The School Quality Review (SQR) is a school improvement support and intervention strategy for low performing schools in New York State. SQR involves the development of a culture of review and ongoing improvement to guide schools and districts on a continuous journey of improvement. A research-based, reflective process is utilized to provide high need schools and districts with guidance on key factors that affect school success. The SQR process enables staff to participate in shared decision-making for the purpose of improving student achievement. The type of review is differentiated for these groups - a portfolio of evidence review is conducted for Basic schools while an on-site review is conducted in Focused and Comprehensive schools. During the on-site review, the SQR Team members conduct building tours, classroom visits, and interviews of administrators and staff, and review relevant school or district documentation. The SQR Team also assesses the alignment of curriculum and instruction with the State Learning Standards and performance indicators for ELA and mathematics for the accountability measures/student groups identified. The length of time for the on-site review varies from two to three days for Focused to three days for Comprehensive.
The SQR Team is assigned to provide technical assistance and to train the district staff. The number of team members varies according to the differentiated Improvement category, i.e., Basic- at least two, Focused- three to five and Comprehensive -seven to nine. The Team includes a representative from the district who is familiar with the school’s needs as well as other team members whose knowledge of school improvement and content areas will have a significant impact on assisting the school and district to develop a two-year improvement plan. The two-year improvement plan addresses the results of the self-assessment and includes a description of activities and timeline for implementation targeting the performance of the student group and accountability measure for which the school has been identified. The district approves the improvement plan according to the parameters established by the SED, and the plan is subject to SED review upon request. This district involvement is expected to increase ownership for the school improvement planning process as well as the implementation of the plan. The district is responsible for paying the reasonable and necessary costs of the SQR Team.
The self-assessment tool used by all schools in the SQR process is the Quality Indicators (QI) document. SED trains the district staff to use the QI document. This instrument is designed to assist administrators and staff in assessing their school’s program. Administrators and staff use a four-point rating scale to rate their school in six categories: Collection, Analysis, and Utilization of Data; Teaching and Learning; School Leadership; Infrastructure for Student Success; Professional Development; Facilities and Resources. Each category consists of between four to nine specific review criteria that require responses to detailed information regarding school effectiveness. These categories correlate with the components necessary for schools to enable their students to achieve at a high level. In a statistical analysis report, Monitoring School Quality: An Indicators Report, December 2000, the National Center for Education Statistics substantiated the importance of Quality Indicators on student learning. A supplementary SED guidance document entitled Quality Indicators: Evidence to Look For provides examples of the types of evidence that may be submitted by the school to substantiate their self-assessment.
As a result of three-day on-site review that takes place in an Improvement Comprehensive school, the SQR Team may make a recommendation that the school engage the services of a content area consultant to address systemic school improvement issues and the improvement of teaching and learning in the identified accountability measure(s) for all students. The district is responsible for the reasonable and necessary cost associated with this.
Title I School Improvement Grant funds must be used to support activities involved in planning and conducting the School Quality Reviews and for follow-up and implementation activities after the reviews have been completed. The district should include the recommendations of the SQR report with an action plan in their 2011-12 school Comprehensive Educational Plan (CEP). In addition, the district is required to use any future School Improvement funding, which they may receive in school year 2011-12, to implement the recommendations contained in the SQR report generated during the 2010-11 school year.
- Expenses for district level School Quality Review (SQR) planning, including conducting outreach and screening for on-site reviewers in collaboration with SED;
- Activities to prepare for the on-site School Quality Reviews, such as:
- training reviewers regarding protocols and use of assessment tools;
- orientation for administrators and faculty members of improvement phase schools to discuss protocols, expectations for the reviews, and results of the reviews;
- Costs related to conducting the on-site School Quality Review, including costs for members of the SQR Team (e.g., content area/subgroup specialists) and report writing;
- School level SQR planning activities, such as per session costs for staff to complete the SQR Quality Indicators self-assessment;
- Follow-up activities when the review is completed, such as:
- the implementation of recommendations from the School Quality Review report;
- the costs for content area/subgroup specialists or consultants to provide technical assistance on the alignment of curriculum, instruction, and classroom assessments with the State Learning Standards and performance indicators;
- professional development activities targeting the identified content area(s) and student subgroups, or indicators, that failed to meet AYP;
- other activities related to SQR, such as the school engaging in a culture of review and on-going inquiry of teaching and learning, including: the review and analysis of student performance data; identifying strengths and needs of the instructional program; reviewing and identifying best practices for instruction aligned with scientific or evidence-based research; planning and implementing revisions in curriculum and instruction; conducting ongoing assessments of student progress; and the celebration/recognition of student success;
- Costs related to the development or revision of the Comprehensive Educational Plan following the review, such as per session expenses for staff members and consultants.
- Equipment, including computers with a unit cost of $5,000 or more (Code 20)
- Out-of-state and over-night travel by school and district staff