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Systemic Capacity & Improvement

**Bryk, A. S. (2017, March 27). Redressing Inequities: An Aspiration in Search of a Method. Speech presented at Fourth Annual Carnegie Foundation Summit on Improvement in Education in California (CA), San Francisco. Available at

Anthony Bryk’s keynote at the Carnegie Foundation’s Summit on Improvement in Education advocates for transformative ways of thinking and acting in the name of redressing educational inequities. He argues that in order shift from Deming’s characterization of the education field as “a system of miracle goals and no methods” to a system of effective practice and effective action, practitioners and researchers must partner to embrace an approach of continuous improvement powered by systems thinking and collaboration. To move past the repeated cycles of inequities, these leaders, practitioners, and decision-makers must start by focusing on predictable failures, investigating root causes of these failures, and taking on a full systems thinking approach to address shortfalls and develop new strategies to improve outcomes for students. Bryk closes by challenging those in the education field to explore how their current thinking and approaches may act to sustain the disparities they seek to solve.

**Aspen Institute Education & Society Program. (2017, February). Professional learning system for adults in service of student learning (Unpublished draft). Available for members at this link.

Using an equity lens, this paper contends that schools should prioritize professional learning for adults in order to accelerate improvement and cultivate learning for students. Contrary to the traditional practice of central office staff and teachers working in silos, this report suggests that schools should operate as systems to facilitate learning for students and adults alike through the development of a professional learning system. The prioritization of professional learning includes both central office leaders and highly skilled teachers who develop cohesive and accelerated improvement through attention to governance, data and accountability, human capital, and content and pedagogical strategies. The framework it provides highlights the multiple parts of a system that contribute to this coordinated system in service of advancing equity.

Ontario Ministry of Education. (2012). Aligning resources with priorities: Focusing on what matters most (pp. 1–6). Ontario, Canada: Author. Available at

This publication from the Ontario Ministry of Education characterizes the ability to align resources with improvement plans as a core educational leadership capacity. This excerpt draws on research about resource allocation to argue that school budgeting must connect directly with goals for teaching and learning rather than simply relying on an influx of money to solve issues related to instruction and learning. Moreover, the piece suggests that conversations about resources should not focus simply on dollars, but should include time, people, and concrete and abstract resources alike, all of which must align in the service of student learning. The excerpt concludes by identifying four characteristics of effective resource alignment, arguing that such practice is 1) driven by strong leadership, 2) strategic and supportive of efficient operations, 3) integrated with efforts to improve student achievement, and 4) purposeful by supporting mutual reinforcement of various improvement strategies.

**This document is considered a priority reading.