A case study of one school district's use of Root Cause Analysis
This case study document the use of Root Cause Analysis (RCA) as a part of one district's efforts to develop a mandated state improvement plan that fits into the overall framework of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) regulations. RCA is an established process/method used in many government agencies to find the cause to a problem in order to prevent reoccurrence (Gano, 2003; Preuss, 2003). However, in education there is very little information regarding the use of RCA to effect systems change at the local level. This study explored the process of RCA as it applied to an identified problem; the disproportionate overrepresentation of minority students in special education and examined how the use of RCA in one school system exposed the problem and impacted participants understanding.
A descriptive case study was selected and conducted as a detailed account of the RCA phenomenon was examined. The results revealed that some participants developed an understanding that there was a problem and used the RCA framework to extend discussion about the reasons for the problem. Participants at the Task Force level identified that they were able to develop an understanding of the problem of disproportionate overrepresentation and the factors contributing to the problem through RCA because it provided a framework for discussion, revealed data and provided the time to dialogue about the problem within a small group. Some participants in RCA after seeing the data and participating in one two hour RCA session did not understand that there was a problem.
Although this study did not promote organizational learning, it became evident through feedback and statements from participants that RCA resulted in change at the individual level (personal/professional), building level (IST), and guided the system's (district) philosophy with regard to a systematic approach to problem solving.
The change that occurred in this study was predominantly individual in nature in future studies researchers may want to use RCA to examine the role leadership and advocacy play in creating institution learning and systems change as it relates to the problem of disproportionate overrepresentation of minority students in special education.
Minority & ethnic groups;
0631: Minority & ethnic groups