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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.
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.
EssentialAnalysis.org 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.
We are currently hosting a forum dedicated to questions and discussions about the CES School Benchmarks.
- Looking Collaboratively at Student Work: An Essential Toolkit Siderbars:Some Guidelines for Learning from Student Work The Collaborative Assessment Conference The Tuning Protocol: A Process for Reflection on Teacher and Student Work The Primary Language... March 15, 2002 by Kathleen Cushman - Looking At Student Work, Teacher Collaboration & Learning
- Improving Instruction Through Inquiry and Collaboration (IITIC) Funded by the DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund, the Southern Maine Partnership and the CES Northwest Center are each working with three local schools to assess and improve classroom instruction.... June 20, 2002 - Peer Coaching, Critical Friends Groups, Looking At Student Work, Teacher Collaboration & Learning
- Essential School Structure and Design: Boldest Moves Get the Best Results Sidebars:Essential School Design: The "Non-Negotiables"How Does an Essential School Design Play Out the Common Principles?In Answer, Member Schools Are Developing Benchmark DescriptionsThinking... May 06, 2002 by Kathleen Cushman - Learning Structures, Small Learning Communities, Scheduling, Heterogeneous Grouping
- Sustaining Change: The Struggle to Maintain Identity at Central Park East Secondary School Central Park East Secondary School (CPESS) in East Harlem was one of the most highly acclaimed and successful schools to come out of the period of school reform in the 1980s from which the Coalition... December 02, 2009 by Dianne Suiter, Deborah Meier - sustainability
- Innovative School Design for Small Learning Communitites We shape our buildings: thereafter, they shape us. -Sir Winston ChurchillYou have to know a lot or else. -Elliot Washor Radiant streams of sunlight. Wireless networks and handheld computers.... May 28, 2002 by Jill Davidson - Learning Structures, Small Learning Communities
- "So Now What?" Managing the Change Process Sidebars:"Stages of Concern" in One School's Change ProcessOne High Schoo's Consensus Decision-Making ProcessThe School Development Program's "Three-by-Three" Process What Schools Can Learn from... April 23, 2002 by Kathleen Cushman - The Change Process, Decision Making Processes
- Where to Go for More: Resources for Cycles of Inquiry and Action Teacher Action Research for Equity and Multicultural Education Though brief, this section of the EdChange website is worth noting as a resource that focuses particularly on inquiry and teacher action... June 02, 2009 - Cycle Of Inquiry, Data Collection & Analysis
- School Design: An Architect's View Architect and educator Jeffery A. Lackney, Assistant Professor in the College of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, created "Thirty-Three Principles of Educational Design" to focus... May 28, 2002 by Jeffrey A. Lackney - Learning Structures, Small Learning Communities
- The Essential Conversation: Getting It Started, Keeping It Going Sidebars:Figure 1: Conversation Starters: Some Key Questions Figure 2: Some Techniques to Keep the Conversation Going Figure 3: Conversation Starters: A Discussion About Decency Figure 4:... April 24, 2002 by Kathleen Cushman - The Change Process
- Taking Stock: How Are Essential Schools Doing? Sidebars:Figure 1: Essential Schools' Performance: Some Preliminary Figures Figure 2: Common Measures: What Teachers Feel About Essential Schools Figure 3: Qualitative Questions to Help Assess... April 19, 2002 by Kathleen Cushman - Cycle Of Inquiry, Teacher Research, Data Collection & Analysis
- Making Great Teachers into Great Advisors: Advisory Training at Parker Charter Essential School Many Coalition schools have incorporated advisories into their school structure to helping students find personal connection and opportunities for growth in school. Schools that find advisories... December 13, 2002 by Jill Davidson - Peer Coaching, Teacher Collaboration & Learning
- Getting Started in an Essential School Program Sidebars: Re: LEARNING: New Help in Getting Started Information and Resources For schools beginning to move towards adopting the principles of the Coalition of Essential Schools, the first... April 23, 2002 by Kathleen Cushman - The Change Process
- Distance Learning and the CES Common Principles Sometimes our classroom is quiet. You might hear the tapping of the computer keys and an occasional chuckle or a sigh. Two or three students sit at separate tables; one is focused on the laptop... July 21, 2009 by Jennie Hallisey - Instruction, Technology And Information Literacy
- Oakland's Community Propels Change for Equity Anger and bereavement, throughout history, have provided the engine for relentless struggles for change. -Barbara Kingsolver, Small Wonder "There were more than 1,400 kids in my daughter's school.... July 30, 2002 by Jill Davidson - Community Collaboration, Small Learning Communities
- CES at 25: The Transformative Power of Principle-Based Education As this issue of Horace goes to press and with great sadness, we share the news that CES's founder, Theodore R. Sizer, passed away on October 21, 2009 at home in Harvard, Massachusetts. Ted leaves... December 02, 2009 by Jill Davidson - Ted Sizer, Common Principles
- How Right He Had It I began my professional life as a bilingual high school teacher in Boston before there was actually much formal “bilingual education” to be had. A small group of great teachers and a... December 02, 2009 by Larry Myatt - Ted Sizer, Horace's Compromise
- What Works, What Doesn't: Lessons from Essential School Reform Lesson 1 Change efforts fail without the support of all key stakeholders from the start. Lesson 2 Get consensus on the need for change before you start - then begin working... April 27, 2002 - The Change Process
- Looking Back on 15 Years of Essential School Designs Sidebars:In a High-Stakes Testing Environment'Thinking in Questions'Teachers Reach Across Boundaries for Support and InspirationA Multilingual Essential School Develops LanguageSmall Autonomous... May 10, 2002 - Learning Structures, Small Learning Communities, Scheduling, Subject Integration
- Show, Don't Tell: Video and Accountability For centuries schools have used the spoken or written word to assess how a student is doing, regardless of what has been taught. Think of chemistry classes: Hours of work in the lab must be boiled... June 03, 2002 - Community Collaboration
- Where to go for More Resources for Using Architecture to Support Small Learning Communities Here are some starting points for funding, support and inspiration for schools planning architectural change to support personalization and more powerful learning. U.S. Department of Education's... May 28, 2002 - Learning Structures, Small Learning Communities
- Doing Something Real: Horace interviews with Debbie Meier on Community Service Deborah Meier began her teaching career as a kindergarten and Head Start teacher in Chicago, Philadelphia and New York City. She was the founder and teacher-director of a network of highly successful... April 02, 2008 - Community Collaboration
- Standards and School Reform: Asking the Essential Questions Introduction Much talk about school reform today is talk about standards. References to standards lurk especially within the questions that policy makers pose: Are American kids learning as much... June 03, 2002 - Community Collaboration
- Rewriting the Roles Table of Contents: Introduction New Challenges, New Changes Focusing the Snapshot Meeting the Challenges When Work and Roles Change Coping with Confusion Coping with Changes... June 10, 2002 by Neill Wenger, Robert Hampel, Laura Maxwell - The Change Process
- Vision and Its Foes: Beneath the Surface of School Reform There is a conspiracy of vision amid efforts to remake American schools for the twenty-first century. First among the conspirators are teachers, principals, and university based... April 29, 2002 by Joe McDonald - The Change Process
- Three Views of Lincoln Table of Contents: Introduction Focusing the Snapshot The First Lens: What is Authentic Work? The Search for Authentic Work in the Public Safety Magnet Student Reactions to the... June 10, 2002 by Neill Wenger, Laraine Hong, Robert Hampel - The Change Process
- On the Road to Renewal Table of Contents: Introduction A Brief Description of Marshall Focusing the Snapshot The Context of Marshall High School Early Stages of Restructuring Violence: A Challenge... June 11, 2002 by Richard Clark, Janet Miller, Neill Wenger - The Change Process
- Protecting Your School's Interest While Promoting Quality Research July 1990. This paper, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without written permission of the authors. (An abbreviated version of this paper appeared in Executive Educator, September... June 03, 2002 by Donna Muncey, Patrick McQuillan