Adapted from School System Improvement Resource Guide: Putting It All Together
What is School Improvement and who needs to do it?
School Improvement is a continuous process districts and schools use to ensure that all students are achieving at high levels. All schools, in collaboration with families, and communities, can create better environments so that all students are well rounded and successful. Continuous improvement of public schools is essential to providing increased student performance and quality results. Innovative, exemplary, and research-based programs, coupled with strong leadership, rigorous curriculum, staff-development, focused and aligned resources, and public participation in planning are critical factors in improving schools.
All schools are encouraged to engage in school improvement planning. The Kansas State Board of Education, through Quality Performance Accreditation, requires that each school develop a school improvement plan based on a self-review of the school’s systems. The self-review required by the state shall include active participation and meaningful input by staff, students, parents, and community members. The school improvement process described in this guide can fulfill this requirement.
Will this process help us sustain effective changes?
In the past, school improvement plans often centered on innovations, such as new programs or changes in schedules. These types of changes, called first order changes, may be positive but do not necessarily create sustained change to student outcomes. Second order changes are those that alter the school culture or the ways people work together. Second order changes often focus on systems as opposed to single programs. The process outlined in this notebook encourages second order change through activities that help staff to reflect on their beliefs and gain focus and ownership that leads to lasting benefits for students and all stakeholders.
Who uses the Kansas Improvement Notebook?
The Kansas Improvement Notebook is offered as a resource to all Kansas school districts and schools to support their work in developing and implementing systemic improvement. District and school personnel may choose to adopt the entire process outlined in this notebook or only adopt those sections that strengthen existing processes.
For schools identified as accredited on improvement, conditionally accredited, or unaccredited for Quality Performance Accreditation, this notebook serves as a guide for completing an improvement process that results in completing the required Integrated Improvement Plan for Schools.
For districts and/or schools identified on improvement under No Child Left Behind, this notebook serves as a guide for completing an improvement process that results in the completion of the required Integrated Improvement Plan for Districts and/or the Integrated Improvement Plan for Schools.
What is the Kansas Improvement Notebook?
The Kansas Improvement Notebook was developed to:
support districts and schools as they analyze existing systems and look at additional structures they may need to create a culture in which the importance of student achievement is reflected in an ongoing, data-driven improvement process;
provide a model planning process to support sustained school improvement; and
highlight findings from state and national experience that provide examples of best practices with proven track records of success in improving student learning.
This guide is designed as a “work in progress” that will grow more valuable as a resource for educators as districts and schools share their insights and suggestions. Districts and schools are encouraged to suggest additional information or revisions to the content of this publication.
Section A highlights the Kansas Improvement Model.
Section B is an overview of factors that impact student achievement. District and school personnel are encouraged to review and thoughtfully consider the concepts in this section as they define and refine their improvement plans.
Section C contains the sample agendas from Section D along with documents to use during the meetings. A result of following these agendas is the creation (or revision) and implementation of an improvement plan, specifically the Integrated Improvement Plan for Districts and/or Schools.
Section D contains sample agendas that guide the districts and schools through the Kansas Improvement Model.
What additional considerations are important when developing and implementing improvement plans?
Existing school and district improvement plans.
Available resources, including fiscal and personnel.
Time available for staff, parents and community to collaborate in developing, refining and/or implementing improvement plans.
Tight connection between district and school plans, resulting in simultaneous “bottom-up” and “top-down” development with a focus on collaboration.
Strategies to mediate the tension between decentralization/school autonomy and district centralization/direction. (See “How Effective School Systems and Schools Work Together in School Improvement?”)
Role of the local school board in the development of policy, regulations and goals.
Role of the school, parents and community groups in plan development and implementation.
Role of professional associations in plan development and implementation.
Creation of professional learning communities both at the district and school level.
Capacity of district and school personnel to implement first order and second order change initiatives.
What is the purpose of this section?
This section presents the Kansas Improvement Model as a tool to support district and school improvement efforts. District and school personnel may choose to adopt the entire model or adopt those sections that strengthen their existing processes.
A variety of improvement models are available to districts and schools. Listed below are a few organizations that offer improvement models: