Hurry up and tell me the problem so I can fix it. Does that sound familiar? As educators we are problem solvers. In our haste to solve problems we sometimes waste time on solutions that don’t work or don’t last. Maybe we aren’t taking enough time to really understand the problem? Improvement Science is a powerful framework for for improving problems of practice in schools.
At the core of improvement science are three simple questions (Langley et al., 2009): What are we trying to accomplish? How will we know if a change is an improvement? What changes might we introduce and why? As educators, we generate new ideas, reflect on our practice, and make changes that we hope will improve student learning. Yet we often struggle to set clear, measurable goals, let alone develop systematic ways for tracking our progress. With its emphasis on developing a clear theory of action, “practical measures,” quick iterative cycles to guide teacher learning, and a network structure that facilitates sharing and accelerated learning, improvement science is a promising framework for scaffolding teacher learning and scaling good ideas (Bryk, Gomez, & Grunow, 2011; Yeager et al., 2013).