September is for Scaling

CASE’s Faculty Director Paul Bloom is well known as an expert on scaling social impact.  He has co-authored several papers on the topic and released an edited book in 2010 (see for more information).

One of his contributions was to develop a framework, SCALERS, capturing the key drivers of successful scaling efforts.  The SCALERS capabilities include Staffing, Communicating, Alliance-Building, Lobbying, Earnings-Generation, Replicating, and Stimulating Market Forces. (Bloom & Chatterji, 2009)

This model has been well received in academic and practitioner communities and has been adapted for use in various settings.  For example, a great NC nonprofit, MDC, has used the SCALERS model for their work on scaling effective education practices at community colleges.  They recently developed a blog series using the SCALERS model – a great example of research being translated in to practice!  So, with MDC’s permission (thanks MDC!), we are pleased to repost their SCALERS blog series, starting today with the first SCALER:

Staffing: “the effectiveness of the organization at filling its labor needs, including its managerial posts, with people who have the requisite skills for the needed positions, whether they be paid staff or volunteers.”

The following piece was originally published on the blog 
Accelerating Achievement and is being reprinted with permission. Accelerating Achievement features news and research from the Developmental Education Initiative, an effort by MDCa nonprofit in Chapel Hill, N.C., to scale up effective remedial education practices at community colleges and states that were early participants in Achieving the Dream, a national community college reform effort. DEI is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Lumina Foundation.



SCALERS Series: S is for Staffing

People who need people are, indeed, the luckiest people; but it may not feel that way when you’re trying to find the resources and individuals to expand a program. The SCALERS staffing driver calls for effective use of resources to meet labor needs; in a community college setting, this includes administration, faculty, student services, and student employee positions, as well as individuals responsible for data collection, analysis, and evaluation.

As you look at a program slated for expansion, you must consider how labor-intensive it is and whether it requires skilled services. This necessitates a clear definition of the labor needs and the local labor market. An organization also must look at the existing recruitment pool and the institution’s ability to recruit sufficient staff to sustain expansion. Such efforts are supported by a staffing plan that includes job descriptions for all requisite positions that details the essential knowledge, skills, and abilities. Such a plan should include the required administrative, student services, academic, and student employee positions. It’s also important to review current staffing levels and identify any existing positions that may need to be redeployed or those that will see additional work volume under expansion.

While a team responsible for day-to-day implementation of a particular program can make a good start on a staffing plan, there are broader organizational considerations that may require support from administration. Adding or redeploying positions necessitates discussions about a broader human resources strategy; does the organization have capacity (and will) to recruit, train, retain, and sustain the requisite expertise? You must ensure that HR processes for recruitment and hiring are in place; someone on the “scaling-up team” should be familiar with these processes and have the authority to initiate and execute hiring.

Of course, once individuals are hired, the organization should see to their continued development and training. Another part of the staffing consideration is the organization’s approach to professional development; a sustainable scaled-up solution requires a professional development system that specifically addresses the needs of the faculty and staff implementing the program, as well as the processes and resources to ensure quality delivery and continuous improvement. These concerns are closely related to other SCALERS drivers that will be featured in coming weeks, including communicating, alliance-building, resources, and sustaining engagement.

Chaffey College came up with a unique solution to a staffing issue as they expanded their Opening Doors to Excellence (ODE) program. The goal of ODE is to move students off of probation and back into good standing. Participating students develop an educational plan with an advisor, take a student success course, and complete a series of directed activities in the college’s student success center. The director of the program meets with every student (between 300 and 400 students per semester), but student follow-up is carried out by a cadre of Counselor Apprentices. These Counselor Apprentices are graduate students from a local university who can apply the experience to completing required clinical hours, allowing the college to expand its advising force. For more information about Opening Doors to Excellence, check out the presentation ODE Program Director Ricardo Diaz made at the 2011 Achieving the Dream Strategy Institute pre-institute workshop, “Bringing Innovation to Scale.” You can find the presentation in the “Resources” section of the DEI web site, under the “Scaling Up” category.