At edCount, all of our work is driven by two key questions: “What question are we trying to answer? What problem are we trying to solve?”
In some cases, clients may approach us with a concrete, specific plan or request; in other cases, we may collaborate with the client to help them articulate exactly what it is they want or need. In all cases, once we have a clear sense of the client’s needs and objectives, we define a theory of action (TOA) to clarify how these needs and objectives are meant to relate to each other and to other salient characteristics of a client’s education system.
Using the TOA as a framework, we identify the assumptions that underlie key system components.
- If specific resources are assumed to be in place, are they truly in place and accessible to teachers, students, parents, or other target stakeholders?
- If critical policies have been established, are they implemented effectively across system levels?
- If assessments and other data sources are meant to yield technically sound information, do they?
- Is this information interpreted and used appropriately?
Through consideration of questions such as these, we identify a client’s priorities and a matching course of action. Based on the results of this process, we create a scope of work that is both tailored to the client’s specific needs and also incorporates edCount’s expertise from years of working as and for education practitioners in a diverse array of settings.
This theory of action provides a broad representation of the logic underlying almost any education system. Each box contains a statement describing part of the system; each statement represents a claim about the system that encompasses one or more testable assumptions. The white boxes represent the system’s three primary claims and the blue box in the upper rightmost corner represents the assessment system’s ultimate goal (that all students leave high school ready for college and careers). The arrows show the conditional relationships between these claims.
Although the specific wording of some claims may change slightly for work that focuses on special populations, and not all claims will be relevant or important for all clients, all of edCount’s project work can be mapped onto this theory of action. That is, for any need, question, or concern that a client brings to us, we create and implement a scope of work based largely on the flow of logic represented in this graphic.