Science Leads the Way

By Steve Witter

Don’t be fooled by the name. It may be called Improvement Science, but it is about more than changing the science classroom. 

It is an initiative dedicated to systemic change: transforming methods and culture to enhance the entire academic experience.

A year ago, NEWESD 101 joined a coalition with ESD 105 (Yakima) and North Central ESD (Wenatchee) to explore core principles of continuous improvement.  Networking is central to the process. 

By combining the wisdom and knowledge of multiple partners to solve problems, districts can more easily generate ideas for change, test and build evidence and, ultimately, spread and scale solutions.

The first-year cohort has combined the know-how of Assistant Superintendent Mick Miller and staff members Erik Wolfrum and Jennifer Ireland, teaching and learning; Jaime Taylor, special education; Steve Schreiner, technology, plus the expertise of local district staff from West Valley.

A common refrain in the first year was that professional learning is too often delivered in isolation – to only narrow bands of staff. A more inclusive approach – reaching across disciplines and department -- could reduce duplication of effort and, more importantly, expand strategies for systemic change.

A second cohort of NEWESD 101 employees will soon join the process, while the ultimate goal is to train multiple cohorts across districts in the entire region. A noted Chinese proverb holds that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. So, too, does school improvement. The journey is under way.