How are our Students Doing? Student Learning Despite Disruption

Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.

– Dale Carnegie

As leaders make difficult decisions to create the best possible conditions for learning during constant change and disruption, we also face another emerging challenge. There is growing fear among the public that students may be experiencing irreparable learning loss. What do we do when students’ learning slows or regresses? What do we do if that doesn’t work? In this roundtable, Dr. Kathy Oropallo shares how to apply an improvement cycle to address learning gaps that have arisen this year, especially to inform your plans for the year ahead.

In the roundtable and the discussion, Kathy challenged leaders to think about the factors that have influenced learning success prior to the pandemic compared to now:

  • How do you define and cascade beliefs and values around student success across all levels of your system?
  • How do you or can you avoid making assumptions about the factors impacting each student’s ability to learn and progress?
  • What are some ways you can take a deep dive into understanding areas that might improve the likelihood for each student to be successful?

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Roundtable Resources

PDSA Model

Plan Do Study Act | 9P

How do you know if the change is an improvement? Plan, Do, Study, Act, or PDSA, is a four-stage model used to test and implement system-wide improvement. The PDSA model supports organizations that strive for continuous improvement. PDSA is a helpful tool in this on-going journey to make each system within an organization function at levels of excellence.

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Short Cycle Improvement Process Questions | 9P

It is important to review how results trend every 30 days. Ask these specific questions to achieve a greater understanding of actions and results trending at or above goal and to guide adjustments for those areas in need of improvement.

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Leader Action Planning with 30-45-60-Day Huddles | 9P

When we focus on everything, we accomplish nothing. It’s critical to an organization’s success that we identify the actions we should focus on that will lead to the greatest results.

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Improvement Cycles to Sustain Progress

Student learning gaps and disparities are caused by multiple internal and external factors. Whether we are facing immense disruption or not, combating learning loss first requires the development of a clear problem definition and understanding of the root cause. Deploy improvement cycles to sustain progress and address learning loss and disparities.


Toolkits are developed by our experts to guide leaders with a framework for complex solutions. View and download our interactive toolkits on communicating using the Execution Triangle, results rollout, execution and improvement, crisis communication and more.

Future Roundtable Sessions

Each week, our coaches lead a discussion with a community of leaders who are facing similar challenges. These 60-minute sessions are free and allow opportunities to learn from expert leadership coaches and have candid conversations with other leaders about barriers, share successful practices and re-center on what works.

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progress to combat learning lossA parent teaching her child on a map about the continents