Plan, Do, Study, Act

The Institute for Learning (IFL) has engaged leaders and practitioners at the state, district, and school level throughout the US to implement rigorous instruction in literacy and Mathematics for all students. In our recent work, with researchers at the Learning Research and Development Center, we are utilizing network models and Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles to accelerate improvement. Through a carefully constructed and managed network, we can foster collaborative professional learning across the levels of the school system to improve leadership practices and teaching quality. Additionally, by employing improvement science methods, we can ensure that the research-based practice improvements that we introduce into schools and systems are implemented in ways that lead to sustained and measurable gains in student achievement.

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Some of our current projects that use continuous improvement (Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles) and network models include:

The Tennessee Math Coaching Project. A collaborative team made up of IFL fellows, LRDC researchers, and administrators from the Tennessee State Department of Education developed and worked with a network of elementary and middle school mathematics coaches in Tennessee to test and refine a model for instructional coaching. The IFL trained a large number of mathematics coaches across the state to utilize Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycles to adaptively integrate the coaching model into diverse local contexts. This PDSA approach helped coaches to overcome typical implementation challenges such as coping with competing demands for their time. Results to date point to measurable changes in the quality of teachers’ math instruction.

Read more: Russell, J., Stein, M. K., Correnti, R., Bill, V., Booker, L., Schwartz, N. (2017). Tennessee scales up improved math instruction through coaching. State Education Standard, 17(2), 23-27. PDF

Online Content-Focused Coaching. IFL fellows and researchers at the LRDC developed and studied a web-based professional learning system to improve reading comprehension instruction in the upper elementary grades (Matsumura-PI). Teachers across multiple schools work together to build their content knowledge of reading comprehension and engage in PDSA cycles with a coach to improve their practice through evidence-based reflection on their videoed lessons. Results of the program show improvement in the quality of instruction, specifically, the rigor and interactivity of text discussions.

Read more: Matsumura, L.C., Bickel, D., Zook-Howell, D., Correnti, R., & Walsh, M. (2016). Cloud coaching: Web-based learning holds promise, especially for districts with limited resources. Journal of Staff Development, 37(4), 30-39. PDF

iLead Initiative. IFL fellows are working with teachers to utilize PDSA cycles to increase the number of students who are proficient in mathematics and ELA through improving the rigor of their ELA and mathematics classroom practice. For example, this work is happening in the University of Pittsburgh’s partnership with the University Prep High School, which is part of the iLead initiative (a learning community convened by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, which seeks to improve capacity to utilize improvement science in IHEs and LEAs). IFL fellows will be working with ELA and mathematics teachers to utilize PDSA cycles to make their instruction more rigorous and culturally relevant to improve student outcomes.