The K20 Center IDEALS Framework

The K20 Center’s IDEALS framework sets the stage for the ten research-based practices linked directly to high student achievement. IDEALS is an acronym for Inquiry, Discourse, Equity, Authenticity, Leadership, and Service.



INQUIRY is the cyclical process in which learning communities engage in translating data into actions that inform instruction 1 by leveraging relevant data sources 2 and new knowledge in the form of research and external expertise 3 to generate and implement an innovation 4 to improve learner achievement, engagement, and/or empowerment. 5, 6



DISCOURSE brings participants together in intentional conversations 7 as part of a high-trust community 8 to share and examine their practices 9 in a continuous cycle 10 of improvement for all learners. 11


EQUITY is a fair and just principle which strives to ensure that the individual needs of all students are met, regardless of background 20, 21 and that holds high expectations for all students, 22 adjusting for differentiation and  personalization based on needs. 18


AUTHENTICITY is a framework for meaningful, student-centered learning 25 in which individuals build on what they already know to create deep knowledge 24 as they engage in relevant learning tasks, problems, and challenges 27 guided by focused conversations grounded in the use of essential questions. 26


LEADERSHIP is the process of working collaboratively within a culture of interdependence and trust 28, 29 to foster inclusive practices and dialogue 28, 29 which serves to articulate and pursue a shared vision for growth and learning 32, 34, 35 for all stakeholders.


SERVICE encourages active engagement, civic responsibility and reflection 36, 37, 40 within a reciprocal relationship between students, faculty, and the community 38 to address community and school needs, through meaningful opportunities for learning and collaboration. 39

1 Mandinach, E. B., Gummer, E. S., & Muller, R. D. (2011). The complexities of integrating data-driven decision making into professional preparation in schools of education: It’s harder than you think. In Report from an invitational meeting.

2 Carlson, D., Borman, G. D., & Robinson, M. (2011). A multistate district-level cluster randomized trial of the impact of data-driven reform on reading and mathematics achievement. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 33(3), 378-398.

3 Anderson, S., Leithwood, K., & Strauss, T. (2010). Leading data use in schools: Organizational conditions and practices at the school and district levels. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 9(3), 292-327.

4 Hamilton, L., Halverson, R., Jackson, S., Mandinach, E., Supovitz, J., & Wayman, J. (2009). Using student achievement data to support instructional decision making (NCEE 2009-4067). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from

5 Mandinach, E.B. & Gummer, E.S. (2013). A systemic view of implementing data literacy in educator preparation. Educational Researcher, 42(1), 30-37.

6 Copland, M. A. (2003). Leadership of inquiry: Building and sustaining capacity for school improvement. Educational evaluation and policy analysis, 25(4), 375-395.

7 Anderson, S., Leithwood, K., & Strauss, T. (2010). Leading data use in schools: Organizational conditions and practices at the school and district levels. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 9(3), 292-327.

8 Fairhurst, G. T., & Grant, D. (2010). The social construction of leadership: A sailing guide. Management Communication Quarterly, 24(2), 171-210.

9 Gallimore, R., Ermeling, B. A., Saunders, W. M., & Goldenberg, C. (2009). Moving the learning of teaching closer to practice: Teacher education implications of school‐based inquiry teams. The elementary school journal, 109(5), 537-553.

10 Juzwik, M.M., Sherry, M.B., Caughlan, S., Heintz, A. & Borsheim-Black, C. (2012). Supporting Dialogically Organized Instruction in an English Teacher Preparation Program

11 Moller, J. (2009). School Leadership in an Age of Accountability: Tensions between Managerial and Professional Accountability. Journal Of Educational Change, 10(1), 37-46.

12 Nelson, T. H., Deuel, A., Slavit, D., & Kennedy, A. (2010). Leading deep conversations in collaborative inquiry groups. The Clearing House, 83(5), 175-179.

13 Schlechty, P. C. (2011). Leading for learning: How to transform schools into learning organizations. John Wiley & Sons.

14 Senge, P. M., Cambron-McCabe, N., Lucas, T., Smith, B., & Dutton, J. (2012). Schools That Learn (Updated and Revised): A Fifth Discipline Fieldbook for Educators, Parents, and Everyone Who Cares About Education. Random House Digital, Inc..

15 Servage, L. (2009). Who is the “professional” in a professional learning community? An exploration of teacher professionalism in collaborative professional development settings. Canadian Journal of Education, 32(1), 149-171.  

16 Ugwuadu, O.R. (2013)Effects of democratic and autocratic discourse patterns on student achievement in biology in MUBI educational zone of Adamawa State.  IOSR Journal of Research and Method in Education. 2(3) 18-23).

17 Vogus, T. J., Rothman, N. B., Sutcliffe, K. M., & Weick, K. E. (2014). The affective foundations of high‐reliability organizing. Journal of Organizational Behavior.

18 Espinoza, O. (2007). Solving the equity-equality conceptual dilemma: A new model for analysis of the educational process. Educational Research, 49(4), 343-363.

19 Groenke, S.L. (2010). Seeing, inquiring, witnessing: Using equity audit in practitioner inquiry to rethink inequity in public schools. English Education, 43(1), 83-96. 

20 Hemmer, L. (2010). Teachers enactment of equity in alternative schools: A critical discourse analysis. Journal of Contemporary Issues in Education, 6(2).

21 Jordan, W. (2010). Defining equity: Multiple perspectives to analyzing the performance of  diverse learners. Review of Research in Education, 34, 142-178.

22 Tomlinson, C.A. & Javius, E.L. (2012). Teach up for Excellence. Educational Leadership, 69(5), 28-33.

23 Waitoller, F.R. & Artiles, A.J.  (2013). A Decade of Professional Development Research for Inclusive Education:A Critical Review and Notes for a Research Program. Review of Educational Research, 83, 319-336.

24 Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (2000). How people learn (pp. 285-348). J. D. Bransford (Ed.). Washington, DC: National Academy Press. 

25 Newmann, F. M., King, M. B., & Carmichael, D. L. (2007). Authentic instruction and assessment: Common standards for rigor and relevance in teaching academic subjects. Des Moines, IA: Iowa Department of Education. Retrieved June, 24(24), 2011.

26 McTighe, J., & Wiggins, G. P. (2013). Essential questions: Opening doors to student understanding. Ascd.

27 Strobel, J., Wang, J., Weber, N. R., & Dyehouse, M. (2013). The role of authenticity in design-based learning environments: The case of engineering education. Computers & Education, 64, 143-152.

28 Brown, L. M., Whitaker, B. L., & Brungardt, C. L. (2012). A Proposed Framework for Global Leadership Education: Learning Objectives and Curricula. Journal of Leadership Education, 11(2), 214-225.          

29 Howe, K. R., & Meens, D. E. (2012). Democracy left behind:  How recent education reforms undermine local school governance and democratic education. In D.Weitzman (Ed.). Boulder, CO: National Education Policy Center.  Retrieved April 13, 2013 from          

30 Marks, H. M. & Printy, S.M. (2006).  Shared leadership for teacher and student learning.  Theory Into Practice. 45(2), 125-132.  Retrieved from 

31 Robinson, V. M. J. (2010). From instructional leadership to leadership capabilities: Empirical findings and methodological challenges. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 9(1), 1-26.

32 Sharratt, L. & Fullan, M. (February, 2013).  Capture the human side of learning: Data makeover puts students front and center .  Staff Development Journal. 34(1), 45-48.  Retrieved from

33 Slater, L. (2008). Pathways to building leadership capacity. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 36(1), 55-69. 

34 Wahlstrom, K. L., Seashore Louis, K., Leithwood, K. Anderson, S.E. (2010). Investigating the Links to Improved Student Learning: Executive summary of research findings.  Learning from Leadership Project.  Retrieved from 

35 Waters, J.T. & Marzano, R.J. (2009).  School district leadership that works:  Striking the right balance.  Bloomington, IN:  Solution Tree Press.

36 Ash, S. L., & Clayton, P. H. (2004). The Articulated Learning: An Approach to Guided Reflection and Assessment. Innovative Higher Education, 29(2), 137-154.

37 Billig, S. H.(May, 2000). Research on school-based service learning: The evidence builds.  Phi Delta Kappan, 658-664.

38 d'Arlach, L., Sánchez, B., & Feuer, R. (2009). Voices from the Community: A Case for Reciprocity in Service-Learning. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 16(1), 5-16.

39 Felten, P., & Clayton, P. H. (2011). Service-learning. New Directions For Teaching & Learning, 2011(128), 75-84. doi:10.1002/tl.470

40 Molee, L. M., Henry, M. E., Sessa, V. I., & McKinney-Prupis, E. R. (2010). Assessing Learning in Service-Learning Courses Through Critical Reflection. Journal Of Experiential Education, 33(3), 239-257.