Case Study: Identity Matching and Strategic Planning
Posted on December 17, 2016
Case study based on a charter school located outside of New York City serving grades K-8
In August 2016, this charter school received its latest scores. They were well above charter-sector averages again, exceeded the local district and rivaled state averages. On paper, the school’s renewal submission in summer 2019 should be straight forward as a very strong candidate.
However, when we walked through renewal step one (Identity Match) with the school, the results were revealing. Despite the public’s perception of the school as a high flyer, the school’s leadership and board were not comfortable with what the school had become. Parents thought the school took absolute student performance a little too seriously and emphasized the state test as the “end all, be all.” In their eyes, the school had lost the positive energy it once had.
The school’s authorizer felt the school’s high results were skewed because of low representation of students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students, and English language learners, and an insistence on not back-filling seats after October each year.
Teachers, although highly satisfied in general, felt that an emphasis on test preparation was hampering their creativity. Finally, the school’s board and leadership felt that while chasing ever-increasing targets for student achievement, the school had drifted from its arts-infused, inclusive mission.
These findings inspired the school to write a strategic plan covering the three years leading up to its renewal deadline in 2019. Some of the objectives contained in the plan included:
- Writing an open letter to our families revealing the results of our recent retreat to discuss our school’s identity and pledging ongoing attention to the matter.
- Increasing recruitment efforts before the next enrollment season of winter 2017 to target the three special populations. The efforts included all-new school promotional brochures that emphasized the arts-infused mission and enrollment inclusiveness.
- Working with school leadership to ensure that the school schedule and PD calendar for 2017-18 included more opportunities for teachers to practice creative planning and autonomy and that arts instruction was indeed infused throughout the schedule.
- Updating the school’s authorizer on its intended improvement plan and inviting the authorizer to visit the school.