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Designing Measurable Solutions

A guide for schools and systems seeking to design and measure new pilots or programs


Measuring the implementation of any new pilot, program, or prototype can feel daunting - no matter how small. This planning guide will walk you through the process of designing a measurable solution and help you to collect data along the way. 

Before you begin...

As illustrated below, all measurement projects essentially follow the same pathway.

Measurement Process: 1. Purpose & Objectives, 2. Research Questions, 3. Research Methods, 4. Measurement Design, 5. Data Collection & Analysis, and 6. Synthesize Findings The Purpose of your project is to understand whether your proposed solution leads to an improvement.

Your Objectives will align with what you are trying to learn. An example objective could be: "examine the effects of adding more social time to advisory period on students’ sense of belonging."

As you design your solution to meet your objectives, the answer to your Research Questions will let you understand the effects.

The activities in this guide will help you to identify your Measurement Methods, walk you through your Measurement Design, and support you with Data Collection and Analysis as well as Synthesizing Findings.

Each activity in this planning guide has been designed based on three major assumptions:

  1. Everything is based on the problem that you seek to solve or improvement that you hope to introduce;
  2. The measurement, prototyping, and piloting process is iterative (not linear); and
  3. When in doubt, collect more data.

Activity #1: Three Essential Questions to Guide Improvement

Estimated Time: 10 minutes

Three essential questions should guide the design of any new improvement:

  1. What specific problem are we trying to solve?
  2. What change might we introduce and why?
  3. How will we know if the change led to an improvement?

These same questions can be used to guide the design of a measurable solution. Use the table in this activity document below to organize your thinking before jumping straight into the design of your solution.

Activity #2: Identify Your Stakeholders

Estimated Time: 15 minutes

Every district, school, classroom (virtual and in-person), and student has a unique context and culture. In this activity, you are going to identify all of the stakeholders who could influence whether or not the program, pilot, or tool that you want to introduce will actually lead to your desired outcomes. This activity will prompt you to consider all of the people who could influence and/or be impacted by the solution you want to design.

Activity #3: Determine What Improvement Looks Like

Estimated Time: 30 minutes

Imagine that your solution has been an incredible success. Think about what has changed, what has been improved, and how you would know. This activity prompts you to describe the observable effects and includes links to two other options for measuring continuous improvement.

Activity #4: Design the Logic of Your Solution

Estimated Time: 45 minutes

You have already identified the whywho, and what of your solution. In this step, we will determine the how by designing a logic model to support implementation design and measurement.

A logic model is a graphical representation of the relationships between the resources and activities that will become part of your solution and the intended outcomes. Think of it as a visual representation of your theory of action (also known as an overarching "if-then statement"). By creating a logic model, you will have a common frame of reference for designing, implementing, measuring, and communicating about your solution.

This activity will take a bit of time, but will ultimately serve as the framework for your data collection and analysis. Use the document below to design a logic model to support your pilot, program, or prototype.

Activity #5: Collect Your Data

Estimated time: Ongoing

Now that you have mapped out the outcomes you hope to achieve and the logic of your solution, the last step is to determine whether your solution has led to an improvement. To do this, you are going to need to collect data to measure your progress.

Data can be collected quantitatively (as numbers), qualitatively (as observations or stories), or both. This activity will help you design a data-collection plan to gather evidence about each aspect of your logic model (i.e., Inputs, Activities, Outputs, and Outcomes) using a variety of measurement tools.

Activity #6: Chart Your Measurement Journey

Estimated Time: Ongoing

To facilitate analyzing and synthesizing your data, it can be helpful to chart your measurement journey along the way. In addition to capturing data before and after the implementation of a solution to understand what changed, it is also critical to document the process that occurred. This activity will encourage you to make observations before, during, and after you implement your solution.

Strategy Resources

Activity: Identify Your Stakeholders

This activity helps you to identify all of the stakeholders who could influence and/or... Learn More

Activity: Determine What Improvement Looks Like

Before designing a measurement plan, first think about what improvement might look like. This activity... Learn More

Activity: Design the Logic of Your Solution

A logic model is a visual representation of a theory of action (also referred... Learn More

Activity: Collect Your Data

This activity will help you identify measurement tools to help you collect data as part... Learn More

Activity: Chart Your Measurement Journey

To facilitate analyzing and synthesizing the data associated with the implementation of a new program... Learn More