Appendix 6-4

Looking for Root Causes


The following sequence provides an insight into the process of root cause analysis, based on sound data collection and analysis.

New York State’s Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities (VESID) recommends a seven step process: (1) Identify the problem; (2) Identify the goal; (3) Formulate hunches; (4) Examine school processes; (5) Expand the data; (6) Investigate needed data; and (7) Reach consensus on the root cause hypothesis. Further information on the full process is available at the following website: .

Root Cause Definition: The most basic causes that can reasonably be identified, that we have control to fix, and for which effective recommendations for prevention can be implemented. (The Savannah River Project).

Hunches are initial perceptions about the causes of an event or condition that may or may not be supported by data.  Exploring the hunches through questioning and searching for supporting data can lead to a root cause hypothesis, which further defines the problem, and can lead to the discussion of potential solutions.


Expand the Hunches (Root Cause Search) 


Questions About Hunches

Possible Supporting Data

Location of Data









Root Cause Hypothesis Statement (Fill in the Blanks) 

Based on our exploration of our hunches, our hypothesis about teacher retention is that ___________________ is the root cause of the problem. Potential solutions or strategies leading to an action plan are: (1) _________________________________ (2) _____________________________________ (3) _______________________________.