It is one thing to want to improve student achievement; it is another to actually turn your wishes into action. Reform policies directed at improving student achievement should be based on a theory of action.
All successful businesses have a theory of action that they believe will lead to their success. For example, Disney’s theory of action is to “make people happy” and if you have been to one of their movies or theme parks, you get to see the theory of action actually happening. I have heard that to reach this goal, Disney even takes every restroom down to the studs each year to rebuild it perfectly.
Walmart has a theory of action that “poor people should be able to buy what rich people can purchase”. They have built a nationwide business to do just that. And Dell has a theory of action that says that they will not stockpile computer components but instead buy as they build based on a customer’s individualized order.
School districts are no different than companies when it comes to the need to know just how they plan to improve their major focus – student achievement. But school board members who should drive reform policies don’t really know what best improves student achievement. The good news is that every school district has a superintendent and staff who are the experts or know now to get the expertise to develop a theory of action and reform policies.
At the Center for Reform of School systems (CRSS), we believe that reform-minded school board training, coupled with a board that’s ready to focus on improving student achievement and a reform-minded superintendent, can make a powerful difference for children.