Learning to Improve
Improvement Science

Improvement Science work first invites educators to join a team in order to identify problems of practice and investigate the system that produces these problems. Using an array of powerful tools like empathy interviews and process maps, high-leverage drivers are identified and educators create powerful change ideas which can be tested, measured, adjusted, and scaled rapidly.

Improvement science is an emerging field of theory and practice in education. First adopted by the auto industry and then by the health sector, it represents a systems approach toward the continuous improvement of schools. The theory of improvement science centers on the assertion “that a system’s performance is a result of its design and operation, not simply a result of individuals’ efforts within the system (IES, 2020).” As such, improvement science focuses on building the knowledge of frontline workers of the systems they operate within so they can better assess “how their systems work, where breakdowns occur, and what actions can be taken to improve overall performance (IES, 2020).” In the case of the education sector, educators and school-based administrators use their growing knowledge to efficiently develop interventions and test them in rapid cycles of continuous improvement. This approach is designed to accelerate learning-by-doing. The approach focuses on implementation and emphasizes internal capacity building over adoption of externally developed interventions (Lewis, 2015).

Our Improvement Science Services

UEI currently has a limited number of spots open for school and district partners interested in engaging our Improvement Science services for the 2021-2022 school year. Our services include full support, training, and coaching for a team of educators on your campus, along with customized survey data collection and improvement science tools. Our program is ideal for fulfilling the Texas Education Code's requirements around conducted a Campus Needs Assessment and developing a Campus Improvement Plan. For more information, contact Matthew Singleton, K-12 Improvement Science Director, at matthew.singleton@utsa.edu.

Learn about our work with CAST Schools
Learn more about our work with teachers in the CAST schools network, and how they used our survey and improvement science tools to identify a problem of practice and develop an effective strategy to improve. This CAST Improvement Science team focused on the issue of improving student engagement during remote learning.
CAST Project

Sample Improvement Science Toolkit

The work of continous improvement can be daunting without a clear process and the right tools. Our growing Improvement Science Toolkit offers educators flipped lessons, task guides, and more that cover a range of important methods, protocols, and practices needed to do the work of improving. Check out a sample of our improvement tools located below:
Crafting a Problem Statement  
Scanning for New Knowledge  
Empathy Interviews