You are here

Schools Can Change

Schools Can Change
A Step-by-Step Change Creation System for Building Innovative Schools and Increasing Student Learning

  • Dale W. Lick - Florida State University Learning Systems Institute and Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
  • Karl H. Clauset - National Whole-Faculty Study Groups Center
  • Carlene U. Murphy - National Whole-Faculty Study Groups Center

Foreword by Carlene U. Murphy

Additional resources:

January 2013 | 256 pages | Corwin
When it comes to school improvement, there is no silver bullet. Genuine effective school improvement requires leaders and teachers to be part of a broad-based, creative change system that focuses on generating improved teacher practices for enhancing student learning. Based on more than two decades of success with the Whole Faculty Study Group (WFSG) approach to professional learning, this leading-edge guide provides educators with a step-by-step, systemic change creation approach for:

Forming action teams to develop teaching and learning approaches that measurably improve student performance

Nurturing the right leadership, vision, culture, and relationships within schools for innovation and creativity

The companion website includes practical online resources, including templates, checklists, action team assessment forms, and an action team rubric.

List of Figures and Tables
Online Resources
Purpose and Need

Who Should Read and Use This Book?

Organization and Contents

About the Authors
1. The Change Creation System
School Improvement

School Reforms

The Roots of the Change Creation System

No Silver Bullet, One Brick at a Time

Standards for Professional Learning and Practice

The Change Creation System


Part I. Fundamentals of Effectiveness
2. Fundamentals of Effectiveness for School Improvement
Understanding the Culture

Culture of Discipline

Culture of Change Creation

Culture of Relationships and Collaboration

Culture of Transformational Leadership

Cultural Change


3. Fundamentals of Vision and Successful Change


Success and Failure of Change

Effective Sponsorship in Schools

Change and Resistance in Schools

Universal Change Principle for Schools


4. Fundamentals for Creating Learning Teams and Professional Learning Communities
Collaboration and Teamwork

Action Teams and Professional Learning Communities

Authentic Teams and Synergy

Comentoring Teams

Learning Teams

Professional Learning Communities


Part II. The Process of the Change Creation System
5. Introducing the Decision-Making Cycle
Action Teams Decision-Making Cycle

Preparing to Start the Decision-Making Cycle


6. Identifying Student Learning Needs and Forming Action Teams
Student Learning Needs That Action Teams Address

How to Identify Student Learning Needs

Form Action Teams and Select Student Needs to Address

Selecting Student Needs to Address

Support for Identifying Student Needs and Forming Action Teams


7. Introducing Action Teams
Action Teams in the Change Creation System

The Work of Action Teams

Purposes of Action Teams

Action Team Principles

Action Team Process Guidelines

Effective Action Team Meetings

Action Teams as a Bundle of Changes


8. Support for Action Teams
Keep the Focus on Student Learning

Protect Time for Action Team Meetings

Establish Routines

Provide Regular, Frequent, and Constructive Feedback to Action Teams

Understand the Developmental Stages of Action Teams

Help Struggling Teams Move Forward

Develop Communication Networks and Strategies to Share Action Teams' Work and Results

Form Administrator Action Teams


9. Creating Team Action Plans
Team Action Plan

Creating Team Action Plans

Support for Action Teams on Their Team Action Plans and Logs


10. Implementing Learning and Inquiry Cycles for Innovation and Improving Student Learning: Parts 1 and 2
Implementing Learning and Inquiry Cycles

Supporting Learning and Inquiry Cycles for Innovation and Student Learning


11. Implementing Learning and Inquiry Cycles for Innovation and Improving Student Learning: Parts 3 and 4
Implementing Learning and Inquiry Cycles

Supporting Learning and Inquiry Cycles for Innovation and Student Learning


12. Assessing the Impact of Action Teams and Sharing Results and Best Practices
Assessing the Impact of Action Teams on Teacher Practice and Student Learning

Sharing Results and Best Practices and Applying Lessons Learned

Repeating the Decision-Making Cycle Each Year

Supporting Assessing the Impact of Action Teams and Sharing Results and Best Practices




"The Change Creation System is an empowerment of professional educators who want to meet the learning needs of their students and inform their own practice. Finally, a call to reform by a collaboration of school professionals who develop best practice for the students in their own schools. This is an informed work that provides a step by step process for school wide renewal and individual professional development as it appeals to the best that is within us and students."

Sherry Markel, Professor, Teacher Education
Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ

"This book will become an essential resource to school districts as they continue to develop capacity to lead students and staff to greater levels of effectiveness. This book will take all of us from where we are and move us to make greater differences for our students."

Claudia Thompson, Academic Officer, Learning and Teaching
Peninsula School District, Gig Harbor, WA

"In a changing world, our schools must change, but far too often administrators do not know how to make the changes necessary to keep up with the rapidly developing world. This book offers a wealth of resources, practical experience and a direct model for how to change to meet the needs of learners. This book is a "must read" for any administrator who wants to make a long-lasting impact on the learning outcomes in his or her school."

Renee Peoples, Teacher
Swain West Elementary, Bryson City, NC

"This is the most comprehensive book on the topic of school change ever written. The suggested practices and strategies at various stages create a comprehensive, meaningful text. This book helps us gain practical wisdom at all levels in our districts and schools."

Lyne Ssebikindu, Assistant Principal
Crump Elementary School, Cordova, TN

"If school communities are looking for a comprehensive road map for school improvement, they will not find anything more comprehensive. The authors not only set out a plan on how to get to where you need to go, but they identify every small pothole that you will encounter, and which can sometimes derail school improvement. This book in two words—comprehensive, authentic."

Neil MacNeill, Headmaster
Ellenbrook Independent Primary School, Ellenbrook, WA Australia

"This text should be required reading for all future principals and found on the desk of all current school leaders. Promoting school improvement in teaching, learning and student performance is the leaders mantra today. The process of change in schools is complex, however this step-by-step manual provides leaders with the tools they need to improve academic performance. It is comprehensive and rich in detail but more importantly, it provides the roadmap and details for success."

Harriet Gould, Adjunct Professor
Concordia University, Lincoln, NE

"The authors' work with the change creation system is significant. Far too many good initiatives fall short or are abandoned due to lack of planning and exclusion of important stakeholders. Lick, Clauset and Murphy, in a very matter of fact style, tell us of the consequences of change, the time involved, and how to build a sustainable culture over time. They don’t pretend that it is easy, but give the educator confidence that it can be done."

Eddie Ingram, Superintendent
Franklin County Schools, Louisburg, NC

"Our school has used the Whole Faculty Study Groups for the past decade, and this book updates the model with relevance to the current changes happening in public education. For schools or districts looking to improve their current delivery of professional development, Schools Can Change is a proven system that works!"

David Wilm, Principal
Matthews Middle School, Island Lake, IL

"Schools Can Change is like a good novel that you can’t put down, one in which you want to go over the key parts again and again. It is full of sound advice and a very good cross section of proven practices on educational change. We look forward to using a number of the suggested strategies with our staffs in the years to come."

Don Boyd and Jessica Antosz, Principals
Ballenas Secondary School and Nanoose Bay Elementary School, British Columbia

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1: The Change Creation System


For instructors

This book is not available as an inspection copy. For more information contact your local sales representative.

Purchasing options

Please select a format:

ISBN: 9781412998741

SAGE Knowledge is the ultimate social sciences digital library for students, researchers, and faculty. Hosting more than 4,400 titles, it includes an expansive range of SAGE eBook and eReference content, including scholarly monographs, reference works, handbooks, series, professional development titles, and more.

The platform allows researchers to cross-search and seamlessly access a wide breadth of must-have SAGE book and reference content from one source.

SAGE Knowledge brings together high-quality content from across our imprints, including CQ Press and Corwin titles.