Anthony S. Bryk

Anthony S. Bryk is the ninth president of The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. He held the Spencer Chair in Organizational Studies in the School of Education and the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University from 2004 until assuming Carnegie's presidency in September 2008. He came to Stanford from the University of Chicago where he was the Marshall Field IV Professor of Urban Education in the sociology department, and where he helped found the Center for Urban School Improvement, which supports reform efforts in the Chicago Public Schools. He also created the Consortium on Chicago School Research, a federation of research groups that have produced a range of studies to advance and assess urban school reform. His current research and practice interests focus on the organizational redesign of schools and school systems and the integration of technology into schooling to enhance teaching and learning.

Dr. Bryk's work in issues related to school improvement and the coherence of schools as organizations is among the most studied in the field. He was kind enough to offer his thoughts in an interview.

Video Interview of Tony Bryk

January 14, 2011

Q: Many people think about education as what goes on between a teacher and  students inside the classroom. What led you to look more broadly at the school as the organizational unit?  How does the school environment affect what goes on in the classroom?Q: Your work and that of your colleagues describes differences between  a coherent and an incoherent school organization.  How much do we know about how a school can move from one to the other? Q: Could you please describe situations with which you are familiar when improvement efforts were less effective because of organizational shortcomings? Q: For some practitioners, it is hard to conceptualize what is meant by "data" when discussing schools (other than test scores). Will you help orient them? Can you describe a case in which data were used effectively? Q: When school organizations are seriously focused on issues of coherence and collective efficacy, is there still opportunity for innovation? Q: Can you describe a culture shift an individual teacher might experience if his or her school goes through "best-case-scenario" improvement? Q: How might a teacher experience the changes you describe in his or her work, particularly when engaging with colleagues? Q: If we were looking through the eyes of students, how is school coherence or incoherence experienced?Q: You have written that trust is an important element when considering school improvement efforts. Could you describe the work that led to this conclusion?

Partial list of  publications:

Organizing Schools for Improvement

Publication Author:   Anthony S. Bryk

In Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 91, No. 7 (April 2010): pp. 23-30.

Abstract: How schools are organized and interact with the local community can dramatically alter the odds for improving student achievement. There are five essential supports for school improvement: a coherent instructional guidance system, the professional capacity of its faculty, strong parent-community-school ties, a student-centered learning climate, and leadership that drives change. A longitudinal study by the Consortium on Chicago School Research on more than 400 schools found that schools with strong indicators for these supports were much more likely to improve than were schools with weak indicators.

Organizing Schools for Improvement: Lessons from Chicago

Publisher: The University of Chicago Press

Authors: Anthony S. Bryk, Penny Bender Sebring, Elaine Allensworth, Stuart Luppescu, and John Q. Easton

Abstract: In 1988, the Chicago public school system decentralized, granting parents and communities significant resources and authority to reform their schools in dramatic ways. To track the effects of this bold experiment, the authors of Organizing Schools for Improvement collected a wealth of data on elementary schools in Chicago. Over a seven-year period they identified one hundred elementary schools that had substantially improved—and one hundred that had not. What did the successful schools do to accelerate student learning?

The authors of this illuminating book identify a comprehensive set of practices and conditions that were key factors for improvement, including school leadership, the professional capacity of the faculty and staff, and a student-centered learning climate. In addition, they analyze the impact of social dynamics, including crime, critically examining the inextricable link between schools and their communities. Putting their data onto a more human scale, they also chronicle the stories of two neighboring schools with very different trajectories. The lessons gleaned from this groundbreaking study will be invaluable for anyone involved with urban education.