Continuous Improvement is a set of principles and practices to help educators “get better at getting better.” Marshall’s Continuous Improvement team uses these tools to tackle intricate, systems-level problems in K-12 education. Currently, we support a multi-year Networked Improvement Community (NIC) to make dramatic gains for Black and Latinx students with disabilities experiencing poverty.
Marshall is a part of the Networked Improvement Community for Students with Disabilities (NIC). Made possible by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and alongside technical assistance providers SWIFT Education Center, NIRN, RTI International, and SRI International, the NIC’s goal is to systematically improve the way our education system serves Black and Latinx students with disabilities experiencing poverty and bring these solutions back to school systems everywhere. The pilot community is made up of 10 charter management organizations that collectively serve more than 75,000 students around the country.
Public schools across America struggle to meet the diverse needs of students, particularly those farthest from opportunity. When marginalization intersects with disability, students often face low expectations, are systematically segregated, denied access to college and career curriculum, and do not receive sufficient support to obtain a high school diploma and pursue their dreams. Nationwide, students with disabilities represent 13.7% of all enrolled students — totaling almost 7 million students in the 2017-18 school year.
As a network, we have the opportunity to change that story for these students by applying the science of improvement to identify positive deviants, share best practices, and scale solutions across the system.
The NIC pilot community collectively serves more than 75,000 students around the country. Learn more about our work.
The NIC Playbook is a practical guide to the continuous improvement process with illustrative examples, descriptions, and tools.
Read about our work with charter management organizations in our network.
We use the tools of continuous improvement to identify students who are positioned furthest from opportunity within a system and partner with young people and community members to improve the system. This approach marries the technical and adaptive expertise of improvement science with the philosophy of targeted universalism to drive system improvements that produce more equitable learning environments and outcomes.
Because all communities are different, we must be 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. Each community also has its own working norms, knowledge and expertise, relationships, and localized best practices that must be built into the Continuous Improvement process.
Improvement efforts start with a Problem Statement that defines a systemic problem experienced by students. We create a specific and measurable goal, or Aim, to guide our collective effort in solving the problem. Commonly understood and constantly revised Theories of Action guide where and how teams can introduce changes to reach their Aim. Through rigorous testing and measurement, we codify those learnings into Change Packages so that others can enact the changes as they spread and scale.
Marshall Street launched the Continuous Improvement initiative in 2019, using the learnings from Summit Public Schools. Since 2013, Summit has used the tools of continuous improvement to make sizable gains in student outcomes. Our work in reducing inequity in academic outcomes for our English Learners was recognized with the Carnegie Spotlight on Quality in Continuous Improvement.
As Marshall, we continue to grow our expertise in systems and structures for improvement, data collection and analysis, and synthesizing and disseminating actionable knowledge. Today, we are part of a nationwide networked improvement community for students with disabilities.
In the Fall of 2016, Summit launched a continuous improvement initiative focused on English Language Learners, resulting in a 50% reduction in the achievement gap. We share our learnings in this brief, originally published for the Aspen Institute.
Director of Continuous Improvement
Our Networked Improvement Community is a unique collective of educators, school leaders, technical assistance providers and content experts unified in our Aim to improve learning experiences, environments and outcomes for our students, in particular our students at the intersection of race, class and ability. The power of our Network is our people, and the emerging best practices that are shared rapidly across the Network to ensure we are making gains each day for our students.
A veteran Special Educator and Structured Literacy Teacher, Stephanie brings her classroom expertise to her work every day as the Director of Continuous Improvement at Marshall. Previously, she served as a K-5 Resource Specialist and Lead Teacher in San Ramon Valley Unified School District, where she was also a Board-appointed voting member of the Community Advisory Committee. Before that, Stephanie worked as an Education Specialist at Aspire Public Schools. Outside of work, Stephanie is passionately involved with the Junior League of Oakland-East Bay and currently serves on its Board of Directors.
Tim comes to Marshall Street after seven years at Partners in School Innovation coaching for continuous improvement and equity in the most underserved Bay Area schools and districts. He began his journey into education as a New York City Teaching Fellow in the South Bronx before joining Uncommon Schools. After completing a Fulbright grant in Chile, he worked as the founding Director of Curriculum and Instruction at PAVE Academy Charter School before moving west to serve as an administrator with Aspire Public Schools in East Palo Alto. Tim graduated from Boston College with a B.A. in English and earned a M.A. in Elementary Education from CUNY Lehman College. In his free time, he enjoys cooking with his wife, playing soccer with his daughter and taking long hikes.
Marco works with partner school networks as an Improvement Advisor at Marshall Street, bringing with him a decade of experience in education technology, classroom teaching, and nonprofit operations. Prior to this role, Marco managed technical services at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and was a Curriculum Developer at Summit Public Schools. Marco holds a Masters in Education from Stanford University and a Bachelor’s in English Literature from the University of California, Berkeley.
A seasoned education administrator, Paula brings two decades of experience in program management, teaching, and administration to her work as an Improvement Advisor at Marshall. Most recently, she supported school improvement teams at the Utah Education Policy Center and was a Title I Coordinator in the Salt Lake City School District. She holds a MEd in Educational Leadership and Policy from the University of Utah and a BS in Elementary Education from Utah State University. Outside of work, Paula is passionate about community advocacy and service.
Yumi began her career as a special educator in 2005 at Jefferson High in South Los Angeles. She has taught in both traditional district and charter settings, and has served in Special Education administrative roles at Aspire Public Schools and Caliber Schools. Prior to joining Marshall, Yumi was an Interim Program Officer on Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s K12 team. Yumi is passionate about exploring critical race and disability studies, and is dedicated to becoming a better ally and champion for young people with intersectional identities.
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.