PLE 6: Module 1

PLE 6: Conducting an after action review


The PLE is designed to develop candidates’ skills and techniques to examine the intended or unintended results of action taken to advocate on behalf of children, parents, schools and communities. Objectives would include:

  1. To build capacity and familiarity with regularly reviewing data to see if the intended results are being met and to examine current assumptions.
  2. To develop formats to readjust action to correct plans, if needed, and to sustain positive outcomes
  3. To evaluate all outcomes in terms of equity for students and the opportunity for all students to increase achievement and growth.

Essential question

What are the intended and unintended effects of taking action or advocating on behalf of children, parents, schools and communities?

About the PLE

This PLE facilitates participants’ reflection and advocacy strategy improvement using a structured protocol for an after-action review process. This PLE examines the result of the action taken one PLE 5 or PLE 5a has been launched.  This PLE cannot be initiated until participants have engaged in some form of direct action—to either advocate for or implement change. Therefore, the action should have time to have an impact before looking at outcomes. 

The review time should be from 3 – 5 weeks after implementation.  The 3 week window also allows the implementer to see if the actions taken are implemented as intended in the design.  The 5 week time allows the implementer to see the impact of the action. Include committee members in this task.

It is important for participants to learn to thoroughly examine the initiation of action for a few reasons.   1) to see what was understood as the focus of the change and how that was put into place;  2) to evaluate if all the relevant stakeholders are involved in the implementation; to ascertain if any adjustments or corrections could be made early before unintended results due to implementation appear and 4) to continue to clarify the process and encourage all staff to continue to develop this area.

Total work time may be about 6 hours. 

Learning environment

This PLE is designed to be completed in a large classroom or other large setting, where there are Smart boards or newsprint available for small groups to work. The room should also be flexible enough to allow participants to post their political group maps and enable a gallery walk among all participants.

Pre-work assignment

This PLE builds on PLE 2, in which each participant identifies an issue and goals, and PLE 5 or 5b, in which the participants took action for change or engaged in direct advocacy.  Participants should have taken steps to implement their plans (from PLE 5 or 5b) prior to this PLE.

Participants should prepare by completing the required readings and have compiled their baseline evidence and documentation of advocacy or action efforts. The participant should have had some prior experience in leading and implementing change activities. Participants should review the protocol relevant charts for this area needs to be reviewed and the student would need to know what type of data to gather to judge effectiveness.


This PLE consists of three parts, in which participants reflect upon actions taken or direct advocacy and plan next steps, and document these. Reflection is very important as an overarching strategy in examining the after action results.

    1.  Learn about after action review.

Before focusing on their own advocacy or action efforts, participants will learn about the steps of an after action review, using a common case study for analysis and discussion, and develop their own criteria to apply to their own examples. Starting with a case study allows each participant the opportunity to try out an examination of the results of action prior to the high stakes of doing this in their own setting. It will enable the participants to familiarize themselves with the type of thinking they will need and also with the types of actions a leader must take to resolve an issue. It will be possible to do this with other participants in a team or larger group as each person will have the same case and information and not rely upon the reporting of the student conducting the action.  It will give the word should be each easy student the chance to see what is involved in this activity and to participate in the many activities that are involved in a review.

Working in small groups, participants will review one case study (see list below following the reading lists) and propose a solution. Then, using the outcome chart, map out an after action review. Following these small group analyses, the instructor will lead participants in a discussion in which they compare and contrast what they find from the multiple case studies and what they learn about after action review generally.

    1. Tryout after action review protocol.
      • Baseline at start: What exists at the initiation of change or start of advocacy
      • Intended outcome: Intended result of change and Indicate whether an initial or permanent goal
      • What you have in place now: Itemize current status regarding selected area
      • What is needed to compete the goal: Materials, staff, training, new perspective in considering area
      • Draft of action for sustaining: Action plan for sustaining gains

Using the protocol below, each participant is to complete the Assessing the outcome chart below for his or her own action (or advocacy) work. Participants work in pairs to review and provide feedback to each other on their after action review.

The key components of the protocol are as follows:

This after action review is intended to follow from the activity on PLE5/5a.  If they are able to implement PLE 5 (or PLE 5a), each participant is to start to record the data onto the after action review outcome chart.  Next, each is to draft an intended outcome goal and is currently in place.  Working in pairs, share their progress, determine what is needed to complete the goal and then draft an action plan for sustaining progress. 

Alternatively, each participant can present his or her plan to a small class group and have a peer review regarding the plan generated. 

After action review protocol

Baseline at start

Intended outcome (short-term; long-term)

What you have in place now

What is needed to complete the goal

Draft of actions under consideration for sustaining progress

List exactly what is found.  Be concrete and specific.  Report exactly as the situation is – do not make any judgments

Identify the goals you wish to reach by this action

Arrange this in terms of your significant items to reach your goal.

Identify what is in place even if it is very rudimentary.

Include resources you have now – personnel, time, training and materials

Look again at the multiple areas you are addressing.  You may need to reexamine what you have in place.  Building on the baseline, what you have in place and the goals of the intended outcome, very clearly list what is needed to goal forward to this point.

This may result in multiple action plans, particularly if you use discrete steps or look at stages in meeting goals.  Assume success in reaching goals and identify all areas needed to sustain those goals once they are met – remember personnel and training, if needed.







Baseline after initiated action


Critical factors

What the organization needs to fulfill goal

As a result of the initiated action, what existed in the organization to meet the intended goals

Update from above

Repeat until reach full success

This becomes the new baseline so follow as above

Now that this is in process what does the organization need to complete the action to meet the goals

This is an updated synopsis of what NOW is in the organization to meet goals

What is now needed,  Be reflective, particularly if you made adjustments based on further reflection or on actual action


Re draft action to bring up to date







  1. If action has been taken, participants are encouraged to document what they accomplished (or their advocacy work) using video clips or digital photographs.

As an extended activity, participants are encouraged to take a one minute video of the situation for which the project is needed.  This video should reflect the base line.  As you go forward continue to do one minute videos to document progress and also to refer to as additional steps are planned.

Discussion questions

  • Have assumptions changed now as a result of implementation?  What needs to be researched and what other approaches could be identified?
  • What are the guideposts one might use in looking at the impact of an action?
  • How does one determine that an action has had an impact on the organization?
  • How does one guide the completion of the after action review?  What information needs to be gathered for the chart?
  • Does the result of the implementation impact on policy?  Did you move into another area of policy as a result of the outcomes and the new abilities in the school?
  • If extra time is needed to make the changes, what steps are necessary?  Is support from all people apparent?  Is this area of change supported generally in the school and if not, what strategies and help is given to increase willingness to be involved?


At the end of the PLE, the instructor and participants are to engage in reflection about this activity and the template:

  • What did you learn from this PLE?

Extended activities

Based on the after action review work, participants may reframe their issue or problem, returning to the steps of issue analysis in PLE 2.

Based on the after action review work, participants may determine that new coalitions may need to be formed as a result of working on this area. One action from the after action review could be building a new coalition.  Using the skills and techniques from PLE 3, participants can further develop and refine their ability in the coalition building.  This can be done by completing an updated political map and identifying how to increase the role in the total community.

Field work extension

Overall the actions for this PLE should be embedding into fieldwork activities. Participants are encouraged to have a major role in the implementations and examine of their progress. Each participant can use the protocol to reflect on their advocacy work with their internship supervisor and  field work advisor. Their discussions should include analysis of changes and how it impacts on other areas.







Goals and needs statement are clearly described





Data were used appropriately





Reflects a range of ways of thinking about the actions





Sufficient specificity to inform action





Steps taken are appropriate to the issue or strategy





Covers all appropriate areas to reach the outcomes





Assesses the impact on the issue, policy or organization










Required reading

Bernhardt, V.L. (2005) Data tools for school improvement.  Educational Leadership  62(5). 

Finn, G.A. (2005).  Moving upward together:  creating strategic alignment to sustain systemic school improvement. School administrator, 62 (3). 

Reeves, S. (2005).  Creating great schools:  Six critical systems at the head of educational innovation.  Education Week, 24 (28)

Suggested reading

Bernhard, V. L. (2005) Data tools for school improvement.  Educational Leadership,  62 (5).

Chappuis, S., Chappuis, J., Stiggins, R. (February 2009).  Supporting Teacher Learning Teams.  Educational Leadership, 66 (5) 56 – 60.

Collier, V. P., & Thomas, W.P. (2009).  Educating English Learners for a Transformed World.  Albuquerque, NM: Fuente Press.

Drago-Severson, E. (2006).  Learning-oriented leadership.  Independent School, 65 (4), 58 – 65.

DuFour, R. & Marzano, R. (February 2009). High Leverage Strategies for Principal Leadership, Educational Leadership, 99 (5)  62 – 68.

Finn, G.A. (2005)  Moving upward together:  creating strategic alignment to sustain systemic school improvement.  School administrator, 62 (3).

Kilgore, S. (2005).  Creating great schools:  six critical systems at the heart of educational innovation.  Educational Leadership, 62 (6).

Lerner, J. W, &.  Johns, B. (2009).  Learning Disabilities and Related Mild Disabilities. NY: Houghton Mifflin.   

Lewis, R. B., Doorlag, D., H. (2006) Teaching Special Students in General Education Classrooms, 7th Edition.  Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

National Association of Secondary School Principals (2004).  Breaking ranks II:  Strategies for leading highschool reform.  Reston, VA: Author. Chapter 2 p 19 – 56.

Reeves, S.  (2005)  Creating great schools:  six critical systems at the heard of educational innovation.  Education Week. 24 (28).

Rothstein, R. & Jacobsen, R.  (May 2009).  Measuring Social Responsibility.  Educational Leadership, 66 (8) 12 – 19.

Tomlinson, C. A. & McTighe, J. ( 2006).  Integrating Differentiated Instruction and Understanding by Design. ASCD Alexandria, Virginia.

Yell, M.L., Rogers, D., & Rogers, E.L. (1998).  The legal history of special education:  what a long, stage trip it’s been! Remedial and Special Education, 19 (4), 219-28.

Case studies to be used for the first activity

Karpinski, C. F.  (2006).And the Bank Played on?  Social Justice and the Wilson Middle School Arts Program . Journal of cases in educational leadership, 9:  41 – 52

New principal focusing on social justice and sees in own school that changes in student demographics require a reassessment of school programs.

Aleman, E., Jr.  (2009). Leveraging Conflict for Social Justice:  how “Leadable” moments can transform school culture    Journal of cases in educational leadership, 12; 1-16

Realizes that conflict will occur between the stakeholders.  Looks at the role of conflict in terms of an opportunity to lead.

Marshall, J. M., Hamrick, F, A., & Goodman, P. (2009).  Principal Considerations:  super parent or super Pain?  Journals of Cases in Educational Leadership, 12: 37 – 47.

Examining the conflicts that can arise when a parent believes their school demands are the result of strong advocacy and the school considers it interfering.  Concentrates on an issue of a 9th grade student with a disability.

Oluwole, J. O.  (2009). A Principal’s Dilemma:  Full inclusion or student’s best interests?  Journal of cases in educational leadership, 12:  12 – 25.

Struggle between administrators’ philosophy of full inclusion and the best interests of an individual student with serious emotional disturbance.

Candidate Knowledge and Understanding of Advocacy and Action

August, 2013

Instructions: This survey is to assess your knowledge and understanding of advocacy and action and the role of leaders in addressing issues and their solution. There is no right or wrong answer. Please briefly answer each question as best you can.

Part 1: About Advocacy                                                                     
  1. What is advocacy?
  2. What is the role of leaders in advocating on behalf of historically marginalized populations?
  3. What are assumptions?
  4. How do you discover others’ assumptions about an issue or priority?
  5. If leaders are to advocate for an issue or priority, what would make the issue actionable? What are the attributes of an actionable issue?
Part 2: About an advocacy issue                                                     
  1. Think about an issue or problem of interest to you. What is it?_________________
  • What would you do first to investigate this issue or problem?
  • What data sources might you typically use to investigate an issue or a problem?
  • Where would you obtain or access data to use?
  • What data might collect to investigate an issue or a problem? What do you need to consider if you are collecting your own data?
  • What  individual, department, agency or institution is most commonly responsible for solving problems or addressing issues that you might want to explore?
Part 3: Advocacy and others                                                           
  1. How would you identify others who might be interested in the same issue or its solution?
  2. Who would be most essential to include in advocating for an issue or its solution?
  3. How would you identify others who might not support this issue or its solution?
  4. What would you need to consider to engage others in advocating for an issue or its solution?
Part 4: Advocacy action                                                                  
  1. What are the attributes of a persuasive argument?
  2. What is the role of a persuasive argument in advocacy?
  3. How (and in what ways) might a persuasive argument need to be varied for different audiences?
  4. What are forms of advocacy or types of advocacy a leader can take to bring attention to an issue or a problem?
  5. If a leader takes action on an issue or problem, what elements are essential in formulating an actionable plan? 

Part 5: Advocacy experience                                                          

  1. In what forms of advocacy have you engaged in the past?
  2. In what forms of advocacy have you observed school leaders/program directors engage in the past?
  3. What has been successful? What has not been successful?
  4. What steps would you need to take to monitor and evaluate the outcomes of advocacy or action for an issue and its solution?

Part 6: About you                                                                           

What is your gender?

  • Female
  • Male
How do you identify yourself in terms of race/ethnicity?
  • White
  • Black or African American
  • Asian
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
  • American Indian or Alaskan Native
  • Other


People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

What is your year of birth?_____

How many years of educator experience have you had? _____

What is your current or most recent educational setting in which you have worked?

  • Day care center
  • Nursery school
  • Early childhood program
  • Elementary school
  • Middle school
  • High school
  • College or university
  • Other educational setting

What is the number of students in this setting _________

What formal and informal leadership experiences have you had within the last five years? (check all that applies)

  • department chair, grade level or subject area team leader or chair person
  • curriculum specialist or coordinator
  • staff developer
  • CSE chair
  • assistant principal
  • program director
  • athletic coach or director
  • literacy or math coach or lead teacher
  • member of a shared decision making or school-based leadership team or committee