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Southwest Networked Improvement Communities

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Research cannot always keep pace with educators’ need for evidence to inform practice. Networked improvement communities (NICs) accelerate the process by testing and refining potential solutions through a series of rapid mini-trials and then scaling up what works. REL Southwest is partnering with the Oklahoma State Department of Education to support the use of NICs in the state’s Champions of Excellence program.

Goals

  • Build state capacity for implementing content-area NICs at the district level to test and scale up effective and innovative practices that address a well-rounded education, safe and healthy schools, and technology.
  • Increase state and district understanding of improvement science and the use of data for improvement in an educational setting.

Handout

Marshal Conley, Partnership Facilitator
Partnership Facilitator
Marshal Conley
mconley@air.org

Partners

  • Megan Cannon, Director of Science and Engineering Education, Oklahoma State Department of Education
  • Brenda Chapman, Director of Social Studies Education, Oklahoma State Department of Education
  • Desa Dawson, Director of World Languages Education, Oklahoma State Department of Education
  • Robbyn Glinsmann, Director of Elementary Mathematics Education, Oklahoma State Department of Education
  • Cindy Koss, Deputy Superintendent for Academic Affairs and Planning, Oklahoma State Department of Education
  • Tiffany Neill, Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Oklahoma State Department of Education
  • Savannah Owen, Executive Director, Dual Language Education of New Mexico, New Mexico
  • Levi Patrick, Assistant Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Oklahoma State Department of Education
  • Timmie Spangler, Director of Instructional Materials and Library, Oklahoma State Department of Education

Training, Coaching, and Technical Support

  • Classroom practical measurement toolkit for continuous improvement
    This toolkit will provide resources for practitioners who are developing practical measures for use in networked improvement communities (NIC) or other improvement science contexts, such as educator-initiated action research. The toolkit is designed to build practitioners’ background knowledge in the use of continuous improvement processes, such as plan-do-study-act (PDSA) cycles, and in principles of high-quality measurement. Toolkit resources and templates provide guidance and support in identifying key contructs for measurement, locating and considering existing measures, developing and evaluating practical measures, and creating measurement routines for collecting data that can be used to explore evidence of improvement in instruction and student learning. REL Southwest is developing the toolkit in partnership with the Oklahoma State Department of Education team working with the Oklahoma Excel NICs. Examples of processes and measures that have been developed for the Oklahoma Excel NICs will be used throughout the toolkit.
  • In-Depth Coaching and Consultation to Build the Capacity of the Oklahoma State Department of Education to Establish, Manage, and Support Networked Improvement Communities
    REL Southwest conducted a series of seven coaching sessions for the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) to build the capacity of staff to establish, manage, and sustain districts’ continuous improvement efforts within Networked Improvement Communities (NICs) to support local education agencies in developing effective practices aligned with Oklahoma Programs of Excellence rubrics. Local education agencies use the OSDE-developed Programs of Excellence rubrics for school programs in six content areas: fine arts, mathematics, science, social studies and civics, world languages, and safe and healthy schools. REL Southwest worked with OSDE to develop their understanding of continuous improvement principals and processes including root cause analysis, theory of action, aim statements, drivers, outcome measures, plan-do-study-act cycles, and key considerations for establishing and managing successful NICs. The goals of the project were to support OSDE’s work to create and run NICs that will help districts improve instructional practices which in turn will improve student learning.
  • In-Depth Coaching and Consultation to Support Oklahoma State Department of Education in Planning, Implementing, and Measuring the Success of Pilot Networked Improvement Communities
    REL Southwest conducted four coaching activities and provided continuing consultation for the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) to support the implementation of pilot networked improvement communities (NICs) among districts participating in the Oklahoma Champions of Excellence program. REL Southwest built capacity within OSDE to develop measurement tools and strategies for NIC aims in the pilot and to refine and improve NIC supports as a result of lessons learned from the pilot. Specifically, districts participating in this pilot engaged in plan-do-study-act (PDSA) cycles to implement and test change ideas related to creating trusting, positive relationships between students and staff and integrating driving question boards and modeling as practices in elementary science instruction. The goal of this coaching was to support OSDE as they managed the pilot NICs and then collaboratively reflect on lessons learned to understand the strengths, areas for improvement, and develop plans to scale the pilot to make NICs available to all Champions of Excellence grantees in the 2019/20 school year. The coaching project helped OSDE expand their efforts to support more districts and schools to use continuous improvement processes within NICs aimed at improving instructional practices which in turn are expected to improve student outcomes.
  • In-Depth Coaching and Consultation to Support Oklahoma State Department of Education: Spreading Innovation Through Improvement Science
    Through coaching and consultation, REL Southwest is supporting the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) in developing content-area networked improvement communities (NICs) as part of the Oklahoma Excel initiative and assembling a team to support those NICs. This project builds off of the progress made in prior coaching with OSDE Curriculum and Instruction Division staff to learn about continuous improvement processes and to pilot NICs. REL Southwest staff is assisting the Oklahoma Excel team in leveraging people and products from the 2019 NIC pilot to conduct the work with a larger set of schools. In addition, REL Southwest will assist the team in developing a measurement strategy to assess the Division’s theory of improvement to better understand if the NICs are achieving their goal to improve instruction and student outcomes.