Continuous Improvement is a set of principles and practices that help educators “get better at getting better.” Designed to tackle intricate, systems-level problems, these practices have helped us improve quality at scale for our students.
Summit has always valued and applied Continuous Improvement to its school model, but began formally learning about improvement science through working with the Carnegie Foundation’s Student Agency Improvement Community (SAIC) in 2013-14. Two years later, we conducted our first fully-embedded internal improvement efforts to reduce the inequity in academic outcomes for our English Learners, which resulted in a 50% reduction in the “gap” of incomplete course grades across the network. This impact was recognized with the Carnegie Spotlight on Quality in Continuous Improvement.
Through our work with English Learners, we realized there was a more foundational issue to address. As we continued to grow our expertise in systems and structures for improvement, data collection and analysis, and synthesizing and disseminating actionable knowledge, we refocused our efforts on the population of students furthest behind grade-level in literacy and numeracy. Today, we are honored to have the opportunity to provide support to others as they are beginning, or taking the next steps in, their own improvement journeys.
Download the following resources:
Improvement Journey 2015-16
EL Case Study 2016-17
Carnegie Poster 2018-19
Through our experience with Continuous Improvement thus far, we have realized some of the promise that the tools and practices of improvement science offers. But, we have also recognized that it is not a silver bullet — simply picking up a tool or protocol “off the shelf” is unlikely to lead to the kinds of dramatic shifts we desire.
Our principles and values are foundational and help guide the support that we provide. Those include, but are not limited to:
Ultimately, our work in Continuous Improvement and targeted universalism has allowed us to develop a strong stance on what it takes to structure and implement engines of Continuous Improvement successfully. Because all contexts and communities are different, Continuous Improvement needs to be flexible and adaptive to a range of needs. The specific roles and responsibilities, systems and structures, and processes and protocols must be tailored to the people they serve. Additionally, each community’s context brings assets in the form of working norms and processes, knowledge and expertise, relationships, and localized best practices that must be built into the Continuous Education process.
We believe that all improvement efforts start with an Aim, a mutually agreed upon, specific, and measurable goal that helps guide our collective effort. We bring people together around commonly understood and constantly revised Theories of Action that describe what it will take to reach that aim and help us understand where to introduce changes. We figure out how to measure their impact, in the short-term, so that we know if we’re making progress. And through our shared work developing and testing strategies and practices, we codify those essential learnings and resources into Change Packages so that others can more easily enact the changes as they spread and scale.
Director of Continuous Improvement
Marshall Street’s approach to Continuous Improvement is unique in the field of education because we have married the tools and practices of improvement science with the principles of targeted universalism to better address the structural inequities in our educational system. Students and educators are always at the center of this work of improvement.
Kyle has worked with Summit, and now Marshall Street, for over a decade as a founding math teacher at Everest Public High School, an instructional coach, and program/project manager. He has taught abroad in Indonesia and Ecuador, holds a Masters in Education from Stanford University, and is a National Board Certified Teacher and Math for America Master Teacher Fellow. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, cooking, and being with friends and family.
A former Special Education teacher and Site-Based Research Manager, Giovanna is an Improvement Advisor collaboratively working alongside CMOs as they launch new initiatives of research-based practices to increase positive outcomes for students in Special Education. She joined Summit in 2014 and holds a Bachelor’s in Elementary and Special Education and is currently working towards a Master’s in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with family and friends.
Megha provides operations and planning support across Marshall initiatives, leveraging her experience launching a multi-tiered system of supports at Summit Public Schools. Megha was a management consultant at Boston Consulting Group, worked in strategy roles at Green Dot Public Schools and the DeBruce Foundation, and earned an MBA from the University of California at Berkeley. As an immigrant shaped by public schools, Megha is driven by a desire to see public education deliver on its promise to all students.