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Tom Wilson

Proven Results

Findings Directly Assess Actual Learning and Teaching

Practice-Based Inquiry school reports can directly answer these questions:

  • "How well are students in this school learning?"
  • "How well are the teachers in this school teaching?"
  • "How well is the school, as an organization and community, supporting good learning and teaching?"

It can also provide findings that answer direct questions about the practice of other professional service organizations.

The most important results of a research methodology are the quality of the findings it generates. Are they clear, certain and useful? 

The signature result of a Practice-Based Inquiry visit is a report that is written in clear, direct, "tell it like it is" language about what actually goes on in the institution. Since Practice-Based Inquiry relies on judgments about the value of action, rather than on the measurement of abstract constructs that serve as substitutes for discrete elements of what an institution does, these reports can directly answer questions about the central function of the organization.

Using accurate findings about how well an institution does its central job is key to building a scheme for reasonable and effective accountability. The more direct the measures of performance catch what participants in that institution actually do that matter, the more effective the system of measurement and accountability will be in strengthening the performance of the organization's central function. While Practice-Based Inquiry school visits often create anxiety for a school faculty, most faculties are relieved and stimulated by the fact that Practice-Based Inquiry visit reports focus on what they care most about, as professionals, and what they have the most personal control over: their own daily practice.

Practice-Based Inquiry teams inquire about what is actually going on. The technology allows teams to write conclusions that consider the complexity of the actual life in a school. Intense team discussion ensures that teams write only what they are certain about and that they have considered how useful it will be to the school in question.

Some Practice-Based Inquiry reports are copyrighted and can be disseminated only by the school. Other systems allow the reports to become public after the school has had time to digest the team's findings.

 

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"I am amazed that your team… could glean the insight that you did in so short a time to identify and describe our learning emphasis and priorities in such specific terms. You managed to put into words some practices and philosophies that guide us but have never been fully verbalized at our school. This will be especially helpful as [our] staff struggles to define direction and chart a course with new leadership."

-- A Rhode Island Principal, 2006

 

Over nine years the Rhode Island SALT accountability initiative supported the writing of more than 290 school reports that are public. 

Click here to read a selection of SALT visit reports.

To learn more about SALT, click here.