All Schools Should be Operating with Strong Action Plans

Great action plans are formed by a close look at your school’s data, have achievable outcomes, are aligned with your professional development, and understood by all of your stakeholders.  Here are some recent examples from charter schools in New York.

Plan: “Our extremely close look at the 2014 and 2015 data revealed that we had the vast majority of our 400 tested students clustered in the high 2 range on the NYS ELA exam.  We were so close. The data showed this majority was getting fatigued on testing day three, and the data shows they didn’t have the writing skill set to perform well on the most difficult extended responses.  Therefore, we are going to emphasize writing wherever they go.  In Math, Science, everywhere, students are going to face challenging writing exercises.  We were previously letting them off the hook by limiting their exposure to writing.”

Result: 2016 scores in ELA doubled, and students reported feeling far more at ease with the most challenging parts of the ELA exam.  They are excited for 2017.

Plan: “Our school had a profound teacher turnover problem.  We had the leadership, curriculum, and professional development systems in place, but by the time we trained a first year teacher, they took that training to another school.  We knew that if we were constantly starting over each year with brand new teachers, we would never see the achievement outcomes we wanted.  In 2014, our Board activated a personnel committee.  Our committee met openly with all teachers to gather data on why they considered leaving.  We learned our situation was not just about pay, but a host of other factors that were well within our control.  We worked with our administration to implement incentives for recruitment referrals, even more targeted PD, graduate school reimbursement support, and more common planning time.  Although each school would find its own answers, these seem to be working for us.”

Result: 60% of teachers left in summer 2014, 24% in 2015, and 12% in 2016.  Our scores in ELA and Math are still not outstanding but they are now in the ‘high 20s’ and two years ago in the low teens.