Improvement Science in Education and Beyond Series
Improvement Science
Promoting Equity in Schools
Published: September 2021
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Published: September 2021

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Published: September 2021
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Language: English

A 2022 SPE Outstanding Book Honorable Mention

Improvement Science: Promoting Equity in Schools
is intended for classroom teachers, school leaders, and district leaders charged with leading improvement efforts in schools. From questions such as “how do I develop a love of reading in my classroom?” to “how can I better manage student behavior during independent learning time?” to “what should we do to make sure kids of all races read at grade level by 3rd grade” to “how could we include families of all backgrounds as partners in learning” or “how do we increase our graduation rate among underserved students," this book shares real-life examples from those who are currently leading equity-focused improvement in our classrooms and schools. If you are curious about how Improvement Science has been used, or how others have succeeded—or failed—at equity-focused improvement efforts in our classrooms and in our schools, or if you’re wondering how to spur discussions in school districts, universities, and communities about leading equity-focused improvement, this book is for you. Teachers, students, family members, community members, principals and superintendents will be inspired to embrace Improvement Science as a method to improve equity in their schools.

The book helps people new to Improvement Science to understand the basic steps to implement the process. If you’re a beginner, it provides some basic steps and a resource ( to help you understand the process better; for those with some experience, the book will be an excellent refresher and tool with functional suggestions to take your practice further.

1.       Form a Team.

2.       Examine Data.

3.       Ask Why.

4.       Read Research.

5.       Get Perspective of Those Closest to the Problem.

6.       Plan the Change.

After you’ve done the above, then it’s time to test one idea, using short Plan Do Study Act cycles. These are short improvement cycles. Students are only in our classrooms generally for one year, so the cycles need to be short, perhaps even as short as one week, to ensure that every instructional move we are making truly does improve the experience of the students.

Readers of Improvement Science: Promoting Equity in Schools will be taking an important step toward achieving the goal of producing socially just classrooms and schools.

WATCH: Meet the Authors (ZOOM recording from #CPED21 Virtual Convening, 10/20/21).

To learn more about Improvement Science and see our full list of books in this area, please click through to the Myers Education Press Improvement Science website.

Perfect for courses such as: Culturally Responsive Learning Environments; Educating For Equity And Social Justice; Cultivating Culturally Responsive Classrooms; Integrating Methods And Curriculum Design; Inquiry, Assessment, And Instructional Design; Foundations Of Culturally And Linguistically Responsive Practice; Math Literacy; Physical Education; Professional Collaboration In Education; Language And Literacy Development Of Diverse Learners; Equal Opportunity: Racism; Diversity And Equity In Schools; Cultural Proficiency In Schools; Language And Power In Education; Teaching For Equity In Literacy; Supportive Classroom Communities; Cultural Diversity In Literature; Engaging Students In Writing; Introduction To School Leadership; Introduction To School Improvement; Teacher Leadership And School Improvement

Table of Contents:

List of Tables and Figures



Chapter 1
Deborah S. Peterson and Susan P. Carlile

Part I: Reading

Chapter 2
Impact by Design: Promoting Equity Through Reading Achievement of Students of Color
Naichen Zhao, Erin Anderson, Sandy Lochhead, and Laura Vasta

Chapter 3
University Academy Lab Schools: Closing the Gaps in Literacy
Jennifer Rasberry, Michael Odell, Teresa Kennedy, Kelly Dyer, Jaclyn Pedersen, and Jo Ann Simmons

Chapter 4
Equity Matters: Witnessing the Stories of Students and Families
Lynda Tredway, Matthew Militello, Moraima Machado, and Jolia Bossette

Chapter 5
Increasing Reading Engagement in Middle Level Learners: How to Reverse the Decline
Rhiannon Young

Part II: Writing

Chapter 6
Small-Group Instruction in Writer’s Workshop: A Surprising Obstacle
Daniel F. Barnard

Chapter 7
Improving Gender Equity in Written Language
Frauke Meyer and Linda Bendikson

Chapter 8
Expressive Writing: Students With Disabilities
Adrienne Stimson Clark

Part III: Math and Science

Chapter 9
Improvement Science Models Used for Achievement in Mathematics
Jaclyn Pedersen, Michael Odell, Teresa Kennedy, Kelly Dyer, Jo Ann Simmons, and Yanira Oliveras-Ortiz

Chapter 10
Access Versus Ability: Advanced Mathematics for Every Child
Anne Larkin and Corey Jenks

Chapter 11
Increasing Fourth-Grade Math Achievement for Historically Underserved Populations Utilizing Targeted Intervention Groups
Dr. Holly Altiero

Chapter 12
Improving Math Growth Indicators for Elementary Students With Disabilities
Shane Brown

Chapter 13
Equity in STEM Programs
Keith Grosse

Part IV: Health, Wellness, and Physical Education

Chapter 14
Physical Education and Indigenous Youth: Middle School Physical Education and Indigenous Youth
Jarod Milko


Chapter 15
Moving Forward
Cassandra Thonstad, Susan P. Carlile, and Deborah S. Peterson

About the Authors


Reviews & Endorsements:

“Though other books and publications exist that present and discuss improvement science (many of which are cited throughout the series), the Improvement Science in Education series exhibits the most comprehensive coverage of improvement science currently available. Crow, Hinnant-Crawford, and Spaulding have curated a collection of books that showcases the breadth and depth of improvement science appealing to a variety of audiences, regardless of backgrounds, expertise, and readiness levels. . . Certainly, improvement science is a challenging undertaking, but this series empowers those ready and willing to try.”

Review by Christopher Benedetti for Impacting Education: Journal on Transforming Professional Practice, Vol. 8 No. 3 (2023)

“With an engaging and informative format, this volume would be a useful resource for any educator interested in implementing improvement science in schools or seeking to spur discussions about equity-focused improvement in school districts, universities, and communities. The main audience for this volume is people unfamiliar with improvement science, as the authors include the basic steps for implementing the improvement science process. However, for educators with some knowledge of improvement science, the book is an excellent refresher and functional tool to boost their practice. In particular, I recommend Improvement Science to principals, classroom teachers, and educators in teacher and administrator preparation programs serving traditionally underserved students. These case studies are written by teachers and present real-life examples collaborations to improve the educational outcomes of students of color and close achievement gaps in reading, mathematics, and other areas.” (Click HERE to read the full review at Education Review, 30.)

Clifford Davis, Jr., Ed.D., Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership, University of West Georgia

Improvement Science: Promoting Equity in Schools is a book for all of us who deeply feel the moral imperative to work for equity in our educational system. This book provides concrete steps and a clear methodology to start now and to stop the practice of postponing the work until another school year. This book gives teachers and students hope that change can happen now.”

Elena García-Velasco, M.A.T., 2012 Oregon Teacher of the Year

“As superintendent, I take seriously the goal of listening to and taking action on our students’ and families’ perceptions of school culture. I also believe deeply in empowering our teachers and staff to analyze and utilize data to lead and measure improvement in our classrooms and schools so each child achieves their dreams. Improvement Science: Promoting Equity in Schools provides numerous examples and ideas for teachers and principals as they collaborate with students, families, and colleagues to implement culturally responsive, anti-racist practices—with real results.”

Dr. Susan Enfield, Superintendent, Highline Public Schools, 2020 Women in School Leadership Award by the American Association of School Administrators

“Collaborating with students, teachers, staff, families, and the broader community to ensure that each student and family has access and opportunity is at the heart of what I do as superintendent. Improvement Science: Promoting Equity in Schools is the kind of book that teachers, staff members, principals, community members, and superintendents can use to inspire impactful and lasting change and continuous improvement, building on the expertise of our community to create the high-performing, equity-focused classrooms and schools our children and families deserve. This book shares a multitude of perspectives across a wide-range of topics, all with a singular focus of educational improvement for our students.”

Dr. Greg Baker, Superintendent, Bellingham Public Schools, Washington State 2020 Superintendent of the Year

“It is our moral obligation to think about our children and their future with an equity lens, offering all of them the tools they need to succeed in school and beyond. This book, created by educators for educators, is the perfect tool to learn new strategies on how to improve instruction in our classrooms. These are inspirational and motivational examples developed with an equity lens in mind. This book is an essential contribution to all educators who want to reshape our educational system with the hope of closing our academic gaps among the most marginalized students. Thank you, Dr. Peterson and Professor Carlile, for your forward thinking in compiling all this learning in one book.”

Dr. Victor Vergara, Executive Director of Equity and Student Success, Edmonds School District, 2012 Oregon Middle School Principal of the Year

“In Today’s educational landscape we must possess the ability to adapt to change, while holding equity at the forefront of every decision. We make these changes while focusing on the needs of all students. Improvement Science: Promoting Equity in Schools provides educators with practical tools they need to make meaningful changes. These changes will positively impact student outcomes by removing barriers, and providing student-focused learning that is culturally relevant and engaging. This book highlights the expertise of teachers, school leaders and practitioners and provides a framework for success. It also includes practices that can be replicated and applied across classrooms, schools and districts.”

Dr. Paul E. Coakley, Superintendent, Multnomah Education Service District

“Change does not come easy, but I know it is possible to use a change lens to increase nurturing, culturally responsive and reassuring relationships in schools. The stories in this book recognize the importance of connection, compassion, data and the role of the teacher in improving classroom instruction. This book is a gift to the field!!”

Dr. Karen Fischer Gray, Oregon Superintendent of the Year 2018

“School improvement is a very contextual endeavor. It is about finding what works for which students and under what conditions! Peterson and Carlile have captured the authentic stories of teachers and school leaders engaged in improvement science methods as they seek to advance equitable outcomes for their students within the context of their own schools. A great read for educators looking to get better at getting better!”

Bill Eagle, Associate Director of Student Success, North Central Educational Service District

Improvement Science: Promoting Equity in Schools is a book rooted in timeless theory and grounded in compelling practice. It is highly relevant and useful for teachers and school leaders who seek to urgently advance meaningful improvement in education.

The numerous case studies in this volume weave throughout comprehensive K-12 instruction while reminding the reader that there is no greater theory than good practice. Further, the vignettes provide detailed examples of praxis as the reader’s focus is compelled to integrate the essential ethic of equitable education. Educators motivated by improving instruction and its outcomes will find their time is well-spent within these pages.”

Rob Larson, Ed.D., President, RTL Consulting

Improvement Science: Promoting Equity in Schools demonstrates what collaborative problem solving among practitioners in schools and communities can look like when equity and justice are at the forefront and change is guided by the improvement science process. This important volume offers a firsthand look at improvement in action and shows us how the tools of improvement science are needed for improving and ensuring equitable and just educational systems. Kudos to Peterson & Carlile for putting together this resource!”

Jill Alexa Perry, Ph.D., Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate & University of Pittsburgh