Networks for School Improvement: A Review of the Literature

Networks for School Improvement: A Review of the Literature

Successful school improvement networks — groups of schools working in partnership with an intermediary organization to boost student outcomes — rest on a strong foundation of relational trust and use accessible and timely evidence from early outcomes to make improvements and strengthen the solutions-testing process, a literature review from the Columbia University Center for Public Research and Leadership finds. Based on an analysis of thirty-four studies that examined twenty-five education networks, the report, Networks for School Improvement: A Review of the Literature (42 pages, PDF), found that key elements of success included open relationships and trust, supportive and distributed leadership, buy-in from district leaders and non-school stakeholders, the ability to provide customized support to individual schools, and the establishment of strong data and information-sharing systems. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which launched its Networks for School Improvement strategy in 2017, the report found that while more than half the studies described gains in the use of continuous improvement solutions grounded in data and evidence, networks also faced a number of challenges, including cumbersome bureaucracy, not enough time to practice and implement solutions, and misalignment between a network's overall goal and the needs of individual schools.

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