Our Approach

Core values / mission

We envision a world in which student achievement and related life outcomes no longer correlate with race, gender, ethnicity, social class, or zip code because all students have equitable opportunities, supports, and access to quality education.

Our mission is to provide leadership in closing achievement and opportunity gaps for underserved students to drive college and career success by focusing on system transformation and student academic success.

We are changing lives and changing schools.

Theory of Action©

We seek to dramatically improve student achievement at scale by fundamentally transforming state and local education systems, structures, and policies. Our work with schools and districts is grounded in our Theory of Action, a set of deeply held, organization-wide values and commitments about school improvement based on our more than 20-year history of working with school leaders and educators. Schools will dramatically improve and student learning will increase when schools have:

Roll over our Theory of Action for more information

Conditions: Sufficient school-level control over people, time, money, and program to address the root causes of low performance.

Partnerships: Partnerships that help the school meet the multiple needs of teachers and students.

Leadership: A principal who can manage and communicate complexity while maintaining focus on the school’s vision and key priorities.

Planning: Evidence-based, actionable improvement plans that address the root causes of low performance informed by a review of existing conditions and input from school, district, and community stakeholders.

Performance Management: Consistent processes for using data to measure both implementation and outcomes to determine what's working and inform efforts to improve.

Collective Responsibility: The school faculty and staff ensure there is collective responsibility for both the quality of instruction and student learning and success.

Focus on Instruction: Processes and supports that help teachers work together to constantly improve and refine standards-based instructional practice so that students can engage in deep learning tasks.

Design-based Consulting

Design-based Consulting

We work with you, not at you.
Our approach builds from of our Theory of Action and includes district and school supports. We don’t approach school improvement with just a single model in mind. Rather, we work with school leaders, educators, community members, parents, and students to develop an approach to school improvement that is responsive to local needs and strengths. Our field-tested approach starts with asking questions to understand context and conditions before building coherence, capacity, and network learning opportunities for our partners. We help our partners establish clear goals and metrics, build internal capacity, and ensure the sustainability of improvement efforts.
Network Learning

Network Learning

Network learning is about developing and maintaining connections and communicating to support one another’s learning. We facilitate networks to advance new thinking and best practices about school improvement at the district and state level and practice improvement science: an applied science that emphasizes innovation, rapid-cycle testing, and scaling successful practices through disciplined, rigorous inquiry to generate learning about what changes, in what contexts, produce improvements.


Changing lives and changing schools is hard work. We partner with classroom educators, school and district leaders, and state policy makers across the country to provide leadership in closing the achievement and opportunity gaps that are holding too many students back. By leveraging our partners’ strengths, we help educators change lives and change schools. This strength on strength approach helps build confidence and long-term success.