Richard Elmore, in this video clip and with the associated graphic, defines the best measure of how we should judge innovation and change in an organization. The data that we collect must come from the core if we are to determine with any degree of certainty that these changes have been implemented and whether or not they are sustainable.
High stakes testing does not accomplish this. Many have now written about test scores and continue to miss the point. The scores do not inform instruction and lack the “granularity” needed to affect real change. Teachers do not change based on either initiative nor incentive based reward. They change, in Daniel Pink’s words, because they want to master their craft, because they have always been an autonomous lot, and because they have a special purpose that stands them apart from other professions – nurturing the progeny of others. The talents that will change schools are those with unyielding drive that infects these other dimensions powerfully and without hesitation, as in Geoffrey Canada’s work in Harlem. These efforts will often come from the teachers themselves when they are effectively empowered to be leaders in their own organizations.
But, ultimately, systemic change will only happen when we keep our “eye on the ball” and that means the instructional core.