Analyzing Scope Creep

February 9, 2011 tinkisamy

 As I pondered a project where scope creep was evident I was brought back to teaching second grade.  I had been teaching second grade for four years. In this time I had planned, created, and had effective center time. My fifth year, things started to change in our school and district. I was pursing my MA in curriculum and my reading specialist certification. I knew a thing or two about what I was doing and was feeling quite at ease with my plans. During the first few months we were asked to present our plans for our center time and justify the activities. When I first presented the activities they were received with praise.  As the weeks passed I was observed by my assistant principal and we had a meeting. It was in that meeting that she said my groups were effective but she wanted me to make her suggested changes. The changes in my opinion were going to change everything that I was doing and were not in the best interest of my students. This was when “scope creep” came into play. Scope creep is when a change is projected as a project progresses (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer & Sutton, 2008).  My assistant principal brought in our master reading teacher to give me suggestions. She had never seen my groups and did not know what I was doing in my classroom. Her suggestions now, as I see it, were a way to change my groups so that it fit what she wanted and it would delay my progress and individual plan for each student. If I had known what I do now about scope creep I would have been able to stand up and tell them both that my plan was already in action and was working for each student.

 The stakeholders in this case were my assistant principal and this master reading teacher. As I look back I realize that these two stakeholders were upsetting every teacher who had already implemented their plans for center time. If I had the knowledge about project management that I do now, I would have been able to present my plan again after the meeting to those stakeholders and my principal. Maybe then I would have been able to keep those two stakeholders from turning our school upside down.  I had more knowledge and experience with my plan for centers and the creation of each center.  My plans were developed  for the individual progression of my students. The stakeholders were not active in my room and observing what I was doing. I should have had them write down all of their suggestions and sign that document.  I would have taken that document back to my plan and addressed each suggestion. Then I would have decided if each change was necessary. After that I would have updated my plan and informed them of any changes. But since I did not know about the process of a change control system as described by our class text, I did not have a graphic depiction to guide me (Portny et at., 2008). If I had this knowledge I could have effectively controlled and monitored the scope creep that I now see was so evident.


Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Project Management Knowledge: Change Control (2010). Retrieved February 10, 2011, from


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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Naquai Mack  |  February 13, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    I also didn’t know about the process of a change control system before this class as well. Maybe if I possessed the knowledge of a Project Manager or an Instructional Designer, I could have been more successful with many of my past endeavors or projects.

  • 2. Masheree  |  February 13, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    Hi Amy,

    Scope change may be defined as any addition, reduction, or modification to the deliverables or work process as outlined in your original project plan (Greer, 2010). This was indeed evident in your case. There is nothing more bothering than someone coming in and dictating changes that are to be done in an environment they are unfamiliar with, especially one as sensitive as a learning environment for children.


    Greer, M. (2010). The project management minimalist: just enough pm to rock our projects!. Laureate Education Ed. Retrieved February 13, 2011 from

  • 3. David Lloyd  |  February 14, 2011 at 12:20 am


    I’m sorry for the unpleasant experience you described. It seems the assistant principle should have been involved at the beginning if he had an agenda he wanted to enforce. Sometimes managers get involved late just so they can put their mark on a project. (Greer, 2010)

    It reminded me of an experience I had as a junior high music teacher. I was given no curriculum to follow. I was told to do whatever I wanted to do. So, I designed my own plan to teach junior high students to sight-read music, based on the Kodály Method.(Ittzes, 2004)

    After I had successfully used the method, the head of the music department, a band director with no experience with the Kodály Method, flatly stated that junior high students are not capable of sight-reading music. When I countered that he had just seen the proof that it is possible, he accused me of having the students memorize the demonstration he observed. Then he ordered me to stop trying to do the impossible, and just give the students a pleasant diversion from their real school work.

    I implemented some of the suggestions I was given, and I documented the changes I made, but I did not discontinue the sight-reading exercises. While my superior may not have agreed with my approach, many parents made a point of expressing their appreciation, some of them many years later.


    Greer, M. (2010). The Project management minimalist: Juest enough PM to rock your projects (Laureate Education Ed ed.). id=636

    Ittzes, M. (2004). Zoltan Kodaly 1882-1967: Honorary president of ISME 1964-1967. International Journal of Music Education, 22(2), 131-147. Abstract retrieved from doi:10.1177/0255761404044013

  • 4. yolanda  |  February 14, 2011 at 12:51 am

    Hi Amy,
    Thank you for sharing your experience. That sucks to have to change your whole curriculum that is working for your students just to appease a few people who aren’t there to see the progress that is being made. The good thing that at least you now know what to do when you are faced with another instance of scope creep.

  • 5. nulife4me  |  February 14, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Dear Amy,

    I’m sorry to hear the frustration you went through during this experience. From my own teaching experience, I find that assistant principles try to “flex their muscles” whenever they can to show they are in control. Was the assistant principle in the initial presentation meeting? If not, it would have been a good idea so that she could not come back and ask you to make as many changes. The worst thing in teaching is being told what to do from people who have never stepped foot into your classroom. Now that you are familiar with the change control system (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, & Kramer, 2008), you will be able to react to scope creep in a more effective manner.


    Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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