The Internal Coherence Framework: Creating the Conditions for Continuous Improvement in Schools

The Internal Coherence Framework: Creating the Conditions for Continuous Improvement in Schools cover
January 17, 2017
Michelle L. Forman
Elizabeth Leisy Stosich
Candice Bocala
Foreword by Richard F. Elmore
Harvard Education Press

The Internal Coherence Framework presents a system of research-based practices for assessing and developing the conditions that support adult and student learning in schools.

Internal coherence is defined as the ability of educators in a school or system to connect and align resources to carry out an improvement strategy, engage in collective learning, and use that learning to provide students with richer educational opportunities. The internal coherence framework featured in the book brings together three important domains of research: leadership for learning, organizational improvement, and instructional efficacy. 

School or system leaders who progress through this book with colleagues will develop a shared vision for ambitious teaching and learning anchored in the instructional core; organize the work of the leadership and teacher teams to advance this vision; and build psychologically safe team, school, and system cultures to support the risk taking and constructive challenges necessary to move schools or systems to the next level of performance.

At the heart of the book is a survey and rubric that can help schools better understand their strengths and weaknesses and the kinds of resources they need to support student learning. The book blends theory and practice to bring tested wisdom to bear on critical issues of education leadership and professional learning.

"A growing body of evidence now supports the view that placing strong curriculum and instruction at the core of school improvement efforts and building capacity to continuously improve that core is the secret to increasing school performance. The Internal Coherence Framework: Creating the Conditions for Continuous Improvement in Schools offers teachers and educational leaders chapter and verse on how best to create focused and effective continuous improvement and collaboration efforts. I heartily recommend this book to those striving to improve the quality of education in  their schools." 

Bill Honig, Former California State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Book co-author Elizabeth Leisy Stosich, EdD, is a SCOPE Research and Policy Fellow who began her career as a language arts teacher in the Oakland CA Unified School District. While teaching in Oakland, she became interested in school leadership and effective school teams. Her interest grew to become the focus of her graduate research work, where she developed an understanding of the history, needs, and conditions supporting continuous improvement in schools that are serving the most vulnerable students.  

Her research into continuous school improvement focused on three key questions: 

  • How are team members empowered and supported? 
  • What are the key responsibilities for teachers, principals, and superintendents? 
  • What does shared leadership look like in action? 

Since completing her EdD at Harvard, she has focused on the practical deployment of research through work with teachers and administrators, helping schools and districts apply research to daily work.



Michelle L. Forman works as a consultant helping schools and districts develop internal coherence. Candice Bocala is a senior research associate at WestEd, where she studies data use in education, professional learning, school improvement, and special education.