Skip to main content

Facilitators' Guidebook: Using OLAC Tools and Resources

Teaching Cases


Teaching cases combine case studies of schools and school districts with thought-provoking questions and activities. They provide a connection between theory and practice in the analysis of the real-world challenges confronting educators, leaders, and educational policymakers. Teaching cases give participants opportunities for active exploration, teamwork, and consideration of strategies with possible applicability to local circumstances. Working independently or in groups or teams, participants develop critical insights, analyze complex situations, formulate strategies to address issues, and evaluate the implications of the application of these strategies.

OLAC resources include three teaching cases based on case studies of Ohio school districts that have been, and continue to be, actively engaged in using the Ohio Improvement Process to support improved instructional outcomes for all learners. OLAC also provides access to case studies of school districts from around the country through the Moving Your Numbers website, an initiative of the National Center on Educational Outcomes at the University of Minnesota. Five of the Moving Your Numbers case studies, including two from Ohio districts, have supplementary instructional materials that, when used together, create teaching cases that can enhance professional learning for prospective teachers and administrators as well as those currently employed.

How to Use

Users registered on the OLAC website have complete access to the OLAC case studies and teaching cases.

  1. Access OLAC case studies and teaching cases via the “Educator Resources” dropdown menu on the OLAC website home page.

  2. Information on how to use teaching cases is available through a link on the Case Studies/Teaching Cases landing page.

  3. A more comprehensive discussion of teaching cases and their use can be found in the section “Using Teaching Cases in the Instruction of Prospective Teachers and School Leaders” in the OLAC module Higher Education: Instructional Guide to Using OLAC and Moving Your Numbers Resources in Educator Preparation Courses.

  4. Access a one-page document, “Suggested Teaching Cases/Case Studies and Tools”, which contains links to teaching cases and materials, by clicking on “Documents,” located in the list of “Resources” in the left-hand margin of the pages of the module Higher Education: Instructional Guide to Using OLAC and Moving Your Numbers Resources in Educator Preparation Courses.

Moving Your Numbers case studies and supplemental materials can be accessed from the MYN website’s homepage.

  1. The Moving Your Numbers guidebook for use with teachers and administrators and the Moving Your Numbers guidebook for school leaders and leadership candidates are available in PDF format, or can be accessed under the “Tools and Resources” tab on the Moving Your Numbers home page.

Some ways to use teaching cases:

Teaching cases are most effective when the cases relate closely to situations session participants are likely to encounter, enabling participants to identify with the people and situations described. Facilitators can customize the teaching cases and case studies available through the OLAC and Moving Your Numbers websites to target the specific needs of participants. After selecting case studies that have similarities to participants’ own schools or districts, educational challenges, or improvement goals, facilitators can create reflective questions and activities that are particularly relevant to participants. Or they can choose from the many options presented on the “how to use teaching cases” sites listed above. Teaching cases are especially useful when the facilitator wants to:

  • show how other districts have identified challenges, selected and implemented improvement strategies, and evaluated outcomes;

  • enable participants to compare their respective schools’ or districts’ circumstances, improvement goals and strategies, and outcomes with those of other schools and districts engaged in improvement work;

  • engage participants in role-play depicting various district stakeholders engaged in considering district data, progress, initiatives, and next steps;

  • stimulate discussion; and

  • facilitate exploration of the connection between district data and decision-making.

Examples: The Painesville City Local Schools Teaching Case describes a small economically disadvantaged school district with a diverse and changing student population.

  • Participants read the case study’s data on enrollment, identified subgroups, attendance, disciplinary actions, and test scores, and compare with data in their respective districts.

  • Participants work in groups to discuss factors that might have contributed to Painesville’s significant decline, during a 5-year period, in scores on statewide accountability tests.

  • Participants work in pairs to select another initiative the district could implement to improve instructional outcomes for all students.

  • Participants conduct a mock DLT meeting in which they use data from the case study to demonstrate that the improvement initiative they identified in the previous activity should be implemented. Participants include in their presentations a plan for assessing the outcomes of the initiative.