Showing posts from October, 2009


I recently posted the 80/20 Rule Applied to School Improvement in the post I urge district and building leaders to put more effort into implementation than writing a school improvement plan. One of my very astute colleagues, Lori Stollar from IU 12, asked me how would we help districts focus on implementation?“Resting not on my own understanding,” I put it back to you my esteemed school improvement gurus.. What would a focus on implementation look like? What specific behaviors, tools, and actions should we bring to the attention of school improvement teams?

The 80/20 Rule

I recently posted the Five Reasons School Improvement Plans Fail, a cautionary tale featuring the dark side of school improvement. While I think the post offers a good analysis on the common pitfalls of school reform – thanks to DuFour and Eaker, I am not entirely comfortable with the post. It highlighted pitfalls without shaping strategies for avoiding them. The first strategy that came to mind is the 80/20 Rule also known as Pareto’s Principle. The 80/20 Rule - “20 percent of something is always responsible for 80 percent of the results.”Think about how school teams spend their time.How many hours do they spend writing the plan? How many school improvement team meetings do they have after the plan is completed? In my experience teams spend about 80% of their time writing school improvement plans and 20% of their time implementing them. Reframing School ImprovementPareto’s Principle would suggest the inverse.Teams should be focusing 20% of their effort on identifying the “right” acti…

Reasons School Improvement Plans Fail

Rick DuFour & Robert Eaker list five reasons why school reform has failed in their book Professional Learning Communities at Work.Complexity of the taskMisplaced focusLack of clarity of intended resultsLack of perseveranceFailure to appreciate and attend to the change process.Here’s how I see these five areas playing out: Schools are complex organizations. Educators are great at identifying problems. We catalog and sort every wart and blemish. In fact, we are so good at it that we are become consumed with finding problems. We do not take the time to find the most strategic item we could tackle to get results… otherwise termed root cause.Complexity of the plan then leads to ambiguous results or expectations. For example, what does co-teaching mean to the Administrators? Special education teachers? Content area teachers?  Does co-teaching mean implementation of one model of co-teaching…. generally one teach and one assist or does it mean an effective use of all six models? It really…

Purpose of Education

Below is an excerpt I wrote for a college class. As a follow up, I need feedback from all of YOU to demonstrate the power of blogging! Please react to my post and comment on the purpose of education from your point of view.Martin Luther King (1947) once said that education has two functions: utility and culture. He goes on to say that “It is intelligence plus character” that is the true purpose of education. I believe that dual purpose is still relevant today. We live in an increasingly complex, global society. Education must prepare students with the skills to live, work and thrive in this environment. This includes subject matter knowledge, but equally important will be skills such as communication, problem-solving, collaboration, information literacy, and character. Education must prepare students to be life-long learners in the truest sense of the term. Fewer and fewer unskilled labor jobs will exist. The future will depend on the ability of all individuals to learn and relearn as…