Projects 2017 – 2018

Alabama Low-Performing Schools

The Southeast Comprehensive Center (SECC) is supporting the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) with developing a strategic plan and performance management tools for its Office of Student Learning and providing related professional development (PD) to state school turnaround staff. The SECC is continuing to support the state with scaling up its School Improvement Grant (SIG) program using the Center on School Turnaround's Four Domains for Rapid School Improvement framework.

Technical Assistance Approach
  • Strategic Plan for a State System of Support for Low-Performing Schools
  • On-Site Training on Leadership and Formative Assessment
Impact
  • Improved organizational structures and processes
  • Improved intra- and inter-organizational relationships
  • Improved alignment within a state support system for low-performing schools
Project State(s)

Project Updates

Most Recent Update: 2018 | December

After the Southeast Comprehensive Center (SECC) and Center on Standards and Assessment Implementation (CSAI) training on formative assessment(FA) last month, the state School Improvement Grant (SIG) coordinator followed up with a request for two more FA trainings to occur during Year 7. The SECC team met internally to debrief regarding last month’s training on formative assessment and to discuss the next two trainings.

During the August Year 7 planning meeting, leadership from the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) requested to continue the low-performing schools project so that they could continue refining the statewide system of support and related performance management tools.

The SECC Alabama state liaison will meet with the ALSDE Year 7 low-performing schools project team in October to begin planning for upcoming activities and timelines, including formative assessment training and the continued development of performance management tools.

 

Previous Updates:

After the Southeast Comprehensive Center (SECC) and Center on Standards and Assessment Implementation (CSAI) training on formative assessment(FA) last month, the state School Improvement Grant (SIG) coordinator followed up with a request for two more FA trainings to occur during Year 7. The SECC team met internally to debrief regarding last month’s training on formative assessment and to discuss the next two trainings.

During the August Year 7 planning meeting, leadership from the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) requested to continue the low-performing schools project so that they could continue refining the statewide system of support and related performance management tools.

The SECC Alabama state liaison will meet with the ALSDE Year 7 low-performing schools project team in October to begin planning for upcoming activities and timelines, including formative assessment training and the continued development of performance management tools.

Southeast Comprehensive Center (SECC) staff conducted a training session on personalized learning (PL) to School Improvement Grant (SIG) school and district leaders so that they were aware of the concept and principles supporting it. This training consisted of an overview of PL and engaged participants with a short learning activity for discussion and reflection. Then, the SIG coordinator and state coaches each facilitated learning stations that included topics related to school improvement processes (e.g., using ScanTron data, Problem Solving Teams, Insight–an online instructional tool, and formative assessment) from which participants could choose to engage. SECC co-developed an evaluation instrument to collect participant feedback. SECC staff and a CSAI (Center on Standards and Assessment Implementation) staff member conducted a one-day training session in Montgomery to state principals and SIG coaches on formative assessment. 

In September, SECC, CSAI, and the state SIG coordinators will select 2 days during the 2018–2019 school year to provide two more face-to-face trainings on formative assessment to SIG, principal and literacy coaches to support the implementation of FA practices. The state has hired approximately 12–15 new principal and literacy coaches who will be participating in the SECC and CSAI formative assessment trainings. With more state staff participating in the formative assessment trainings, it is evident that the SIG office and regional support team offices are cross-collaborating.

SECC staff reviewed and provided feedback for the School Improvement Grant (SIG) coordinator on the facilitators agenda that she and her team developed for the state summer learning conference. SECC co-developed a training evaluation survey based on the content and outcomes for the summer SIG training. In addition to asking about the quality of the training, the survey asked SIG leadership teams to identify priority training topics for the fall and spring, which will factor into the state’s professional development (PD) plans for the upcoming school year. Results from the survey indicate about 50% of SIG schools reported needing training in formative assessment. In late July, the SIG coordinator requested PD from SECC and the Center on Standards and Assessment Implementation (CSAI) in formative assessment to be delivered to approximately 25 state coaches. The state hired 10 new literacy and principal coaches who will be involved in the training. 

Next steps for Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) and SECC staff are to plan for another SIG training in late August that will incorporate personalized learning (PL) principles as part of the PD delivery model and content. Last June, SECC was able to support two ALSDE staff members’ attendance at the Center on Innovations in Learning (CIL) Conversations with Innovators conference. The ALSDE SIG coordinator who attended is interested in introducing PL to SIG school leadership teams. SECC and CSAI will meet with the SIG coordinator in early August to finalize training plans on formative assessment for its state coaches.

Throughout Year 6, SECC has provided ALSDE with content center resources (e.g., formative assessment training/CSAI, personalized learning/CIL, Four Domains/Center on School Turnaround, [CST]) to support low-performing schools through its statewide system of support. The state is using CST’s Four Domains for Rapid School Improvement resource as part of its PD implementation framework with a current focus on the Instructional Transformation domain. These observations of implementation of resources align with project outcomes of increased knowledge of school improvement strategies and materials.

To move toward the project’s major outcomes (consensus on elements of a statewide system of support plan and a structured system for providing support to low-performing districts/schools), SECC and the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) held a one-day meeting with two school improvement state staff members to develop a crosswalk of supports for low-performing schools and to identify supports provided by the School Improvement Team. Outcomes for the meeting included reflection on current supports the school improvement team provides internally and to its stakeholders (districts/schools) and determining resources and outside expertise needed to support the work.       

In July, SECC and the state team’s next steps are to develop concrete steps and a timeline for the 2018–2019 school year.

As evidence of improvement, the state is moving closer toward developing a year-long plan for supporting low-performing schools. Its next steps are to develop a concrete plan and timeline for the 2018–2019 school year.

The SECC team met internally to plan and prepare for an upcoming meeting in early June with key state staff members. During the meeting, SECC staff discussed preliminary meeting outcomes that include reflecting on current state processes for supporting low-performing schools and the extent to which the state is equipped to support the work and to develop concrete steps and a timeline. SECC will engage state staff with using the Center on School Turnaround's Four Domains for Rapid School Improvement framework to capture current state processes and practices. Lastly, SECC will engage the state with conducting an intra-agency crosswalk using the Four Domains framework to determine other areas in the agency that are also supporting low-performing schools so that they can streamline and augment efforts.          

In June, SECC will facilitate a work session with three key state staff members in early June that will support the state with moving forward with plans to develop a plan of support for the next school year, refine the logic model and theory of action, and create performance management tools. The state is still engaged with moving forward with developing a system of support plan for low-performing schools despite changes in key leadership. While the state has a newly appointed state superintendent who may decide to implement key changes, the turnaround team is sustaining its mission to support low-performing schools.

The SECC team met with the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) low-performing schools (LPS) team to discuss next steps, especially in light of the key contact/assistant superintendent’s retirement effective May 1. Rather than codevelop a global strategic plan for a state system of support, the team will continue building a logic model and plan that focuses only on the upcoming school year. Additionally, SECC staff in partnership with the Center on Standards and Assessment Implementation (CSAI), collaborated to develop and facilitate training on formative assessment (FA) for School Improvement Grant (SIG) state coaches. SECC and CSAI codeveloped an evaluation survey of the training. The state SIG coordinator and coaches discussed needs for developing more training on FA, and a tentative date for training is set for late July with follow-up support. The state team planned to share its development of the logic model and updated Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan with the SECC team. Additionally, SECC and CSAI will meet to discuss next steps for summer and follow-up training for SIG state coaches.

SECC staff met internally to plan and prepare for next steps with the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) turnaround team. They plan to request from each ALSDE turnaround staff member information about what work they perform so SECC staff can begin to consolidate the various supports into one document. This will be a starting point that depicts what supports overlap and where there are gaps. While the logic model is still a work in progress, SECC will move toward the development of the strategic plan for continued momentum. The team will return to building the logic model once they have more concrete information that emerges through the development of the system of support.

Additionally, SECC staff and a staff member from the State Support Network (SSN) met with ALSDE staff to continue preparing for the April training on formative assessment for state School Improvement Grant (SIG) coaches. SECC and SSN staff held a conference call with the contact at the Center on Standards and Assessment Implementation (CSAI) to determine next steps with ALSDE for developing a comprehensive professional development (PD) model for supporting implementation of formative assessment in low-performing schools. In early April, the SECC team will schedule another internal meeting to finalize plans for meeting with the department again. Additionally, SECC will engage in a conference call with ALSDE SIG staff, CSAI, and SSN staff to begin planning for developing the comprehensive PD model.

In February, SECC staff and School Improvement Grant (SIG) coordinators will review the SIG teams’ instructional action plans and provide feedback on the plans. They will convene virtually to discuss their feedback and plan any related next steps. Additionally, the SECC team will review the state’s logic model and share feedback with the ALSDE team. As the state revises the logic model, SECC will begin planning and preparing for facilitating the state’s development of a strategic plan and performance management tools for its state support system. As evidence of impact, during the SIG work session, SIG teams were introduced by the state to the state’s ScanTron Performance Assessment reporting tools, including student growth reports, determining benchmarks for student mastery on the spring assessment, and standards and skills reports. After reviewing the data, SIG teams developed an instructional action plan (linked to their school improvement plan) with specific steps in response to student outcomes and implications. Additionally, at the end of the January work session, ALSDE was able to develop a theory of action and draft a logic model in its efforts to align its state support system for low-performing schools. While the logic model is still in draft form, the state is closer to meeting an expected project outcome (improved alignment within a state support system for low-performing schools, efforts with common goals are streamlined, and duplicated efforts are combined).

SECC staff met virtually with the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) to resume planning for a January work session for School Improvement Grant (SIG) schools and to begin planning for the development of its state system of support for low-performing schools. During the virtual meeting with the assistant state superintendent and school turnaround staff, the team discussed the need to revisit the work that has been completed thus far with regard to the development of the theory of action of the state support system, as part of the technical assistance partnership between the Center on School Turnaround and SECC. The outcome of that meeting was ALSDE readiness for implementation of SECC supported project plans. ALSDE adjusted milestone dates so its staff can get to work sooner and complete tasks. SECC staff drafted the meeting agendas, took meeting notes, and disseminated them to all project team members. Additionally, a second meeting was held in early December between SECC staff and the SIG team to continue planning for technical assistance to SIG schools using the Center on School Turnaround’s (CST) Four Domains for Rapid School Improvement. The team refined the facilitator agenda for its upcoming January training for SIG schools. Training outcomes were finalized, and work session activities were planned and timed. This training will address how schools can use data more effectively. Further, a third meeting between the SIG coordinator and SECC staff took place in December. The superintendent of a district with a SIG school requested support from the state in the form of the CST’s Four Domains framework. The coordinator then requested technical assistance from SECC staff to brainstorm how that work could be integrated with the overall SIG work (since the state already supports the particular school via the SIG program). The team will follow up during the early January meeting. In January, the ALSDE and SECC staff will meet to begin developing and implementing outputs for other activities outlined for the project and to finalize the work session and its evaluation protocol. The work session will be held at the end of the month in Montgomery. The team will begin planning for formative assessment training for state turnaround coaches and related staff.

The SECC staff met virtually with ALSDE School Improvement Grant (SIG) team to continue refining plans for the upcoming SIG school team training at the end of January. The SECC-ALSDE planning team walked through the facilitator agenda and determined that the final activity would need to be discussed with the SIG coaches, as they would be facilitating group work (this group work entails SIG teams developing an instructional action plan based on the data conversation activity held earlier in the training session). The SIG coaches met later in the month with SECC and the SIG coordinators to discuss and clarify their role and the state’s expectations for them during the training. Additionally, the SECC project lead co-facilitated the SIG training, which focused on effective use of data and its impact on instructional decisions. The SIG teams learned how to access two test reports from the ScanTron platform, student growth in math and reading, and the standards and skills reports. The SECC and SIG staff facilitated SIG team discussions about student outcomes and growth per ScanTron Performance Assessment data by reflecting on the data and its implications for instruction. They then developed an instructional action plan as part of their “ticket” out. The SIG coaches and coordinators will be visiting SIG schools on key dates for milestones listed in their instructional action plans. Further, SECC staff met on-site with the ALSDE assistant superintendent and key staff members from the Office of Teaching and Learning to facilitate the development of a theory of action and logic model using the Four Domains Framework for Rapid School Improvement (published by the Center on School Turnaround [CST]). The team was able to complete the theory of action and logic model, which will facilitate the development of the state’s strategic plan for its system of support for low-performing schools.

SECC staff met virtually with the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) to resume planning for a January work session for School Improvement Grant (SIG) schools. The SECC and ALSDE SIG team discussed the Year 6 Work Plan that includes technical assistance for the development of an Office of School Improvement and Turnaround (OSIT). The SECC project lead will follow up with the ALSDE leadership team in late November through a virtual conference call to discuss the OSIT project outcomes, milestones, and outputs. SECC staff took meeting notes during the meeting and provided them to the ALSDE SIG team. Additionally, the SIG team discussed its vision and outcomes for the upcoming SIG work session in January, which will include using the Center on School Turnaround’s (CST) Four Domains framework resource to develop the training. The SIG team requested an on-site planning meeting with the SECC project lead for early December. They will discuss training and coaching on leadership and formative assessment (using CST and the Center on Standards and Assessment Implementation [CSAI] resources) at length and will use a logic model developed last July to guide their discussion. Further, the SECC project lead met virtually with executive leadership at ALSDE to provide an update on progress made with the SECC Year 6 Annual Management Plan (AMP). The assistant superintendent explained that due to the transition in leadership, the technical assistance approach provided by SECC should remain intact with modifications to language regarding the OSIT. SECC will adjust the AMP to describe the work that will support the existing Office of Student Learning. In December, the SECC and ALSDE SIG team will meet face to face for a half day to plan for trainings. They will discuss the upcoming January work session for SIG schools and the needed SECC training and coaching on leadership and formative assessment, which will align with the CST’s Four Domains framework. Additionally, SECC staff will follow up with the ALSDE assistant superintendent in December to begin planning for the other project deliverables.

In November, the SECC team will schedule a planning meeting with the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) to discuss the implementation of the SECC Year 6 Work Plan, which includes preliminary plans for conducting training on formative assessment and leadership (with a heavy focus on how to use data effectively for school turnaround). SECC staff sent out a poll to schedule that meeting for November. By way of improvement, the assistant superintendent at ALSDE confirmed the request for support with establishing the Office of School Improvement and Turnaround (OSIT) through the design of a plan.

SECC staff met via telephone call with the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) education administrator, School Improvement Grants (SIG), to discuss the Year 6 Work Plan and to debrief regarding the October Center on School Turnaround virtual meeting. During the call, ALSDE confirmed the Year 6 plan activities that focus on professional development for SIG schools in the areas of formative assessment and turnaround leadership (two of the Center on School Turnaround's Four Domains). ALSDE noted that a new staff person would be involved to support with technical assistance related to leadership and the use of data. This staff person is involved with state data and would be needed for the work.