Characteristics of Districts with High Performing Schools
Adapted from SCHOOL SYSTEM IMPROVEMENT GUIDE: PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Research suggests the following best practices are common among districts with highly effective and high performing schools.
Clear and Shared Focus
Districts focus on student achievement, on learning and teaching, and on results. Districts reflect shared beliefs and values, establish clear and meaningful goals and a clear vision of change. Districts set goals, build commitment around goals and remove competing programs as well as barriers when appropriate.
High Standards and Expectations for All Students
Districts hold all adults in the system accountable for student learning. Districts have clear expectations for instruction that are consistent with the focus on improved outcomes for students. Superintendents expect excellence of all. Districts exhibit intensive attention to classroom practice and provide guidance and oversight for teaching and improvement of learning for all students. Schools have latitude in use of resources and influence over issues important to school staff in supporting high standards and expectations for all students.
District leaders are dynamic, united in purpose, involved, visible in schools and interested in instruction. Leadership is ethical and distributed; all leaders have clear expectations for instruction, hold themselves and others accountable and consistently monitor schools for improved student achievement. All district administrators have direct or indirect roles in improving teaching over time.
High Levels Of Communication And Collaboration
Districts build a culture of commitment, collegiality, mutual respect and stability. Professional norms include peer support, collaboration, trust, shared responsibility and continuous learning for all adults in the system. Professional learning communities are developed to build teacher knowledge and skill and to change instruction across the system based on student needs. Districts must also develop as professional learning communities.
Alignment Of Curriculum, Instruction And Assessment With Standards
Districts align curriculum standards, assessments and policies. Curriculum is aligned district-wide and there is a centralized and coordinated approach to curriculum. Districts ensure that schools frequently monitor classroom practice for alignment of the “written,” “taught,” and “assessed” curriculum.
Frequent Monitoring Of Teaching And Learning
Districts use data-based evidence to monitor results, to make instructional decisions and for accountability. District staff assists schools in gathering and using data. Districts hold all adults in the system accountable for student learning, beginning with the superintendent, district staff and principals. Districts have clear expectations for student achievement and apply consistent pressure on schools for measurable improvement in student achievement. Superintendents expect excellence of all, monitor, and provide feedback.
Focused Results-Based Professional Development
Districts may be providers or brokers of high quality results-based professional development programs that are focused on classroom practice, include on-site coaching and are intensive and ongoing. Professional development support is based on needs identified at the school level through data-based evidence from results in teaching and learning. Professional learning communities are developed to build teacher knowledge and skills and support change of instruction across the system.
Supportive Learning Environment
Districts ensure that all students are valued and honored throughout the system and assist schools in creating learning environments that provide appropriate instruction for diverse learning. They also ensure that schools are safe, healthy and inviting environments for students and their families. Districts provide professional development to support staff in developing and implementing high expectations for student behavior. Districts develop and maintain procedures to guide student behavior and provide guidelines for dealing effectively with crises.
High Levels Of Parent And Community Involvement
Districts mobilize and manage community and business support and involve family and community as partners. Kansas schools are required to implement a site counsel as one strategy to involve parents and communities. Districts build a culture of commitment, collegiality, mutual respect and stability.
Multi-Tiered System Of Support For Students
Districts establish a multi-tiered system of support to identify instructional/behavioral needs of all students and match instruction and support with those needs. Districts provide technical assistance and professional development support to all staff as they design and implement a multi-tiered system of support in classrooms and schools.