Book Review

School Leader’s Guide to Root Cause Analysis

By Paul G. Preuss

Most schools across the United States are looking for ways to make school improvements using the data they are accumulating from test results and other sources. Analyzing that data is one thing but to really get at the root cause of what the information is saying is quite another.

Paul G. Preuss, with 36 years of public school experience in New York state, provides some practical thoughts and examples of just how to get to the root cause of the data to dissolve problems. He defines root cause as the deepest underlying cause or causes of positive or negative symptoms within any process that, if dissolved, would result in elimination of the symptom.

Root cause analysis can be used in various contexts, though the most powerful use occurs within a systemic process of school improvement.

Central to progress in student achievement are what Preuss, a former BOCES administrator, calls the key indicators of student success. He defines these indicators as student-focused measurable results that the school has the ability or need to influence and for which it is willing to be held accountable.

The author models his ideas with practical school examples on using root cause analysis to question data and seek out the root cause for student failure.

The guide is written for those who seek to improve learning for all students, from school board members to teachers.

(School Leader’s Guide to Root Cause Analysis: Using Data to Dissolve Problems by Paul G. Preuss, Eye on Education, Larchmont, N.Y., 2003, 213 pp., $39.95 softcover)