Common questions and answers about the Center for AIW’s approach to supporting systemic change and professional learning.

Q: How is this work different than what already happens in most professional learning communities?

A: For sites with existing PLCS, AIW provides a rigorous focus for the teams by using common scoring criteria to analyze student work, tasks and instruction. The conversation changes in two ways:

  • AIW teams develop a common framework and language for evaluating the intellectual quality of instruction and student work.
  • Teams focus on teachers’ professional practice (instruction and assessment) rather than a common assessment used by the team.

Q: What are the criteria for effective AIW professional development?

A: There are five key criteria:

  • Student-centered focus through quality teacher reflection
  • Collective accountability within learning teams
  • Flexible and focused coherence
  • Long term, job-embedded professional learning
  • Inclusive approach, with all staff for all students

Q: Is this reform only for certain grade levels or subjects?

A: The standards for AIW can be applied across all subjects and grade levels.

Q: Do most schools start with their staff members?

A: No, in fact 99% of AIW schools begin with 1–3 pilot teams, with 4–6 members each. Their focus is learning the AIW framework and implementing changes in their own classrooms, and also determining if AIW is a good match for the building.

Q: Does the Center provide “Authentic” curriculum?

A: The Center deliberately refrains from prescribing specific academic content to be taught in any grade or discipline. Instead, we advocate that whatever content is taught should be taught in ways so as to maximize student production of AIW.

Q: Can administrators participate in this reform?

A: Yes, administrators participate on AIW teams as learners as well as on their own leadership team, which is comprised of 4–6 people who set direction for the reform. The leadership team often includes both administrators and teachers.

Q: When will we see results?

A: When AIW has been well implemented, the first changes to be seen are in building climate after one year with the majority of staff on AIW teams. Improvement in student achievement can be measured after the entire staff has been on AIW teams for one year or longer prior to standardized test dates. For more information, read the 2012 evaluation, or read the full report and the addendum.

Q: How can we get involved?

A: Contact us for more information on becoming an AIW school.

Q: What does “Construction of Knowledge” mean?

A: Construction of Knowledge involves organizing, interpreting, evaluating, or synthesizing prior knowledge to solve new problems. Read More

Q: What is “Disciplined Inquiry?”

A: Through the process of Disciplined Inquiry, students use a prior knowledge base, strive for in-depth understanding rather than superficial awareness, and develop and express their ideas and findings through elaborated communication. Read More

Q: How do you define “Value Beyond School”?

A: Intellectual challenges raised in the world beyond the classroom are often more meaningful to students than those contrived only for the purpose of teaching students in school. Read More


Center provides professional development for every phase of AIW professional development. Learn More