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Exploring the concepts of building an effective

School Improvement Plan

je Mock Pro


g n i v o M Art of


School Improvement Plan Topeka USD501

The right direction

This mock project was constructed by Travis Landers for AEP 858: Data Analysis and Assessment. Travis is pursuing a graduate degree in education with an emphasis on ESOL learners. April 2014

Content 05



A Starting Point


Who are we?


What We Need to Know


Why do we need it?


Final Concerns

d n o Bey s t i m i the L


The Right Direction

Introduction Who



District Improvement Plan


USD501 Topeka Schools



Travis Landers is acting as the superintendent of the USD501 Topeka Schools. He is tasked with developing a district improvement plan for the 2012-2013 school year.

Topeka Schools Annual School Improvement Plan & Results-based Professional Development Plan How does this work? In this mock situation, I am the superintendent, for USD501 Topeka Schools. I need to develop a district school improvement plan(SIP) to raise the achievement of all students while also lowering the achievement gap. I am also trying to develop a strong tie with the community, where family and community partnerships help the schools in my district meet the goals above. At the time of this report, I have received only a fraction of the data we need to make a great SIP. Therefore, this report will be broken down into 2 sections:

10% of SIP DATA GATHERED.. We’ve only just begun!

1. What We Know 2. What We Need to Know

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There is much to be learned and gathered but we have started our journey!

One Vision

Walk-through Data establish Professional Development priorities

needs to be organized if many are to share it How Will... decisions be made? by who? with what skills?

Needed Info

disaggregated by school

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Data Staff Values


Student Questionnaires Opinions of Parents


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More testing data MAP

disaggregated data growth

g n i t r a A St t n i o P

Gathering data is certainly a beast but with so many facets to the complex organization that is our modern education system, we need the multitude of different views data offers.

What we know... Picture if you will a situation where either a district was just beginning their use of data to make decisions or perhaps was doing it incorrectly at first and now is changing their methods. The result would be a lot of missing data like the data listed on page 6. This is our scenerio. We have some information about our district but not nearly enough to make the

kind of decisions we need to make. Basically, we know that we don’t know much. Up until this report we were able to get demographical and state testing data for the past 3 years. This is a lot but again not nearly what we need to make our district plan complete. First, let’s see what we do actually know though. Later, we will jump back to the needed data on page 6 and why it is important.

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s h t g n e r t S Our

Who ar

Fortunate get a stron

Our Students.


Our Staff.

Our student groups and overall enrollment have remained fairly consistent over the past few years. Because there has been little change, we have a good grasp on who we need to help.

Like our student body, our state scores have remained very consistent as well. All we need to do is bring those scores up a little and close the gap between some of the different groups we service.

We continue to make strides to create quality lessons for our students by improving our skills. We now have more licensed teachers working in the district. We also have more highly qualified teachers teaching core classes.

Poised for Attack We are in a great situation to make things happen. The consistency of our student population makes our future needs fairly predictable. We know we have a diverse student population that deserves detailed attention. With our growing knowledge of them and a stronger staff, we stand ready to make our biggest improvements yet. African American







11.2% 2011-2012


The Right Direction

Weaknes s


re we?

ely we have demographic data so we can ng sense of who our school really is...

Greater Attention to the Details of REAL Life For now the items listed below are concerns but if we don’t pay close attention to these areas, they could easily be huge weaknesses for our district. As mentioned, we have a very diverse population at our schools. Beyond ethnicity our students also have varied economical situations and this appears to be on the rise.



Our District



Our State



As you can see this is much higher than our state average. There is no telling what is going through the heads of our students on a day-to-day basis. What worries and fears they must have. We must work this into our plan. We must connect with them on this level or we will not be able to help them. Therefore, we need to use numbers to guide us but we can’t forget our true mission. Our plan must be sensitive to who we are dealing with, real people with real problems. The Right Direction


What we to know How do we do business? Perceptions • Culture • C limate • Processes

Who are we? Demographics • District • Schools • S tudents • S taff • Community


The Right Direction

Where are we now? Testing Information • State Testing Results • MAP Testing Results • Other??

need It’s great that we can get an idea of who the students we serve actually are but now it seems urgent to get more information and help them. In a general sense, we know what we want to do(increase overall achievement and reduce the achievement gap) but we need more information to determine: 1. What should our specific goal be? 2. How we can get our students to produce at that level? There are a lot of pieces missing and it seems daunting as to where we should begin. To fill in the gaps let’s use Bernhardt’s Continuous Improvement Planning Model detailed in Using Data to Improve Student Learning in School Districts on page 32. Below I have tried to highlight what we are missing in green.

Where do we want to be? Why do we exist? • • • • •

• •

State Vision and Goals Federal Vision and Goals

Purpose / Mission Vision Goals Objectives Standards

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Why ? t i d e e n e w do The missing green data on the previous pages is important to our cause. We need to establish:




Raise Student Achievement.

Bridge Achievment Gaps.

Get Community Involved.

We would like to see around 86% of our students proficient in reading and 82.3% proficient in math. We are a long way from that happening.

We would like to see the gap between minority groups and whites as low as possible. We want all groups to suceed equally.

Since our situation is so special we need to get our ear to the street and learn more about the people in our community. We need to really understand our kids’ lives and our teachers.

*The numbers above are estimates based on previous years. *Without more data these estimates are not very valid but do give us a starting point.

Excellence Raising student achievement is not an easy thing to accomplish. For this mock situation, two pieces of data have been provided. One was the demographic data we discussed before and the other was state testing data. The testing data gives state test scores for reading and math. One might be quick to say this would be enough to make judgements on where we should head but with such a huge undertaking like a whole district more information needs to be gathered. MAP scores would be a help. Aggregate information regarding both forms of testing would be awesome. (more on this on page 15) To form action steps from this little amount of information could be useful but given what we already know about the population of this district I feel it might not be as helpful as one might think.(more on this in Engagement on the next page) 12

The Right Direction

Equity Again, I feel like another test to base judgments on, would be helpful if we are going to make suggestions as to how we can bridge the gap between minorities and whites in this district. I also feel like the issue with gaps in education is more rooted in cultural economical, and other underlying factors that can not be seen fully from just scores. Sure we can say it exists but it doesn’t help with the why and how to fix it. Initial observations from the given state testing data reveals that there is a gap between whites and minorites. Though our three years of data does not indicate any downward or upward trend in that gap.

Engagement This is the data I most want to see. From what I know about the demographics, this area has a large portion of students which are economically disadvantaged. The state testing data is a bit random at times and in some instances shows sudden drops one year, only to return to a similar level later. I believe to understand why these drops occurred and really get to know this student population, we need to examine them as people first and foremost. How are they living? What is important to them? What worries are they going through because of financial difficulties and being teenagers? I feel like the testing data needs to be clarified with more information from student, community member, teacher, and parent opinions. I would not go into any in depth analysis of data until I examined what students felt about school, how minorities were being taught, what teachers had to say about students and their leaders, if community members had any views, and so much more. Also, so much more needs to be discovered about the teachers. What is their training? What areas are they strong and weak in? The only information that was given was how many were licensed. A walk-through of classes and professional development need to be considered. We can’t determine what professional development they need without knowing things like this. Perhaps this is why Bernhardt places perceptional data as second on her continuous school improvement plan model. This seems like a key section of information to me in this particular scenerio. Knowing the people that make up the district will help show where the numbers come from. The Right Direction


s n r e c n o al C


We want to move our district continuous improvement efforts from random acts of improvement to focused improvement that centers on our ultimate purpose—improving learning for all students. Victoria L. Bernhardt, Ph. D.


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Other District Analysis Issues Disaggregated Data Even if we had all the missing green data on pages 10-11 of this report we still run into a very important issue. We also need that data to be disaggregated into meaningful chunks. Disaggregate means to seperate the whole into parts. Having such a large problem like a whole district to work on requires us to break up the problem into mini battles. We need data broken up into schools and then the individual schools’ data broken up even further.

After the Data It is important to note that after we have collected all the data we still need to sit down and examine where gaps are. In a district setting it might be important to note certain schools that are doing good or bad to see if examples can be found. Perhaps from those individual schools, a wider solution can evolve. It is also important to note that although examining this data might give great insight, it does not necessarily mean answers will be found completely. Perhaps, more questions will arise which will lead to more data collection. This is the nature of the the continuous improvement process.

Closing Remarks

We still have a very long fight ahead of us but having a map to guide us will make the journey more meaningful and easier. Even with all the data in front of us, it will still come down to a lot of hardwork. We have to realize that improvement is ongoing and be comfortable with that, not overwhelmed. If we can take pride in the process because it is focused and thought out, then we have won a big portion of the battle. Hopefully this mock situation has shown you what the continuous improvement process is all about.

Travis Landers Superintendent USD501 Topeka

The Right Direction


School Improvement Plan Topeka USD501 The right direction

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