DeKalb County School District


Theory of Action for Change

The essence of the DeKalb County School District's "Theory of Action for Change" is to transform the school district from a system consisting of singular pockets of high-performance areas into a district-wide School System of Excellence. In order to achieve systemwide excellence, the Board of Education shall be fully committed to a process of managed instruction and performance/empowerment for the operation of schools as determined by appropriate criteria. Complementary to this commitment is the implementation of an aligned management system for continuous improvement and differentiated compensation and recognition based on demonstrated effectiveness for student growth and achievement.

Role of the Board of Education

The Board of Education will support the "Theory of Action for Change" by:

  • establishing Board of Education policies
  • establishing district-wide vision, mission, and goals
  • fostering a positive culture for high performance
  • supporting the school district's accountability system
  • supporting a differentiated staffing model and allocation of resources
  • providing sufficient capacity in facilities, systems, and resources

Managed Instruction

This "Theory of Action for Change" is based on the belief that to significantly improve student achievement, districts must directly manage instruction for schools that are struggling to meet performance targets. Building on academic content and performance standards, the school system will construct a curriculum that covers every subject for every grade in elementary and middle school and every course in high school. The curriculum will be coherent, aligned, and detailed down to individual lesson plans, required teaching materials, and sample assessments. Professional development will be focused on the curriculum and how to teach it. Teaching will be continually monitored and formative assessments will be frequently used to inform instructional progress and a need for change. A comprehensive student information management system, which tracks student performance connected to the individual teacher and all student information data, will be accessible in a user-friendly data management system.


The "Theory of Action for Change" associated with performance/empowerment focuses on results, results which can be measured in the form of predetermined performance indicators of change which are evident in leading and lagging outcomes. Employee behaviors of empowerment evidence accountability, collaboration, and a drive for results. In addition, employee leadership at all levels of the organizational unit must prevail in the decision making process. Under these conditions, both power and authority to act are resident at the school level.

As indicated, performance/empowerment opens the door to local school management of resources based on best practices and collaboration among the teachers, administrators, and stakeholders of the school. This designation and authorization allows schools that have demonstrated performance proficiency at specified levels to manage the operation of the school in leading academic effectiveness. For example, within an established framework, principals are given latitude to (a) build and manage all budgets that impact their schools; (b) select and approve staff; and (c) identify and select appropriate student activities and opportunities based on high expectations, student interest, and opportunities to build capacity for the future.

Aligned Management System for Continuous Improvement

An aligned management system for continuous improvement facilitates building a culture of accountability, which provides a means to manage, monitor, and measure the strategic plan activities. It will also facilitate communication with full transparency about activities and progress to DeKalb County School District stakeholders. This system is reflective of W. Edwards Deming's Total Quality Management theory, a Plan-Do-Check-Act process for ongoing operational effectiveness and improvement.

Differentiated Compensation and Recognition

Human capital is the greatest investment in our school system and compensation is the most significant component of a school system's budget. Enhancing the way employees are compensated and recognized for effectiveness is a powerful means of bringing about congruency between employee and school system goals. Differentiated compensation and recognition of this sort must be strategically sound, well planned and executed, and accompanied by a fair and just accountability system.

The Superintendent shall interpret and lead the implementation of the Board of Education's policy with regards to the "Theory of Action for Change." Status reports shall be provided to the Board of Education and the public on a regular basis as a means of clearly communicating school system progress and in doing so provide for full transparency.