement networks (LINs) aimed at improving early math and social emotional learning outcomes for low-income students of color. Grounded in family engagement and racial equity, these LINS — funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — include diverse actors from local schools, pre-K, and out-of-school time providers working collaboratively in the school and community ecosystem to improve student success. The presenters from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and SPR will share (1) a framework for understanding cross-sector networks; (2) strategies and early lessons in establishing community-driven networks; and (3) the complexities of measuring network progress toward outcomes.

  • Jean-Claude Brizard, Senior Advisor, P-16 Community Investment Team, Office of the President, U.S. Programs Deputy Director, Washington State Strategy, Pacific Northwest, U.S. Programs, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Sengsouvanh (Sukey) Leshnick, Principal/ Director of Education Division, Social Policy Research
  • Mary Jean Ryan, Founding Director, Community Center for Education Results (CCER)

Turning Postsecondary Transitions and Aspirations into Success: Using Data Systems and Routines

This session features two networks focused on fostering postsecondary transition and success. After reaching a longtime goal of 80% on-time graduation, New Visions for Public Schools has increased focus on postsecondary transition and success. As part of this transition, New Visions is launching multiple pilot networks to improve preparation for and transition to postsecondary options, both college and career. New Visions will share early learnings from these pilots, including how they have used a shared data platform to capture key information and structured protocols to build capacity and institutionalize reliable routines in schools. This session will also feature how a community of counselors developed, executed, and refined a theory of action for increasing college success in the Chicago Public Schools. It will also explore data showing the network’s strong results in changing students’ college-going behaviors and show how these educators used that data to evaluate its progress and retool its approach; and give participants an opportunity to understand techniques used (e.g. motivational interviewing, values identification, etc.) by the network to gain insight into students’ experiences of the college application and enrollment process.

  • Aurora Flores Garcia, Manager of Student Success, Pathways Program at National Louis University
  • Regina Pretekin, Lead Postsecondary Coach, Network for College Success, University of Chicago
  • Jefferson Pestronk, Vice President, Strategy and Development, New Visions for Public Schools
  • Jennie Soler-McIntosh, Vice President, Community Engagement, New Visions for Public Schools

Consolidating Dynamic Learning into Actionable Knowledge

How does a Networked Improvement Community consolidate and spread learning across multiple sites in meaningful and actionable ways? One of Eskolta’s mantras is that knowledge is both static and dynamic. In this workshop, Eskolta will look at the process of consolidating dynamic knowledge in static products that it can continue to feed a loop of continuous learning. They will share tools teams can use to draw insights from practice-based evidence, document new knowledge, and disseminate this to others in a network. Their network’s tools have been developed and refined over seven years of improvement work in more than 150 design projects with NYC schools, as well as two multi-year NICs. Participants will be able to help improvement teams (1) draw meaningful insights from practice-based evidence; (2) document learnings in concise, actionable ways; and (3) disseminate learnings for others in the network to build upon.

  • Emily Kleinman, Director of Knowledge Development, Eskolta School Research & Design
  • Catherine Pratt, Research & Design Facilitator, Eskolta School Research & Design

Moving from a Collaborative to an Improvement Network

Establishing a NIC within an existing structure presents unique challenges. This panel discussion will highlight three networks’ process in moving toward an improvement network. Participants will hear about what led these networks to shift, what cultural challenges they had to work through, and updates on their learning. The Fairfax County Public Schools iLEAD Team will describe their work on embedding Improvement Science into professional development to teacher school-based secondary literacy teams. The San Juan BOCES in Colorado will discuss their movement from a regional collaborative and their work in focusing on key regional priorities: educator agency, personalized learning, and social-emotional learning. The Literacy Design Collaborative will present the overarching communing strategies as well as short-cycle PDSAs they used to transform a loose, traditional national community of practice into a more structured Improvement network with clear measurable aims and deployment of improvement tools and principles.

  • Claire Silva, Data Specialist: Instructional Support, Fairfax County Public Schools
  • Paige Whitlock, Language Arts Coordinator, Fairfax County Public Schools
  • Steve Otter, Director, Innovation and Collaboration, San Juan BOCES
  • Karen Herbert, Senior Program Lead, Colorado Education Initiative
  • Chad Vignola, Executive Director, Literacy Design Collaborative
  • Suzanne Simons, Chief Academic Officer, Literacy Design Collaborative

Building and Engaging a Network

Initiating and sustaining a networked improvement community (NIC) requires creating a shared sense of community among network members and building will for the work and momentum to be sustained. This session will consider the case of two NICs engaging members to build and scale their network. Washington STEM will describe scaling their 11 regional STEM Networks, which, together, support 78 percent of the state’s students, and explore case studies to identify best practices for growing connections between business, education, and community; catalyzing regional system change; scaling change in practice of local practitioners; advocating for education that supports local workforce demand; and aligning sector strategies to increase student success. The Rural Math Innovation Network is a virtual networked improvement community of middle and high school teachers collaborating to create, implement, and refine lessons and practices that help students develop growth mindsets and self-efficacy in mathematics. Attendees will experience the technologies used by teachers for collaboration and peer critique, and learn about how project activities are impacting student motivation and learning.

  • Jenée Myers-Twitchell, Impact Director, Washington STEM
  • Andy Shouse, Chief Program Officer, Washington STEM
  • Kenn Barron, Professor of Psychology & Co-Director of the Motivation Research Institute, James Madison University
  • Jennifer Stevens, Vice President, Partnerships & Programs, Virginia Advanced Study Strategies

Improvement Science for Equity: Enabling Structures and Supporting Learning

This session describes innovative pathways developed to apply networked improvement science in education with a focus on equity, diversity and inclusion. ShiftResults and Kingmakers will share their work, explicitly with African-American male teachers and K-12 students, which applies a shared theory of change and explores models of cascade mentorship within the network. Presenters reflect on learning related to improvement networks for equity based on implementation of a collaborative within several school districts. Partners in School Innovation will describe a networked improvement community in a low-income community of color that focuses on equity issues and is facilitated by an external support provider. They will describe how they determine who will lead the work at their schools and how they match service levels to the needs of participating schools. Much of the session will focus on the adult learning practices that pervade the network sessions and follow-up coaching, as well as how they measure progress and reflect upon data from the assessments they use.

  • Shay L Bluemer-Miroite, Lead Improvement Advisor, Shift-Results
  • Gerald Williams, VP Research Assessment and Data, Kingmakers of Oakland
  • Matt Duffy, Superintendent, West Contra Costa Unified School District
  • Tovi Scruggs, Regional Executive Director, California, Partners in School Innovation

Improving Undergraduate STEM Education with Change Networks

Networks of organizations focused on advancing improvement in STEM undergraduate education are a lever for change, distinct from networks of individuals. This session aims to define and differentiate organization-focused change networks (OCNs) from networks of individuals. Presenters will discuss key issues and challenges pertaining to development, growth, spread, and scale. The session will offer early insights, invite participants to analyze cases, and identify compelling challenges in initiation, growth, and development. This work includes six OCNs: the Advanced Technological Education Network; the Bay View Alliance; the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning; the PULSE Fellows Network; the Network of STEM Education Centers; and the Reinvention Collaboration.

  • Ann E. Austin, Professor, Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education; Associate Dean for Research, College of Education; Assistant Provost for Faculty Development-Career Paths, Michigan State University
  • Susan Rundell Singer, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost; Professor of Biology, Rollins College

Spotlight on Central Valley Networked Improvement Community, Tulare County Office of Education

The Central Valley Networked Improvement Community (CVNIC) is working to improve mathematics learning and achievement for students in seven districts in Tulare County, a rural, agricultural setting in the Central Valley of California. Bridging distances and differences and connecting relatively isolated schools, the CVNIC has effectively built capabilities and organizational capacities, designed and enacted a measurement system and routines, and leveraged diverse expertise within its region to effectively engage in improvement work. In just its first two years, the CVNIC has demonstrated improved outcomes for students, with observable shifts in instructional practice and a steady increase in the percentage of students who were proficient in the state assessments.

  • Shelah Feldstein, Central Valley Networked Improvement Community (CVNIC) Director, Tulare County Office of Education
  • Christine Roberts, Mathematics Staff Development and Curriculum Specialist, Tulare County Office of Education
  • Paul LeMahieu (moderator), Senior Vice President of Programs, Carnegie Foundation

Spotlight on StriveTogether and United Way of Salt Lake

Building a culture of improvement across a community is essential for the success of collective impact partnerships and the communities they work in. To support communities in this work, StriveTogether, a national leader in collective impact, has designed impact and improvement networks to help diverse community partners align their efforts, while building their capability in improvement methodologies that can be spread and applied across organizations and a variety of challenges. Join this session to learn how United Way of Salt Lake applied StriveTogether’s Impact and Improvement Network method to improve the quality of life for the children of Salt Lake. Their networked improvement approach brought together multiple stakeholders around a common problem of chronic absenteeism, leveraged diverse expertise, and developed the disciplined use of improvement methods, tools, and data to track progress and inform subsequent improvement efforts. Participants will learn how their work in the impact and improvement network was leveraged to spread improvement practices across multiple networks, partners, and initiatives through the Promise Partnership of Salt Lake.

  • Heidi Black, StriveTogether, Director of Collaborative Improvement, StriveTogether
  • Tyler Asman, Senior Director of Learning & Improvement, United Way of Salt Lake
  • Penny Carver (moderator), Principal, Carver & Company; Senior Fellow, Strategy and Business Development, Carnegie Foundation

Spotlight on Memphis KIPP Wheatley Learning Collaborative, KIPP Foundation

This session focuses on KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program), which, with four other CMOs in Memphis, formed the Memphis KIPP Wheatley Learning Collaborative. Their aim: to improve literacy instruction, and thus literacy achievement, for students across the city of Memphis. The presenters will delve into their analysis that pointed to teacher and leader literacy content knowledge as a primary driver for increasing student learning; their series of change ideas and weekly meeting cycles; and a collaborative structure of learning sessions, virtual PLCs, and site visits. Codifying the key practice of leading lesson internalization meetings and using weekly and quarterly teacher and leader data and student achievement data, KIPP Wheatley Learning Collaborative catalyzed improvements in teacher practice and student mastery for all their students. 

  • Heidi Fisher, Senior Manager, KIPP Wheatley Learning Collaborative, KIPP Foundation
  • Daniel Sonnier, ELA Achievement Director, KIPP Foundation
  • Ash Vasudeva (moderator), Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, Carnegie Foundation

Spotlight on Un Buen Comienzo Improvement Network, Fundación Educacional Oportunidad

Serving as a hub, the Fundación Educacional Opportunidad brought together over 60 disadvantaged rural and urban school organizations in Chile to address their national problem of providing effective early learning opportunities for children. Building on the scholarly literature and the need most felt in their local Chilean communities, Fundación Educacional Opportunidad helped these organizations identify chronic absenteeism, ineffective use of time, and too little focus on literacy for their disciplined improvement efforts. Bringing analytic capacity and the use of improvement tools to local Chilean school leaders, teachers, and parents, they are engaging local actors as change agents and showing early results supporting children’s learning.

  • Marcela Marzolo, Executive Director, Fundación Educacional Oportunidad
  • Carolina Soto, Director of Continuous Improvement, Fundación Educacional Oportunidad
  • Paul LeMahieu (moderator), Senior Vice President of Programs, Carnegie Foundation


Strand: Leadership for Improvement

Transformational leaders bring about needed change; they are driven to break through the status quo to achieve new levels of performance. Leading improvement requires shifting norms and habits that are often deeply ingrained in the culture of educational organizations. In these sessions, leaders who have taken on this daunting challenge will share how and why they led these efforts and what lessons they have learned along the way.

Transforming a System from Below Average to the Top 10%: Practical Lessons from a Health System CEO

Somehow, what troubles people isn’t so much being average as settling for it. Everyone knows that averageness is, for most of us, our fate. But in your surgeon, your child’s pediatrician, your police department, your local high school? When the stakes are our lives and the lives of our children, we expect averageness to be resisted. — Atul Gwande, “The Bell Curve,” New Yorker, Dec. 6, 2006

Hear first-hand from the former president and chief executive officer of Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center and the protagonist in the HBR Case Study that describes an organization’s use of improvement science to transform their system from below average to the top 10% in their industry. He will share and reflect with attendees on the principles, levers, and leadership practices that led to their achievements.

  • James Anderson, Former President and Chief Executive Officer, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
  • Pat Greco, Ph.D., Former Superintendent & Improvement Advocate, School District of Menomonee Falls
  • Penny Carver (moderator), Principal, Carver & Company; Senior Fellow, Strategy and Business Development, Carnegie Foundation

Spotlight on the Center for Urban Education Leadership, University of Illinois at Chicago

“What would it take to produce urban school principals who lead schools to significantly improved student learning outcomes, and who do so as a rule rather than as a rare exception to the rule?” The Center for Urban Education Leadership (CUEL) and the Ed.D. Program in Urban Education Leadership at the University of Illinois at Chicago address this question through continuous improvement practices occurring at multiple levels: school leadership capacity to transform schools as organizations to improve outcomes for low-income, minority students; transformation of university organization, norms and practices to prepare and develop schools leaders for their capacity building roles; and policy and institutional change at local and state levels to support university/district partnerships to better prepare school leaders. Chicago Public Schools (CPS), with a 90% minority and 85% low-income student population, have over the life of the Center’s program improved more in standardized test scores than any of the other 55 Large Districts in Illinois. And nearly all observers agree that improvements in student learning in CPS cannot be fully explained without reference to the CPS system-wide investment in and focus on leadership development. Attendees will have the opportunity to explore the distinguishing features of their approach including their information system, approach to measurement, and mixed inquiry methods. 

  • Steve Tozer, Director Emeritus, Center for Urban Education Leadership, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Lisa Walker, Senior Researcher, Center for Urban Education Leadership, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Louis Gomez (moderator), Professor of Education and Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles; Senior Fellow, Networked Improvement Science, Carnegie Foundation

No Excuses Leadership: Building Systemic Supports for Low Income Students

Student needs are dramatically different than at any other time in history. Amarillo College embraced a No Excuses philosophy and comprehensive culture shift in understanding and addressing their students’ biggest barrier to academic success: poverty. Building a systemic approach to poverty has worked, with a 175% increase in degree obtainment and a three-year completion rate that moved from 19% to 45%. Through poverty training; student-defined college values; use of “secret shoppers;” accelerated learning, predictive analytics and integrated community partners, Amarillo College is doing more than mitigating poverty — they are systemically eradicating it, with No Excuses. This systemic approach to poverty and the power of intentional leadership for improvement has received national attention, and participants will learn how to apply similar approaches to their contexts.

  • Russell Lowery-Hart, President, Amarillo College

Building Leadership’s Adaptive and Technical Continuous Improvement Skills

School and district leaders often think that technical continuous improvement skills are enough to move a school toward a culture of continuous improvement. They focus on supporting the steps to ensure continuous improvement practices and processes, but often fail to build the more adaptive skills necessary for a collaborative continuous improvement culture that insures practices are scaled with depth and breadth. In EDC’s work shifting schools and districts toward a collaborative culture of continuous improvement, they have found it is essential to build both the adaptive and technical skills of leaders. In this session, they will discuss specific strategies for building leadership’s adaptive skills for continuous improvement and introduce a data study protocol they have used to help build both adaptive and technical skills.

  • Eliza Fabillar, Project Director, Education Development Center (EDC)
  • Anne Wang, Evaluator, Education Development Center (EDC)

A Scaffolded Approach to Building Teachers’ Improvement Capacity

How might systems rely on the wisdom of expert teachers to tackle intractable problems of teaching and learning? This session will explore how schools and districts are leveraging the expertise of accomplished and board-certified teachers in spreadable and scalable ways, scaffolding improvement science learning and doing over time. Participants will consider how to introduce improvement science to teachers, how to assess the cultural conditions that can foster or hinder continuous quality improvement, and how to support teachers to lead improvement in systems of accountability. This session will have takeaways for teachers, principals, and system leaders including tools and resources developed by accomplished teachers through the Network to Transform Teaching (NT3), a growing NIC across 10 states, 52 districts, and over 130 schools.

  • Lisa Clarke, NBCT, Director of Improvement, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
  • Sara Saldaña, NBCT, San Francisco Director, Network to Transform Teaching, San Francisco Unified School District
  • Lindsey Stevens, NBCT, Director of Teacher Leadership and Learning, Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession
  • Barnett Berry (reflector), Founder and CEO, Center for Teaching Quality

Deeper Learning Leaders: A Panel on Improving Student Engagement

The Deeper Learning movement affirms that engagement is the key to student achievement. But is “engagement” an elusive intangible, or an indicator that can be strategically leveraged for improvement? And how do we transition systems and mindsets to prioritize engagement over compliance? From an equity standpoint, how can we ensure all students are engaged, not just the students in the front of the class? You’ll learn from a diverse group of Deeper Learning leaders who manage change at High Tech High, Evergreen School District, and Napa Valley Unified. They’ll share their experience establishing systems to accelerate learning for every student.

  • Ben Daley, Provost, High Tech High Graduate School of Education
  • Rosanna Mucetti, Superintendent, Napa Valley Unified School District
  • Kathy Gomez, Superintendent, Evergreen School District

Building Leadership Capacity for Racial Equity-Focused Improvement Science

Committed to addressing the racial inequities affecting black and Latino students, who make up 67% of the total population of their public schools, The New York City Department of Education’s Learning Partners Program strategically leverages improvement science networks to promote racial equity across hundreds of their city schools. They accomplish this goal by inspiring school leadership teams to consider “the why” for focusing on racial equity, setting up psychologically safe team-building opportunities to explore racial identities and biases, and establishing specific expectations for how networks of schools engage in racial equity through improvement science processes. LPP team leaders will share their practices, lessons learned, and resources for building and sustaining leadership capacity for disciplined inquiry through the lens of racial equity. Participants will reflect on specific examples through a simulation of their three most promising practices.

  • Betty Lugo, Senior Director of Learning Partners Program, New York City Department of Education
  • Susan Tynan, Executive Director of Learning Partners Program, New York City Department of Education

Improving School and Instructional Leadership: Lessons from the Work

An extensive body of research suggests that strong schools need strong instructional leaders. Substantial challenges exist in ensuring all schools have the quantity and quality of instructional leaders necessary to achieve improvement at scale. In this session, participants will hear from a panel of practitioners who are using improvement science to improve the preparation of administrators. Panelists will share the lessons learned from using the core principles of improvement in leader development in Los Angeles and New York City.

  • Nikole Booker, Principal Coach, Office of Leadership, NYC Department of Education
  • Mathew Pearson, Co-Director, New Principal Support, Office of Leadership, NYC Department of Education
  • Delia Estrada, Administrative Coordinator, Los Angeles Unified School District
  • Marco A. Nava, Administrative Coordinator, Los Angeles Unified School
  • District
  • Ben Klompus, Dean, National Principal and Supervisors Academy, Relay Graduate School of Education

Superintendents’ Reflections on Leading Improvement: Lessons for Leaders

In this session, former Superintendent of Sanger School District Matt Navo, and Sacramento City Unified School District Superintendent Jorge Aguilar will share critical lessons about building improvement cultures in their districts. Superintendent Navo emphasizes the importance of connecting to “why” improvement science is important and “where” it resides in the course of the actions of the organization. Superintendent Aguilar introduced the guiding principle “all students are given an equal opportunity to graduate with the greatest number of postsecondary choices from the widest array of options.” He provided training about improvement science principles and proposed that learning flow from the central office instructional leadership and principal supervisors to principals to school leadership teams. The plan fell short. He will share his critical lesson learned.

  • Jorge A. Aguilar, Superintendent, Sacramento City Unified School District
  • Iris Taylor, Chief Academic Officer, Sacramento City Unified School District
  • Matt Navo, Former Superintendent, Sanger School District; Director of System Transformation, WestEd

Sustaining Improvement through Transitions

Leadership transitions plague all organizations. Building an improving system requires the full team to see the system at work and understand individual roles in the work of the organization. As leaders change, the challenge grows. Even the goals of the organization become unclear to the full team. The School District of Menomonee Falls has deployed evidence-based leadership and the model for improvement for more than eight years. Hardwiring improved processes and sustaining the model of improvement through leadership changes is ultimately the key to long-term success. This session will focus on the process of building a systemic mindset of improvement and strong succession tied to the principles of improvement and evidence-based leadership.

  • Corey Golla, Superintendent, School District of Menomonee Falls
  • Pat Greco, Ph.D., Former Superintendent & Improvement Advocate, School District of Menomonee Falls

State-Level Partnerships for Student Success: Improving Systems in a Context of Continuous Improvement

This session will examine efforts by a state-level partnership in California — the CORE Districts, a non-profit collaborative of eight districts representing over 1 million students — to leverage improvement community structures and a whole child, whole school data and analytics system in support of improving student learning. A sequel to sessions in the prior four years, CORE will share the latest part of their collaborative journey: supporting improvement work happening on the ground in schools within the CORE Improvement Community, focused on improving math achievement. CORE’s team of staff, superintendents, and principals will highlight lessons learned about leadership moves and structures that empower school-site educators to collaboratively improve their practice.

  • Noah Bookman, Chief Strategy Officer, CORE Districts
  • Heather Hough, Executive Director, PACE – Policy Analysis for California Education

Frameworks and Scorecards to Drive District Improvement

Many districts struggle to address unique needs of students and schools while providing a “district approach.” The Belvidere School District has effectively utilized consistent “frameworks” and scorecards reporting on Students, People, Community, Quality, Resources across 10 schools to define where the district is “tight” and what is “loose” for schools to adapt and innovate. Urbandale Community School District involved employees, parents, and community members to create a strategic plan and framework for change, along with strategic actions and rigorous training and ongoing coaching for all teachers and administrators. Their strategic improvement planning processes are producing consistently high student-learning results. This session will review how each district’s frameworks and cadence of continuous improvement supported schools to work toward targets while balancing their unique needs.

  • Crista Carlile, Director of Teaching & Learning, Urbandale Community School District
  • Denise Wood, Director of Quality and Continual Improvement, Urbandale Community School District
  • Karen Owen, Leader Coach, Studer Education
  • Dan Woestman, Superintendent, Belvidere Community Unit School District #100

UCLA Center for Community Schooling: From Transformation Aims to Realized Outcomes

Founded in 2009, UCLA Community School (UCLA-CS) — a unique partnership among Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and the local community — serves approximately 1,000 students in a high-poverty immigrant neighborhood in central Los Angeles. From 2012 to 2018, the school has focused on two main transformational aims: 95% of UCLA-CS seniors will enroll in a two- or four-year college the fall after graduation; and students will be bilingual, biliterate, and multicultural. Attendees will learn how UCLA-CS anchored improvement tools and principles into professional learning processes to move teams forward and transformed the way they share learning. They will share how their leadership team’s strategic planning process is shaped by improvement principles and most importantly how by investing in improvement science methods, principles, and tools they have made significant advancements toward their aims and have reached major milestones and outcomes.

  • Karen Quartz, Director and Faculty, UCLA Center for Community Schooling

Establishing a School’s Culture for Improvement: Leadership Lessons from the First Few Years

This session will share how a principal of a transitional kindergarten-6th grade public school in Sacramento, California, established a schoolwide culture of improvement. Over the past three years, the School Leadership Team and staff applied the “Six Core Improvement Science Principles” to establish professional norms, create a vision for learning, and develop a plan for improving student outcomes. After the second year of implementation, students’ academic performance scores on California’s Statewide Assessments increased in English Language Arts (6%) and Mathematics (8%). The presenters will share their challenges and successes in designing protocols, tools, and professional learning opportunities that engage teachers in improvement science practices.

  • Gianfranco Tornatore, Principal, Del Dayo Elementary School, San Juan Unified School District
  • Catherine Zanetti, Teacher, Del Dayo Elementary School, San Juan Unified School District

Leading Schools in Focused Collaboration in Queensland, Australia

Since 2015 school and system leaders in Queensland, Australia, have developed and progressed implementation of a School Improvement Model, an evidence-informed approach to school improvement for their students. The model defines the roles and practices that all teachers and leaders develop as implementation positions schools, leaders, and teachers on a path of continuous improvement. All levels of the system support professional learning communities as they consider and scale what is working for which students under particular conditions. This session will present processes for ongoing leading and learning; determining next phases; and discussing attributable design, measurable impact, scaling potential, and cost considerations across contexts.

  • Deborah Kember, Director, School Improvement, Department of Education, Queensland, Australia
  • Stacie Hansel, Executive Director, Department of Education, Queensland, Australia

Leading Inter-Organizational Learning: Building Collaborative Capacity for District/University Improvement Partnerships

The National Network of Education Research-Practice Partnerships (NNERPP) and the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) are national organizations supporting improvement partnerships that bridge school districts and higher education. NNERPP develops, supports, and connects partnerships between education agencies and higher education research initiatives. UCEA supports knowledge networking for place-based preparation among its higher education membership and the school districts with which they partner. Drawing on a framework for inter-organizational leadership, this session seeks to examine the complex dynamics of leading improvement partnerships between school districts and universities.

  • Paula Arce-Trigatti, Director, National Network of Education Research-Practice Partnerships
  • Michelle D. Young, Executive Director, University Council of Educational Administration
  • David Eddy Spicer, Associate Professor, University of Virginia

Adult Learning Journeys Built on Continuous Improvement

How can districts engaged in continuous improvement ensure a coherent, effective approach to change at scale? Simply having an instructional vision is not enough. Goals must be selected in alignment with a larger vision for instructional improvement. District leaders must also identify and address the learning needs of adults at all layers of the system. Without this infusion of new learning, change ideas will not be well-chosen or well-executed, and the opportunities for genuine, collective continuous improvement will be limited. Using case studies from their work with multiple urban districts, the Bank Street Education Center will provide an overview of the tools they used to engage in this activity with school-based staff and district leaders as a resource for participants.

  • Tracy Fray-Oliver, Deputy Executive Director, Programs and Implementation, Bank Street Education Center
  • Michelle Forman, Director of Internal Coherence Strategy, Bank Street Education Center


Sponsor-Hosted Sessions

Our sponsors understand that the Summit is more than a conference. It’s an opportunity to enhance professional knowledge, hear the latest thinking, network, gain direction, stimulate dialogue, and design and share best practices. It’s an opportunity to catalyze positive, sustainable change. We are grateful to our supporter and leader sponsors for sharing their commitment, their stories, and their work to achieve the change that our students need and deserve. The sponsor-hosted sessions are proof of the power of our Summit network.

Lunch Roundtable Conversations

These facilitated lunch roundtable conversations are an opportunity to share your experience and challenges and hear from others. Plan to come early as space is limited!

Poster Sessions

Explore posters representing a range of improvement efforts taking place across the world that are significantly contributing to our growing improvement community. View them in the poster gallery at your convenience or attend the scheduled poster sessions when presenters will be at their posters to discuss their work and answer your questions.