Continuous Improvement in Practice

California and the nation are at the crossroads of a major shift in school accountability policy. At the state level, California’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) process encourage the use of multiple measures of school performance used locally to support continuous improvement and strategic resource allocation. Similarly, the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) reinforces this local control, requiring more comprehensive assessment of school performance and a less prescriptive, local approach to school support. Calls for “continuous improvement” in California’s K-12 education system are central to current discussions about school improvement in the state. Yet, definitions of continuous improvement vary, and knowledge of what continuous improvement looks like in practice is limited. To advance the conversation, this project seeks to define continuous improvement both in theory and in practice and support continuous improvement at all levels of the system.

Publications

  • Using Data for Improvement: Learning from the CORE Data Collaborative

    Heather Hough, Erika Byun, Laura Steen Mulfinger Getting Down to Facts II September 2018

    Experts agree that effective data use is critical for continuous improvement. However, there is a lack of understanding statewide about how data use for continuous improvement, with its adaptive and iterative nature, differs from data use for other purposes. In this paper, the authors discuss what data are most useful to inform continuous improvement at all levels of the system and provide a case study of how the CORE data collaborative uses a multiple-measures approach to support decision-making.

  • Towards a Common Vision of Continuous Improvement for California

    Alicia Grunow, Heather Hough, Sandra Park, Jason Willis, Kelsey Krausen Getting Down to Facts II September 2018

    Under emerging policy structures in California, the responsibility for school improvement is increasingly placed upon local school districts, with County Offices of Education (COEs) playing a critical support role. In this system, districts are responsible for school improvement, with counties in charge of ensuring quality across districts and providing feedback and support where necessary. Underlying this major policy shift is the idea that local leaders are in the best position to drive real educational improvement and ensure quality across multiple schools and contexts.

  • Building Systems Knowledge for Continuous Improvement: Early lessons from the CORE districts

    Michelle Nayfack, Vicki Park, Heather Hough, Larkin Willis Policy Analysis for California Education November 2017

    In California, recent policy shifts have created a high degree of local control with the expectation that school districts will think differently about school and district improvement. However, many districts lack the individual expertise and organizational capacity to support these changes at scale. In large part, this is due to a lack of a shared understanding of the routines, structures, and supports needed for school systems to develop and implement change ideas that dramatically improve student outcomes.

  • Continuous Improvement in Practice

    Heather Hough, Jason Willis, Alicia Grunow, Kelsey Krausen, Sylvia Kwon, Laura Steen Mulfinger, Sandra Park Policy Analysis for California Education November 2017

    Calls for “continuous improvement” in California’s K-12 education system are central to current discussions about school improvement in the state. Yet, definitions of continuous improvement vary, and knowledge of what continuous improvement looks like in practice is limited. To advance the conversation, this brief helps to define continuous improvement both in theory and in practice.

  • Exploring Improvement Science in Education: Promoting College Access in Fresno Unified School District

    Jorge Aguilar, Michelle Nayfack, Susan Bush-Mecenas Policy Analysis for California Education June 2017

    California’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) requires districts to report multiple measures of student performance that reflect success in the goal of preparing students for college, career, and citizenship. As they engage in the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) process, they are expected to use state and local indicator data from California’s School Dashboard to monitor student progress.

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