Continuous School Improvement (27)

Continuous school improvement is the process cycle of school improvement with the major components of creating the vision, gathering data related to that vision, analyzing the data, planning the work of the school to align with the vision, implementing the strategies and action steps outlined in the plan, and gathering data to measure the impact of the intervention.

Benchmark Descriptors

Transforming: Practices reflect the ability to have meaningful dialogue about data and make changes that challenge inequity.

  • A culture of collaborative inquiry occurs where everyone contributes to a cumulative, purposeful, and positive effect on student learning. Structures and process exist to support shared leadership in which the entire staff has collective responsibility for student learning and engages in collaborative inquiry focused on continuous improvement to increase student achievement. This process starts with a shared vision.
  • Shared vision and mission: The entire staff represents a collective voice when it comes to creating and maintaining an effective learning environment. The vision and mission are translated into everyday practice and the results of assessments inform the success of related school goals. Formal and frequent opportunities exist for staff to collaborate on success, challenges, and assessment results as they put into practice the vision and mission of the school. This effort includes the creation of schoolwide outcomes (what students should know and be able to do upon promotion and graduation). The vision and mission are periodically revisited and edited so they remain living, meaningful documents.
  • Schoolwide improvement plan (SIP) : This results-focused plan reflects a philosophy of continuous improvement. It contains measurable performance and equity goals that reflect the vision and the mission of the school. All aspects of the plan are continuously informed by data—including data measuring school processes as well as student achievement and attitudinal data—all disaggregated by demographics. Analysis of the data from the SIP occurs on a continuous basis and informs changes in the plan. All individual staff members are responsible for using data to guide their own practice. This data is also used to inform the SIP. The plan is activated through the formation of teacher teams and school-community work groups.
  • Classroom-based improvement plan: Based on the SIP, each teacher creates a personalized professional development plan for the year.
  • Data analysis: Staff examine data through a lens of equity to identify any investigate any achievement or opportunity gaps. Staff are trained in and use data analysis techniques that include consideration of such factors as multiple types of data, multiple sources, comparisons across groups, benchmarking, and longitudinal data. Data analysis occurs on a continuous basis and staff members frequently collaborate to make adjustments in the schoolwide plan as well as classroom practice. Instructional decision making is universally based on the expert use of robust data. Nonstandard analyses are conducted as unique questions arise.
  • Dialogue about meaning: The school community is engaged in public dialogue about the meaning of the information derived from the data analysis. The dialogue is safe; all staff members have and use the personal skills and professional knowledge to engage in difficult conversations about the meaning of data, especially as it reflects the efficacy of their programs and practices as and the results being obtained with their students. The dialogue builds the alliances necessary to achieve measurable increases in student achievement, deepens staff commitment and capacity to interrupt patterns of inequity and poor student achievement, and provides intellectual and emotional support for building and sustaining an equity-centered learning community.
  • Accountability: School staff are accountable to one another and to the broader school community. The school exhibits results publicly, preparing a school portfolio showing its work for their year and how it relates to schoolwide goals. Parents are active partners in school improvement and related school decisions.
  • Structures that support this work include common planning time, extended periods for professional development (retreats, in-house professional development, Critical Friends Groups (CFGs), and the like), and facilitation inquiry training for staff. In addition, structures are in place to measure the success and impact of the improvement plan. These measurements are public and understood by the entire school community.

Developing: Practice is reflected in teacher planning and instruction.

  • The school uses frequent student assessment to make some formative and summative judgments.
  • Some teachers, grade-level and content-area teams, and administrators collaborate to ensure that curricular, instructional, and assessment practices reflect the intent of the school’s vision and mission.
  • Meetings occur that assess the impact on student achievement that will result from changing instructional practice, although few measures have been developed to evaluate school processes.
  • Most of the data is regularly analyzed by one or two people and turned into useful information that is used to summarize, examine, predict, and prevent. The goal is to use the data to find challenges and inequities in practice and then to use that data to help determine ways of addressing those challenges.
  • The examination of data and dialogue about its meaning occur most often in traditional structures such as grade-level or departmental meetings.

Early: Learning about and planning for the practice has become important to the teaching staff.

  • Some teachers use multiple methods of assessment and performance-based assessments, but these are used only for classroom grades.
  • Broad achievement measures are the primary focus of data-gathering, and activities within the school improvement plan focus externally rather than internally. Standard analyses are limited to disaggregation of state and national test results by mandated demographics.
  • Few staff members are responsible for data summation and interpretation, and most lack the skills and knowledge to engage in meaningful dialogue about data.

Resources allows you to take and analyze surveys on-line, to post your own survey or use one already created, to administer surveys to students, teachers, and parents. It also provides you with tools to engage in the cycle of data-based inquiry, to take the results from your surveys and use those results to drive your school improvement.

Related Tools

Related Principles