EROSION OF GOALS
In the "erosion of goals" archetype, gaps between current performance and desired achievement sometimes generates pressure on stakeholders to improve via corrective action. But corrective action is often difficult, time consuming, and/or expensive. In such cases, the response may be to lower expectations and goals, since this can often be done quickly and cheaply. Erosion of goals relieves pressure and reduces the need for corrective action, but often results in a vicious cycle of worsening performance (a downward spiral of lowering goals, then performance, then goals…). The systems thinking module below includes a problem of practice, a systems thinking map, and application.
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Problem of Practice No. 1 looks at how students' credit accumulation is often not aligned to pass rates on New York State Regents exams. That is, students are passing a Regents course but failing the exit exam that assess content and performance attainment. In the graph below, the yellow bar represents the percentage of students who pass the course but who fail the related exit exam.
In this model, we take as our point of the departure that Regents exams are "robust" and do a good job aligning content and performance standards (and, for sure, assessments do not always do this). The point, however, is not to get caught up in the testing debate, but to explore system behavior using a prevalent example in the field of education and how the design of a system drives its behavior. To explore the model, open the Erosion of Goals Systems Thinking model below.