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Tom WilsonPractice-Based Inquiry®

Thinking Anew


Test score and survey data have been touted for providing the most precise and objective data we have about schools. The claims of objectivity are based on assumptions that are no longer considered either correct or objective. And precision only happens when the measure is about what we want to know. If you want to know how an apple contributes to the way apple trees reproduce, weighing an orange precisely is not precise.
The defense of test score and survey methodologies is really lame, if your concern is rigorous measurement. "We know they are not perfect tools for measuring school performance. We have to use them because they are the best measurement we have."

PBI Turns Around School Performance

Practice-Based Inquiry is a research methodology for generating accurate findings about the quality of complex action in real time—such as learning and teaching in a school classroom.

Practice-Based Inquiry provides a much more direct assessment of actual practice than do indirect artifacts of performance: standardized test scores or opinion surveys.

Now, after years of design and pilot testing Practice-Based Inquiry provides a new choice in how to measure school performance. Practice-Based Inquiry focuses on the actual practice of learning and teaching in schools. The rigor of its method and the utility of its conclusions breaks through the narrow (and often mistaken) restrictions of conventional testing methodologies in studying and assisting schools to become more effective as institutions of learning and teaching. It improves the capacity of school reform to make a positive difference.

For the last fifteen years Catalpa Ltd. has worked exclusively on reshaping this traditional approach to studying schools so that it meets modern expectations for rigor and utility. It is not enough to just visit a school. How the team's protocol designs the process of the visit and ensures accurate conclusions is vital to achieving rigorous and useful knowledge for practitioners. The protocols of many school-accrediting agencies are seriously problematic because they are based on out-of-date approaches to the conduct of a visit. These older approaches are often conceived as administrative rather than research activities.

What you will find on this site

This site is a storehouse of information about Catalpa's work. Over 160 years, thousands of school people have contributed to the building of a practitioner's way for knowing how well schools are doing. Practice-Based Inquiry works from these traditions that greatly strengthen the visit's capacity for generating consistently [delete] certain and useful findings.

Click on these headings for more (find them in the site's main menu):

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