Projects

Developing SEA Support for Low-Performing Schools

Background

The Office of School Leadership has been asked to add an additional layer to its Transformational Leaders Academy to support school turnaround on a district level. This project seeks to partner with the Center on School Turnaround and the University of Virginia to work with identified districts in a capacity building framework. 

Project State(s)

Project Updates

Most Recent Update: |

The SECC South Carolina liaison and the director of School Transformation at the South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) met on September 8 to finalize the Year 6 work plan for the Low-Performing Schools Project. The Year 6 SECC activities will align with the initiatives from the Office of School Transformation (OST). Those major capacity building activities include (1) Planning meeting to finalize the scope of work for the four domains for school improvement and research on school turnaround leader competencies; (2) Providing research on school turnaround competencies to inform SCDE talent development and retention for low-performing schools; (3) Supporting OST with resources, thought-partnering, and training upon request based on the Center on School Turnaround's (CST) Four Rapid Domains for School Improvement; 4. Developing professional learning modules to focus on the selection and use of the SCDE workbook of evidence-based practices to support the SCDE priority schools community of practice (workbook is awaiting approval from SCDE senior leadership); and (5) Designing and providing (jointly with SCDE) professional development based on the SCDE cross-office collaborative (Special Education, School Transformation, Instruction) to support the rural professional learning collaborative (currently in inception stage).  

 

Previous Updates:

The SECC South Carolina liaison and the director of School Transformation at the South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) met on September 8 to finalize the Year 6 work plan for the Low-Performing Schools Project. The Year 6 SECC activities will align with the initiatives from the Office of School Transformation (OST). Those major capacity building activities include (1) Planning meeting to finalize the scope of work for the four domains for school improvement and research on school turnaround leader competencies; (2) Providing research on school turnaround competencies to inform SCDE talent development and retention for low-performing schools; (3) Supporting OST with resources, thought-partnering, and training upon request based on the Center on School Turnaround's (CST) Four Rapid Domains for School Improvement; 4. Developing professional learning modules to focus on the selection and use of the SCDE workbook of evidence-based practices to support the SCDE priority schools community of practice (workbook is awaiting approval from SCDE senior leadership); and (5) Designing and providing (jointly with SCDE) professional development based on the SCDE cross-office collaborative (Special Education, School Transformation, Instruction) to support the rural professional learning collaborative (currently in inception stage).  

The SECC South Carolina liaison, director, deputy director and the South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) chief strategy officer met for Year 6 planning. At the meeting, the chief shared some of the initiatives from the Office of School Transformation. There is major interest in using the four domains for rapid school improvement with the state’s failing schools. The SECC South Carolina liaison requested a meeting with the director of School Transformation to share materials and to discuss ways that SECC can continue to support their work to include on the Year 6 work plan. The chief strategy officer explained that there was also an interest in the turnaround principal competencies. SECC will share resources and possible ways to assist with developing a course of support either working directly with principals or providing resource materials to be used with principals. The SECC South Carolina state liaison will continue to reach out to schedule a meeting(s) to finalize the Year 6 activities (training, tools development, thought-partnering, etc.).

During July, SECC was informed that the SCDE transformation team would not be able to participate in the Center on School Turnaround's August meeting due to several competing priority issues. SECC offered assistance (transitioning, coaching, training, tools development, thought-partnering, etc.) as the SCDE undertakes the "takeover" of one of its school districts. The SECC South Carolina liaison and the SCDE strategy chief met to review the fourth quarter and the overall Year 5 Work Plan and to begin preplanning for Year 6. The chief indicated that we should consider the school improvement framework and evidenced-based catalog and indicated that evidence-based practices modules development should be carried over on the Year 6 Work Plan. Providing technical assistance/professional development (TA/PD) for priority school principals and/or school improvement coaches will continue and also be carried into Year 6. The SECC state liaison explained that the work slowed in that area, and the chief shared that SCDE had to adhere to a contract with another TA provider. Additionally, the priority school coordinator is no longer with SCDE, and a new contact will be shared in the future. The chief also indicated that she will communicate with the director of school transformation regarding the need to revise/update the work plan for Year 6. SECC and SCDE agreed that SCDE feedback will be provided on or before their August 28 joint Year 6 work session.

During June, several communication exchanges occurred between SECC and the SCDE director of School Transformation. The following topics were discussed. The SIP framework continues to be ongoing and is in need of a final edit from the director. She will complete the final edit and submit it up chain of command in SCDE. The next item focused on possibly having SECC to develop modules as a companion for the evidenced-based practices guidebook, which was jointly developed with SECC support. The SCDE will provide its revised draft of the evidence-based guidebook so SECC can use it for developing the learning modules for statewide training. Once the guidebook is received, SECC will move forward with team review to start creating draft modules. In a follow-up email, SECC provided information and documents related to the Center for School Transformation's  Four Rapid School Improvement Indicators and inquired if the director and/or coordinator and team would be interested in participating in a corresponding workshop in August. A reply will be provided to SECC once the trip is approved by the director's supervisor.

SECC staff scheduled meetings for the Low-Performing Schools project to follow up on current initiatives and to receive feedback from SCDE. The second quarter meeting also was conducted. The five key areas on the plan continue to be the focus with ongoing communication and efforts toward reaching work plan targets with flexibility and related adjustments. Several projects have been on hold due to staffing and workload changes at SCDE. There was a meeting with the coordinator for South Carolina Priority Schools to brainstorm future support and the planned problem of practice activity Consultancy Dilemma to be used during the March priority schools principals' meeting. Key contacts were directed to the center director and deputy director to ensure continued services.  

During January, the Low-Performing Schools projects continued. Meetings were scheduled to follow up on current initiatives and to receive feedback from SCDE. The five key areas on the plan continue to be the focus with ongoing communication and efforts toward reaching work plan targets with flexibility and related adjustments. SECC partner staff provided a sample table of information on evidenced-based instructional practices to SCDE, and SECC is awaiting feedback. The sample table would eventually be put into an Excel document for easy access to searches based on Instructional Category, Topic, Grade Levels, Target Audience, Effective Practice Resource, or Source Description, which would make it easier to input into a database/search engine. SCDE representatives had to change their review of the documents and provide feedback date to February 2017. SECC work with the Transformation Coaches and Principals during their monthly meeting will continue. The coordinator for South Carolina Priority Schools indicated that the upcoming training will be cancelled for February and will be rescheduled for March 2017. The project team will continue to focus on problems of practice and communication with both groups (coaches and principals) separately.

During December, the quarterly meeting for the review of the SECC Year 5 Work Plan was held and deemed successful. The five key areas on the plan are on track with strong communication and strong work efforts toward reaching work plan targets with flexibility and related adjustments. The next quarterly meeting will be planned for March 2017. SECC partner staff from RMC provided a sample table of information on evidence-based instructional practices, which was delivered to SCDE for review and feedback. The sample table would allow the team to put the information into an Excel document for easy access to search based on instructional category, topic, grade levels, target audience, effective practice resource, or source description. This also would make it easier to input the information into a database/search engine. A conference call was planned to discuss the November-delivered school improvement framework and the sample of evidence-based instructional practices delivered in early December; however, the call was  brief due to technical difficulties. The email/calendar system for SCDE had gone down and information was lost. Another meeting was scheduled. It was determined that the SCDE staff will review the documents and return them to SECC by mid-January. SECC work with the Transformation Coaches and Principals continued with participation in a monthly meeting of coaches. A planning meeting was held with the coordinator of SC Priority Schools. SECC will conduct a session in February geared toward problems of practice and communication with both groups (coaches and principals) separately.

The RMC staff member delivered the first draft review of the SC School Improvement framework content and format. The next step will be for the SCDE team to review, make comments on, and return the draft so that the final review can be conducted and delivered to meet the established deadline. Supporting the work with the transformational coaches, SECC staff met with Francina Gerald, Priority Schools coordinator, and Lead Coach Judy Cheatwood to discuss the current coaching program and potential future support. As a result, SECC will attend the December coaches meeting and have a next day planning session to brainstorm future session topics and objectives. During a November meeting between SECC and Latoya Dixon, Director of School Transformation, SCDE and SECC staff identified key elements sought for the evidence-based catalog. SECC is collaborating with RMC to identify evidenced-based instructional strategies and research-based programs for the development of the catalog. RMC will present a draft mock-up to SECC and then to SCDE in December for input before significant work proceeds.

In October, SECC continued working with the Director of School Transformation Latoya Dixon and an RMC staff member on reviewing the state’s school improvement framework and the transformational coaches handbook. Outcomes of the work session highlighted the current status of the state’s school improvement model and coaches’ handbook, noting the current versions are working drafts and are planned to be finalized in the future. In the meantime, SECC will continue to partner with RMC for reviewing drafts documents: school improvement framework (due December 2016) and the coaches’ handbook (due March 2017) for content and format. To better support the work with the transformational coaches, both parties agreed that the director will link the SECC liaison and the SCDE transformational coaches project leader for SECC to work directly with the person responsible for making the work materialize.  SCDE sought support from SECC to establish an evidence-based database to post on its website. The work session also focused on building the evidence-based strategies catalog that the director envisioned. The director shared her initial ideas of which she had started to craft. SECC will collaborate with RMC to flesh out ideas for further development of the catalog for feedback before making the catalog applicable for the state website.