Success at the Core
began as a question. In 2005, Paul G. Allen
and co-founder of Microsoft, asked his production company, Vulcan Productions
, how media
could be used to make a difference in education. In pursuit of an answer, Vulcan
Productions teamed up with
Education Development Center
and together, we set out to discover if and
how media—when used to illustrate good practice and inspire others to achieve the
same—can impact student achievement.
We took as our guiding principle the perspective of Richard Elmore, professor at
Harvard University's Graduate School of Education: "You don't change performance
without changing the instructional core. The relationship of the teacher and the
students in the presence of content must be at the center of efforts to improve
performance.” We wanted to impact that “instructional core.” And, after interviewing
education stakeholders in Washington State and nationally, we began to see an opportunity:
Success at the Core
- More and more schools have leadership teams, but many
teams lack the tools and guidance to effectively promote quality instruction.
- In schools without strong leadership teams, teachers
often find themselves working in isolation.
- There's a shortage of effective and scalable methodologies
that provide structured materials to support teams and teachers in implementing
was born when we decided to focus our project on leadership
and teacher development. In fall 2008, award-winning filmmaker Woody Creek Productions
joined our team and began to capture the work of leadership teams and teachers in
six Washington State middle schools. We selected these schools because of their
diversity in geographic location, school size, and student population and because
they offered us access to the efforts—in real time—of leadership teams and teachers
working to improve instruction. In 2008/2009, we developed an extensive set of print
and online resources to accompany the videos.
Selected middle schools in Washington State piloted the materials during the 2009/2010
school year, with an independent evaluation of the pilot by Inverness Research.
Reactions were hugely positive and, as a result, we are rolling Success at the Core
out across Washington State during the 2010/2011 school year. Plans have also begun
for a national roll-out in 2011.