Determining Next Steps

Connecting the Profile to Practice

The final element of the Internal Coherence framework is the connection between the ICAP profile and the practice of participating teachers, principals and district leaders. Once the ICAP has been completed, school profiles are used as a point of departure for a series of professional development events and supports for school and district leaders. The Internal Coherence professional development model is designed to engage practitioners in an analysis of the conditions of their own organizations, and the processes by which they can build sustained learning environments within them. In other words, the goal of the IC professional development is to use ICAP data to enhance the ability of leaders at the school and system levels to create the conditions necessary for educators to engage in the continuous improvement of their classroom practice over time.

The problem of linking the system, the school, and the classroom around school improvement is not so much a problem of the lack of knowledge as a problem of putting the knowledge we have to work around critical gaps in theory and practice. Hence, the professional development intervention anchored in the ICAP data focuses not on developing new models of school leadership or accountability, but in filling in gaps in the existing research and in connecting existing research more tightly to the practice of school improvement.  The IC professional development responds to three main gaps in the connection between research and practice in the leadership of school improvement:

The Internal Coherence professional development model is designed around three basic principles:

  1. Developing a safe environment for practitioners to examine evidence from the ICAP profile and to connect that evidence to their overall improvement plans, the internal structures and processes of their schools, and their relationships with system-level supervisors and teachers;
  2. Using data from multiple sources, including the ICAP and measures of student performance, help leadership teams to develop their faculties’ ability to make binding commitments at the classroom, group, and school level to engage in specific actions leading to improvements in performance; and
  3. Developing the self-monitoring and self-correcting practices necessary to assess whether the agreed-upon actions are leading to the desired results in instructional practice and student performance.

Our initial work with schools suggests that the effect of the Internal Coherence process occurs in stages:

  1. Recognition, or using the assessment data to engage in structured inquiry about the conditions of teaching and learning in the school, and the leadership practices and organizational processes that surround them;
  2. Planning, or using the Internal Coherence data, coupled with other data sources, to frame a set of specific actions that will lead to improved instruction and student performance; and
  3. Commitment, or a formal process of agreeing on specific actions and the processes by which teachers and administrators will hold each other accountable for carrying them out.

Transfer of Agency

A final component of the conceptual model is what we have come to call in our practice “transfer of agency” (City, Elmore, Fiarman, and Teitel 2009; Honig and Hatch 2004). The purpose of the project is to build capacity at the classroom, school, and system levels, and to document how that process occurs, rather than to institutionalize a continuing consulting or research relationship between the IC research team and individual schools.  The ICAP and professional development process is designed to create the conditions in which a system and its component schools will learn to manage and assess their own processes in pursuit of a strategy for ongoing instructional improvement. Currently, the assessment and professional development process is intended to run for two years. The third year is envisioned as a “turn key” year in which we continue the assessment and professional development work, but we work with a team of school and system level leaders to develop a process for turning the work over to the organization at the end of the project.  Our goal is to leave the organization with enhanced capacity to monitor its own work, and to demonstrate how that might work in other settings through documentation of the process.

The Internal Coherence Assessment and Protocol was developed by a team consisting of Richard Elmore, Michelle Forman, Elizabeth Leisy Stosich, and Candice Bocala.


Strategic Education Research Partnership
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