School Improvement in Maryland

Toolkit for a Data-Driven Culture

This section includes tools for school leaders and team members to use in preparing teachers for the most effective use of the Classroom-Focused Improvement Process. It includes a PowerPoint presentation, handouts, and needs assessment tools for use in:

  • Determining staff beliefs about the assessment process and the value of using data as a major driver of school progress
  • Introducing to the staff the rationale for and the background of the Classroom-Focused Improvement Process (CFIP)
  • Determining your school's readiness to implement CFIP effectively
  • Analyzing your school's capacity to improve and to act on your findings
  • Identifying sources of data to use with CFIP
  • Sharing sample templates that teams might produce as a result of CFIP meetings
  • Answering frequently-asked questions about CFIP
  • Assessing your school's progress in the implementation of CFIP after a year or two of its use

ANALYZING YOUR SCHOOL'S CAPACITY TO IMPROVE

This self-assessment will help your professional learning community identify your school's current status on important indicators associated with developing a school's capacity to improve as well as on new roles for learning community members in CFIP data dialogues. As a self-assessment, it is only valuable if you respond accurately and thoughtfully.

Rate the extent to which your school has implemented successfully the following components of capacity building:

Component 1 of Capacity: Staff Knowledge, Skills, and Dispositions

Knowledge

a. Ensure that teachers have a deep and rich content knowledge in the subjects they are teaching.
b. Ensure that teachers understand how to translate their content knowledge into engaging student learning activities and informative assessments

Skills

c. Ensure that teachers have the skills to manage their classrooms and student behavior appropriately.

Dispositions

d. Develop a culture of high expectations in the school and identify specific ways that all staff members can convey their high expectations to students.
e. Develop a greater sense of efficacy among the staff by identifying and publicizing the ways in which staff are having a significant impact on increasing student learning, despite the obstacles many students may face outside school.
f. Ensure that every student has a strong support system, including a special relationship with a caring adult mentor on academic issues.
g. Affirm their common values in support of a collective focus on student learning as the major purpose of school.

What evidence could you cite about your school's status on these indicators?

What other data will you need to collect to have a fuller understanding of your school's current status and needs in Capacity Component 1?

Component 2 of Capacity: Collaboration and Inquiry Based on Data in a Professional Learning Community

a. Ensure effective engagement of stakeholders in setting goals and developing implementation strategies.
b. Establish multiple opportunities for collaboration, in which team members are expected to share the work, the thinking, and the responsibility for team decisions.
c. Institutionalize the belief that disagreements are normal and that there is a process in place to value and work through differences.

Inquiry

d. Engage in a constant search for "best practices" (teaching strategies shown by confirmed research to be most effective).
e. Incorporate into all professional development activities the time and opportunities for the practice of new strategies in safe settings, reflection with peers, and ongoing feedback on the quality of implementation.
f. Expect staff to embed the strategies taught in professional development sessions and practiced in classrooms into their daily work of teaching.
g. Implement coaching and mentoring programs to provide ongoing feedback and support to teachers as they implement new instructional strategies.

Data Dialogues

h. Provide communication structures such as the CFIP protocol, the time, and the support for focused data dialogues to occur in school teams during the school day, at least once every two weeks.
i. Promote reflective dialogue in school teams that is increasing concrete and precise about student achievement and increasingly self-reflective about the instructional practices contributing to student learning.
j. Demonstrate (by words and actions) the trust in faculty members to act quickly and decisively to increase student learning in response to new data and within clearly identified boundaries.
k. Follow up to ensure that the enrichments, interventions, and instructional improvements that are identified as a result of the CFIP dialogues occur at a high level of quality in all classrooms.

What evidence could you cite indicating your school's status on these indicators?

What other data will you need to collect to have a fuller understanding of your school's current status and needs in Capacity Component 2?

Component 3 of Capacity: Program Coherence

Knowledge

a. Have a clear and stable set of school goals focused on student learning.
b. Communicate the school vision and goals to stakeholders using every possible means.
c. Link all school initiatives together into a comprehensive and coordinated instructional improvement model or framework.
d. Develop several common instructional strategies that all teachers in each course or grade use, based on best practices as validated by confirmed research.
e. Develop several common assessments that, several times a year, all teachers in each course or grade administer, analyze, and act on the results of.
f. Accept into the school only those programs and initiatives that support schoolwide focus areas and program continuity.
g. Keep the curriculum reasonably stable over time, thus providing sustained opportunities to teach it well.
h. Keep assessments reasonably stable over time so that teachers have sufficient opportunities to prepare students adequately for them.
i. Keep teaching assignments stable enough over time so that teachers have opportunities to learn the curriculum content and how to teach a particular age group and course most effectively.
j. Keep program leaders and positions reasonably stable over time so that initiatives can be developed and supported.

What evidence could you cite indicating your school's status on these indicators?

What other data will you need to collect to have a fuller understanding of your school's current status and needs in Capacity Component 3?

Component 4 of Capacity: Resources

a. Provide sufficient and high quality technical resources to support effective teaching.
1. Classroom work space and supplies
2. Curriculum aligned with Maryland College and Career-Ready Standards and prioritized so that students have sufficient time to become proficient in the essential skills and knowledge within the school year
3. Textbooks, library books, computers, labs, and other supportive material
b.
1. Knowledgeable and supportive central office staff
2. In-school content and pedagogical experts
3. Support services for students, such as guidance counselors, school nurses, and psychologists
c.
1. 1. Allocate the lion's share of school-based funds to the identified priority areas in the school progress plan.
2. Keep instructional time sacred and never infringed upon.
3. Develop students' and teachers' schedules around the academic learning needs of students, not the convenience of adults.
4. Provide several opportunities each week for collaborative learning and planning by teachers of each course or grade.
5. Ensure that the most effective teachers (as shown by student performance data) work with the most challenging students.

What evidence could you cite indicating your school's status on these indicators?

What other data will you need to collect to have a fuller understanding of your school's current status and needs in Capacity Component 4?

Component 5 of Capacity: Distributed Leadership

a. Promote an environment that is open to risk taking, collaboration, and participative decision-making.
b. Establish a climate among the faculty promoting continuous improvement and striving for a better school.
c. Develop a consensus among all stakeholders in the community that supports the actions of the school.
d. Communicate constantly and in an open and objective fashion with internal and external stakeholder groups about the school's mission and vision, as well as its current situation.
e. Ensure that all voices in the school community are heard and respected.
f. Model continuous learning by active participation in all schoolwide professional development sessions.
g. Recognize and reward progress and embed celebrations into the school culture.

What evidence could you cite indicating your school's status on these indicators?

What other data will you need to collect to have a fuller understanding of your school's current status and needs in Capacity Component 5?

Adapted from the work of:

Kruse, Sharon, Karen Seashore Louis, and Anthony Byrk. "Building Professional Community in Schools." Center on Organization and Restructuring of Schools, 1994.

Newmann, Fred M., M. Bruce King, and Peter Youngs. "Professional Development that Addresses School Capacity: Lessons from Urban Schools." American Journal of Education (August 2000): 259-300.

REFLECT ON YOUR FINDINGS

After reflection, complete the following:

  1. What are some of the indicators in which the most progress has been made at your school ("3"s)?

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  2. What are some indicators that require further work ("1"s)?

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In what capacity component are most of these weaker indicators? ________________

TAKE ACTION ON YOUR FINDINGS

Capacity component of greatest concern: ________________________________

Discuss with your colleagues who share a similar concern:

INDICATORS OF CAPACITY REQUIRING THE MOST FURTHER WORK FIRST STEPS TO TAKE AT YOUR SCHOOL TO BUILD CAPACITY IN THESE AREAS

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INDICATORS OF CAPACITY REQUIRING THE MOST FURTHER WORK FIRST STEPS TO TAKE AT YOUR SCHOOL TO BUILD CAPACITY IN THESE AREAS

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