Find the Measure

for Improvement

4. Find the Measure

Figure out how to measure what you work to improve

Once you’ve identified what you need to measure, you need to look for that measure—either in your system or in the “wild”.

  • See what you already have going on: what data/measures do you collect right now?
  • Do any of them fit the bill?
  • How can you assess whether something is a good measure for your improvement effort?
  • Is it part of your Theory of Improvement?
  • Does the measure embody most of the practical measurement characteristics?

Who can help you look for an existing measure?
You don’t need to do this all on your own. Colleagues, near and far, can help:

  • Ask the people who would actually collect and use the measure what they already collected or have data on.
  • Talk with people who work with data/measurement regularly (folks who do evaluation, assessment, accountability, etc.)

Don’t force it! If you have a measure, but it’s not part of your theory, it’s not the right measure.

What if nothing you have fits the bill? You’ll need to go on a treasure hunt!
How to find a measure “in the wild”

  1. Look at published research in the area (Google scholar, broad internet searches)
  2. Talk with someone in your system that specializes in the area (district leaders, teacher leaders, principals)
  3. Find someone from a university who focuses on the topic (faculty member, TA)
  4. Reach out to someone who is nationally known to work in the area

What happens if nothing exists in the wild?
If nothing exists, work with someone with experience doing measurement to create something that:

  1. Easy to do, fits into practice (make it relevant to your work)
  2. Quick and timely
  3. Measures what you need it to
  4. Has signaling capacity/is related to other things you care about


Student Engagement Exit Ticket


For a measure to be considered practical, it must be minimally burdensome to users and attend to the social processes of use that help activate a strong culture of improvement. While technical…



Although the Student Engagement Exit Ticket measure was not tied to any formal theory of improvement, it was in alignment with teachers’ hypotheses of how changes they made would lead to…


Practical Measurement Research Briefs

Like continuous improvement, the development and use of practical measurement is a journey. It is rarely linear and often comes with opportunities and challenges. Check out these stories of improvers designing, iterating, and leveraging practical measures to create change in the system. Get ready to be inspired by their experience and lessons learned.


Developing Exit Tickets in an Improvement Network

Ms. Johnson, an English teacher at an urban middle school, was concerned that her students were not doing as well in her class as they could be. Her district had recently…



Case Study of ORF as Practical Measure Brief

In this post we describe the identification and use of Oral Reading Fluency (ORF), a common and widely used Curriculum Based Measurement (CBM) measure, as a…


Additional Resources