Getting better at getting better

Blog post Tysza Gandha

Accelerating improvement was the focus of the Carnegie Foundation Summit I attended on March 2 – 4. Drawing on examples from their own work, education leaders including Commissioner Terry Holliday (KY), Superintendent Lillian Lowery (MD) and Assistant Commissioner Emily Freitag (TN) taught us about the core principles of improvement science:

  1. Clarify the specific problem of practice we are trying to solve before jumping to the solution.
  2. Ask what works, for whom and under what set of conditions.
  3. Commit to deeply understanding the system that produces the current outcomes.
  4. Measure the right outcomes and processes that can tell us if a change is an improvement.
  5. Continuously study the data and tweak the improvement plan accordingly; learn fast, fail fast and improve quickly.
  6. Embrace our collective wisdom and collaborate to accomplish more than the best of us can accomplish alone.

Carnegie Foundation President, Tony Bryk, said something that stuck with me, “Our schools are getting better, but unfortunately our aspirations for education are rising more rapidly.” While we must continue to celebrate good progress, an important question to consider is how we can get better at getting better. 

Have ideas for accelerating teaching improvement in your state? Interested in learning and improving together? Email