Root Cause Analysis In Action

Profiles of Root Cause Analysis in Action

Although there are a wide variety of resources available on how to conduct a root cause analysis, there are few resources that clarify what a root cause analysis process looks like in practice. Having examples of root cause analysis in practice can help districts and schools better understand the process and the challenges of conducting a root cause analysis. Likewise, having examples root cause analysis in practice can help participants consider how to overcome disagreements or how to focus on root causes within their sphere of influence.

This resource provides a description of the real-world implementation of a root cause analysis process in three schools: an elementary, a middle, and a high school. These schools have been given the following pseudonyms for the purpose of this resource: Alpha Elementary School, Bravo Middle School, and Charlie High School. Some minor details have been excluded or modified to protect the confidentiality of these schools and their staff. All three schools used the same root cause analysis process, which included both the “five whys” and fishbone diagram exercises. This root cause analysis process was designed to support Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) schools in identifying evidence-based practices and designing a school improvement plan.

This resource profiles what the root cause analysis process looked like from beginning to end in each of these schools, highlighting best practices and key takeaways throughout. While each facilitator tailored the root cause analysis process to the school context, all three schools followed the same root cause analysis approach and steps:

yellow speech bubble Part 1: Developing a Problem Statement
different types of charts Part 2: Identifying Causes
light bulb shaped puzzle with one piece separated Part 3: Identifying Solutions

Because these profiles include sensitive data and information about school-level challenges, the profiles have been anonymized and slightly modified to protect privacy.

To read about the root cause analysis process at each school, please click on the icons below.

Alpha Elementary School

Bravo Middle School Charlie High School