Opening up thinking about education today for tomorrow - Imagining possibilities and solutions

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Frameworks for improvement – Hill, Crévola and Fullan

There is nothing as practical as a good theory and nothing as theoretical as good practice.

The following are just some thoughts on what I have learnt over the years about improving literacy and numeracy.

Develop a whole school approach
From my experience a whole school approach to improvement is the only way. In designing the numeracy strategy for the 114 Sydney Catholic systemic schools (and more recently pushing that up into lower secondary), Hill and Crévola’s model, Design elements for effective school improvement, was used.

The model was also used in improving early literacy through the CLaSS project from Victoria, Australia.

The model identifies 8 elements that lead to improvement across the school. When the 8 elements are developed it leads to a change in teacher beliefs and understanding and improvement in student learning. It is an evidence-based approach.

Develop pictures and images of what it might look like on the ground
Perhaps this is vision.

Part of the design of the numeracy strategy included developing a set of Descriptors of effective implementation,based upon the elements of the Hill and Crévola model, to assist schools in developing numeracy plans.

The descriptors provided a picture of what practice might look like in improving numeracy learning.

The Breakthrough Framework
In more recent years the Hill and Crévola model has been further developed through their work with Michael Fullan. This model is referred to as the Breakthrough framework.

Their book, Breakthrough outlines the framework and approach.

What is interesting to me is the shift away from beliefs and understandings which was at the centre of the Hill and Crévola model to Moral Purpose with precision, personalisation and professional learning (3-Ps) at the centre.

This, to me, indicates a shift away from changing teachers to improving teaching practice.

Don’t underestimate leadership
One of the constant surprises, yet at the same time stating the bleeding obvious, is the importance of leadership and coordination.

Within the primary sector, with the numeracy strategy, it was sometimes the case that this leadership would "be given" to a numeracy coordinator (Numeracy Focus Teacher). It was described as distributive leadership with the principal and assistant principal stepping back.

Where there was little or no direct involvement from the senior positional leaders in the school the effectiveness of the strategy appeared to be diminished.

It could be argued that the depth and breadth of the leadership with a clear moral purpose, supported by the elements of the framework, will lead to better learning outcomes and opportunities for all students.

What is required is both senior leadership of the school and distributed leadership across the school.


Anonymous said...

It seems to me that a critical element is missing in their analysis of educational improvement.
This is top-down instruction, with extreme emphasis and attention on the classroom teacher, BUT how does their approach engage students in wanting to learn and achieve?
It seems to me to be too narrow in its focus. Not every student will respond to this method and become a "Breakthrough" success. Some students need a "hands-on learning style" achieved through interacting in science and this is absent in a system where "data-gathering" and outcome-postings are seen as the means to achieve success!

Andrew said...

I usually don't post anonymous comments but I thought it was an interesting perception. I'd be interested in others responses.

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