Jorge Aguilar Co-Authors a Brief Examining Continuous Improvement in Increasing Post-Secondary Success

June 2017

Jorge Aguilar, superintendent of Sacramento Unified School District Superintendent and former Associate Superintendent for Equity and Access at Fresno Unified School District (FUSD), coauthored a brief highlighting the development and use of FUSD’s data dashboard and the principles of improvement science to increase college access for its students. FUSD’s began its work by designing a data dashboard comprising 75 indicators and assembling an Equity and Access Team to analyze the data. Initial analyses revealed that despite many students being eligible to apply to a variety of California’s colleges and universities, most applied to only one.  The Equity and Access team formally adopted the Improvement Science Framework in order to tackle in the issue.  Using this framework, FUSD partnered with the University of California at Merced to enact small measureable changes, track the impact of these changes, and determine whether the changes indeed created improvements.  In the team’s Study phase of their Plan- Do-Act-Study Cycle of Improvement, they asked themselves whether their data showed improvement in the performance problem and studied their implementation of each component of their change idea. After review of the intervention’s data as a whole, the team agreed to adopt the intervention with some changes. Ultimately, Aguilar and his coauthors argue that the use of robust data, a dedicated, knowledgeable team, and committed adherence to the continuous improvement approach can lead to substantial change and positive outcomes. The lessons learned highlight the importance of culture change within the district in order to reap the benefits of continuous improvement.