Systems Matter

Andrew Sullivan pulls a choice segment from an interview with Atul Gawande about the interplay between individual doctors and systems in healthcare. Basically, individual talent can be heightened or mitigated, depending on the strength of the systems in which folks operate. It’s an important point when thinking about school turnaround. Individuals can be really successful in high achieving schools but flounder in bad systems. Conversely, some teachers have a unique set of competencies that suits them for turnaround situations. Important to keep that in mind when Secretary Duncan proposes turnaround schemes that involve moving instructional staff. It’s not just about teacher effectivness, although that matters … contextual fit matters.

One Response to Systems Matter

  1. L. Howell says:

    Justin this is a terrific point to be sure. It is ironic, because we actually developed a framework we call, the Coordinated Execution Framework for Education (CEFE). We adopted the thinking from healthcare (which I have experience) and applied to education (which I also have experience). If you look at our lowest performing schools today, there is little “coordination” taking place on how to resolve or address system problems or the health of the patient, which is the chronically low performing school. When you bring the right players, having the right conversations continuously about the patient (school) as doctors, nurses and specialists do in healthcare, you obtain dramatically different outcomes at a lower costs because multiple and redundant tests are not being done, with conflicting medicine being prescribed and the multiple sets of bills submitted by those individuals.

    Ironically, this is a tough change issue for healthcare concerns and the same with applies to K12 schools and LEAs. Keep up the great work!

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