Pre-Conference Courses

Seven hands-on, pre-conference courses will be offered at the 2017 Carnegie Summit on March 27.

pre conference courses

(PC1) Improvement Science Basics

This pre-conference course has reach capacity.  To be added to the waitlist, please send an email to with your first name, last name, company/organization name and the pre-conference course you would like to register for.  A confirmation that you’ve been added to the waitlist will be sent to you within 48 hours.

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching works to build the capacity of education leaders and practitioners to apply improvement science in their schools, organizations, and networks. Improvement science is an approach to making change that combines analytic discipline and practical on-the-ground tools to accelerate progress on pressing educational problems. The methods within improvement science support change agents in deeply understanding problems and their causes, testing ideas for change, and spreading promising practices to new contexts. Through an improvement science approach, the “learning by doing” that occurs in individual clinical practice can culminate in robust, practical field knowledge capable of reliably producing quality outcomes across diverse contexts.

The pre-conference course is ideal for participants seeking a comprehensive overview of the basic tenets and tools of improvement science. This interactive course will provide an introduction to the foundational concepts in improvement science, hands-on activities with key improvement tools, and a case study of how this approach has been applied in education.

  • Identify key concepts and principles that underpin the improvement science approach to change
  • Understand how aim statements and theories of practice improvement discipline improvement efforts
  • Explore how measurement is used in an improvement context
  • Describe how change ideas are developed, iteratively tested, and spread to achieve quality results, reliably at scale

Sandra Park, Senior Associate, Director of External Offerings and Partnerships, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
Jon Benjamin, Internal Improvement Specialist, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
Manuelito Biag, Associate, Improvement Science, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
Christina Dixon, Associate, Network Initiation and Development, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching


(PC2) Organizing to Work in a Networked Improvement Community

Educators, researchers, and policymakers have struggled to find ways of efficiently and effectively applying evidence-based knowledge to the continuous process of solving practical, on-the-ground problems. Networked improvement communities (NICs) provide the necessary organizational structure for mobilizing the diverse expertise needed to solve the most pressing problems that plague our nation’s colleges and schools.

This pre-conference course provides an introduction to using the principles of improvement science within a networked improvement community. Participants will learn the essentials of initiating an effective NIC, including how to develop a disciplined approach to identifying the specific problem and analyzing the system that produces it. This course also explains the role and functions of a NIC hub and provides practical advice about how to establish a culture that supports collective learning. This course is intended for those interested in, but not yet familiar with or deeply engaged in, working as a NIC. We encourage people to participate in small teams of two to seven members who want to work on a shared core problem.

  • Understand how a networked improvement community approach differs from other forms of collaborations
  • Identify key concepts and tools that should be part of your network initiation toolkit
  • Understand the functions and possible structures for a network hub
  • Begin developing a charter for a NIC organized around a high-leverage problem of practice

Eva Mejia, Director of Network Initiation and Development, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
Melissa Chabran, Associate, Network Initiation and Development, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
Anna Kawar, Associate, Network Initiation and Development, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
Edit Khachatryan, Associate, Network Initiation and Development, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

(PC3) Using Data for Improvement

Schools have made significant headway in collecting data on student learning and sharing it with teachers in the interest of driving change.   But how do we embed data collection and use in ongoing processes in which performance and practices continuously improve?  The nature of the data and the processes in which they are used needs to be different and shaped to support continuous quality improvement.

This pre-conference course delves into how to develop and use measurement and data in the journey towards improving your system. Participants will learn to link their improvement ideas to concrete measures that they can use to understand if and how their system is improving. Measurement for improvement can be used easily and effectively by practitioners and those who support continuous improvement in real-time. Participants will learn about using data to examine variation and understand the system, they will learn how to create a system of measures to support improvement plans, and they will understand the resources and routines that are the building blocks of effective data use.

This Pre-Conference Course is ideal for:
  • Researchers and evaluators looking to support the improvement of practice in education organizations;
  • Educators (or those engaged within educational organizations) employing improvement science methods in their local contexts to address persistent problems of practice;
  • Teachers, faculty, improvement partners, and researchers involved in Networked Improvement Communities
  • Learn what measures for improvement are, why they’re important to support practice improvement, and how they differ from (and where they overlap with) other forms of measurement such as research and accountability measures.
  • Learn how to use measures to see your system and more deeply understand the problem on which you want to make improvements.
  • Understand how to work with partners and within NICs to design, develop, refine, and implement common measures focused on a specific theory of improvement.

Sola Takahashi, Improvement Analytics and Measurement Development, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
Alicia Grunow, Senior Partner, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
Jon Norman, Associate, Analytics, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

(PC4) Design Thinking in Schools

In this day-long introductory workshop, participants will learn about design thinking through a rapid-cycle, immersive design challenge. As part of the challenge participants will work through all parts of the design thinking process as taught at Stanford’s empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test. The session will include reflection on the kind of learning mindsets at play in the different parts of the design process and how they can be used in schools. Participants will also plan a design action to take back to their school, district, or organization after the conference.

  • Immerse in design thinking process
  • Understand mindsets of design and how they can contribute to creating positive school culture
  • Explore concrete application of design thinking at school or learning organization

Susie Wise, Director, K12 Lab Network, Stanford
David Clifford, Senior Learning Experience Designer, Stanford
Ariel Raz, Learning Experience Designer, Stanford
Devon Young, Program Manager, Stanford

(PC5) Unleashing Large-Scale Social Change

In the realm of large-scale change, success requires losing control of thousands people moving in the desired direction. The Billions Institute calls this “Unleashing,” and participants in their workshop will learn how to apply their Model for Unleashing to their own scaling efforts. The workshop will begin with a candid case-study of the 100,000 Homes Campaign, which housed more than 100,000 chronically homeless Americans, highlighting the do’s and don’ts of orchestrating change across a large geographic area. . Participants will also hear from leaders in the field of education about their experiences of applying the Model for Unleashing. This session will be especially useful for active practitioners of large-scale change, though that is not a requirement for attending.

  • Understand and apply proactive techniques for creating large-scale change in any sector, developing strategies, and selecting effective tactics for their own work
  • Apply the Billions Institute’s Model for Unleashing to your own scaling efforts
  • Receive support and feedback on your own efforts related to large-scale change

Becky Margiotta, Co-Founder, Billions Institute; Former Director, 100,000 Homes Campaign for Community Solutions
Joe McCannon
, Co-Founder, Billions Institute; Former Senior Advisor to the Administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

(PC6) System Leadership for Educational Progress

A recent Carnegie Corporation publication noted: “a recurring concern among leaders in education is that a narrow focus on individual areas has led to many improvement strategies being developed and implemented in isolation. Implementation efforts often occur independently and without recognition of the interdependencies among strategies. The result, when applied within a school or district, has often been a set of initiatives and policy changes that are disconnected in their design even as they inevitably intersect at the student and classroom levels.”

If true integration is to be achieved in education, a greater proportion of leaders engaged in education will need to act with an ecosystems view. This workshop is for leaders in education who wish to overcome the phenomenon of isolated impact in their work through applying the skills and capacities of “system leadership.” System leaders can see and process the interdependencies in their broader system while also leading their own organizations in a positive direction. True system leadership is somewhat rare in education, but it is possible to build capacity for system leadership and greater systemic awareness and impact through a dedicated focus and effective use of tools.

  • Explore three key capacities needed to become an effective system leader
  • Understand and convey to others the complexities of which you are a part
  • Facilitate deeper dialogue that leads to shared understanding and meaning
  • Help others move from reactive problem solving to co-creating their future
  • Engage in the use of tools that enable the development of the above capacities
  • Leave with an understanding of how to help your organization and community shape its future by bringing forth realities aligned with people’s deepest aspirations.

Peter Senge, Senior Lecturer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Matt Wilka, Director, FSG

(PC7) An Equity-Based Approach to School Transformation

Schools that are truly transforming results for underserved students are highly skilled and rigorous in their use of data-driven improvement methods, working hard to understand and address their most pressing equity challenges. In addition, transforming schools are intentional in their efforts to build a welcoming and inclusive culture that is responsive to the students and community they serve.

Offered by Partners in School Innovation, this course is designed to build an understanding of how to leverage improvement methodologies to understand and address core equity challenges. During the course, participants will learn methods for a deeper and more rigorous diagnosis of a school’s strengths and opportunities for growth. Case studies and examples from transforming schools will be used to demonstrate how to hone in on a high-leverage set of priorities and make systematic changes in teaching, leadership and school systems. Finally, participants will explore how their improvement efforts must also create time and space for educators to gain a deeper understanding of how issues of race, culture, class, and power play out in schools and to develop the cultural proficiency needed to enact the changes their students need most.

  • Know how to develop a deeper understanding of equity gaps within a school and to use the resulting information to develop a theory of action that specifies key areas of focus needed to improve student outcomes
  • Learn how to leverage continuous improvement methods to address core equity challenges
  • Understand how explorations of issues related to race, culture, class and power is an essential element of the transformation process
  • Design a professional learning plan that provides leaders with the opportunities to develop both the skills and mindsets needed to engage in continuous improvement and enact their theory of action

Jaime Kidd, National Director of Program Development and Support, Partners in School Innovation
Amanda Meyer, Associate, Improvement Science, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
Bela Bhasin, Senior Director of Program and Customized Support, Partners in School Innovation



March 27-29, 2017


San Francisco Marriott Marquis