Leveraging Organizational Conditions to Improve the Efficacy of Professional Learning Initiatives
The opportunity gap in the k-12 education system is well documented for Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC) students from low-resource households. To challenge the opportunity gaps experienced by these students, non-profit professional learning organizations such as Leading Educators (LE) have emerged to improve the skillsets of teachers and gain their commitment to eradicating inequities. At the core of LE’s theory of change is the belief that improvements in teacher practice will ultimately lead to more favorable student learning outcomes, particularly for BIPOC students. However, research has found that while teachers may grow professionally, their capacity to exact widespread change within their schools is dependent on school- and district-level leaders and conditions. Through my qualitative study, I aimed to better understand LE’s current implementation practices of their system conditions assessment tool. This evaluation instrument is designed to support school and system leaders to better understand the impact organizational policies and practices have on teacher and student learning. I used Burke Litwin’s Model for understanding organizational performance and change as my conceptual framework to guide my analysis. Analyzing interview data from interviewees representing LE’s internal teams responsible for the tool’s application, I found that the improvement of the tool’s implementation is related to building internal capacity, the overall strategy of implementation, and the coherence among organizational data tools. This analysis culminated in recommendations for further supporting the efficacy and impact of the system conditions assessment tool in framing and guiding professional development partnerships that are highly effective.