Research on educator engagement in continuous improvement
Ariel Tichnor-Wagner, John Wachen, Marisa Cannata, and Lora Cohen-Vogel have published a new paper in the Journal of Educational Change. This article, “Continuous Improvement in the public school context: Understanding how educators respond to plan-do-study-act cycles” reports on what we’ve learned about introducing continuous improvement research in two large school districts.The last 5 years have witnessed growing support amongst government institutions and educational foundations for applying continuous improvement research (CIR) in school settings. CIR works to achieve system improvement through the use of plan–do–study–act (PDSA) cycles, which are multiple tests of small changes. This comparative case study of two urban school districts examined how innovation design teams took up PDSA in their work to improve high school student outcomes, and their perceptions of PDSA as an approach to innovation development, adaptation, and implementation. Findings revealed both possibilities and challenges for implementing PDSA. Nearly all participants reported the value in PDSA, and participants pointed to connections to previous experiences and PDSA training as helping to build capacity. However, we found mixed levels of enthusiasm for actually conducting PDSA cycles, and capacity constraints regarding time and data collection.