Taking to Scale

improving student learning in partnership with research towards large-scale change

Four Dimensions of Scale based on Cynthia Coburn’s 2003 Rethinking Scale:

  • Depth of Pedagogical Change
  • Shift in Reform Ownership
  • Spread
  • Sustainability

DEPTH of Pedagogical Change

  • We learned from implementing PACE that having common performance tasks and a calibration process allowed teachers across schools and districts to fully implement competency education, as teachers and students had a much clearer understanding of what competency is, in the calibrated academic areas.  
  • Adding deeper learning skills to this process represents a substantial pedagogical change, as teachers develop units of instruction more directly addressing self direction to address what is signaled in the performance assessment expectations.
  • Educators are in charge of nearly all aspects of the program. Teachers decide what is assessed, how it is assessed, and they even design the scoring rubric. Educators at all levels described ownership of the system as a major contributor to buy-in.

SHIFT IN OWNERSHIP and SPREAD — Content Teacher Leaders

  • Crucial Strategy — the naming and development of multiple Content Teacher Leaders (about 42 total) for each grade level and content area combination across schools and districts. 
  • These teachers are identified as leaders in PACE and are recommended by peers and ultimately selected by the PACE District Leads to help coordinate subject/grade-specific activities.
  • Having these teachers, as well as others who are involved in task development, scoring, calibration, and implementation of the common tasks results in word of mouth spread across schools and districts, as found by HumRRO in their Formative Assessment for PACE

SPREAD – Districts join RPP Project and PACE by Invitation

  • Creating an invitation to do the work is about recognizing and supporting where districts are in their system redesign.
  • The development of a partnership creates a reciprocal relationship.
  • NHLI supports district readiness determinations and a district’s targeted priorities
  • We encourage districts to lead with their strengths; elevate and amplify.
  • Creating professional development is trickier, but more successful because districts get what they need, not what we prescribe. 
  • Sharing information through libguides and learning management platforms.

SUSTAINABILITY – Multiple Entry Points to Address Different System Needs

  • Competency-based education has many entry points that eventually connect to one another and support system change.
  • Entry points are prioritized by districts.
  • Creating multiple entry points allows districts to lead in some areas and get support in others.
  • Work-Study Practices are one entry point that supports building student agency and shifting instructional focus to a student-centered learning environment.

SUSTAINABILITY and Credibility — Building a Framework

  • Inspired and informed by research.
  • Grounded in a “learning progressions” and “developmentally appropriate” mind-set.
  • Using the model of PACE as a proof point of practice.
  • Sharing insights and common elements across multiple projects creating a collaborative practice model and collective success.

Our blog series on scaling mechanisms can be found at KnowledgeWorks.