Carnegie Summit on Improvement in Education

I’ve just returned from this conference at which I gave a paper reporting on our proof of concept study in applying hierarchical process modelling to school improvement: Evaluating Wider Outcomes of Schooling, the ECHO project. The paper reporting the project has just been accepted for publication in Educational Management, Administration and Leadership.

Improvement Science – Systems Architecting

The theme of the conference was Improvement Science. In the world of Engineering and infrastructure, this would be called ‘systems architecting’. It was about a holistic, rigorous approach to improving organisations as complex systems, engaging all stakeholders in defining purpose, analysing the system, defining a measurement model, rapidly prototyping improvement strategies, whilst harnessing collective intelligence and ‘learning our way forwards’.

There were thought provoking keynotes, on Improvement Science, Lessons from Improvement in Healthcare and Resilience. There were over 1000 people present mostly from education, and a mixture of researchers and leading practitioners. It was inspiring to see and feel a new community of enquiry grow as we shared our bright spots and learned from our failures. Learning Together was a key theme and we were convinced that together we can achieve more than any one of us can alone.

Summit Highlights

Throughout the Summit, attendees reported key messages and actionable takeaways via Twitter. The event’s energy  and key ideas have been captured through a Storify.  The closing highlight video can be viewed on the participant portal and additional phoos from the event are on  the Carnegie  Facebook page.

Session Materials

If you are looking for materials from any of the Summit breakout sessions, they are available online at the participant portal. Log in using the credentials below to view and download PDFs of session presentations and handouts. In addition, videos from the keynotes have been uploaded for your viewing .

URL: carnegiefoundationsummit.org/portal
Password: Summit2015

Learning to Improve

The Summit saw the launch of Learning to Improve  which is  a key  resource if you want to engage more deeply in improvement science. Additional copies can be purchased through Harvard Education Press or any major book distributor. If you would like to use the book as a text for a class, please contact Carnegie directly ncole@carnegiefoundation.org.

Networked Improvement Communities: Bryk lectures Bristol 2014

‘Making Systems Work – whether in healthcare, education, climate change, or making a pathway out of poverty – is the great task of our generation as a whole’ and at the heart of making systems work is the problem of complexity. 

Prof Tony Bryk, President of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching,  spent a week with people from the Learning Emergence network, leading a Master Class for practitioners, delivering two public lectures and participating in a consultation on Learning Analytics Hubs in Networked Improvement Communities  (background).  A key idea is that in order to engage in quality improvement in any system, we need to be able to ‘see the system as a whole’ and not just step in and meddle with one part of it.

This is an approach which links ‘top down’ measures of performance with a ‘bottom up’ approach to organisational improvement, including all stakeholders in understanding and analysing the problem  and developing shared ‘aims and purposes‘. Having identified a ‘high leverage’ problem for improvement and a community generated driver diagram,  attention is focused on processes which need improvement and will contribute to achieving the shared purpose. Commitment to a common measurement model  and multiple rapid prototype interventions which proceed as part of a shared network of improvement, enable the networked community to ‘learn fast, fail fast and  improve fast’.

These slides are from Professor Bryk’s public lecture…links on this page will take allow you to access some more practical slides from the Master Class.

six principles of networked improvement communities

1.  Make the work problem-specific and user-centered.
2.  Variation in performance is the core problem to address.
3.  See the system that produces the current outcomes.
4.  We cannot improve at scale what we cannot measure.
5.  Anchor practice improvement in disciplined inquiry.
6.  Accelerate improvements through networked communities.

Learning Analytics for NICS

The social learning infrastructure required for a successful Networked Improvement Community is both organisational and virtual. Learning analytics and virtual learning networks can rapidly speed up the process of sharing learning and feedback of data from prototypes and enhance the speed and quality of improvement.  A workshop on Educator-NICs: Envisaging the Future of ICT–enabled Networked Improvement Communities shared current knowledge and know how providing an exciting vision for the future of learning analytics (leading to these reflections on Bryk’s work and learning analytics).

Professor Anthony Bryk : Master Class and Public Lecture in Bristol 21st May 2014

Prof Tony Bryk (President of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching).  He will be providing a one day masterclass, followed by a public lecture on the Design-Educational Engineering and Development (DEED) approach to school improvement. This work has inspired several projects in the UK including a study into student engagement in Oasis Academy John Williams 

Tony Bryk masterclass

Book me a place!...

Professor Tony Bryk

Tony Bryk was a leading figure in the Consortium on Tony BrykChicago School Research (CSSR).  Over twenty years they developed a theoretical and empirical framework which is holistic, participatory and based on understanding that “schools are complex organisations consisting of multiple interacting sub-systems. Each subsystem involves a mix of human and social factors that shape the activities that occur and the meaning that individuals attribute to these events. These social interactions are bounded by various rules, roles and prevailing practices that, in combination with technical resources, constitute schools as formal organisations. In a simple sense, almost everything interacts with everything else”.  (2010: 45). Bryk et al went on to identify essential school supports – agents, processes and structures – which were characteristic of improving schools, as measured by student engagement in learning and achievement.  Each of these supports, stimulated by leadership, focus on dynamic processes of change and learning and need to be implemented tenaciously and attended to as a whole. They provide an explanation of how the organisation and relational dynamics of a school, including parents and community, interact with work inside its classrooms to advance student learning.  Professor Tony Bryk Summary

Professor Bryk’s work in Design Educational Engineering and Development as a framework for sustainable improvement in schools has inspired the Hampshire Teaching Schools Alliance in their project ‘Deep Learning Across Transitions’.

As well as the Master Class Professor Bryk will be doing two public lectures one in Bristol on Wednesday 21st May 2014 17:00 – 1900: University of Bristol Bryk public lecture and one at the University of Winchester on Thursday 22nd May 2014 1700-1900, at the Stripe Auditorium: University of Winchester Bryk public lecture

To book for Bristolhttp://bristol.ac.uk/education/events/2014/1031.html

More information can be viewed here

To book for Winchester contact Rhona Rogers at Pioneer.alliance@harrison.hants.sch.uk 

Tony Bryk final

Hampshire Teaching Schools Alliance: Becoming Research Teachers focused on improving Deep Learning Across Transitions

Screen Shot 2013-10-06 at 18.40.50The Hampshire Teaching Schools Alliance has formed a Networked Improvement Community with structured social arrangements which joins academic research, clinical practice and commercial expertise in sustained programmes of Design Educational Engineering and Development (Bryk et al 2010).  This is an approach to improvement which is being developed in education by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teacher Education

Pioneer Teaching School AllianceIt  offers a productive synthesis across the research-practice divide. It aims to meld the conceptual strength and methodological norms associated with traditional research  with the contextual specificity, deep clinical insight and practical orientation characteristic of action research.

Screen Shot 2013-10-06 at 18.44.52

Participants in a Networked Improvement Community endorse shared, precise, measureable targets which achieve a shared purpose.  They address shared,complex problems and participate in whole systems designing processes aimed at clarifying the problem/challenge/solution space. On the basis of rich data from this process they design interventions which may lead to improvement.  These interventions are rapidly prototyped, and  participants agree to use what is learned from working toward meeting the targets, to setting new targets aimed at ever more ambitious goals. In this regard, shared measureable targets help a community stay focused on its core purpose, from the community’s perspective. They catalyze discussions among participants as to why we should attend to this rather than that. They demand about what is likely to afford more immediate progress.  They introduce discipline in priority setting as it interacts with the individualistic rhetoric of “I am interested in…”

The problem identified in the HTSA NIC is the problem of student progress in learning and achievement across key transitions.

Our shared understanding of the problem we are seeking to address is that we lack a common approach to teaching, learning and assessment across transitions. Specifically we tend to:nsitions in education. Throughout 2012/13 academic year, as well as setting in place the social arrangements, they have engaged in a systems analysis of the problem. This is presented in the first diagram below, Problem Solution Space. From here the potential solutions were identified in the second diagram: Driver Diagram.

  • create dependent learners
  • lack a shared language and repertoire of learning routines & practices
  • lack pro-active and shared rich student academic & learning assessment data
  • lack trust between teachers in different contexts
  • are influenced by anxiety about performance criteria

Our shared hypothesis:

If we focus on a common approach to developing self-directed learning and knowledge construction for students across the transitions then we will enable students to maintain progress in learning and performance because they will carry this competence into their new context, which will have key pedagogical characteristics in common with the one they have left.

Our shared purpose is: 

To design and implement approaches to teaching and learning which facilitate deep & self-directed learning in students which they carry across the transition, which is recognised and supported in the new context, and which leads to sustained progress and improved attainment.

In order to do this, our initial focus is on teacher professional learning – how we work together, harness our collective intelligence and learn across the Alliance. We work creatively within a common, disciplined framework with shared design principles.

Design Principles

(Key practices which are (i) disciplined and pervasive characteristics of our shared approach to pedagogy, (ii) evidence based and (iii) communicated to our communities in many different ways)

Developing Deep & Self-Directed Learning through

  • a shared language for learning and knowledge construction
  • a common approach to teaching as learning design
  • a common set of assessment strategies – using rich data
  • a common set of values which pervade the learning environments
  • authentic pedagogy for deep engagement

Project Methodology

A shared question  & a context specific response

#Each Project will make a unique contribution to addressing the question of what type of pedagogical practices  contribute to the development of deep and self-directed learning across the transition.

Who will we work with?

Each project team works collaboratively with a year group before and after the transition (for example year 5 and year 7)  using the rapid prototype methodology based on the Plan Do Study Act cycle.

A rapid prototype is a short, small project (24 weeks) designed and implemented by the teacher/researchers following the Plan, Do, Study, Act cycle. It addresses all or some of the project’s shared design principles but in a way which is appropriate for that particular context. It is evaluated locally – and using disciplined metrics which are agreed by the whole group. Eventually the project will harvest the learning from all the prototypes, which can be scaled up across the communities.

There will be two prototypes, one between December and March and the second between April and June. The second one is improved in the light of the evaluation of the first one.  Each project team is responsible for designing and implementing their own research project, including data collection and analysis methods and presentation of findings.  Two project workshops will provide a collaborative learning event for each cycle where each group presents their findings – what works, and key concepts.  These will be synthesised & shared for improvements in the next prototypes.

Each prototype will contribute its learning to the whole via the Evidence Hub in the form of stories of significant change, videos, etc.  Each project will have an academic critical friend from a local University. Each project will adopt the Ten Up methodology across the cohort.  From the target year group, focus on 10 students to study in depth as case studies for professional learning, whilst the whole year group benefits from the intervention.  These students could also provide case studies for students in the partner HEIs who need data and can add value.

Overall Disciplined Evaluation Framework

Each project will commit to working with the shared, disciplined evaluation framework for the whole project.  As well as contributing equally to the whole project systems designing and solutions space, they will agreed to collect and provide data which will be used to evaluate the project as a whole, over the four year lifecyle.  This whole project data is designed to measure the target outcome which is ‘student self-directed learners’ and the relationship between this outcome measure and student progress across transitions. It will also enable the project to idenfity a ‘control group’ in another teaching schools alliance elsewhere in the UK if appropriate, which is not addressing the problem of transitions in this way.

Learning to Achieve  is a handbook for teachers who want to understand more about implementing learning power.

Modelling Learning Dynamics

Shaofu Huang presented his doctoral research at a seminar of the Centre for Systems Learning and Leadership on Wednesday 24th April. This is an exciting application of complexity theory and systems modelling in the social sciences and demonstrates that for teachers, engaging students in deep learning is complex and unpredictable – more like a design challenge than a script to be followed.