Principles of Effective Leadership and Governance
ffective school improvement teams, or other governance structures include teachers, other non-instructional staff, parents, community members and students in a shared leadership structure to support and improve school programs.
- After reviewing the Leadership Team Rubric, what next steps have been identified?
- What steps have been taken to ensure all voices and persepectives contribute to leadership team decisions?
- How is the principal ensuring a shared leadership model?
- Does the school currently operate with one written plan? Was the plan developed collaboratively? Is the plan followed?
- What roles and responsiblities are Leadership Team members taking on and how are feedback loops taking place?
One of the clear keys to successful school improvement is strong leadership at all levels.1 The objectives for both school and district leaders are to
- Articulate a clear and compelling vision,
- Create attainable short-term goals,
- Define high performance expectations,
- Hold faculty and staff accountable for those expectations, and
- Continually celebrate wins.2
Research points to the importance of having a strong leader who can change culture and influence staff efficacy3 and demonstrates an intense focus and direction on academic outcomes.4
In addition, the district needs to embrace the school improvement effort as a district-led initiative. One study finds that the district instructional leadership builds capacity by coordinating and aligning work of others through communication, planning, and collaboration.5
Throughout the school improvement process, the district must coordinate the work by setting high performance expectations, sharing those expectations in a transparent way, continually checking progress on those expectations, and co-developing with the school further interventions as needed for the school based upon the school’s progress.6
- Herman, Dawson, Dee, Greene, Maynard, & Redding, 2008
- Leithwood, 2012
- Duke, 2008
- Rorrer, Skrla, & Scheurich, p. 318
- Leithwood, 2012
Principles of Effective Standards-Based Instruction
n effective schools, teachers use content and achievement standards and assessment information to identify curricular priorities and instructional materials and to design relevant and challenging learning experiences for all students, including those of diverse cultural backgrounds, and academic experiences.
- Is there scientifically-based research that supports the curriculum and instructional program being used in the school?
- What gaps have been identified in current curriculum and instruction? What are the steps being taken to address these gaps for the students in your school? What changes or adjustments are needed?
- How is data used to modify and inform instruction in PLCs and in general?
- What assessment instruments, including diagnostic assessments, are routinely used to measure student achievement? What role do teachers play in deciding what assessments will be used to measure student achievement?
- What steps have been taken to ensure all students have access to and are held to high expectations? (e.g., CRT, PL, co-teaching etc.)
- Resource 1
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- Resource 3
Principles of Effective Structural Reform Strategies
ffective schools structure their schedules, organizations, support mechanisms, and resources to provide all students equal access to resources and the support to achieve to high standards.
- How are schedules, transitions, and support services aligned to support student achievement?
- Are the personnel and material resources available and deployed to meet the diverse needs of students?
- How well are support services working (e.g., Are students receiving supports making more than average growth?)
- What access does the school have to translation services? Bilingual staff?
- Resource 1
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Principles of Effective Data-Based Accountability and Evaluation
ffective schools have fully implemented accountability systems that include a school improvement plan based on multiple data points including disaggregated achievement and other data. They regularly use multiple classroom and district assessments, in addition to state assessment data, to monitor the achievement of individual students and student groups. Teachers and administrators are data literate and able to use the data to make effective instructional and programmatic decisions.
- In looking at College and Career Readiness targets, how much progress has the school made in the last year? In the last two years?
- In looking at 9th and 12th grade data, which student population groups are meeting the targets?
- How do you use College and Career Readiness data to inform future action?
- How are your current instructional materials and resources aligned with the College and Career Readiness metrics?
- How might you promote a culture that supports school-wide focus around Graduation and/or College and Career Readiness targets?
- How are families engaged in activities and events related to College and Career Readiness?
High-quality teaching is essential to school improvement, and student data analysis is a sizeable part of developing and continually adjusting classroom instruction. To maintain an intense focus on student achievement, districts must have or be prepared to implement data structures that support the regular use of student data to inform instruction (Lachat & Smith, 2005), so that data analysis may clarify and illuminate instructional expectations (Rorrer et al., 2008). The nature of the data should be such that schools and the district have regular, ongoing insight into student progress.
Utilizing well-designed, rigorous, common interim assessments as formative assessments, aligned to a clear, rigorous curriculum, is one way to accomplish this continual monitoring. Adjustments can be made throughout the year based upon these formative assessments to help schools meet their year-end goals. This strategy provides an early diagnosis of areas that need attention prior to the state testing, giving the schools and their leaders multiple opportunities to anticipate and address areas of concern. For example, in its work with partner districts, the UVA-STP team experience is that most districts believe they have an effective instructional infrastructure in place, but almost all districts need to adapt critical aspects of their systems to prepare for robust implementation. These aspects could include the responsiveness of the data system, the clarity of data reporting, the rigor and alignment of the assessments, teacher understanding of rigor expectations or how to leverage assessments, and a district calendar that prioritizes time to leverage a data cycle to drive instruction.
Principles of Effective Standards-Based Curriculum
ffective schools' curricula are aligned with State standards and are articulated across grades and subjects.
- How has the school engaged in the work of aligning curriculum to standards and ensuring a vertical articulation that addresses all standards?
- What gaps have been identified in current curriculum and instruction? What are the steps being taken to address these gaps?
- What steps are you taking to aligning cross-content curriculum and instruction?
- Are WIDA Standards embedded in instruction and used in co-planning for content area instruction?
- How are assessments used in the classroom and PLCs to ensure progress toward state standards?
- Resource 1
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- Resource 3
Principles of Effective School Culture and Climate
ffective schools’ philosophies, norms, values, beliefs, and shared visions reflect expectations for high achievement for all students, collaboration and collegiality among all staff, and mutual respect and trust among all individuals. Effective schools are safe and orderly and are welcoming to students and their families.
- How have we assessed our welcoming environment and what is our plan for ensuring a welcoming environment for all?
- Are all staff committed to 3-5 school-wide expectations that support a positive school climate and using a common office discipline referal (ODR) form and practices?
- How is the climate/behavior team functioning? Do they meet at least 2 times per month and use data for decision making? Are they able to influence practices across the building? Are they accessing and providing PD opportunities?
- How is SWIS data being shared school-wide?
Principles of Effective Family & Community Engagement
ffective schools have active and equal partnerships with parents and linkages to community organizations and institutions. All voices are at the table to maximize learning for every student and family.
- Do teachers routinely communicate with parents (formally and informally) about the academic progress of their children?
- How are parents and the community involved in activities that support student learning?
- How does the school involve parents and the community in school governance decisions?
- Are health and human services available to support students and their families?
- Are translators and written communications available for families who speak languages other than English?
- Does the school or district offer adult education programs?
- Are staff and students involved in community activities?
- Does the school partner with local businesses to enhance its educational program?
- How does the community view the school?
- How is the effectiveness of parent and community involvement strategies evaluated and revised, as needed?
Principles of Effective Standards-Based Assessment
ffective schools use multiple classroom and district assessments, in addition to the State’s assessment, to monitor the achievement of individual students (including English language learners, and students with special needs). Achievement data are disaggregated and reported by all major subgroups.
- What is the formal process for reviewing or choosing the assessments used in the school?
- How do PLC data cycles use assessments to inform instruction and assess progress toward standards? Are PLC assessments aligned to standards?
- How does analysis of PLC data work to support the school-wide plan? Is there alignment between school level assessment data and standardized test data? What changes might be needed?
- How are all teachers engaged in monitoring student learning to support informed reflection and instructional planning? How are students engaged in self assessment to monitor their own learning?
- How are individuals and student groups monitored for equitable growth and achievement?
Principles of Effective Professional Development
ffective schools have a structure and process for developing and implementing a professional development plan that is aligned with the schoolwide program goals; the plan is research-based, and helps staff to better meet the needs of students.
Principles of Effective Use of External Support & Resources
ffective schools access external support and resources from a variety of sources to implement, supplement and/or extend goals. Use of external resources is based on thorough research of their effectiveness and alignment with the schoolwide program plan.
- How does the school identify external resources that align with its mission, vision, school improvement plan, and needs?
- How are partnerships vetted to ensure they address currently identified needs and are based on best practice research?
- What measurement is in place to assess the readiness of the school to work successfully with the organization?
- In what ways do partnerships and collaborations supplement the strengths of staff in the building?
- What steps have been taken to evaluate the effectiveness of external partnerships? What processes are in place to make changes if needed?
Principles of Effective Use of Extended Learning Activities
ffective schools provide informal learning experiences and extracurricular activities, such as sports, music, art and clubs that appeal to diverse populations; these offerings are provided directly or through community partnerships.