A Closer Look
Continuous school improvement is a cyclical process intended to help groups of people in a system—from a class to a school district or even a network of many districts—set goals, identify ways to improve, and evaluate change in a sort of continuous feedback loop. It has quickly become a buzzword in K-12 policy and practice, as states, districts, and schools strive for systemic, long-term gains in student achievement, instead of looking for the next, shiniest silver bullet. Education Week has been taking a close look at what it is and how it is playing out in several places around the country.
While K-12 schools focus primarily on using student achievement data for accountability purposes, experts contend that it can be a catalyst for daily improvement.
A network of districts finds that in order for their schools to 'continuously improve,' a more integrated approach to budgeting is in order.
Although the federal K-12 law doesn't explicitly ask for it, a systemic and data-informed approach to long-term student achievement is part of the mix for many states as they implement ESSA.
Policy expert Dan Gordon talks with Education Week about how a continuous improvement approach can help states support low-performing schools, improve achievement across the board, and bolster the work of their own education agencies.
A Seattle partnership between researchers and practitioners is using a continuous improvement approach to improve outcomes for students making the rocky transition from 8th to 9th grades.
Getting a more accurate enrollment count for the start of the school year is just one way that Head Start centers use data to improve operations.
In this special Commentary project, one school goes deep into the difficulties and the benefits of implementing the continuous-improvement model. Through a tight-knit web of collaboration (visualized below), they have been able to offer each other feedback and support in this work.
It can be hard for school officials to notice patterns in day-to-day problems and address their underlying causes. But when the nurse at Benjamin Franklin Elementary School in Menomonee Falls, Wis., noticed a sudden rise in playground injuries, the school used problem-solving strategies learned in its continuous improvement initiative to get to the bottom of it.
Coverage of continuous-improvement strategies in education is supported in part by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.