The Performance Pyramid

The Performance Pyramid


The Performance Pyramid was developed by Dr. Douglas Brooks, Full Professor in the College of Education, Health and Society, to support web-based professional development for student teachers, entry year teachers and experinced professional educators.  The Performance Pyramid also supports a semester long senior capstone experience for Miami University students in the College of Education, Health and Society.  The fourndation level of the pyramid is organized to hold course content included in each of four liscensure areas.  The next level targets the language and systems of Quality Management and their relationship to Ohio Department of Education school district evaluation procedures. The remaining nine domains are research-supported concentrations.  Each domain includes content that has been reseached, organized and presented to peers in the capstone class. The logic of the pyramid structure is that if schools start by attending to student preferred learning styles they are creating data of value as long as the student is in the district. Then each domain, in sequence, adds to the information available to stakeholders.  The remaining domains of parental engagement, collaborative networks, content standards, curriculum mapping, instructional design, student test taking skills, student experience with proficiency tests and finally shared best practice will offer the best information to increase student achievement.  


                                                    Background on the Evolution of the Performance Pyramid


The Performance Pyramid was first presented in 1998 to the administrators of eight school districts that were required to develop Continuous Improvement Plans to improve Academic Emergency and Academic Watch ratings. 1998 was the first round of this planning.  This was the first round of "Continuous Planning Development" and was part of the state of Ohio's commitment to "Quality Management" processes.  By law, schools and districts were now going to be responsible for documenting the processes that they had in place to support continuous improvement. Historically assessing schools involved counting things like books in the library, the number of teachers, square footage and so on.  These were all static variables, not dynamic processes.  Quality processes would increase the chance of continuous improvement.  A "Strategic Continuous Improvement Plan" was the first step.  Data was collected from parents, students, existing reports, teachers and administrators. These data were reviewed with the goal of shaping a Continuous Improvement Plan.  The final plans were presented to the communities, approved by each district's board of education and submitted to the state for final approval.  At the conclusion of the development process, many administrators were concerned about how to proceed with professional development.  We agreed to have a dinner to celebrate the work that had been done and I was invited to offer my thoughts on how to proceed with professional development. 

 1. Professional development should be driven by individual teacher and grade level needs, not district workshops that often had no impact on teacher behavior.

 2. The professional development system should be online and individual.  Access to web-based resources was critical and should use the Ohio SchooNet infrastructure for access.  All teachers in Ohio would eventually have classroom access to the internet. The Ohio SchoolNet Project started in 1994 and was all but complete by 1998.

 3. No money was going to be moved to school districts in the form of external state grants, unless it could be attached to the goals embedded in a continuous plan. No plan. No grant money.  

 4. A model for professional development should address the needs expressed in the data collection process, and take full advantage of proven and emerging technologies. 

 5. The most student achievement gains would be made in schools that identified the technologies that would support quality instruction. 

 So, I put the Performance Pyramid on an overhead projector.  I had intially draw the pyramid on a napkin at a restaurant meeting with a few colleagues associated with the project. This drawing featured the top nine cells of the pryamid above. Many districts adopted the model and use the pyramid's resouces to this day.  Roughly 36 semesters of Miami University Senior Capstone students have improved, reseached and enriched the resouces on the pyramid.  The site has been on five servers in four Ohio cities and has been moved twice while at Miami University.  The transition to this current site has given my team an opportunity to remove dead links, reorganize content, improve the text and simply eliminate information that is dated.  

While the site has helped many Ohio school districts to organize their professional development models, it has helped many Miami students pursue areas of interest with passion.  Their contributions have supported them during student teaching,  in the interview process and as they started their careers.  I am constantly contacted by professional educators who see the site and invite us to add their resources.  Graduates who have taken classroom teaching positions report that the Performance Pyramid has helped them in the interview process. They often show it to colleagues once they have started with a school district.  


Dr. Douglas Brooks 

Professor, Department of Teacher Education

College Of Education Health and Society 

Director, Partners In Learning




Best Practices
Testing Skills
Proficiency Tests
Content Standards
Curriculum Mapping
Instructional Design
Collaborative Networks
Parental Engagement
Learning Styles
Baldrige Criteria
Special Education
Early Childhood Education
Middle Childhood Education