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Assets and strengths


Pioneering work by David Cooperrider at Case Western University has shown that identifying and building on system strengths leads to quicker and more positive changes. The Appreciative Inquiry (Cooperrider, 1990, Cooperrider & Whitney, 2005) or Strengths-based Inquiry processes (Daly & Chrispeels, 2005), as we call it, is a form of organizational study that has been tested in thousands of businesses and organizations around the world.  This action research process can be used to engage a few to over a thousand members collaboratively in inquiry into what is best in their system, and then exploring and discovering how these assets can be tapped to achieve new possibilities.


The four steps involve:

  • Discover: Identifying, often through stories, peak experiences or times when organizational members were most successful at achieving what is desired and learning what already works well in the organization

  • Dream: Imagining the future.

  • Design: Planning and prioritizing processes that would work well to achieve the dream by building on current strengths and assets

  • Destiny or Delivery: Implementing and bringing to fruition the proposed designsTIDES has used a strengths-based approach with many school districts to foster change and combines these processes with those of Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey (2001) How the Way we Talk Can Change the Way we Work: Seven Languages for Transformation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.  See Commitments and Counter-commitments definition for more information.


Cooperrider, D.L. (1990). Positive Image, Positive Action: The Affirmative Basis of Organizing. In S. Srivastva & D. L. Cooperrider (Eds.). Appreciative Management and leadership: The power of positive thought and action in organizations. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.


Cooperrider, D. L. & Whitney, D., (2005). Appreciative Inquiry: A positive revolution in change. In P. Holman & T. Devane (Eds.), The change Handbook, pp 245-263. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.


Daly, A. J. & Chrispeels, J. H. (2005). From Problem to Possibility: Leadership for Implementing and Deepening the Processes of Effective Schools. Journal for Effective Schools, 4(1), 7-25.


Effective Schools and Districts

Effective Schools and Districts



Over thirty years of research on Effective Schools guides the work of TIDES.  The Effective Schools Correlates when fully implemented serve as a strong foundation for helping schools close the achievement gap and move all students to high levels of performance (Chrispeels, 1992; Edmonds, 1979; Levine & Lezotte, 1990; Taylor, 1990; Teddlie & Reynolds, 2000; Teddlie & Stringfield, 1993).  These correlates provide an essential framework for addressing 21st century student learning needs.  

More recent research shows that these correlates are also significant to district effectiveness.  The chart below summarizes and compares the correlates/factors found in both effective districts and effective schools. Effective schools studies show that students must be engaged in challenging and meaningful learning activities. Studies of effective districts also indicate that district directives to schools must be balanced with school autonomy, but less is known about how to achieve this balance.

Chrispeels, J. H. (1992). Purposeful restructuring: Creating a Culture of Achievement in Elementary Schools.  London: Falmer Press.

Edmonds, R. J. (1979). Effective schools for the urban poor. Educational Leadership, 37(10), 15-24.Levine, D. U., & Lezotte, L. W. (1990). Unusually Effective Schools: A Review and Analysis of Research and Practice. Madison, WI: National Center for Effective Schools Research and Development.Taylor, B. O. (Ed.). Case studies in Effective Schools Research, Madison, WI: National Center for Effective Schools Research and Development.Teddlie, C. & Reynolds, D. (Eds.) (2000). The International Handbook of School Effectiveness.  London: Falmer Press.Teddlie, C. & Stringfield, S. (1993). Schools Make a Difference: Lessons Learned from a 10-Year Study of School Effects. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

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