Theory of Change


Schools must be purposefully designed for improvement.

Schools are complex systems, and improving them requires coherent, orchestrated action across a number of important areas if they are to improve. At the School Performance Institute, we have spent more than a decade learning how to organize our own schools for improvement and success.

To accomplish our mission, we rely on a framework developed by the University of Chicago’s Consortium on School Research over the course of seven years of work with Chicago Public Schools. This team of researchers identified five organizational features of schools that interact with life inside of classrooms and are essential to advancing student achievement. These five essential supports for school improvement include the following:

  1. Effective Leaders

  2. Collaborative Teachers

  3. Involved Families

  4. Supportive Environment

  5. Ambitious Instruction

High poverty schools often face significantly higher barriers to success than those in wealthier areas. Even within high poverty schools, the barriers to improvement can vary greatly from one community to the next. At the same time, there is far more capacity for improvement in the adults working in struggling schools, but it is often smothered under organizataional dysfunction. When we get organization right, however, the people working in schools right now could get dramatically better results.

SPI can help you systematically improve the essential supports most crucial to your school’s success.