CA Group serves as a problem-solving partner for schools and districts.

At CA Group, we utilize a unique set of activities, protocols, and tools to lead teams through the school design process.

Each step in our design process is closely tied to the one before it, ensuring that every action teams take moves them closer to an effective design. We take a developmental approach to the design process: We prototype rapidly and often, and we work with teams to refine and strengthen their ideas throughout the process. Download more information about our approach here.

1. Identify the problem and root cause.

We help teams identify specific challenges in their schools, along with the root causes beneath them. This creates a shared understanding of the why behind the work and a unified starting point for designing a solution.

2. Identify student experience design pillars and strategies.

Based on their problem statements, teams develop design pillars — visions for the future of their schools —that then guide the design process and rally their communities around the work. Rooting these pillars in a team’s problem statement ensures that work is aligned to the team’s ultimate needs. Seeing other schools in action, whether in person or virtually, often plays a key role in helping teams identify design pillars.

3. Set SMART goals.

SMART goals are short- and
long-term objectives that help teams quantify and articulate what the success of their design strategies might look like. Goals are always works in progress and are subject to regular assessment and updates.

4. Practice discovery-driven planning.

Discovery-driven planning, or DDP, is a structured process designed to help teams measure the efficacy of their design strategies against their SMART goals. Teams engage in DDP regularly and tweak their models according to their DDP findings. Regular DDP solidifies the cultural routine of looking back in order to look ahead and refine the pilot.

5. Provide ongoing support.

Our process is designed to be iterative, and teams continue developing and prototyping new ideas even after their model is launched. Our goal is that by the end of our work together, every team we support has the skills, experience, and tools internally to continue problem-solving, innovating, and designing for the long term.

As an engagement concludes, we establish check-ins around certain milestones to ensure that teams continue to progress toward their goals. If a team encounters a particularly difficult challenge, we step in on an as-needed basis to offer extra support.

Design Studios

Design studios are group workshops that help teams define and refine the critical elements of their pilot work. Highly personalized, these workshops typically focus on critical elements of a team’s work at a specific point in time, so topics can vary widely — from building a common understanding of the core elements of a reimagined student experience to exploring new understandings of a specific design pillar. Design studios prioritize both inter- and intra-team connections and provide safe spaces for team members to dig into the details of their models, making them powerful tools for both kicking off the design process and re-grounding a team that has already begun its work.

Learning Expeditions and Showcase Visits

Conducted both in person and virtually, learning expeditions are facilitated opportunities for teams to observe new school models and specific design pillars in action — and, most importantly, in classrooms like theirs. We have learned through years of this practice that seeing is believing, and learning expeditions are among our most impactful tools for shifting teacher and team mindsets from “we might” to “we can.” In addition to motivating teams to implement new learning models, visits often help teams overcome current challenges with implementation and intentionally spotlight a variety of design pillars and strategies across elementary and high school grade levels.

Tools and Templates

CA Group develops customized tools and templates to help sites document, implement, and iterate on their design work. These resources are designed to help teams build a foundation for sustaining pilots and to leverage the initial pilots toward sustainability at scale, uniting communities around common language and goals and creating protocols and habits that support long-term independence. Materials are explicitly scaffolded, with clear throughlines and connections, so they can be reused and refined throughout the design and implementation process.

Strategic Consultation and Coaching

CA Group provides expert consultation on blended and personalized learning implementation, data driven instruction in a blended context, and other related concepts and practices. We also support leaders in identifying the need for changes in culture, systems, and processes in order for pilots to remain viable and become effective implementations. In practice, this often means helping teams problem-solve when pilot work conflicts with traditional cultural norms or existing structures and operations.