Embracing Continuous Improvement
The underlying principle of continuous improvement is that we are unlikely to improve learning outcomes and productivity until we define and start measuring them. This starts with identifying what we seek in learning outcomes. It also requires getting a handle on the costs associated with components of our education system and with individual resources and activities, so that the ratio of outcomes to costs can be tracked over time.
This plan devotes considerable space to the learning outcomes we seek and measuring what matters. We also must consider pragmatic outcomes such as successful high school graduation, readiness for postsecondary education, and college degree completion.
As we establish new and more complete measures of learning and pragmatic outcomes, however, quality matters. A student who successfully completes algebra in one high school may learn more, be better prepared for college-level mathematics, and be more inspired to pursue a career in mathematics than a student who successfully completes algebra at another high school. Even if we cannot accurately measure or easily remedy these qualitative differences, we must consider them as we determine what to measure for continuous improvement.
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