Have you ever heard a story and realized that you must not have heard the whole story? That is what we tend to do in school improvement efforts. We review or hear a few things that may be impacting performance and then start jumping to a solution that we heard worked in another school or school system. The result is failure. The work we do does not make sense because we have not taken the time to look at the big picture and identify the factors in the work, worker, workplace, and marketplace that are impacting performance. Therefore, the best solutions/interventions are not identified. Improvement does not happen.

            The work of Standard 3 focuses on uncovering and studying the multiple perspectives about the current situation in order to truly identify what is required for people to perform to the expected level and “get the doing done.”  This is a performance analysis. Then a cause analysis has to be done which means that we investigate and find the true reasons for underperformance and the barriers to reaching higher levels of performance. Once the causes are identified, then the most value added solutions can be found. This means studying and selecting the most suitable combination of performance interventions that will increase the odds that people can and will perform to the expected levels. For every problem there are at least three contributing factors or root causes and at least four possible solutions are required to fix the problem (Gilmore, 2008; Wile, 1996).

            I always told my staff that we had to take the time on the front side of planning in order to save time on the back side. If we do not focus on identifying ALL the factors impacting performance, do a cause analysis, and then identify a suite of the best solutions, time will be spent redoing and revising. Time is wasted in doing the work that is needed to improve student achievement. Our students do not have the time in their educational career for us to waste even a day in poor planning and implementation. Looking at the big picture before jumping to solutions will help to ensure that we efficiently and effectively impact student achievement!