Leading School Improvement with Data: A Theory of Action to Extend the Sphere of Student Success

This is the first in a series of three evaluations of SAM (Scaffolded Apprenticeship Model), the primary methodology New Visions for Public Schools is using with its PSO schools to build capacity for ongoing gains in student improvement. The evaluation, led by Dr. Joan Talbert of the Center for Research on the Context of Teaching at Stanford University, examines SAM’s theory of change, which posits that teams of educators can continually expand a school’s “sphere of success” by using data to identify specific skill gaps among targeted students and design interventions aimed at accelerating student learning. Dr. Talbert’s findings point to four key principles for the success of SAM’s inquiry-based approach to reform, including:

  • “keeping the focus small” by helping educators address specific, identified skill gaps in order to accelerate student learning;
  • shifting the classroom focus from what is being taught to what is being learned;
  • challenging assumptions and practices that limit student success; and
  • navigating colleague resistance and facilitating adult learning.