Gary R. Carlson, consultant and advocate


I just finished listening to the U.S. Department of Education Secretary John King. The conference call was to update us on the new regulations focused on states and the highlights of the purpose and mission of the new regulations. Highlights of the presentation by Secretary King was attention to civil rights mentioned five times during the conference call, more state leeway in determine their actions, better attention to student absenteeism, seeking feedback with approval and time for transition. Again, standards of performance as relating to grades and success with course work. The new regulations are attempting to provide equity. 


While applauding the attempt to provide equity, what has really changed? We are still looking at grades as success with standards set to satisfy our ratings of schools. Standards are set to establish what should be and zeroing in on the schools who reach the standards and those that don’t. We as Americans have enough examples of how to improve outcomes.  When we exploit the word diversity we punish diversity with standards that are created for less than equity opportunity. No matter where we start outcomes,a baseline and grows from an equitable start.  If you are a new weight lifter you don’t start with the expected weight but you begin with light weights and move forward. If you are a musician you don’t write music immediately but you learn the notes. Predetermined standards may be the reason for reported failure because of the lack of encouragement for appreciable growth.

Standards vs. Performance Improvement

Standards may be an expectation but current performance is a reality. Improvement in outcomes from taking an individual where they are and improving them. Ask ourselves how or what were the percentages of improvement a school or program achieves over a period of time. Every teacher knows that with each new class of students they are presented with a new set of baselines. Our question now is not standards but what are the targets for improvement for each student. What process is there or could be to establish this outcome improvement?    When it comes to measuring performance we measure the grades of the students. When we own an automobile it goes no where without fuel. Students go no where without high performing teachers. So without a process to improve teacher performance we will continue in this ever enduring result of measuring grades for outcome measures. 


Current events place our teachers in often precarious positions. Answers for improving student outcomes comes from understanding the formula for our teachers success. It is more than an assumption or expectation of their accomplishments. Our teachers are human capital that we invest in for providing necessary education to prepare them for life experiences. It is not hard to place standards on teachers communicated in a regulatory junction when the best performance measurement is by measuring improvement in meaningful outcomes in skills and performance levels. Security of any nation is the ability to make sure its population is offered the path to meet their highest potential.  A philosophy with keeping in the process of taking individuals at a baseline and moving them to higher potentials works for schools, organizations and businesses. Where do we go from here? What would help our teachers?

  • Lines of authority that allows them to fulfil their accountability without hinderance
  • Full support from school boards and educational management
  • Funding equitable to the needs of each school no matter where it resides demographically
  • Identifying the master teachers who provide the recognizable growth of students from their existing baseline to higher achievements.
  • Recognizing teacher needs and providing professional development training by using master teachers in the outline to improve new teachers and those in need
  • Design an equitable performance measure to recognize those teachers who achieve performance improvements above and beyond the expectations of averages.
  • Partnerships with master teachers and teacher training institutions
  • Change federal and state over-site to a better support for schools.
  • Encourage teachers to share best practices in a nation wide portal.
  • Determine what competencies we are asking teachers to achieve at what levels
  • Establish transition lines between pre-school,elementary,secondary and higher education.
  • Accreditation requirements become uniform and equitable for all accrediting agencies.
  • Introduce curriculum design that better fits our society values of learning purpose
  • Create a better two-way communication with federal and state department officials for support initiatives.
  • Create longterm plan to encourage teachers to remain in the profession of teaching with the correct motivational tools.


Outcomes are important. Outcomes can be the measure of success or not! Obviously we are about success. If we are clear about what we need in targets in meeting skill levels in any course or program we can move performance to higher levels. Outcomes can be the symptoms of what is necessary and needed in further encouragement and training. Actions of performance improvement assistance resonates better schools. Our answer lies in the practice of a cyclical performance management system that is non-threating and supports improvement. 

Department of Education at State and Federal Level

As a leader what relationship do you have with the Deparatment of Edcucation is it supportive or adversary? What works best? Government organizations are needed to serve and to help improve through their support. How do you feel that is happening? Are the fiscal ties strangling your ability to do your job? Does the help come with strings attached? After answering these questions you probably know we have a job to do. 

Happy New Year!


You Can Design a Process To Improve School Performance

How Can Your School Improve Through a Proven Process?

Gary R. Carlson Ed.D.

The ultimate goal for any business or school is to satisfy its mission and purpose and improve from its current achievements to higher levels. There is no question our school business is a people oriented business for both our internal and external customers. The U.S. government is redefining the consumer protection for themselves as a responsible governing body for schools. Schools now are approaching the necessity to meet consumer student demands. Accountability for student satisfaction and student success outcomes are reviewed from a granular aspect providing proof of success. Schools producing anything less than measured acceptable success levels of student success, student retention, completion and employment will face often harsh remedies. During the last few months we have seen schools both closed and compromised by not responding to these very evident changes. Essentially schools who rely on their old laurels may be in jeopardy. Outcomes and evidence of achievements in schools are a responsibility for schools to be transparent on their success. The communications need to be defendable and not self-reporting. A process of reporting requires an ethical and compliant formula of data analysis that will be viewed by officials and public. Outcomes will determine the longevity of any program to continue. Your ability to accurately be informed with not only the big picture of the programs results but to be capable of breaking down success of curriculum, materials, equipment and teaching styles. We can quickly see the earlier the results can be reviewed the recovery period can begin. Outcomes can be separated into three areas. Each area has its’ own necessary plan of actions. Outcomes can be acceptable, non-acceptable and exceeds expectations. Revealing the outcomes from target goals to actuals will set a plan into motion for all three areas. Our actions have often worked on only those that have not met target expectations. This process often will only substantiate mediocrity. Ideally we need to uplift all the performance, no matter what category they were reported. 

A process needs to be universally accepted and has equity reporting of results. Target measures are fairly applied to all the stakeholders. Measures need to be built upon history of past experiences.  contentSo much time in traditional schools we have spent on the content. Theory, labs, materials, equipment, teacher and student that made up the structure of the classroom. In the last fifteen years the walls of our classrooms have come down. Our focus was content which I call the what for a classroom. The pieces to the course puzzle were predominantly content. diversityStagnant content does not give way to the reality of the diversity of our students who consume the content. Content alone does not cause for equity in learning behaviors of the students.  One variable of being the change agent for success becomes the teacher. The who is the important tool of how all this will work with the diversity of learning. Our person who is the who which will determine the how content and style will be communicated in the best possible environment. As we look back at the schools with the three who’s of acceptable non-acceptable and exceeds expectations they all become part of the plan for school improvement. 

All successful organizations exists on team and coaching. An atmosphere that breeds a willingness to have those who want and desire an improvement plan to continue to grow. These are the professionals that keep educating themselves by exhibiting an acceptance of gratitude to those who help them become successful.   

Practically where do we start on this type of process to fulfil this juncture towards a successful school with successful people? Our discovery path starts with each person who makes a difference in the outcomes. It is easy to ascertain the person is the teacher. Even our good schools can move from their current state to better. Process needs to be cyclical and not linear. Good practices need to re-occur to build on growth and sustain success for the future. The flow chart below gives you and idea of how these foundation activities will increase the chances of success.


Collecting data only and not being capable of analyzing the result keeps us from understanding our outcomes and practices. Outcomes are a result of a starting point and a measuring point. Measured against an acceptable equitable target point we can begin plans of improvement.  Targets gives clear and defendable expectations for all the individuals who are team members in the program. The outcome data gives each person knowledge of where they would like to be or are there. 


When we can take history of outcomes with the variables needed to be measured and create a mean score of how everyone has done in the past will establish a benchmark. It is necessary to keep these cohort measuring periods in the same time calculations to experience school improvement in performance.  Three years of data validates its value to create benchmarks.

Every course and every program will be in the current measuring time period to view both individual growth, course and program. As expectations grow with higher attainments the performing curves begin to change.

Schools who have put the process into place at all levels have experienced student retention, attendance and success. The level of the functioning school will always have potential of growth in measured outcomes. The benchmarks change as the school improves from its own averages. Each school becomets there own change agents of success.

School reports created from this process becomes meaningful with action plans derived from discussions between the participants for growth activities.


Professional development is an outgrowth of the individual meetings and recognizing those who have exceeded expectations communicating their styles and techniques. These activities produces a new value added for students, performance of students is higher, provides for better teacher synergy, better student retention, student completion, attendance improved, student satisfaction improved, teacher satisfaction improved and competencies of students and teachers reach higher levels. A known process that has a professional component that works with a diagnosis and plan of treatment.

The plans have resulted in teacher mentor programs, teacher shadowing, recognition of outstanding performers, on boarding new teachers, teacher training programs, curriculum review and improvement and scheduled program reviews and refresh. 

Professionals are granted quality time to have meaningful discussions and individualized support. Challenges now become more reachable and reasonable. The school mission is shared by everyone. Attitudes revolve around empathy and caring.


Over the past eight years it has been a pleasure to assist schools in putting this process in place. It is not hard to understand how this places a solid foundation of success that can be substantiated for schools. Under the guise of the Better Business Bureau we have achieved a purpose that would surpass any review by a consumer protection oversite. This program is the one which considers internal and external customers. 


Leadership in the schools makes the difference. Progress is governed by the willingness to support your professionals with the appropriate support.

The success for the future of your schools relies on the ability to adapt to a new world of education content, students and governance. Let this process help your transitions.


GCARLSON INC. email: gary@gcarlson-inc.com/317-258-3401