Projects

Low-Performing Schools

Background

The SECC staff will continue to support SEA staff with processes for implementation of School Improvement Grant (SIG) FY17 funds and sustainability processes for local education agencies (LEAs) and schools and special populations and subgroups.

Project State(s)

Project Updates

Most Recent Update: |

On September 5, SECC scheduled a Year 6 planning meeting for September 18 with six state staff members to discuss key personnel, scope of project, problems/purpose, expected outcomes and change, and outputs/timelines. On September 28, the School Improvement Grant (SIG) coordinator and SECC staff scheduled a meeting for October to discuss continued support for SIG under Year 6. SECC shared a revised logic model that was co-drafted in July. The logic model focused on formative assessment under the CST Four Domains resource. SECC staff sent the scope of work/logic model for SECC Year 6 work plan to the SNN and the Center on Standards and Assessment Implementation (CSAI) to request support from both organizations for technical assistance (TA) and professional development (PD) resources.

 

Previous Updates:

On September 5, SECC scheduled a Year 6 planning meeting for September 18 with six state staff members to discuss key personnel, scope of project, problems/purpose, expected outcomes and change, and outputs/timelines. On September 28, the School Improvement Grant (SIG) coordinator and SECC staff scheduled a meeting for October to discuss continued support for SIG under Year 6. SECC shared a revised logic model that was co-drafted in July. The logic model focused on formative assessment under the CST Four Domains resource. SECC staff sent the scope of work/logic model for SECC Year 6 work plan to the SNN and the Center on Standards and Assessment Implementation (CSAI) to request support from both organizations for technical assistance (TA) and professional development (PD) resources.

The SECC project lead met twice with ALSDE School Improvement Grant (SIG) staff to continue refining activities planned for the state’s upcoming work session with SIG schools. SECC provided technical assistance through thought partnering and to help ALSDE staff align session activities with anticipated outcomes, which included (a) developing an awareness of the role of the district and school in enacting leadership and effective formative assessment practices to support school turnaround and (b) knowing how to refine and monitor short- and long-term goals for a continuous improvement plan based on data.

SECC was able to sponsor the attendance of four staff members from the SEA’s newly established Office of School Improvement and Turnaround (OSIT) at the Center on School Turnaround’s (CST) meeting in San Francisco. The OSIT includes SIG staff; school and district support staff; and strategy, implementation, and operations staff. As a result of attending this CST meeting, the SEA requested technical assistance from SECC during Year 6 to facilitate the OSIT’s efforts to develop its theory of action.

SECC’s next steps are to meet with the OSIT team in early September to develop a strategic plan for Year 6 that includes designing a theory of action, an OSIT startup plan, and sustained support processes for Montgomery County Public Schools.
 

The SECC project lead met with ALSDE School Improvement Grant (SIG) staff on August 4 and 14 to continue refining activities planned for the state’s upcoming work session with SIG schools on August 30. SECC provided technical assistance (TA) through thought partnering and to help them align session activities with anticipated outcomes, which included (a) developing an awareness of the role of the district and school in enacting leadership and effective formative assessment practices to support school turnaround and (b) knowing how to refine and monitor short- and long-term goals for a continuous improvement plan based on data. Although SECC staff were unable to attend the on-site work session, an SEA staff member noted, “I am never disappointed on game-day!” During the month of August, SECC was able to sponsor the attendance of four staff members from the SEA’s newly established Office of School Improvement and Turnaround (OSIT) at the Center on School Turnaround’s (CST) meeting in San Francisco on August 12–13. The OSIT includes SIG staff; school and district support staff; and strategy, implementation and operations staff. The CST facilitated a work session using its publication, The Four Domains for Rapid School Improvement, to guide the SEA with developing a theory of action for how it supports its most challenged schools. As a result of attending this CST meeting, the SEA requested TA from SECC during Year 6 to facilitate the OSIT’s efforts to develop its theory of action based on the Four Domains of Rapid School Improvement that leads to a framework for an effective state support system capable of differentiating support for schools. SECC’s next steps are to meet with the OSIT team in early September to develop a strategic plan for Year 6 that includes designing a theory of action, an OSIT startup plan, and sustained support processes for Montgomery County Public Schools. The state’s expected impacts on districts and schools include aligned services, change in school culture and climate, and effective leadership.

On July 12, SECC co-presented and helped with the session evaluation at the state MEGA conference held in Mobile, Alabama. The title of presentation was Expecting Measurable Progress Through Action (EMPACT) and was presented to School Improvement Grant (SIG) school teams (Cohort 2 and 3). Topics included The Four Domains of Rapid School Improvement, a publication by the Center on School Turnaround (CST), and a formative assessment module developed by AIR. Session outcomes included learn school turnaround best practices, recall the importance of rigor in instruction, gain new formative assessment strategies, equip participants with tools to support school's sustainability/implementation plan, and meet and learn from fellow SIG participantsOn July 21, SECC staff met via conference call with the ALSDE SIG team to debrief the MEGA conference session, reviewing and discussing evaluation results, response rate, and next steps. The team then began brainstorming for the August 30 SIG team work session that will be held in Montgomery. They sketched out meeting outcomes, an outline for the agenda, and next steps. The team will review the SIG team’s Continuous Improvement Plan (CIP) goals and strategies to determine if they align with the SIG application, and whether they align with school turnaround practices and competencies as framed by the Four Domains of Rapid School Improvement, a resource published by CST. This CIP review will enable the team to better prepare activities for the August 30 meeting. During the planning discussion, SECC staff reintroduced the logic model that was designed in May to help guide the process for providing support to SIG schools for the upcoming school year. A question SECC posed was how to measure impact of the work. The ALSDE indicated that leading and lagging indicators, which are to be reported to the U.S. Department of Education, would be one way they plan to measure impact.

SECC continues to assist the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) with ways in which the state works with its low- performing schools, including alternative schools. SECC also provides relevant resources, particularly this month a resource regarding implementing evidence-based practices that will ensure college and career readiness. SECC also collaborated in an in-person meeting with MDE staff to infuse suggestions from alternative education stakeholders who reviewed the relative guidelines into a revised version of the guidebook. These stakeholders had attended a professional development back in April during which they were given the opportunity to work together in small groups to review and suggest revisions to the guidelines. A next step will be to have a small task force review the document with suggested changes again and determine whether they are appropriate, finalize a set of changes to be made to the document, and present such to the applicable SEA staff and policymakers who will determine whether the guidebook is appropriate for the alternative education student population and the facilities that serve them. These guidelines will serve, according to 2015–2016 data, 136 programs, 522 classrooms, and 8,675 students. Ultimately, this support could result in improved practice by adults in most needy schools as well as heightened performance on the part of students most in need.

On June 21, SECC project staff members met with state school turnaround/SIG staff to discuss plans for the SIG work session that will be offered during the upcoming annual state MEGA Conference in Mobile the week of July 10. The team refined and finalized plans to include a morning activity focusing on the Four Domains for Rapid School Improvement, a resource developed by the Center on School Turnaround. While this activity will address all four domains, it will dive more deeply into the domain for instruction, a priority defined by the SEA. SIG teams will also engage in an afternoon activity that addresses formative assessment as part of its emphasis on pedagogy and instruction. Through these collaborative efforts, the state and SECC team aim to impact 19 schools that receive funding through the federal 1003g School Improvement Grant. These impacts are anticipated to increase student outcomes in mathematics, science, and literacy, while also addressing changes in how turnaround principals and schools engage in school improvement processes.

On May 10, SECC project staff lead met with the SEA School Improvement Grant (SIG) team to develop a preliminary logic model for support for SIG schools during the upcoming school year 2017–2018. SECC facilitated a discussion on the state’s anticipated outcomes and impacts regarding professional development for SIG turnaround principals. In terms of short- and long-term outcomes, the SEA wants to see an increase in turnaround principal skill and knowledge as well as change in leadership behavior at it relates to turnaround competencies and the implementation of formative assessment practices. The SEA would like to have at least three face-to-face trainings at three points during the school year, beginning in late August and ending in May 2018. The project team scheduled its next planning meeting for June 19.

In terms of the MEGA Conference to be held in Mobile, Alabama, the week of July 10, the SIG coordinator sent an email to the SECC team asking for feedback on part of its afternoon training segment on formative assessment. The team will schedule a meeting in early June to discuss the training content and finalize those plans.

On April 10, SECC staff met with ALSDE staff to finalize the department's plans for the ALSDE summer MEGA conference slated for July 10–14. They completed the facilitator’s agenda, which includes the use of a resource published by the Center on School Turnaround titled Four Domains for Rapid School Improvement (instruction, leadership, culture, and talent). While School Improvement Grant (SIG) school teams will discuss all four areas during the morning work session, the focus will be on instruction. The plans for the afternoon entail SIG cohort specific work. While Cohort 2 will review the use of federal funds to compensate for lack of SIG funds, leading and lagging indicators, and coaching support, Cohort 3 will work on baseline data collection that will be housed on the state ASSIST platform. Both Cohorts 2 and 3 will work on SIG action plans in terms of sustainability and implementation, respectively. The next steps for the team will be to meet on May 10 to begin planning for the upcoming school year 2017–2018, where a focus of state education agency support is on professional development for school turnaround principals.

 

SECC continues to be a resource to MDE by having pertinent discussions to inform the way in which the state works with its low-performing schools, now including alternative schools. SECC assisted MDE staff by reviewing the agenda and panel discussion questions and facilitating a segment at a meeting on April 21, during which approximately 60 participants reviewed and suggested revisions for the alternative education guidebook. Ultimately, this and other collaborative stakeholder meetings could result in improved practice by adults in the high-needs schools as well as heightened performance on the part of students most in need.

On March 1, the SECC project team developed an outline for the day-long MEGA conference session scheduled in July 2017. The team deliberated on outcomes and objectives. The state School Improvement Grant (SIG) director was interested in basing the training on resources developed by the Center on School Turnaround, including the Four Domains for Rapid School Improvement.

During a second conference call held March 22, the team reviewed and discussed the facilitators' agenda for the MEGA 2017 work session for SIG school cohorts 2 and 3. Session plans made earlier in the month were modified after the SIG coordinator met with SEA leadership; the direction the department will take focuses on effective instruction, thus the MEGA conference session will reflect those priorities. A meeting was scheduled for April 10 to continue planning and preparing the facilitator’s agenda.

During the same conference call, ALSDE requested a SECC on-site meeting to devote to long-term planning for the upcoming school year 2017–18. The department would like to develop training sessions for principals regarding turnover schools.

On February 22, the project team scheduled a conference call for March 1 to discuss the session planned for the School Improvement Grant (SIG) schools during the annual state MEGA conference held in July. The session will be a full day for all 20 SIG schools.

SECC met with MDE to plan for how the state should propose to improve low-performing schools (LPS) via ESSA in its state application to be submitted in September. SECC facilitated and provided meeting notes from the second and third meetings of stakeholders in January to glean feedback regarding MDE's proposed support for LPS. The stakeholder group provided input on how the group suggests that schools be identified, supported, and exited from school improvement status, as well as what menu of evidence-based options should be presented to and expected to be implemented by such schools regarding the 7% set-aside and the potential additional 3% direct student services set-aside. SECC also provided relative documents to MDE to inform its work such as other states’ draft ESSA plans and evidence-based interventions resources.