School Improvement in Maryland

Understand and Communicate Your Target

Today’s teachers are expected to take all students to proficient performance on a common set of grade level content standard indicators defined by the state. And schools have started to shift their focus from how well teachers are teaching to how well students are learning.

What priorities and expectations do you need to communicate?

You may want to use part of a staff meeting to talk about standards-based reform, state accountability standards, and your expectations for what staff are expected to know and do with the standards. If you think they already have that knowledge, then you might use the following survey questions at a department or staff meeting to test your assumption.

  1. In what areas does the state set standards for our school?
  2. How does the state define standards for students?
  3. Does our district expect us to meet those standards?
  4. What are teachers at this school expected to know and do with standards?
  5. Which of the standards does our school meet and which do we not meet?
  6. Identify three ways that state standards for schools have changed (or will change) the way I do my job.

You will also need to explain the accountability standards target. Because we want to keep the focus on ensuring all students become proficient on the reading/language arts and math indicators they are responsible for learning, we recommend emphasizing the content standards over the assessments. Obviously, there is a direct connection between the two, but focusing on ensuring students are proficient on the indicators they are supposed to learn will help alleviate the negative bias some staff and stakeholders have about teaching to the test.

The critical expectation you need to set is that staff will be responsible for teaching and assessing the state standards and monitoring student progress toward proficiency on those standards. You will need to be clear about why teachers are expected to monitor student progress, how it benefits students, what exactly you expect teachers to do, and how you will monitor this. The attached PowerPoint presentation on "Using Classroom Data to Monitor Student Progress" will provide you the key talking points for why this is important to do.

Another expectation you will need to set is that teams of teachers will meet regularly to analyze the monitoring data, examine the student work behind the data, and identify instructional implications. Any expectation you give orally should also be followed up with a written note or memo.