Practical Measurement for Instructional Improvement

Improvers require robust measurement systems to analyze changes to their systems and to assess their theories of improvement. While the field of education has long identified outcomes of interest across domains (i.e., attendance, grades, graduation), improvers often struggle to measure other dimensions of their theories of improvement that describe processes, particularly those that are tacit or unexamined by those working in the system. “Practical measures” are those that can provide actionable evidence for these processes, are not burdensome to collect, and generate data in a timely manner for improvers to use in making decisions. They have empirical integrity (i.e., predictive validity) and can be integrated into the everyday practice of schools, districts, and networks.

In this project, Carnegie addresses the measurement challenges of educators by developing and testing practical measures for instructional improvement and providing guidance for how improvement networks and partnerships can do the same. It also seeks to support networks and partnerships in their development of systems of measures more fully, from PDSA level measures to outcome measures.

This work responds to the pressing need in the field. Improvement efforts face substantial hurdles in identifying and developing measures that describe the system they are changing. Determining these “systems of measures” enables improvers to test their working theories of how to improve outcomes in their schools. Yet even when the processes within the system are identified, improvers often struggle with specifying or development measures that work for them. Assisting the burgeoning field of school improvement in creating systems of measures and their consitutive measures will generate the necessary analytic infrastructure to support improvement in the long term.