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A Self-Guided Audit for School Improvement

“Barr and Yates have provided a valuable tool to support two critical components of a school or district improvement process: using data and selecting strategies that will address identified needs. . . . The audit process in Turning Your School Around respects the realities of school contexts. It does not require a sophisticated technology system, and it describes modifications that can be made to keep the process manageable within local constraints.” —Edie L. Holcomb, author of Students Are Stakeholders Too and Asking the Right Questions “Finally, a step-by-step guide for conducting a school improvement audit that is compatible with state audit tools. Authors Barr and Yates give readers a tool that removes the guess work from identifying root causes of low student achievement and replaces it with improvement findings and evidence. Turning Your School Around offers new hope to those educators who have tried everything with no success.” —Rhonda Caldwell, deputy director, Kentucky Association of School Administrators The far-reaching consequences of academic failure are now well known. High-poverty, low-performing schools in particular face an urgent need to transform in order to meet the needs of all their students. The school improvement audit—a research-proven process of self-evaluation that looks at every aspect of a school or district—yields evidence-based conclusions that can significantly enhance education for children at risk. Turning Your School Around: A Self-Guided Audit to School Improvement follows a step-by-step process with tips and practical examples that can help all schools become high-performing learning communities. This resource addresses the following critical areas:

TURNING

Your School

AROUND

Eliminating practices that manufacture low achievement Ensuring effective leadership Engaging parents, community, and schools to work together Holding high expectations for children of poverty and culturally diverse students Targeting low-performing students and schools, particularly in reading Creating a culture of data and assessment literacy Building and sustaining instructional capacity Reorganizing time, space, and transitions

solution-tree.com

YATES

A complete practice exercise is included, along with reproducibles. Visit www.go.solution-tree.com/schoolimprovement to view this book’s online resources.

A Self-Guided Audit for School Improvement Robert D. BARR

Aligning, monitoring, and managing the curriculum

BARR

• • • • • • • • •

TURNING Your School AROUND

TURNING Your School AROUND

Debra L. YATES


Copyright © 2010 by Solution Tree Press Materials appearing here are copyrighted. With one exception, all rights are reserved. Readers may reproduce only those pages marked “Reproducible.” Otherwise, no part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without prior written permission of the publisher and the author. 555 North Morton Street Bloomington, IN 47404 800.733.6786 (toll free) / 812.336.7700 FAX: 812.336.7790 email: info@solution-tree.com solution-tree.com Visit go.solution-tree.com/schoolimprovement to download the reproducibles in this book. Printed in the United States of America 13 12 11 10 09

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Barr, Robert D. Turning your school around : a self-guided audit for school improvement / Robert D. Barr, Debra L. Yates. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-1-934009-72-7 (perfect bound) -- ISBN 978-1-935249-29-0 (library binding) 1. School improvement programs. 2. Schools--Evaluation. 3. Educational leadership. 4. Educational innovations. 5. Community and school. I. Yates, Debra L. II. Title. LB2822.8.B36 2010 371.2’07--dc22 2009039572

Solution Tree Jeffrey C. Jones, CEO & President Solution Tree Press President: Douglas M. Rife Publisher: Robert D. Clouse Director of Production: Gretchen Knapp Managing Production Editor: Caroline Wise Senior Production Editor: Edward Levy Proofreader: Elisabeth Abrams Text and Cover Designer: Amy Shock


Contents About the Authors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xi Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xiii

PART I

The Struggle for School Improvement . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 The New Accountability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 New Hope for Low-Performing Schools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 How This Book Is Organized . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

Chapter 1 A Science of Teaching and Learning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 The Growing Interest in School Audits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 International Developments in Self-Evaluation Audits . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 School Improvement Audits in the United States . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Common Elements in School Improvement Audits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 An Evidence-Based Education Evaluation Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17

Chapter 2 An Overview of the Audit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Why Does the Audit Work? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 What Does the Audit Require of the School Community?

. . . . . . . . . . 21

How Extensive Should the Audit Be? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 How Long Does the Audit Last? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 What Else Should One Expect? The Nine Rubrics

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23

Chapter 3 A Closer Look at the Audit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Gathering the Data

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28

Mobilizing the Team

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31

Conducting the Investigations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Supplementing and Analyzing Evidence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Building Consensus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 Planning for the Future

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36

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VIII

Chapter 4 Audit Team Training Exercise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Overview of the Training . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Instructions for the Training . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Sample Workgroup Report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 Working Toward Consensus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Sample Audit Team Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46

PART II

The Nine School Improvement Audits . . . . . . . . . . . 47 School Improvement Audit 1 Eliminate Practices That Manufacture Low Achievement . . . . . . . . . 49 Appointing and Charging the Workgroup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 Gathering the Evidence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 Workgroup Tasks

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51

Sample Workgroup Report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 Working Toward Consensus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 Sample Audit Team Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56 Possible Interventions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57

School Improvement Audit 2 Ensure Effective District and School Leadership . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 Appointing and Charging the Workgroup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 Gathering the Evidence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 Workgroup Tasks

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62

Sample Workgroup Report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 Working Toward Consensus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 Sample Audit Team Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66 Possible Interventions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67

School Improvement Audit 3 Align, Monitor, and Manage the Curriculum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 Appointing and Charging the Workgroup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 Gathering the Evidence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 Workgroup Tasks

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74

Sample Workgroup Report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75 Working Toward Consensus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77


CONTENTS

Sample Audit Team Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78 Possible Interventions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78

School Improvement Audit 4 Engage Parents, Communities, and Schools to Work as Partners . . . . . . 81 Appointing and Charging the Workgroup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82 Gathering the Evidence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82 Workgroup Tasks

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84

Sample Workgroup Report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85 Working Toward Consensus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87 Sample Audit Team Conclusions

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88

Possible Interventions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89

School Improvement Audit 5 Understand and Hold High Expectations for Poor and Culturally Diverse Students . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93 Appointing and Charging the Workgroup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94 Gathering the Evidence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95 Workgroup Tasks

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97

Sample Workgroup Report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97 Working Toward Consensus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101 Sample Audit Team Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102 Possible Interventions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103

School Improvement Audit 6 Target Low-Performing Students and Schools, Starting With Reading . . 107 Appointing and Charging the Workgroup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 108 Gathering the Evidence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 108 Workgroup Tasks

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110

Sample Workgroup Report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111 Working Toward Consensus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115 Sample Audit Team Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 116 Possible Interventions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117

School Improvement Audit 7 Create a Culture of Data and Assessment Literacy . . . . . . . . . . . 119 Appointing and Charging the Workgroup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 120 Gathering the Evidence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 120 Workgroup Tasks

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121

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X

Sample Workgroup Report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 122 Working Toward Consensus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 125 Sample Audit Team Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 126 Possible Interventions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 127

School Improvement Audit 8 Build and Sustain Instructional Capacity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129 Appointing and Charging the Workgroup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131 Gathering the Evidence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131 Workgroup Tasks

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133

Sample Workgroup Report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 134 Working Toward Consensus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 137 Sample Audit Team Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 138 Possible Interventions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 138

School Improvement Audit 9 Reorganize Time, Space, and Transitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 143 Appointing and Charging the Workgroup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145 Gathering the Evidence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145 Workgroup Tasks

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 147

Sample Workgroup Report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149 Working Toward Consensus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 151 Sample Audit Team Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 152 Possible Interventions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 153

PART III

Appendices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157 Appendix A Reproducible Forms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 159 Appendix B The Audit Protocols . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 171 Appendix C A Framework of Research on High-Poverty, High-Performing Schools . . . 189 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 195 Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 205


6

About the Authors Robert D. Barr, PhD, is an educator, speaker, author, and senior analyst with the Boise State University Center for School Improvement, where he directs the Center for School Improvement and Policy Studies. In addition, he has been a professor, director of teacher education, and dean of Boise State’s College of Education. Bob has keynoted hundreds of state, regional, national, and international conferences, and provided workshops for schools, school districts, and state departments of education in every area of the United States. He has been selected for the National School Boards Association’s prestigious Meet the Expert sessions at their national conferences ten times. He has received three national awards for distinguished achievement. Bob has appeared on Firing Line, ABC Evening News, and The O’Reilly Factor and has frequently been quoted in The New York Times. He is a nationally recognized speaker, consultant, and scholar in the areas of youth at risk, school improvement, and alternative education. He is the coauthor with Debra Yates of Welcome to Middletown (Solution Tree Press, 2006), an educational simulation utilizing data assessment for school improvement, and coauthor with William Parrett of The Kids Left Behind (Solution Tree Press, 2007).

6 Debra L. Yates, EdD, spent fifteen years of her public teaching career in alternative education, working with high school dropouts, push-outs, and at-risk youth. Her research focus has been on effective schools of choice, alternative education, and school improvement. Deb has also served as a professional development facilitator for the Indiana State Department of Education and has been a public school consultant. She is an assistant professor of education at the College of Idaho, where she supervises an experientially based fifth-year program and supervises graduate interns’ research projects in the local public schools on such topics as standardized testing and its repercussions, tracking and leveling for math in elementary classrooms, XI


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body-mass index and student activity levels in middle school, comparison of scripted elementary math curricula, benefits of same-sex classrooms, gender-specific instruction, and effective strategies for working with youth in poverty. Deb has won several writing awards, including the James T. Sears Award for Curriculum and Pedagogy in 2006 and the Distinguished Paper Award of the American Educational Research Association in 2005. She is the coauthor with Robert Barr of Welcome to Middletown (Solution Tree Press, 2006).


6

Preface Unlike researching and writing a book, the development of the guided self-evaluation audit involved an unusual combination of research, expert opinion, creativity, and even trial and error. From start to finish, the creation, development, field testing and refinement involved a five-year process, even longer if you consider that the foundational research for the audit was based on an earlier book, The Kids Left Behind (2007), which I coauthored with William Parrett. In 2005, Barbara Kennedy and Connie Lester, at the time both in leadership roles in the Kentucky Department of Education, invited me to provide training for that year’s group of Highly Skilled Educators. Through this work I gained a better understanding of the comprehensive school support program that Kentucky had developed. One aspect of that program was the school improvement “scholastic audit.” When I learned the cost of this external audit, and that the state could afford to audit only a limited number of schools, I began thinking about the concept of a self-evaluation audit. Barbara was enthusiastic and encouraged me to continue to develop this concept. Over time, as I began to develop my preliminary ideas, more and more people encouraged me with their belief in its importance. Especially in my work in high-poverty, high-performing schools, I would hear from educators, “Everyone kept encouraging us to improve, but we were never sure exactly what needed to be the focus of our work.” A self-evaluation audit seemed to meet that need. In London, Alan Boyle of the Learning Trust gave me a firsthand look at how audits are used in the United Kingdom. He arranged for me to tour schools in Hackney, one of the poorest communities in London. At Woodberry Down Primary School, I met Greg Wallace, the former principal, who took me on tours of the school, during which I visited classrooms, reviewed curriculum materials, examined student work, and talked to students. I especially remember the small boy from Somalia, who although he could barely speak English, was able to explain with such enthusiasm what he was learning. Greg Wallace’s description of school reform efforts at the Woodberry Down School was riveting. Based on his success, Greg has been given responsibility for two additional high-poverty Hackney schools. He now divides his time each day among three schools. One key explanation for his success in turning around low-performing schools was the importance of identifying the three or four most crucial areas of needed improvement. Greg has continued to

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emphasize the importance of focusing carefully on a few specific areas of needed improvement. The use of the audit in U.K. schools provides a process to accomplish this essential step. The development of the audit concept was also refined through direct school improvement work in communities across the United States. Since 2004, I have worked in schools, school districts, and state departments of education, as well as with state and national professional associations in more than forty states. In each and every place, I have learned something new regarding the challenging and complex task of improving schools. And while space does not allow every one to be mentioned, I am indebted to them all for allowing me to field test my ideas and learn about school improvement at the grassroots level. To all of you who have permitted me to work in your schools, I offer my heartfelt appreciation. —Bob Barr, Boise, Idaho, July, 2009


6

Introduction We would do anything in our power if we only knew what needed to be done and that it would offer hope of better student achievement. What we do know is that we can’t run any faster; we can’t work any harder. Everyone beats up on us for not being more successful, but no one ever helps us understand what we need to do. We feel like we are between a rock and a hard place—no one ever takes the time to help us find our way to greater success. —Principal of a low-performing school, Louisiana

After almost a decade of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) national educational policy in the United States, there remain tens of thousands of moderately successful, low-performing, and failing schools in every state. They are inevitably composed of large groups of children of poverty and minority students—usually both. There is an urgent need for these schools to improve their performance and find ways to ensure that all of their students, in every identifiable subgroup, learn to read well and master basic mathematics. In part, this urgency has stemmed from the increasingly severe NCLB sanctions for schools that fail to make adequate yearly progress, but the larger issue relates to the increasingly high education levels necessary for achieving the good life. Without high levels of literacy and mathematics, many students will find the door of opportunity slammed shut and could live out their lives in one of the richest nations on earth unemployed, underemployed, or worse, unemployable. The frustration and despair experienced by these youth often lead to alcohol and drug problems and, in many cases, to aberrant or criminal behavior. Over 80 percent of the men and women in prison in the United States are high school dropouts; over half lack literacy levels sufficient for the demands of the contemporary workplace (Barr & Parrett, 2007). The brutal truth is that for so many children of poverty and minority students, the local school is the only hope for achieving economic success. After more than a decade of searching, there is now a growing understanding about what lies behind the success of high-poverty, high-performing schools (Barr & Parrett, 2007). Research has 3


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also begun to provide new and effective tools for school transformation. One of these tools is the school improvement audit, which provides schools with a detailed, step-by-step self-evaluation protocol. The current audit has been designed and developed specifically for both moderately successful schools and schools that are in danger of receiving dramatic NCLB sanctions. Be warned, though, that the audit protocol is neither easy nor painless. It demands a schoolwide commitment to an intensive experience that will open every schoolhouse door and file and expose both failures and successes. It demands that teachers, administrators, board members, and parents work together in ways that many have never experienced. Once they do, however, there is great hope for the children who have for so long been left behind.

The New Accountability NCLB brought a new type of accountability to public education based on student achievement. This new world involves carefully stated and measurable standards and goals, objective assessments of student achievement, requirements for specific achievement levels for designated subgroups of students, and a variety of accountability measures for schools and school districts that are failing to achieve the standards. NCLB transformed public education. In certain areas, it eliminated the local control that had always been the hallmark of public education and replaced much of the authority that had been vested in local school boards, state departments of education, and state legislatures. It confronted and challenged “seat of the pants” decision making and replaced it with data-driven decision-making processes. It replaced “drive-by” professional development with targeted, continuing interventions that could be shown to enhance student achievement. The old “one damn fad after another” type of school improvement has given way to long-term interventions, monitoring of progress toward achieving measurable goals, and continual mid-course corrections. PowerPoint lectures by university educators and out-of-town consultants have largely been replaced by hands-on professional development activities, focused processes, and protocols. Top-down administration has also begun to give way to consensus building, committee work, and learning communities. Amid all these school improvement efforts, student achievement has remained the one basic focus.

New Hope for Low-Performing Schools At first, NCLB met great resistance in many public schools. Almost everywhere one could hear, “It’s not the schools that are failing, it’s the families.” Schools and schools districts with large numbers of children of poverty and minority students argued that it was not fair to measure their students against schools in affluent communities. They argued for some type of handicapping that provided a formula of lower expectations based on the degree of poverty in their community. So many educators simply did not believe children of poverty and minority students could learn, and they struggled for some rationale to support their beliefs (Haycock, 2001). However, as more and more high-poverty schools and school districts documented high performance, arguments that children of poverty simply could not learn began to disappear (Haycock, 2001). Today, there are tens of thousands of high-poverty, high-performing schools and school districts in the United States. These schools have been identified and publicized by the Education


INTRODUCTION

5

Trust, state departments of education, and professional associations. Over time, more and more of these schools and school districts have been studied, and we have come to understand how they achieved their remarkable successes. At the same time, there has been growing pressure on low-performing schools to improve student achievement. These schools have been publicly identified and often embarrassed in their annual state report cards. They have been pressured by state departments and parent groups to improve and subjected to a variety of often dramatic interventions. Highly skilled consultants and SWAT teams of interventionists have been sent in to rescue and turn around such schools. New administrators have been assigned and extra funds provided for specific interventions, such as professional development, after-school and summer programs, and tutoring. Some of these schools have been reconstituted, a process in which entire staffs of teachers and administrators have been replaced by a new community of educators.

The Growth of High-Poverty Schools Addressing the needs of high-poverty schools and school districts is important because there are so many of them. Economic conditions in the United States have driven more and more citizens below the poverty line. Many low-level jobs have moved outside the country or been eliminated by technology. The result is that fewer and fewer jobs are available to American workers who lack a good education. The number of homeless, the number of families living below the poverty line, the number of families without health insurance, and the number of minority families have also increased dramatically almost everywhere in the United States (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2008). Low-performing students are almost always found in the inner cities, the poorest rural communities, and in poverty pockets in Georgia, Alabama, throughout the Mississippi Delta region of Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana. They are also found in rural communities in the Midwest, the Southwest, and the Appalachian region of the South. But the demographics of the United States as a whole and of most of its individual states have changed rapidly in recent decades due to immigration, especially from Mexico, South and Central America, the Caribbean, Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe. Poor and immigrant families have arrived in numbers that have all but overwhelmed social services and public schools, not only in California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida, but also in less conspicuous cities like Ames, Iowa; Boise, Idaho; and Peoria, Illinois (Rice & Delagardelle, 2001). As a result, almost every school district experiences the presence of “the kids left behind.� Too often, schools serving these populations feel defensive and defeated. Teachers and administrators often express feelings of guilt for their students’ failures. With a tight budget, ruined or dilapidated facilities, too few computers and books, and staff that includes far too many new, inexperienced, uncertified, or misassigned teachers and administrators, these schools work with our most difficult and needy students (Jerald, 2001; Barth, Haycock, et al., 1999). In the United States, a child who has grown up in poverty is five times more likely to be taught by an inexperienced or inadequately prepared teacher (Barr & Parrett, 2007). Some of the teachers and administrators in these schools may exhibit racial and class prejudice; many others feel that they, too, have been left behind.


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Moderately Successful Schools Another group of low-performing schools are performing much better yet still fall short of proficiency. The teachers, administrators, and parents of these schools work against great odds and often feel they are making progress with little or no external help. Many of these moderately successful schools describe themselves as having to “bootstrap” it—to lift themselves up through sheer determination and willpower. For these schools, too, and the administrators, board members, and parents who are trying to improve them, help has arrived. In Turning Your School Around: A Self-Guided Audit for School Improvement, educators have a systematic, researchbased protocol for self-evaluating their school to identify crucial areas of needed improvement that must be addressed in order for children of poverty and minority students to achieve high levels of proficiency. As usual, the good news comes with a sobering caveat. Low-performing schools must be willing to work through a demanding process. This do-it-yourself approach demands active participation by the entire school community. It demands openness, honesty, and hard work. It requires teamwork, collaboration, and consensus building, as well as disagreement and dialogue. However, if a school community is willing to work through this highly organized protocol, or even a portion of it, there is real hope that the school will turn a crucial corner and a new, more effective way of working together will emerge.

How This Book Is Organized Turning Your School Around is organized into two parts. Part I presents the background to the protocol, an overview of the steps that are involved in performing the audit, and sample training exercises. Part II contains nine sections, one for each of the nine rubrics of the school improvement audit. There are three appendices. Appendix A contains the reproducible forms and tables needed to perform the audit. Appendix B contains the nine audit protocols. Readers may also visit go.solution-tree.com/schoolimprovement to view, download, and print these resources. Appendix C contains a list of the background studies that inspired this book.


A Self-Guided Audit for School Improvement

“Barr and Yates have provided a valuable tool to support two critical components of a school or district improvement process: using data and selecting strategies that will address identified needs. . . . The audit process in Turning Your School Around respects the realities of school contexts. It does not require a sophisticated technology system, and it describes modifications that can be made to keep the process manageable within local constraints.” —Edie L. Holcomb, author of Students Are Stakeholders Too and Asking the Right Questions “Finally, a step-by-step guide for conducting a school improvement audit that is compatible with state audit tools. Authors Barr and Yates give readers a tool that removes the guess work from identifying root causes of low student achievement and replaces it with improvement findings and evidence. Turning Your School Around offers new hope to those educators who have tried everything with no success.” —Rhonda Caldwell, deputy director, Kentucky Association of School Administrators The far-reaching consequences of academic failure are now well known. High-poverty, low-performing schools in particular face an urgent need to transform in order to meet the needs of all their students. The school improvement audit—a research-proven process of self-evaluation that looks at every aspect of a school or district—yields evidence-based conclusions that can significantly enhance education for children at risk. Turning Your School Around: A Self-Guided Audit to School Improvement follows a step-by-step process with tips and practical examples that can help all schools become high-performing learning communities. This resource addresses the following critical areas:

TURNING

Your School

AROUND

Eliminating practices that manufacture low achievement Ensuring effective leadership Engaging parents, community, and schools to work together Holding high expectations for children of poverty and culturally diverse students Targeting low-performing students and schools, particularly in reading Creating a culture of data and assessment literacy Building and sustaining instructional capacity Reorganizing time, space, and transitions

solution-tree.com

YATES

A complete practice exercise is included, along with reproducibles. Visit www.go.solution-tree.com/schoolimprovement to view this book’s online resources.

A Self-Guided Audit for School Improvement Robert D. BARR

Aligning, monitoring, and managing the curriculum

BARR

• • • • • • • • •

TURNING Your School AROUND

TURNING Your School AROUND

Debra L. YATES

Turning Your School Around  

Learn a step-by-step protocol for the self-guided audit focused on crucial areas of school improvement identified in the nationally recogniz...