Root Cause

Continuous school improvement hinges on finding root cause.... reason(s) for the current state of performance. What we have noticed after so many years of providing techincal assistance is that

  • Identifying root cause is the single most important activity of school improvement

  • Root cause cannot be identified by analyzing PSSA test data alone

The school improvement templates developed by the PA Department of Education are excellent. Folks need to remember that PA AYP, eMetric and PVAAS data are all different slices of the same data... PSSA. Analysis of this data is helpful for raising quesions and concerns, but not identification of root cause. Teams need to collect additional data to identify root cause.

Questions like.... Are teachers implementing the core curriculum with fidelity? How about interventions? Are all students not performing well receiving an intervention? How much professional development had the teachers had? etc.....


Michael said…
Identifying root cause is not as easy as one might think. The best analogy I heard came from a teacher when we were discussing root cause. He likened it to having a tire that kept going flat. You put air into it, it goes flat. You check for stones/nails, none to be found yet the tire keeps going flat. You take it to the tire store, they can't figure it out. Until one day when parking the car, you notice that the valve stem was too long and drags along the curb. If you keep treating the symptom (tire going flat) without getting to the root cause (valve stem too long) you will literally be spinning your wheels!

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