Educational Leadership Consulting

Solve the K-12 Engagement Problem with a

Fauxchievement Prevention Plan©

A New Strategic Approach to Systematic School Improvement

What is The Central Problem in K-12?

Logically, if a school is effectively improving by standard mainstream measures such as test scores, then it will necessarily make progress on the issues of dropping out and failing to achieve.

Schools that make substantial gains by mainstream measures, such as the “No Excuses” school models like KIPP, displace the time their students spend in neglectful or negative environments with time spent in a more positive one.

But if the school management teams are approaching their day-to-day problems as if they just need the right curriculum with the right incentives delivered by the right teachers, then they are going to reach a plateau in their results in addressing those issues.

Fauxchievement will not have been addressed at all.

What is Fauxchievement?

When students fail to attain mastery in spite of “achieving” in school, then they are fauxchieving.

Getting into college but being unable to finish is a consequence of fauxchievement.

That particular consequence got a lot of attention when KIPP revealed the low rate of college graduation their graduates achieved in their first College Completion Report.

Howard Gardner in his 2004 book The Unschooled Mind pointed out how pervasive fauxchievement is by drawing attention to various studies that show a majority of people with advanced degrees in every subject fail to apply the most basic concepts in their fields when the problems are presented to them in ways that have more resemblance to real life and are different from the way they were regularly tested in school.

To put it another way, most masters degrees do not indicate mastery, they indicate fauxchievement.

It Seems Normal, Natural, and Inevitable

Most people are not aware that fauxchievement is a major problem in schooling, although most people are well aware that many students at all levels merely go through the motions and learn less as a result.

The fact is, they do not know what to call it (the term came from video gaming) and they assume that it is a normal, natural, and inevitable way of living through the demands that schools typically make on students' time and energy.

It's One of Three Symptoms

In fact, according to Don Berg, the founder of Attitutor® Services, while fauxchievement is normal, it is neither natural nor inevitable.

His forthcoming book Nurture: Mending K-12 addresses the prevention of fauxchievement and also the other two major symptoms of the systemic problem in K-12 schooling: dropping out and failing to achieve.

All three of these symptoms indicate that the central underlying problem in K-12 is motivation.

The Science of Human Nature

The problem with this standard approach is that it is based on a mental model of education relying on assumptions about human nature that science has proven are false1.

There are, however, some scientifically validated statements about human nature that we can use to solve the motivation problem, construct a more apt mental model of education, and substantially reduce the incidences of dropping out, failing to achieve, and fauxchieving.

The science is pretty straightforward.

The psychological needs aspect of Self-Determination Theory created by Richard Ryan and Edward Deci is the primary science to which I am referring.

But educators and school managers need more than just the scientific theory to create meaningful and effective changes.

Attitutor® Services is creating a system to enable schools to effectively apply the insights of the cognitive sciences to their biggest challenges.

More Than Theory

Attitutor® Services focuses on enabling you and your entire organization to be able to understand and apply those scientific statements about human nature in K-12 schools.

Founder Don Berg's research into patterns of motivation in two alternative K-12 schools was recently published in the journal Other Education2 and he has another publication coming out soon in the Journal Of The Experimental Analysis Of Behavior3.

The alternative schools he studied were among the first to ever show hard data on maintaining intrinsic motivation.

He was an educational practitioner for over 20 years, then turned to research to empirically validate the hunches he developed as an educator.

Now, based on what he found in the primary research literature and in his experiences as an alternative educator, he has developed unique insights into schooling that can help teachers and school managers create an environment that supports intrinsic motivation.

According to the scientific theory and research on patterns of motivation, the foundation of such an environment is the satisfaction of primary human needs, i.e. nurturing.

In nurturing school environments, like the ones in Mr. Berg's study, children want to stay in school, the children make extraordinary efforts to extract the most value from their instructors, and the efforts they invest in learning pay off with the deepest understanding that they can achieve.

Professional Development

Our founder, Don Berg, is available to give talks based on his work or he can deliver a professional development workshop on the science of motivation.

He also offers a follow-up workshop on how the hidden curriculum of any organization (not just schools) influences the day-to-day behavior of humans.

Prevention Plans

After receiving our professional development offerings you will be ready to address the long-term opportunities for cultivating motivation.

A Fauxchievement Prevention Plan© is the key to successfully cultivating intrinsic motivation throughout your school by aligning the hidden curriculum of your school with human nature.

Ask about how you can qualify to participate in the completion of the book, too.


1See Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind & Its Challenge to Western Thought (Basic Books, 1999) by cognitive linguist George Lakoff and philosopher Mark Johnson.

2Berg, D.A., & Corpus, J.H. (2013). Enthusiastic students: A study of motivation in two alternatives to mandatory instruction, Other Education 2(2), 42-66.

3Tan, L., Sosa, F., Talbot, E., Berg, D., Eversz, D., & Hackenberg, T.D. (2014). Effects of predictability and competition on group and individual choice in a free-ranging foraging environment, Journal Of The Experimental Analysis Of Behavior (In Press- to appear in October).

Menu of Services

Public Speaking

  • Fauxchievement 101: What's the Trouble with K-12? (15 minutes or more) Mr. Berg presents the three primary symptoms of the trouble with K-12 (including an explanation of the symptom known as fauxchievement), the central problem indicated by those symptoms, the cure for that central problem, and examples of schools that have solved it.
  • A Cautionary Fairy Tale: Introduction to Schools of Conscience (30 min. or more) Mr. Berg presents a fairy tale with a twist then shows how it works as an allegory for our current human situation.
  • The Story of School: Mender Schools Introduction (30 min. or more) Mr. Berg presents the implicit story that informs school operations today, then counters it with a more complete story that explains our situation more accurately and provides guidance for moving forward productively.

Professional Development Workshop Series

  1. Motivation Hacks: The Science of Human Nature
    With amazing consistency the empirical evidence shows that the hidden curriculum of our K-12 school system contradicts human nature; systemic motivational problems are the result. Evidence also supports the idea that teachers should do (and be supported to do) exactly what they already want to do: nurture the children. You bring a challenge, I'll briefly present the science of motivation, then we'll work out how the science applies to your situation. For immediate practical use we will discuss specific instructional behaviors that are scientifically proven to improve motivation.
  2. Hidden Curriculum 101: When is Achievement an Attractive Nuisance?
    Refrigerators and achievement both have obvious benefits, but under some circumstances they can also do harm to children. Under those circumstances they become attractive nuisances. I will give a demonstration of the hidden curriculum and then explain how achievement can sometimes be an attractive nuisance. We will then explore what you can do to minimize the occurrence of those circumstances in your school.
  3. Advanced Hidden Curriculum: Introduction to the Participation Map
    In this participatory workshop we inquire into how to approach school management & leadership with primary needs as the necessary foundation for proper education.
  4. Mender Schools 101: Introduction to the Moral Universe
    Together we face the challenge of how to take a comprehensive public health approach to psychological well-being.

Consulting Programs

Management & Leadership Coaching with Don Berg Goal directed conversations with Every Parent's Dilemma author and the founder of both Schools of Conscience and Attitutor Services, Don Berg.

Fauxchievement Prevention Plans Long-term contract work to facilitate your school or district to develop systemic support of primary human needs. See the announcement for this service for more information.