Or what if your district increased graduation rates, empowering more students to pursue post-secondary education? No matter what goal you choose to pursue, improvement planning can make it possible—but only if you make the shift from compliance to action. Here are seven tips to implement a strong improvement plan, and get great results.
1. Plan to improve—not just to comply.
Too many educators see improvement planning as a tedious requirement, rather than an opportunity to transform performance. However, if you simply put a plan on paper without implementing it, you are missing an opportunity to increase school performance and student achievement. Instead of viewing your plan as something you write to keep in compliance, use it as a plan you will implement to ensure improvement. While improvement planning takes time, it can be made much easier with software like Plan4Learning, which automates many aspects of the process, and streamlines document management, tracking, compliance and reviews.
2. Work as a team.
In many districts, there is only one person responsible for writing the campus or district improvement plan, and no one else is asked to give input, implement it or monitor it. While this approach may achieve compliance, it is unlikely to create real improvement. If you want to see meaningful results in your school or district, it’s essential to take a team approach.
Put together a powerful team to develop your plan, implement your plan, and monitor progress toward reaching your goals. When building your team, include a variety of stakeholders who are invested in your school or district. Include teachers, principals, campus staff, district staff, parents and community representatives. Involving these team members brings valuable expertise to your plan, creates buy-in for improvement, and greatly increases your chances of success. Schedule meetings in advance, and communicate important dates with the team, from planning and implementation to monitoring and adjustment. Meeting weekly is ideal, and consistency is key.
3. Keep your plan lean.
Teachers and administrators have full schedules—so it makes sense to keep your plan as lean as possible. Be realistic about what you can accomplish in a year, and don’t include things you don’t plan to implement. One challenge with improvement planning is that you may be tempted to write too many goals and strategies. Then, when it comes time to implement the plan, you can quickly become overwhelmed. Instead, focus on about three to five specific goals with targeted strategies that address problem areas identified in your data and that you feel you can realistically accomplish in a school year.
4. Use data to guide your plan.
Complete a thorough data analysis during the Comprehensive Needs Assessment (CNA) to identify problem areas and their root causes. Then, prioritize the problem areas you plan to address for the school year. To decide which strategies to include, use your data to determine what root causes need to be addressed and what will make the biggest impact on improving student achievement.
5. Plan SMART.
Goals and performance objectives that are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) have a much greater chance of attainment compared to goals and performance objectives that are less concrete. Campus Improvement = District Improvement! Campuses should write SMART performance objectives that align with district SMART goals and address problem areas identified during the CNA. Plan4Learning software makes it easy to ensure that campus plans are aligned to the district plan,
6. Be strategic.
Include strategies in your plan that address the root causes of your prioritized problem areas identified during the CNA. Your strategies are actions that must be implemented in order to successfully reach your goals.
For example, a school I recently worked with determined that 4th grade Math scores on the state assessment had declined each year over the past three years. After digging deeper into the data, it was determined that students were consistently missing questions that involved taking multiple steps to find the answer (the problem). When meeting about this problem, the Math teachers expressed that their adopted math curriculum did not have adequate resources for teaching students to solve multi-step problems (the root cause). So, a strategy they implemented was to spiral in supplemental instruction and practice on solving multi-step problems into each unit of the curriculum in order to reach the goal of improving 4th grade Math scores.
7. Monitor and adjust.
An improvement plan is not something you write at the beginning of the year and then never review again. It’s a living document that you can adapt and adjust when needed. Sometimes strategies don’t create the expected results. Other times we see improvement, but it may not be enough. It is critical that you and your team continue to analyze the data and perform formative reviews of your plan on a regular basis. What progress are you making toward accomplishing your goals? Are the strategies you implemented moving the needle? If not, consider adjusting your strategies and/or creating new ones.
Improvement planning may seem like a lot of work, but when you see real progress made toward accomplishing your goals for your district or campus, it is well worth the effort. Fortunately, you don’t have to go into the process alone. At 806 Technologies, we partner with schools and districts across the U.S. to make improvement planning easier and more effective. Here are a few of the ways we can help:
Get in-depth training and support to put your plan into action.
If you already use Plan4Learning software and need additional help with specific topics, like prioritizing problems or writing performance objectives and strategies, Plan4Learning Plus can be a great solution, providing targeted training and personal support. Contact us.
Get Comprehensive Needs Assessment Training
Need in-person or virtual comprehensive needs assessment training? Contact us to create a program that meets your needs. Learn more.
Invest in Professional Development for Campus and District Leaders
As a leader, what is your role in the improvement planning process? How do you create buy-in and write effective plans? 806 Technologies provides one-on-one coaching and professional development for administrators, with programs like Principals L.E.A.D, Power Up!, Take Flight Learning, and Leading Systems Change. Learn more.
Have questions? Feel free to contact us directly for more information. I look forward to the opportunity to work with you.
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