School Improvement Plans

Instructor: Sudha Aravindan

Sudha has a Doctor of Education Degree and is currently working as a Information Technology Specialist.

All schools have a goal of helping to raise the academic achievement of its students. In this lesson we will learn about the components and implementation process of a school improvement plan, and overview of improvement models.

Why Does a School Need a SIP?

As a board member of her school, Clara is very concerned. Her school performed poorly for two years in a row! The board assigned Clara as the program administrator to help design and implement a school improvement plan (SIP) to help attain academic success for the following year.

Elements of a SIP

Clara and her team start to work on an improvement plan for their school. Their first challenge is to identify the scope and goals of the plan, and also how they put the plan into practice in their school and organizational environment. Through research they identify and follow the following elements of a school improvement plan.

1. Vision for the Plan

The board members have a clear vision for their improvement plan. They defined the purpose of the plan as identifying weaknesses, establishing targets for student achievements, and implementing measures that will help the school achieve academic goals.

2. Comprehensive Needs Assessment

As the first step, Clara's team conducted a comprehensive needs assessment. The needs assessment included both survey data and historical student data. The survey focused on the following six areas:

  • School Climate
  • Instruction
  • Leadership
  • Engagement
  • Professional Development
  • Families and Communities

The historical data in the areas of student achievement and demographics, curriculum materials, training, and attendance from different sources, would help quantify the current performance level of the students and teachers in the school.

3. Setting Goals, Priorities and Timelines

The next step is to prioritize goals for short-term and long-term, depending on importance. Since this is the very first time implementing the plan, they decided to prioritize the instruction aspect as number one, for improving academic success. They would consider other areas such as school climate and engagement in the plans for the following academic years. For a timeline, they defined the activities that will begin at the start of the academic year and end after a period of three months. Some of the guiding questions they asked to make decisions on goals and timelines were: what findings have the most potential for improving student outcomes, and how many priorities can they attend to immediately and/or simultaneously.

4. Deciding on the Action Steps

After listing the goals and timelines, the team strategizes the specific steps they would take to make sure that the goals are achieved within the specified timeline. As an example, the needs assessment identified students that need help in middle school algebra. For this target group, an action step was decided that additional support will be provided through tutoring, and after-school projects.

5. Collaboration

The team realizes that for the improvement plan to be successful they would need the support of the school principal, the teachers, and also the parents and the students. A suggestion was made to organize task forces within the school to focus on the different areas of achieving academic strengths.

Elements of a School Improvement Plan (SIP)

Implementing and Assessing the SIP

For assessing the success of the plan, Clara and her team would need to compare the test results of the students before and after the action items stated in the plan are successfully implemented.

They decide that following a period of three months, the student data will be collected on the following categories: tests, assessments and attendance. The test scores would help them identify students that benefited from the program, and areas that would need additional improvement. For those that didn't show much improvement, different strategies would need to be identified.

In the next phase of the implementation, they plan on gathering data on the school environment, whether or not the students feel respected, and have positive social relationships. The idea would be to identify how the school can improve the overall culture and environmental interactions with a view towards motivating students to learn and achieve academic success.

School Improvement Models

The team is happy that overall their school improvement plan has positive results. They review a few school improvement models with to understand what model would best suit their needs. They can always change their model depending on the achievement and results.

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