Protocol forDeveloping and Evaluating a School Improvement Plan
Upon: The New York State Board of Regents’ Policy Statement on
Middle-level Education and The New York State Education Department’s
Essential Elements of Standards-Focused Middle-Level Schools and Programs
Introduction and Background: The Board of Regents, State Education Department personnel and middle-level educators around the state have been revising the goals and programs offered at the middle-level. Since it is understood that this is a critical time in the academic, social, and psychological development, new policies and regulations were put in place to recognize, support and strengthen the middle-level program to ensure that this critical transition would be made successfully by all students.
In 2003, the Board of Regents adopted a research-based Policy Statement on Middle-Level Education that details what should be happening in middle-level schools. To provide additional information and expand the policy statement, the Essential Elements of Standards-Focused Middle-Level Schools and Programs was then created. Lastly, in 2005, the Board of Regents adopted new regulations (100.3, 100.4, and 80-5.12) to clearly establish criteria for middle-level program models around the state.
As these new regulations will form the parameters for the construct of middle-level education programs for decades to come. Therefore, it is critical that all middle-level educators become familiar with them. In addition, they must ensure that any programs in their building are consistent with the letter and spirit of the new middle-level education policy, the State Education Department’s Essential Elements of Standards-Focused Middle-Level Schools and Programs, New York State’s 28 Learning Standards, and other existing regulations and are implemented with fidelity. It is hoped that this protocol will serve as a consistent statewide format to provide this valuable information to all members of the educational community.
Intended Use (Purpose): The intended purpose of this protocol is to provide middle-level practitioners with a prescribed set of conditions and implementation steps to develop a school improvement plan that is based upon the Board of Regents’ Policy Statement on Middle-Level Education, the State Education Department’s Essential Elements of Standards-Focused Middle-Level Schools and Programs (and its associated rubrics).
Assumptions (Readiness Pre-Conditions):
- Staff are willing to do what is necessary to improve their school, have stated so publicly and have already completed the protocols for Awareness and Conducting a Needs Assessment.
- Staff are familiar with – and committed to implementing – the Regents Policy Statement on Middle-Level Education and the State Education Department’s Essential Elements of Standards-Focused Middle-Level Schools and Programs.
- The Central Office is willing to take an active role in supporting the school staff in their efforts to implement the Regents Policy Statement on Middle-Level Education and the State Education Department’s Essential Elements of Standards-Focused Middle-Level Schools and Programs.
- There is a commitment to the understanding that improvement is a process and not a single destination. To this end, the district agrees to continuously monitor the improvement process and complete the same comprehensive needs assessment used at the beginning of this process every three years.
Rationale: This protocol is needed because:
- Strengthening middle-level education is a priority of the Board of Regents, the State Education Department, and local school districts.
- Recent actions by the Board of Regents require that local schools interested in securing Department support for creative and innovative approaches to improving their middle grades program develop, implement, and evaluate a comprehensive, research-based school improvement plan.
- Middle-level practitioners are seeking expert guidance – in the form of a prescribed set of conditions and steps – on how to develop and evaluate school improvement plans that are comprehensive, research-based, and reflective of best practice (i.e., based upon the Regents Policy Statement and the Department’s Essential Elements document).
Target Audience: The target audience for this protocol must include middle-level teachers, middle-level administrators, other middle-level certified professionals (e.g., guidance counselors, school nurse, etc.), and Central Office representatives. The audience may include others (e.g., parents, aides and paraprofessionals, students, elementary and high school representatives, community members etc.) as long as they are familiar with and supportive of the Regents Policy Statement and the Department’s Essential Elements document.
Implementation Steps: The steps that must be followed are:
- Set the stage. Clearly explain to those who will be involved in the effort the reasons for undertaking the project, what the final result will be, and what actually has to happen – the Why, What, and How of the project. In this orientation, it is critical that the three assumptions be publicly affirmed once again.
- Distribute the completed forms of the needs assessment including prioritizing, summary sheets, and any faculty activities from the final summary.
- As a whole staff, review the priorities identified by the staff in the activities referred to in #2. Use the SMART Action Steps powerpoint to orient participants and provide them with a perspective on what they will be doing next.
- Staff subcommittees are assigned the responsibility to determine what action steps need to be taken to address each of the three or four selected priorities (including rationales for the actions – why do the members of the subcommittees believe these are the correct actions and ones that will be successful in addressing the priorities). The proposed action steps are then vetted with the staff as a whole for review, critique, revision, and, finally, approval.
- Once staff agree on the action steps that need to be taken to address each of the selected priorities, the original staff subcommittee convenes to identify what specific, observable, measurable indicators will be used to determine if the action steps were implemented with integrity and if they produced the desired results. The proposed indicators are then vetted with the staff as a whole for review, critique, revision, and, finally, approval.
- Each subcommittee establishes timelines and responsibilities associated with the agreed-upon action steps, identifies needed resources and support, and lays out the barriers and obstacles to success and the approaches that will negate these impediments. The timelines, responsibilities, needed resources and support, and barriers and obstacles are then vetted with the staff as a whole for review, critique, revision, and, finally, approval.
- A writing team drawn from members of the staff organize the action steps, timelines, responsibilities, etc. into a written school improvement plan. The school improvement plan is then vetted with the staff as a whole for review, critique, revision, and, finally, approval and implementation.
- The School Improvement Team should meet annually to review the progress on the action plan, making any small modifications that may be needed. Celebrations of success should be included, as well as adjustments to what is not working.
- At the end of a three-year period, the needs assessment that formed
the basis of the original school improvement plan is re-administered to
the staff. The results of this assessment are compared with the original
results to demonstrate progress or areas that need action. At this time,
the following information should be gathered and shared:
- What priorities did we implement?
- How did it look when we started – initial score and why that score was given?
- Why was this a priority three years ago?
- What did we do? What program/strategy did we use to address this issue?
- How our progress to date based on our new evidence?
- Where should we celebrate?
- Where should we adjust/tweak?
This information will form the basis for a continued or new school improvement plan.
Handouts, Worksheets, and Resources: The following handouts, worksheets, and resources will be needed for this protocol:
- Worksheets for determining roles and responsibilities;
- Worksheets for establishing group norms for completing the work;
- Regents Policy Statement on Middle-Level Education and Schools with Middle-Level Grades (2003);
- State Education Department’s Essential Elements of Standards-Focused Middle-Level Schools and Programs (2003);
- Essential Elements rubrics;
- Results of the needs assessment protocol;
- Powerpoint presentation on the use of SMART Action Steps;
- A template for a school improvement plan, with explanation;
- A locally-developed template for the comparison of the three-year data;
- Facilitators’ Checklist.
1. For purposes of this document, the term "protocol" is defined as a prescribed set of conditions and implementation steps to achieve a desired end or goal.