Improving Student Performance
Effective, comprehensive school improvement requires that all aspects of improving student performance (curriculum, instruction, assessment, personalization) be addressed simultaneously. Sustaining planned improvements can only occur if the planning results from a collaborative process during which all voices are heard.
The following activity provides a model for school leaders to use in guiding collaborative faculty planning by first examining best practices implemented successfully in other schools, and then by collaborating to use those practices to develop appropriate strategies for their own schools to create a school culture that challenges and supports each student and improves student learning.
Readings and Video:
- Breaking Ranks: The Comprehensive Framework for School Improvement, Chapter 5, “Profiles in Progress; Forest Grove High School,” pp. 144–148.
- Video: “Voices of Reform at Forest Grove High School.”
- Computer, Internet connection, large screen projector, screen
- Chart paper, markers, sticky notes
- Discussion Guide Planning Template
- Prior to the first meeting, ask each participant to read the Forest Grove High School profile and underline, highlight, or mark specific strategies, practices, and/or programs put in place at Forest Grove High School that communicate high teacher expectations, increase access to a rigorous curriculum, support struggling students, and improve the academic success for each student attending the school.
- Break the large group into smaller groups with no more than 8–10 members. Ask the members of each group to discuss what they learned from reading the article and agree upon two to three strategies in each of the three Breaking Ranks core areas (Collaborative Leadership; Personalization; Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment) that might be candidates for implementation at their school. The group members should list these strategies on chart paper.
- Watch the video about Forest Grove High School that was developed by the US Department of Education (Internet connection required).
- After watching the video, ask groups to refine their list, adding any additional strategies that were shown in the video that may be implemented at their school.
- Ask groups to share two strategies from their list (no repeats if possible). Record the strategies on chart paper, categorizing them under the three core areas of the Breaking Ranks Framework:
- Collaborative Leadership
- Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment
- As a large group, discuss:
- What new strategies, practices, and/or programs might have the greatest potential to support high expectations and academic success for each student if they were to be implemented at our school?
- Label three pieces of chart paper with the following headings: Quick Wins, Moderately Difficult Tasks, and Major Tasks.
- Ask each participant to reflect on the readings, the video, and the conversations that have been held and decide what strategies, practices, or programs will have the most impact on meeting the school’s improvement goals.
- Complete the Breaking Ranks Plan for Action template and categorize each idea into one of three areas: Quick Wins, Moderately Difficult Tasks, or Major Tasks.
- Ask each participant to identify one to three most effective ideas from each category and write each on a sticky note. Every person should place the sticky notes on the appropriate pieces of chart paper before he or she leaves the room.
- Type up the responses from the sticky notes. If an activity was selected more than once, place a number beside it with the total number of times it was selected. Distribute to participants.
- The staff and/or an appropriate staff committee (leadership team, site council, etc.) can use this data as they plan future initiatives for school improvement and professional development.