What Others Are Saying About Step-Up-To-Excellence SM

The need for whole-system transformation is extraordinary. The dominant approach to improving school systems, often called school-based improvement, has failed to produce the kinds of improvements the public demands of its school systems.

School-based improvement is important and it must continue, but by itself it is insufficient for producing system-wide improvement. The inadequacies of this approach were commented upon by Michael Fullan. Dr. Fullan says,

What are the "big problems" facing educational reform? They can be summed up in one sentence: School systems are overloaded with fragmented, ad hoc, episodic initiatives. Hatch (2000) calls this phenomenon "when multiple innovations collide" - lots of activity and confusion. Put another way, change even when successful in pockets, fails to go to scale. It fails to become systemic. And, of course, it has no chance of becoming sustained. [in Duffy, F. M. (2002). Step-Up-To-Excellence: An innovative approach to managing and rewarding performance in school systems. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Education]

What makes Step-Up-To-Excellence SM so powerful is that it addresses the above problems in a systematic and thorough way, thereby providing the reader with the conceptual and technical resources to take and sustain effective action.

Regarding the Step-Up-To-Excellence SM methodology, Carl Glickman writes,

The reader who thinks about, currently serves, or aspires to the superintendency will find much of value in these writings. Duffy weaves together organizational and leadership theories, motivation and cognitive psychology, and change navigation strategies and adds the experiences of practitioners to provide a thoughtful and valuable treatise on guiding superintendents on the most important and basic task of all; improving the educational lives of all our students. [in Duffy, F. M. (2002, in press). Courage, passion, and vision: A superintendent's guide to leading systemic school improvement. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Education and the American Association for School Administrators]

School districts throughout the United States are beginning to engage in whole-district change. The principles and concepts of whole-system change that are woven into Step-Up-To-Excellence SM are being used by these districts. These districts include:

Still other school districts that are moving in the direction of whole-system change participated in a study by the Learning First Alliance titled Beyond Islands of Excellence: What Districts Can Do to Improve Instruction and Achievement in All Schools (Togneri & Anderson, 2003). The school districts in that study were:

  • Aldine Independent School District, Texas
  • Chula Vista Elementary School District, California
  • Kent County Public Schools, Maryland
  • Minneapolis Public Schools, Minnesota
  • Providence Public Schools, Rhode Island