Appendix B: Methods

PUSD was identified by several professional organizations and agencies as a district we should consider for this study as it was seen in the forefront of teacher-led learning. District size and geography were taken into account in selecting PUSD, along with a set of additional districts throughout the state.
The study was organized around a specific set of questions developed in tandem with program officers at the Stuart and Silver Giving Foundations:

  1. How do teachers learn about instructional strategies that meet the demands of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and NGSS?
  2. How do schools and district professional development offices organize to support the diffusion of these instructional strategies?
  3. How are teachers, schools, and districts evaluating instructional programs and assessments relative to the standards and needs of students?
  4. What strategies are most effective for reaching vulnerable student communities such as low-income students, English Learners, and foster youth?

The research team reviewed a variety of district-produced documents including the district’s LCAP, strategic plan, budget, student outcome data, and a pre-visit survey completed by district officials. The research team then conducted a two-day site visit to the district and school sites within PUSD, followed by a series of follow-up visits that spanned a 19-month period (May 2017 to January 2019). We interviewed more than 50 stakeholders, including students, teachers, principals, district officials, union representatives, school board trustees, and community members.

Summary of Interviewees:

Education Stakeholders

Totals (N=53)



Principals/Site Administrators


Labor Partners


Central Office Staff






The research team transcribed and analyzed all interview notes and produced an in-depth case study, focused on a particular set of themes related to positive student outcomes for PUSD. Based upon an initial review of the interviews, codes were developed: evidence of impact, time, teacher ownership of learning, measuring progress, student engagement, parent engagement, learning for instructional shifts, equity, dissemination of best practices, formal evaluation, and culture of “how things are done in my school.” These codes allowed the research team to organize the 53 interviews to map out patterns of responses and evidence of impact.

With each interview the research team developed a summary memo with attention to patterns, themes, relationships, or concepts that emerged and how they would relate to student learning evidence. These summaries as well as the coded interview data, document reviews, and school/classroom observations then informed the narrative we presented in this policy research report.