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Collaborative School Improvement (CSI), formerly SACI


Enduring change in schools and districts comes from a commitment to continuous improvement rather than the imposition of regulations from outside authorities. Forward-thinking schools and districts take control of their own future by using research, best practices, self-analysis, reflection, feedback, and systems to strategize their own approach to prepare their students for their future. If districts work collaboratively in this process, educators will have more information about their own district and neighboring districts that they can use in their planning.

As a result of participation in the Collaborative School Improvement (CSI) process, schools and/or districts will:

  • Understand a school improvement process and appreciate the need for continuous improvement
  • Learn how to gather data about their school and/or district
  • Analyze their own data to plan for school improvement
  • Construct long-term school improvement plans
  • Receive feedback from educators in participating schools and/or districts by hosting school visits
  • Get affirmation of present practice and suggestions for improvement as a result of participating in visits

Getting Ready Stage
Before anything else can occur, a school or district has to be “ready” and committed to a school improvement process. This growth mindset should be a part of the culture of the school or district. Without this, the process will be viewed as another needless imposition rather than a path to improvement.

In this stage the BOCES facilitator works with the school or district leadership to set the stage for participation in the school improvement process. This could include activities and professional development to build awareness about the need for continuous improvement. A plan is developed for this, which includes attention to communication with all stakeholders.

Educators from the school will go on a visit to another school. The purpose of this visit is to introduce the power of school visits. Educators from the school will go on a visit to a school that is either similar to them or one from which they are interested in observing. Participants will be able to observe the practices of the other school which will give them some new ideas as well as affirm some existing practices. To “practice” subsequent, more thorough reviews and visits, participants may provide a brief report of their observations to the host site.

A school readiness rubric will be employed by the school or district leadership team to gauge the readiness for the next stage. No particular “score” is needed, but the application of some sort of assessment of readiness should occur prior to a self-study to ensure that the staff is “ready.”

Once deemed ready, the leadership team will identify the focus and scope of the self-study. Initially, a school could choose to do a comprehensive study. Subsequently, districts and schools might choose particular areas upon which to focus.

Self-Study Stage
When a school or district is ready, a self-study team should be formulated. The make-up of the team is important. Schools will want to have expertise in curriculum, pedagogy, etc. in order to have higher functioning teams. Descriptions of team members will be available, recognizing that the focus and scope of data collection drives who is needed on the self-study team. Because the DTSDE rubric doesn’t have an explicit attention to SWDs and ELLs it is important to have team members with that expertize, too. Consider a counselor and/or psychologist (helps with tenets 5 & 7). The suggestion is not have all leaders; however, it is important to have general staff. Consider parent participation. A mixed team of classroom core content teachers, special area teachers, specialized teachers and support personnel, leadership along with parent and community members provides the varied perspective and background to best collect and study data.

The self-study team is oriented to the process including training on the tools via a simulation. Initial training could be regional and include teams from all participating schools. Understanding that schools arrive at readiness at different times, this is a flexible component and may be offered more than once a year. The BOCES facilitator will provide overview, tools, and practice. A critical component of the training experience is the opportunity to calibrate teams regarding collection of evidence, use of rubric and scoring the rubric. In addition to the regional training, specific work should happen within districts to build capacity and sustainability.

This includes processes of data collection such as from classroom visits, focus groups, document review, and interviews. The team will also be trained to use the Diagnostic Tool for School and District Effectiveness (DTSDE). The components within that tool include:

  • District Leadership and Capacity
  • School Leader Practices and Decisions
  • Curriculum Development and Support
  • Teacher Practices and Decisions
  • Student Social and Emotional Developmental Health
  • Family and Community Engagement

The self-study team identifies and collects the data they will analyze. This could include:

  • Student achievement data
  • Existing school and/or district plans
  • Survey data from stakeholders
  • Behavior data
  • Attendance data
  • Participation data
  • Evidence from classroom visitation

It is important to capture the totality of the school’s culture and practices; however we need to simultaneously be respectful of student needs and environment. Data will be gathered according to rubric in short visits to all environments identified during the planning stage. In many cases, this will be all classrooms and settings pertinent to the focus and scope of study. Each will be visited by minimum of two different people at a minimum of two separate times. Any point brought into the resulting report needs to be observed by multiple visitors in multiple times. In other words, nothing will be reported that was observed by one person at one time. Patterns are important.

Once the data have been collected the BOCES facilitator will work with the self-study team to use the DTSDE tool to analyze the data. After the application for the DTSDE tool, the BOCES facilitator will work with the self-study team to prepare a report which will be presented to the leadership team. The report summarizes the findings of the study team but does not necessarily suggest priorities for future school improvement planning. Priorities for the future would typically come from the school or district leadership.

School Visit Stage
To deepen or widen perspective, a school or district will host a school visit in order to receive data and feedback from uninvolved but trained educators who come from the collaborative. Other participating districts will be expected to contribute trained educators who will visit other schools, collect and examine data, apply the DTSDE tool, and provide feedback to host schools.

The BOCES facilitator will coordinate and lead the visits. The BOCES facilitator will also work with the visiting team to prepare a report which will be presented to the leadership team.

School Improvement Planning Stage
The school or district develops long range plans for the priorities that have been identified as a result of the self-study or hosted visit. The BOCES facilitator can help districts using a common or district-specific template. This leads to the development of the school or district’s strategic plan.

Note: If a district is not yet ready to host a visit, they would develop their plan(s) based on the self-study. Subsequently, plans would be adjusted after a district hosts a visit and receives that feedback.

Optional Components
A district or school could decide to seek Middle States accreditation. The process would be similar to a school visit but would include coordination with Middle States Association Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools (MSA-CESS).

A district could choose to participate in the American Association of School Administrator’s (AASA) Collaborative. The AASA Collaborative is a national network of school leaders established to give voice to educational leaders on challenging issues of school improvement and accountability. Participating leaders work with national leaders in education, and each other, to learn about relevant and current issues in school improvement.

Commitment
For the collaboration to work best, some level of stability in participation is important. Participating districts should plan to participate in the school improvement collaborative for at least three years. During this time districts will be expected to engage in at least one self-study and contribute participants to at least one outside visit. Districts will also be expected to host a visit and receive feedback from a visiting team. Districts also commit to participation in training and the sharing of resources.

Governance
The Advisory Board for the Collaborative School Improvement Service will consist of each superintendent (or designee) of participating school districts and the Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Support Services of OCM BOCES. This Board will make suggestions and recommendations in order to manage and improve the service. OCM BOCES will manage and direct the service with this advice.

This table summarizes the role of the BOCES and the school/district:

 

BOCES Role

School/District Role

Getting Ready

  • Readiness assessment tool
  • Assists the leadership team as needed to get ready
  • Provides resources and professional development strategies to assist readiness
  • Completes readiness tool
  • Creates and implements a strategy for getting to ready
  • Consistently communicates the rationale and process to stakeholders

Self-Study

  • Work with the district to identify study team members
  • Provides orientation and training on process and tools
  • Facilitates the identification of or creation of survey tools and any other data collectors
  • Provides team with feedback about their calibration to the tools
  • Works with district personnel to gather data
  • Facilitates the team review of data and application of the DTSDE tool
  • Leads the development of the report
  • Provides the report to the leadership team
  • Help to secure experienced staff members from participating collaborative school districts to serve as mentors for the process
  • Identify and arrange for study team participation in training and study
  • Provides the data points and documents as requested by the team
  • Works with BOCES facilitator personnel to gather data
  • Works with BOCES facilitator to plan the logistics of the study
  • Works with the BOCES facilitator to create the outline of the report
  • Reviews the report with the facilitator

School Improvement Planning

  • BOCES facilitator reviews report with leadership team
  • BOCES facilitator assists the leadership team with the development, implementation, and monitoring of the improvement plan as needed
  • Leadership team reviews the data and the report and identifies affirmations and opportunities for improvement
  • Leadership team develops school improvement plan for the priorities that they identified in their review of the data and the report
  • Leadership team commits to the ongoing communication, monitoring, adjusting, and evaluation of the improvement plan

School visits

  • Coordinate and lead the visits
  • Works with district personnel to gather data
  • Facilitates the team review of data and application of the DTSDE tool
  • Leads the development of the report
  • Provides the report to the leadership team
  • If hosting:
    • Work with BOCES facilitator to prepare logistics
    • Provide all requested material in advance of the visit
    • Communicate the purpose of the visit with all stakeholders
  • If visiting:
    • Contribute to the visiting team in a manner that helps the team achieve the necessary representation

Middle States Accreditation

  • Would be similar to a school visit but would include coordination with Middle States Association Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools (MSA-CESS)
  • Would include any additional requirements as detailed by MSA-CESS

AASA Collaborative

  • Participates in and serves as the liaisons to Collaborative leadership
  • Participates in the Collaborative learning and networking opportunities

Related resources

  • Training details (TBD)
  • Visit protocol (TBD)
  • Sample survey instruments

Funding structure
The base-fee (includes regional training, preliminary planning, and up to three days of customized “getting ready” training) varies depending on the size of the district: small, medium, or large (similar to the way that the CI&A base fee is scaled). Additional customized days would be $975 each. Note: non-components pay $1,250 per day rather than $975.

  • Small Districts: $3,000
  • Medium Districts: $4,000
  • Large Districts: $5,000

Self-Study (as detailed in the self-study section above): $12,000 each self-study.

Three-day visit (as detailed in the self-study section above; districts pay their own (aidable) substitute teacher expenses): $14,500 each visit. This is based on the assumption that participants in a visit have been previously trained and participated in a self-study).

Four-day visit (as detailed in the self-study section above; districts pay their own (aidable) substitute teacher expenses): $16,500 each visit. This is based on the assumption that participants in a visit have been previously trained and participated in a self-study).

Note: Districts are recompensed $500 for each educator per day they send to another district to participate on an official visit. The purpose of this is to offset the expenses involved. Recognizing that this has implications on the cost of hosting a visit, alternative structures may be considered in the future.

School Improvement Planning (occurs subsequent to each self-study and/or visit; includes up to three days of plan-making facilitation): $3,000. Additional customized days would be $975 each. Note: non-components pay $1,250 per day rather than $975).

Sustaining - Districts at this level have participated in previous levels of study either through SACI or CSI. At the sustaining level districts may "loan" educators to other participating districts and receive the benefit of continuing to learn from practices in collaborating schools. Districts are reimbursed $500/day and are responsible for any travel costs incurred. Districts selecting this level will be assessed the base fee as detailed in the Getting Ready phase.

Middle-States Accreditation could be an option. Based on the SACI model, this would cost approximately $35,000. Coordination with the Middle States Association Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools would be necessary.

Participation in the AASA Collaborative is expected to be approximately $5,000 per year, with a phased in introduction (this depends on a minimum of five districts participating):

  • Year 1: $3,000
  • Year 2: $4,000
  • Year 5 (and afterward): $5,000
 
 

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