School Improvement in Maryland

Key Understandings For CFIP

These key understandings will help school teams use the Classroom-Focused Improvement Process (CFIP) to improve teaching and increase student learning.


CFIP is a process, not a plan. As such, it does not prescribe a rigid format, as most School Improvement Plans do. Rather, it is a question-based protocol for data dialogue to be carried out by collaborative teams as they focus on planning their next instructional unit, leaving the daily lesson planning to the creativity of individual teachers.

The model was developed in response to concerns that, in many schools, the traditional School Improvement Process is very broad and general in its goals and strategies and focused primarily on an annual planning cycle culminating in the Maryland School Assessments (MSA) or High School Assessments (HSA) linked to No Child Left Behind and high school graduation. It has been updated to reflect the expectations of the Maryland College and Career-Readiness Standards and the PARCC assessments.

It is becoming increasingly clear that schools improve because student performance improves; and student performance improves because teachers at the classroom level carefully assess student learning, examine the results of their assessments, implement needed enrichments and interventions for students, consider the implications of assessment results for their future teaching, and adjust their practice accordingly.

The CFIP model is based on both research and best practices and, in many ways, codifies the strategies and reflective insights that truly excellent teachers have been using instinctively for years. The six steps in the process, when used by a collaborative team, will favorably impact the most direct determinant of student performance results: the curriculum, instruction, and assessment practices through which the students are taught.

The Classroom-Focused Improvement Process (CFIP):

  • Uses real time, current data
  • Is specific to each course or grade level
  • Incorporates planning by both collaborative teaching teams and individual teachers
  • Addresses individual students' needs
  • Brings together data from several assessment sources
  • Results in instructional improvements that can be integrated into daily lesson plans
  • Provides for in-class enrichments and interventions that can be re-directed frequently if they are not working
  • Helps teachers perceive the data analysis process as a worthwhile use of their time
  • Values the input of teachers as the most important instructional decision makers

This section provides the background information that school teams will need to use the Classroom-Focused Improvement Process effectively. Included are:

  • A description of why open dialogue and established protocols are so important to success in data analysis
  • Norms for teams to modify and adopt that will provide the climate in which the dialogue essential to CFIP can thrive
  • Why teams of teachers who share standards and administer common assessments are the best groups to use CFIP
  • The many types of data that may be analyzed using CFIP
  • The importance of a collaborative school culture and common planning time for teachers to engage in CFIP