Tony Bryk on Learning to Improve

As a University of Chicago scholar, Tony Bryk repeatedly produced local research of national importance.  He combined skills in experimental design with incisive insight. Three years ago Tony Bryk moved from observer and instructor to initiator and innovator.  As President of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Tony is doing applied research across networks his team created with support from a variety of foundations.  They work from a great office on a hill overlooking the Stanford campus and the bay.
The big idea is networked improvement communities learning how to improve. Carnegie is conducting a unique brand of “Improvement Research that allows us to cull and synthesize the best of what we know from scholarship and practice, rapidly develop and test prospective improvements, deploy what we learn about what works in schools and classrooms, and add to our knowledge to continuously improve the performance of the system.”
Quantway is a community college network that seeks to reverse high failure rates in math.  Eight community colleges in eight states are building accelerated pathways that will “motivate and engage students with an innovative quantitative literacy focus in which students use mathematics and numerical reasoning to make sense of the world around them.”
Tony and team keep asking the networks  “What does good look like and how does one go about getting good?”
The Building a Teaching Effectiveness Network is a Gates Foundation sponsored partnership with the AFT.  It includes Baltimore, Austin, and New Visions for Public Schools in New York City.  The network partners focus on developing and retaining effective teachers. Both networks get at the problems of practice by encouraging root cause analysis, changing mindsets, and developing common tools.
The Foundation encourages development and refinement of good ideas “tried very quickly.”  They help their network partners see systems rather than discrete problems.  They help colleges and schools develop quick improvement cycles around pictures of what good looks like.
Check out Tony’s books: Trust in Schools, and his most recent book, Organizing Schools for Improvement: Lessons from Chicago.  Here’s a blog on the science of improvement.
This blog first appeared on HuffingtonPost.  

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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