This video from the Region 11 Comprehensive Center defines improvement science and explains how it is being used to support school success in North Dakota. It outlines how improvement science helps schools and districts develop a shared understanding about how their systems work, where bright spots are, where breakdowns occur, and what actions can be taken to improve performance by engaging in continuous improvement through a cycle of practice and assessment.

Video Script:

Renewing our schools is key to the future success of North Dakota’s children and teens. Our vision is that all students will graduate choice ready with the knowledge, skills, and disposition to be successful.

Improvement science will help North Dakota educators renew our schools and help us reach that vision. This video provides an overview of the improvement science process, principles, and problem-solving method that focuses on students, teachers, and administrators.

What is improvement science? At its most basic, improvement science is a scientific approach to tackling problems in education. It is important to note that improvement science does not require adopting a new curriculum or creating new programs.

It does require that school or district teams develop a shared understanding about:

  • How their systems work,
  • Where bright spots are,
  • Where breakdowns occur, and
  • What actions can be taken to improve performance.

Improvement science enables school and district teams to engage in continuous improvement through a series of core principles.

  1. Understand the problem and the system that produces it.
  2. Focus collective efforts.
  3. Generate ideas for change.
  4. Test and build evidence.
  5. Spread and scale.

Improvement science draws on established tools, data, and practical experience to learn how different school change practices can improve student outcomes.

Strategies or practices for change are tested and then refined by your group after analyzing common and uncommon data.

Education agencies collect common data which is analyzed for accountability purposes or change at the system level. Likewise, uncommon data is collected by education agencies or schools to quickly assess effectiveness of change ideas or practices.

With this evidence in hand, teams can refine their strategies or practices and test solutions for improvement. The rapid-cycle process allows teams to assess the practices and refine them within a relatively short timeframe.

Adherence to the improvement science process will help schools and districts best serve our most precious resource: the students of North Dakota.