Saturday, August 1, 2015

Diagnosis and Design for School Improvement : Review

Diagnosis and Design for School Improvement : Review

The problem with school improvement programs is that they are not created for your school.  It is entirely unreasonable to assume that a school in need of improvement can study what another school is doing, copy it down to the last detail, implement it to perfection, and be successful.  Why? Because schools are not the same.  They do not have the same students, the same teachers, the same leaders, or the same situation.  Yes, lessons can be learned and important knowledge gained through research.  But success lies in the thoughtful data-driven application of this knowledge.

To make the changes necessary school leaders must have a deep understanding of diagnosis and design principals.  Spillane and Coldren's book Diagnosis for Design provides a balanced framework for analyzing how a school is functioning and making structural changes.  

Their analysis includes:

  • identifying leaders in the school using social interactions and responsibility for analysis
  • alignment between actions and the school's vision; and
  • a situational analysis using routines and leadership tools. 

Their book includes tools and strategies to analyze the organizational structure of the school.   Additionally, they provide an analytical approach to improving schools.  Their book is based on almost a decade of research that the authors have undertaken.  

The decades of school improvement efforts in the US has focused on improving teacher's instruction.  The result has been that we have more highly trained teachers.  Yet, our schools are not making the goals that have been set for them.  Maybe, we also need to improve schools. 

Oh, the balloons?  Not a party . . . a physics experiment.  Demonstrating the importance of deep diagnosis.  

Their book can be found on Google Books for a little over $15.00.  

Spillane, J. P., & Coldren, A. F. (2015). Diagnosis and design for school improvement: Using a distributed perspective to lead and manage change. Teachers College Press.

A review: by Rob Koch