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Domain 4 - Culture and Climate Shift

Each Domain has three practices that describe the broad activities involved in each domain. For each practice, the roles of the state, district, and school is briefly outlined. Practices are not provided in a suggested order of implementation.  Many practices might be implemented simultaneously, although it would be difficult and even counterproductive to focus on too many domains or practices at once. Decisions about what practices to implement when, and how, as well as necessary course adjustments, should consider the particular needs and context of the rapid improvement effort.

Practice 4A: Build a Strong Community Intensely Focused on Student Academic Achievement and Behavioral Outcomes

Practice Description

  • Celebrate successes collaboratively – starting with quick wins early in the rapid improvement process – of students, families, teachers, and leaders. Early success promotes an expectation for further success.
  • Provide explicit expectations about responsibilities, behaviors, and available supports for each role in improving systems and student performance.
  • Model high expectations (of self and others), embed them in everyday practice and language, and reinforce them through shared accountability.
  • Ensure the mission and vision are clearly communicated to all stakeholders and drive the work of improvement efforts in the school (exemplified in beliefs and behaviors).

Examples of How Different Levels of the System Can Enact this Practice

State. Provide districts with tools for tracking, analyzing, and sharing data on school performance, professional practice, perception data, and student opportunities. Share findings and exemplary practices across districts, set policies that require a demanding curriculum, positive behavior supports, and shared accountability for equitable outcomes for all students.

District. Provide systems and structures to support collaborative district and schoolwork such as dedicated time for reflection and collaboration. Align personnel evaluations with the role expectations for rapid improvement. Offer opportunities and avenues for sharing school improvement progress and successes.

School. Establish systems (i.e., structures, policies, procedures, and routines) for focused collaborative work; recognize student effort, positive behavior supports, and academic mastery; recognize job satisfaction and camaraderie among staff as essential assets in a rapid improvement effort. Maintain a positive, encouraging classroom and school culture for students where students feel safe and supported to share their needs, struggles, and concerns. Recognize each incremental improvement but keep the focus on ultimate results at the student, teacher, and school levels. Celebrate team accomplishments and offer recognition for hard work and improvement. Frequently and openly review and discuss with stakeholders data on school improvement progress (including implementation, leading indicators and evaluation results).

Practice 4B: Solicit and Act Upon Stakeholder Input

Practice Description

  • Regularly gather, disaggregate, and analyze collective perceptions held by school personnel, students, families, and the broader community about school climate and its relationship to improvement efforts as well as decision making at all levels.
  •  Utilize multiple methods to communicate and solicit feedback and data from all stakeholders, including historically under-served populations, to discuss, explore, and reflect on student learning.
  • Acknowledge and respond to constructive feedback, suggestions, and criticism in a way that is timely, consistent and predictable.

Examples of How Different Levels of the System Can Enact this Practice

State. Provide instruments and protocols for conducting and evaluating inclusive local perception surveys, forums, and focus groups to districts and schools. Provide opportunities for parents and community members to provide feedback at state and local levels.

District. Administer a diagnostic instrument soliciting feedback from school personnel, families, students, and community members early in the school improvement process with periodic follow-up surveys to assess perceptions of the school and the improvement efforts. Provide training for school leaders on assessing stakeholder perceptions and acting on what they learn.

School. Learn what constituents perceive by conducting surveys, forums, focus groups, and suggestion boxes. Share and act on what is learned. Take constituent input into account when making programmatic decisions and share the impact and inclusion of such input on decisions made. Consistently demonstrate that all voices are heard.

Practice 4C: Engage All Students and Families in Pursuing Educational Goals in a Meaningful Way

Practice Description

  • Intentionally build all students’ personal competencies to pursue goals, persist with tasks, appraise and be accountable for their progress, hone learning strategies, and direct their own learning to further enhance their capacity to learn and succeed.
  • Provide all students with equitable opportunities to connect their learning in school with their strengths, interests, aspirations, and post-secondary goals.
  • Partner with families using relevant two-way communication to engage meaningfully in their child’s learning, progress, interests, well-being and long-term goals and to maintain consistent support for all students.

Examples of How Different Levels of the System Can Enact this Practice

State. Require evidence of direct linkage between family and community engagement and student outcomes in improvement plans and reports. Provide training and resources on family and community engagement. Provide professional learning on student goal setting, self-regulation of learning, and family engagement in the student’s progress.

District. Provide resources for sharing assessments, interest inventories, and career and college information with all students and families. Provide planning templates for students to plan coursework and college and career pathways. Provide line items in the school budget for resources related to family engagement for the specific purpose of supporting student learning, include information about the school’s data supported progress with family engagement in monthly board reports. Set aside time and provide structures for parent and community groups focused on improved student learning.

School. Programmatically and systematically build all students’ skills in setting learning goals, managing their learning, and pursuing their goals by charting progress on coursework and towards their postsecondary goals. Inform and engage families in planning and supporting their students’ education goals. Provide students and their families with a full explanation of assessment results and interest inventories to help them make the best decisions. Access community resources and expertise to expand students’ understanding of potential careers and education options.

Domain 4 Reflection Questions

  • How will your work with your rapid improvement school leaders and teachers acknowledge and include their ideas in creating a culture that values effort, respect, behavioral outcomes and academic achievement?
  • How will you invite students, parents and community members to engage in meaningful dialog? How will you include their ideas in your process for creating a culture that values effort, respect, and academic achievement?
  • How will you include members of the community in your rapid improvement efforts? How will you encourage them to participate in the improvement process?
  • How will you communicate the progress of your rapid improvement? Who will be held accountable for this communication at each level? How will the path be made clear to everyone?
  • How will you solicit and act upon input from stakeholders regarding their perceptions about your schools? What tools need to be created in order to solicit that input? Who will be held accountable in developing and distributing those tools?
  • What will you need to do to adjust perceptions about your schools in improvement, if negative, from your stakeholders? How will you show them your turnaround school progress?
  • How will you share assessment results in a meaningful and relevant manner with your families? What will need to be in place to ensure that all families have access to this information? How will you assist families in educational planning?