It's Not Rocket Science - A Guide to the School Improvement Cycle

With Examples From New Zealand and Australian Schools

February 2023
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February 2023
More details
  • Publisher
    Myers Education Press
  • ISBN 9781975505431
  • Language English
  • Pages 250 pp.
  • Size 6" x 9"
E-Book (ePub)
February 2023
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It's Not Rocket Science - A Guide to the School Improvement Cycle: With Examples From New Zealand and Australian Schools presents an easy-to-read, practical guide to effectively leading school improvement. It walks leaders through each step of ‘The School Improvement Cycle’ developed by Bendikson and Meyer, providing case studies, examples, and helpful tools from primary and secondary schools for the implementation of each step. The book will support school leaders in implementing improvement cycles without making the classic mistakes of failing to develop measures of improvement and test change actions before scaling up. Schools and system leaders will benefit greatly from this practical guide, in which Bendikson and Meyer demonstrate that implementing improvement cycles is not a difficult process. While the book uses examples from Australian and New Zealand schools, the lessons that the book teaches can be applied to school leaders everywhere.

The authors show how to make the complex work of improving student learning and outcomes at least somewhat simpler. They do this by describing and illustrating improvement steps that they have found to work in practice, providing examples from their work in schools to show the application of these ideas. If implemented properly, the cycles become “self-propelling,” thus reducing the cognitive load involved in planning how to improve. A range of evidence from international research and the authors’ own research and development work in schools explains the cycle and illustrate it.

The book is entitled It’s Not Rocket Science because this is the common reaction from leaders once they understand the improvement cycle process. The book is perfect for a variety of courses in Education Leadership, Professional Development, and any other curriculum devoted to improving schools and student performance.

Perfect for courses such as: Educational Leadership, Professional Development

List of Figures

List of Tables


Foreword by Helen Timperley, PhD


Chapter One: Introducing the School Improvement Cycle

Chapter Two: A Case Study of Gauguin Primary

Chapter Three: A Case Study of O’Keeffe College

Chapter Four: Defining the Problem and the Goal

Chapter Five: Developing the Theory for Improvement

Chapter Six: Narrowing the Focus to Quick Wins

Chapter Seven: Developing the Measures and Establishing the Baseline

Chapter Eight: Analysing Causes and Designing Strategies

Chapter Nine: Implementing Strategies

Chapter Ten: Checking and Refining

Chapter Eleven: Leading Improvement—The Human Side of Change

About the Authors


NOTE: Info subject to change up until publication date.

Linda Bendikson

Dr. Linda Bendikson has been involved in educational leadership in New Zealand her whole career, as a principal of a two-teacher school serving a rural Māori community, as an adviser to rural schools, as a deputy principal and then as a principal of a provincial city school in the 1990s. She went on to become a regional manager in the Ministry of Education of New Zealand for ten years whilst completing a PhD on “The Effects of Principal Instructional Leadership on Secondary School Performance” under the supervision of Professors Viviane Robinson and John Hattie at the University of Auckland. She then worked for the University of Auckland, spending eight years leading the Centre for Educational Leadership before heading into private consultancy work in 2019. Her schooling improvement and leadership development programs (Leading Teams and Leading Improvement) are delivered online to New Zealand and Australian schools. Her programs support teams of leaders to do the real work of improvement. She guides leadership teams through the process of implementing improvement cycles and effectively leading change. She has been actively involved in researching school improvement and leadership since completing her PhD, frequently publishing with Dr Frauke Meyer. Linda is a pragmatist who draws on her practical experience and her academic interests in goal theory and improvement science to support school leaders to carry out their roles more strategically and effectively. As someone who never had the benefit of leadership training until very late in her career, her mission is to improve learners’ outcomes by increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of leaders in schools and schooling systems.

Frauke Meyer

Dr. Frauke Meyer is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Auckland. She teaches and supervises students in the Master of Educational Leadership program. Frauke trained as a teacher for students with special needs in Germany, completing a master’s degree in teaching and working across schools to support their inclusion efforts. She moved to New Zealand in 2008 and completed another master’s degree and a PhD under the supervision of Professor Stuart McNaughton. Whilst working on her PhD, Frauke worked for several small to large-scale research projects in New Zealand and Australia, including as a researcher for the Centre for Educational Leadership (UACEL). She continued her work for the centre, mainly supporting the First-time Principals’ Programme, and worked closely with Distinguished Professor Viviane Robinson during these years, before taking up a lecturer position at the faculty. Her research is concerned with school improvement, school leadership, and interpersonal leadership practices. The immediate focus of her research is leadership practices that foster school improvement and create equity in outcomes. In her research, she works closely with schools and school leaders, prioritising outcomes for schools. Linda and Frauke have worked closely together at the Centre for Educational Leadership on research projects focused on school improvement projects, and in teaching at the faculty and in professional development courses. Frauke has presented and published her research internationally at conferences and in journals. Her aim is to support schools and leaders in improving equity in outcomes for their learners through effective and strategic system leadership.

school improvement; school improvement cycle; improvement science; leadership; theory for improvement; problem solving; educational leadership