McREL Policy Brief: Continuous Improvement in Schools and Districts

Mcrel-LogoDiscussions about improving public education often focus on outcomes without considering how schools and districts can accomplish those outcomes. Research shows that using a continuous improvement process has proven successful in healthcare, manufacturing, and technology, and may hold potential for use in education as well. This brief defines and describes the continuous improvement process, and looks at the policy considerations for using such a process in education to help schools, districts, and systems achieve higher levels of reliable performance.

Key Ideas:

This brief addresses some policy considerations for adapting and using continuous improvement processes in education, including:

  • Addressing problems more effectively by focusing on fewer, and more specific, goals
  • Creating system flexibility that allows for rapid prototyping of potential solutions
  • Planning for ongoing evaluation of programs that allows for midcourse corrections
  • Development of school and district leaders trained in formal improvement methodology

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