At RespondAbility we are education leaders committed to using the latest tools to adapt to the changing educational landscape, drive common-sense change, and improve outcomes for students, teachers and schools.

Here's a look at our thinking on some of the key educational issues of today:

The Intention-Implementation-Impact Model In Action

Improving Freshman On Track Results

The Backstory: Principal Jones realized that, despite a great team of dedicated teachers, her Freshman On Track (FOT) numbers were low and that the approach she had been taking was not driving change; she needed to do something different. She gathered the freshman team together including the teachers, counselors, deans, and attendance team to create a plan.

She knew that simply creating a plan was not enough. She needed a way to ensure that her team was unified on the challenge they were addressing, had a clear theory of action, and had a way to actively progress monitor their work and the impact they were having on FOT. So they turned to the Intention-Implementation-Impact model.

Part 1: Intention: Identify and Analyze the Challenge

Jones needed to clearly identify the challenge, to both ensure that the whole team was pulling in the same direction and be able to measure if their efforts worked or not - otherwise, they could find themselves in the same situation next year without a good foundation from which to iterate forward. She also set the tone that “everyone” wanted the students to be doing better and that it was a collective effort for the whole school - the spirit was continuous improvement, not ‘fixing’ something that is broken.

Step 1: Analyse the gap between the future state and where you are now.

  • The team got together to review their last few years of FOT data and the elements that go into calculating FOT.
  • The team became clear that FOT was a challenge across the entire grade-level and not just in a few classrooms or subjects.

Step 2: Identify the Root Causes that are within your sphere of control

The team recognized that lots of factors outside of their control contributed to freshmen not being on track but that they couldn’t do anything about those - they needed to focus on things they could control. Working through a “5-whys” exercise, with a focus on what they could control, they realized that too often they were not identifying freshmen at risk of being off track until late in the first semester or even after final grades had come in and they were already headed into the second semester. They realized that, even though they had; lunch tutoring, after school tutoring, and some informal staff mentors in place, they had not been proactively identifying freshmen for those supports based on the leading indicators of FOT - grades, attendance and behavior.

Step 3: Formulate a Theory of Action

Knowing what they did now about the challenge and the root causes that were within their sphere of control, the team created a theory of action using the “If we…, then...” construct Their theory of action states that “IF WE proactively engage Freshmen that are at risk of being Off-track with mentoring and supports, THEN those Freshmen will improve their grades and will not fall off-track”

Part 2: Implementation: Create a Plan and Execute

Now that the team had a Theory of Action, they needed to get very specific on what the terms “Proactively engage Freshmen”, “At-risk of being Off-track”, and “Mentoring and Supports” actually mean.

Step 1: Create a “Scope” for the effort based on the “If we...” part of the Theory of Action

They created the following scope definition:

Step 2: Identify everything that needs to be in place for the Scope to be made real. This includes defining metrics for both the One-Time deliverables and the Ongoing deliverables

Based on the scope document the team identified the following One-Time deliverables:

Step 3: Determine who needs to do what, when the work needs to happen, and start executing.

Once the team had clearly identified the One-Time and Ongoing deliverables they were able to assign specific action items. For example, Felipe was charged with creating the On-track report by September 15th, and Mary was charged with documenting the FOT Tracking Expectations and creating the FOT standing Agenda.

Part 3: Impact: Monitor the Impact and Adjust the Plan

Jones knew that having a plan in place did not mean that the plan would be executed or that the plan would be effective. She needed the team to progress monitor the plan and make adjustments as needed.

Step 1: Create a schedule and expectations for monitoring the One-Time and Ongoing deliverables

Bob was charged with getting the FOT weekly meetings scheduled for the rest of the year - with the first meeting to happen the following week. This included:

  • Setting the FOT Agenda: The team created a standard agenda and protocol for weekly FOT meetings
  • Scheduling FOT Meetings: Bob scheduled time each week for the rest of the year for the FOT team to review progress

Step 2: Define how the One-Time and Ongoing deliverables will be monitored

The team decided to use Stoplight reporting for the One-Time deliverables with the individuals accountable committing to subjectively assess whether or not they were on track to meet the deadlines. For the Ongoing deliverables they decided to use a fraction to monitor their weekly efforts (the work) as:

(Number of students receiving FOT supports) / (Number of students who should be receiving FOT supports)

And to check efficacy every three weeks they would compare the FOT Supports “Action Metric” with the FOT results “Progress Metric” measured as:
(Percentage of Freshmen who are Off-track or at risk of being off-track)

Step 3: Start the monitoring cycle and course correct as needed

The team started their weekly meetings and found that the biggest challenge they had was holding the scheduled time for reviewing their FOT work - so they adjusted their scheduled time and recommitted to weekly FOT meetings.

Once they had been meeting weekly for a few weeks they noticed that not all students were being assigned mentors. They had a troubleshooting conversation and changed their process so that it was easier for teachers to volunteer to mentor specific students

It took a few weeks to get the process going but now they are in a great place to actively identify students that are off track or at risk of falling off track and make sure the students are getting the supports they need. They are seeing a steady increase in their FOT preliminary numbers - and even better, other teams are now seeing the possibility in applying the I-I-I model to their work.

To learn more about how RespondAbility can help your school click here. Or to connect with us directly, click here.

Smart Data

Turning data into direction

Smart data is data that lets us effectively gauge the success of our implementation and turn our observations into course corrections that strengthen our actions.

We want data that allows us to tell a story and depending how that data “Presents” we can use different types of monitoring to help it speak:

When judgement needs to be applied on complex situations we use STOPLIGHT MONITORING to judge our progress and keep things moving.

When numerical goals are in play and a ready volume of frequent data is available we use NUMBER or PERCENTAGE MONITORING to regularly review and apply progress checks.

When progress needs to be understood in context we use FRACTION MONITORING to break down our efforts and determine strengths, weaknesses and bottlenecks.

Together these tools let us read education data better, apply it smarter and build virtuous cycles of change that drive student and school performance.

To learn more about how RespondAbility can help your school click here. Or to connect with us directly, click here.

Why Education Demands a Special Kind of Change

Nothing changes without the proper process

Matching the right process model to the right working environment is crucial to driving effective change.

Waterfall Model

Typical command-and-control work processes are linear in nature - one step follows naturally from the other. In a perfect world, simple processes drive results via a Waterfall Model.
Ideal for: Linear Workflow, Command & Control, Simple Processes

Agile Model

In a slightly more complex organizational environment, an Agile Model allows scheduled and expected feedback to be accomodated and processed.
Ideal for: Linear Workflow, Expected/Scheduled Feedback, Slightly Complex Processes

Intention Implementation Impact Model

The Intention | Implementation | Impact Model provides a series of organized feedback loops across all aspects of planning, execution and measurement to encourage open communication, support shared responsibility/accountability and create a never-ending cycle of improvement.
Ideal for: Adaptive Workflow, Expected/Unexpected Feedback, Multiple Constituencies, Complex Processes

To learn more about how RespondAbility can help your school click here. Or to connect with us directly, click here.

A Mindset Check

Is your school ready to drive change?

The way a school or a district views itself and its issues is crucial in whether or not it can look at situations objectively and begin to take the right steps toward remediation and improvement.

Have a look at the following examples and see if your school falls on the deficit side or the possibility side of this important dichotomy.

If you think you’re ready to take control, the people at RespondAbility are ready to partner with you to make your school the best learning environment it can be. To learn more about how RespondAbility can help your school click here. Or to connect with us directly, click here.

Building a virtuous cycle of school improvement.

Schools that "Live in the Gray" are essentially caught in the gray portion of the cycle below - they are continuously debating the nature of their issues and the myriad of possible solutions but rarely are able to change the trajectory of success.

Schools that “Live To Improve” dive into the Virtuous Cycle and establish a culture of hypothesis, action, measurement, review and refinement. This approach “unsticks” a school and assures continuous momentum, with positive results reinforced and made habit, while negative results trigger quick discernment and modification.

The simple information flow that accompanies this model ensures decision making and actionability over indecision and excuse making - and clear direction over finger-pointing or blame. To learn more about RespondAbility click here. Or to connect with us directly, click here.