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For Successful School System Reform, You Have to Deliver

Richard Eyre leads the strategy, knowledge, and innovation team at Education Delivery Institute (EDI), a non-profit organization that specializes in helping education leaders implement reforms to improve student outcomes and close achievement gaps. ERS is working with EDI to understand how the Deliverology approach—explained below—can help district leaders implement transformational change.

With all the policy changes in education over the past five years, why has progress in raising student achievement and reducing inequalities been so slow? A new book argues that the answer lies in an often-overlooked concept: implementation.

In Deliverology in Practice: How Education Leaders Are Improving Student Outcomes authors Sir Michael Barber, Nick Rodriguez, and Ellyn Artis call out the existence of an “implementation gap” in American education. They argue that in the recent era of reform, policy and legislation—the “what” of reform—has driven the work. On the other hand, implementation—the “how” of reform—has been given far less attention. Everyone wants to improve results for students, but frequently policymakers are fuzzy in defining how the education system will actually make those results a reality.

However, a small number of education leaders across the United States have succeeded in closing the implementation gap using an approach called “delivery.” Since 2010, the Education Delivery Institute (EDI) has partnered with education leaders to implement their reforms at scale using the delivery approach. So far, EDI has worked with over 100 education systems and institutions in over 40 states.

Deliverology in Practice calls for more leaders to adopt the delivery approach, and for the education community in general to take the skillset of implementation seriously. The book sets out a practical guide that leaders can use to implement their reforms and increase student success. It is supported by a suite of online tools and resources, and filled with real-life examples from EDI’s five years of working with education systems to help implement major reform agendas.

“As a large urban school district that serves approximately 17,000 students, we have found the process of delivery to be empowering.  It is the catalyst for action as we work to implement our district strategic plan, ensuring that we have the capacity to leverage specific elements of the plan in a multi-year timeline.”
- Brockton (MA) Public Schools Superintendent, Kathleen Smith

Something which Deliverology in Practice describes as essential to effective implementation is setting out a clear, coherent reform strategy. This highlights the importance of tools like School System 20/20, produced by Education Resource Strategies (ERS). School System 20/20 helps complex urban districts develop transformative policy and strategy by aligning their people, time, and money. It lays out a diagnostic process through which a district can understand its strengths and challenges in seven key strategy areas, from standards to leadership to funding.

The delivery approach provides a complementary set of tools, which district leaders using School System 20/20 can draw upon to help implement the policy and strategy changes they have identified. For example, once a district has worked out what it needs to change, how does it plan the action needed to make those changes happen all the way down to the classroom? How will it know, at any given point, if its strategies are on track to impact student outcomes? How can it put in place strong performance management systems, so that the superintendent has a forum in which to understand progress, solve problems and sustain momentum? That’s where delivery can really help.   

For more information on Deliverology in Practice visit EDI's site. You can access EDI's suite of tools and resources online.

For Successful School System Reform, You Have to Deliver
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