School Improvement in Maryland

Keep the Focus on Student Achievement

The allocation of time is one of the truest tests of what is really important in any organization. The time devoted to an issue on both the annual calendar and within the daily schedule of an organization tells its people what is really valued.

Monitor your priority goals

Principals set a lot of expectations for staff, but often are not consistent in how they monitor them. Teachers will soon be clear by what their principal monitors, what the priority expectations are. There are a number of critical times during the school day that principals need to be purposeful about communicating a clear and sharp focus on the student achievement target. These include the following:

  • What you say to teachers in post-observation or evaluation conferences
  • How professional development time is used
  • What you say to teachers in hallways
  • On what you compliment teachers
  • What you say to staff in staff meetings
  • How you spend the time (or allow others to spend the time) in staff meetings
  • What expectations you set and how you communicate them
  • How you structure the end products for teams
  • What you write in newsletters

When principals are conferring with teachers about their instruction and/or discussing a teacher's observation, they will want to affirm through their questions the high value they place on staff use of data to inform instruction. For example, asking the following questions will help teachers understand better how the principal expects them to use data. These are also the same questions you use when you lead data dialogues with teams.

  • How do the students demonstrate for you they are proficient on the indicators I observed you teaching?
  • What percent of your students demonstrated proficiency?
  • What diagnostic data do you have to help you identify their area of difficulty?
  • What strategies did you (or will you) use to help students improve their performance?
  • When and how will you reassess their performance on the same indicators?
  • What percent of your students improved on the indicators assessed by the scored assessment?
  • What are you planning to do for the students who are not improving?