C&I

Curriculum and Instruction

Protocols for Using the Essential Elements of Standards-Focused Middle-Level Schools and Programs and Their Rubrics

Introduction:

Over the years and in a series of steps, the Statewide Network of Middle-Level Education Liaisons and Support Schools has promoted middle-level education through the systematic development of a number of tools and resources for middle-level schools to use to examine and strengthen their programs and practices. 

Step One:

Developing a Definition In the beginning, the Liaisons concentrated their efforts on developing a clear and commonly understood definition of middle-level education – one grounded in the latest research and informed by the wisdom of experience and best practice.  In 2003, they updated and revised the State Education Department’s original Essential Elements of Standards-Focused Middle-Level Schools and Programs guidance document and aligned it with the Policy Statement on Middle-Level Education adopted by the Board of Regents that same year.  The Essential Elements are now the commonly accepted definition of middle-level education in New York State.

Step Two:

Gauging Implementation Once New York State had a commonly accepted and understood definition of middle-level education, the next challenge was to create a tool for middle-level schools to use to determine the degree to which the Essential Elements were being implemented as well as the effectiveness of the implementation. For the better part of 18 months the Liaisons concentrated their efforts on developing rubrics for assessing the degree of implementation of each of the seven Essential Elements.  The rubrics were completed in 2004.

Step Three:

Promoting Continuous Improvement New York State now had a common definition of middle-level education and a tool in the form of rubrics for gauging the level of implementation.  What were unavailable were advice and assistance on how to use the Essential Elements and their rubrics to initiate change and sustain growth.  So, for about 18 months, the Liaisons worked on preparing resources specifically designed to help practitioners use the Essential Elements and the related rubrics to strengthen their programs and practices.  In 2005, the Liaisons completed the development of three protocols:

  1. Awareness Protocol: Developing an Awareness to the New York State Education Department’s Essential Elements of Standards-Focused Middle-Level Schools and Programs and Their Rubrics;
  2. Needs Assessment Protocol: Protocol for Conducting a Middle-Level Education Needs Assessment Based Upon the New York State Education Department’s Essential Elements of Standards-Focused Middle-Level Schools and Programs;
  3. School Improvement Plan Development Protocol: Developing and Evaluating a School Improvement Plan Based Upon the New York State Education Department’s Essential Elements of Standards-Focused Middle-Level Schools and Programs.

Taken together, the three protocols represent a comprehensive set of tools and guidance for beginning and sustaining a system of continuous reflection and improvement based upon the research-based Essential Elements and their rubrics. Each protocol can be used independently of the others. However, the full utility of the protocols rests in their combined use as part of a systemic, on-going planning process as each of the three protocols targets a key aspect of a systematic planning process:

Protocol

  1. Awareness Developing an Awareness to the New York State Education Department’s Essential Elements of Standards-Focused Middle-Level Schools and Programs and Their Rubrics.
  2. Needs Assessment Conducting a Middle-Level Education Needs Assessment Based Upon the New York State Education Department’s Essential Elements of Standards-Focused Middle-Level Schools and Programs.
  3. School Improvement Plan Development Developing and Evaluating a School Improvement Plan Based Upon the New York State Education Department’s Essential Elements of Standards-Focused Middle-Level Schools and Programs.

Targeted Purpose

  1. Developing a common language, a shared awareness, and a complete understanding about what constitutes a model middle-level school or program.
  2. Gathering information and data on the degree of implementation of the Essential Elements at a particular time in an individual school for purposes of either an initial needs assessment or a formative or summative evaluation of planned change(s).
  3. Using needs assessment data and other information to create a school improvement plan that is grounded in research and best practice and that supports continuous improvement and growth in the level of implementation of the Essential Elements.

Each protocol is organized in the following manner:

Introduction and Background

  • Intended Use (Purpose)
  • Assumptions (Readiness Pre-Conditions)
  • Rationale
  • Target Audience
  • Implementation Steps
  • Handouts and Resources
  • Facilitator Checklist

Step Four:

Realizing the Promise The Statewide Network of Middle-Level Education Liaisons and Support Schools has, over the years, created both the opportunity and the wherewithal for middle-level schools implement the Essential Elements of Standards-Focused Middle-Level Schools and Programs and serve the educational and personal needs of young adolescents.  It is now up to each middle-level school and its staff to realize the potential of the Essential Elements, the rubrics, and the protocols.

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.

 

Last Updated: June 17, 2009