We recommend that schools leaders and school teams assess their current levels of success in implementing a collaborative system of support as a way to determine next steps. Such as process can also help establish a common understanding around the elements of systems of support. How would your teams respond and rate their schools on the following descriptors, using a four-point scale?
4: Consistent and effective
3: Fairly consistent and generally effective
2: Inconsistent and occasionally effective
1: Not present or observable
- We believe that all students can learn at very high levels.
- We honestly discuss our biases and expectations for students.
- We use evidence to challenge assumptions.
- We are willing to do whatever it takes (altering schedules, teaching assignments, past practices) to ensure that all students learn at the very highest levels.
- We have researched schools that have been successful with students like those we serve and we have analyzed lessons we can take away to improve student learning.
- We have identified and celebrated the strengths of all staff. We have honestly acknowledged our collective and individual areas for growth.
- We have collectively established team norms based on cooperation and compromise and the best interest of students.
- Our teams meet regularly to work on well-defined tasks. We collaboratively address the following question:
- What are the essential learning targets we expect students to master during the upcoming unit?
- What scaffolding and differentiation strategies will allow all students access the essential learning targets?
- How will we measure our effectiveness as teachers? In other words, how will we informally and formally assess student mastery of essential learning targets?
- What collective supports will we provide to students when need extra time and alternative approaches to master essential learning targets?
- What collective supports will be provided to extend and enrich the depth and complexity of their mastery of essential learning targets?
- We have scheduled regular lesson studies in which small groups of teachers “plan–practice–re-plan–practice–review” lessons with their students, with release provided by roving substitutes or by school staff.
- Each grade level or content-alike team is crystal clear on the agreed-upon essential learning targets and is committed to ensuring that every student masters them.
- Each grade level or content-alike team has clearly defined each essential learning target, ensuring that there is a common understanding about the rigor and format to which students will be held accountable.
- Each grade level or content-alike team has backwards planned from common assessments to ensure that instruction matches the required rigor and format at which students will demonstrate mastery.
- Resources and materials, including but not necessarily limited to textbooks, are collaboratively identified and shared to provide tasks that match the rigor and format of the essential learning targets.
- Differentiation strategies are identified and shared that best help students master essential learning targets.
- The school clearly identifies and articulates, teaches, consistently models, assesses, provides differentiated supports, and positively reinforces the pro-social behaviors that it expects all students to exhibit, including but not limited to the areas of:
- The school clearly identifies and articulates, teaches, consistently models, assesses, provides differentiated supports, and positively reinforces the pro-functional behaviors that it expects all students to exhibit, including but not limited to the areas of:
- Every staff member at the school provides explicit instruction for the behavioral skills that they expect all students to exhibit.
- Every staff member at the school consistently models, corrects, and positively reinforces the behavioral skills that they expect all students to exhibit.
- Common (commonly created or selected, administered, and analyzed) assessments are continuously and vigorously used to inform, refine, and improve instruction.
- Teams use evidence of learning on a regular basis to determine students who needs additional time and support, the areas in which these identified students most need the additional time and support, and areas in which all students will benefit from additional time and support.
- Each grade level or content-alike team draws on the successes of members of the team to continuously refine and improve teaching and learning.
- The school has inventoried assessments to ensure that gaps and duplications do not exist.
- An increasing percentage of all assessments given are used to inform teaching and learning. They include:
- Pretests that assess the prerequisite skills that students should possess to successfully learn upcoming content.
- Mid-unit tests that assess student progress part of the way through a unit, but well before the end of the unit, so that timely interventions can be provided.
- End-of-unit tests that allow teams to know which students will continue to require support in mastering certain essential learning targets even though a new unit of instruction is set to begin.
- Formal or informal checks for understanding including tickets-out-the-door and mid-lesson checks for understanding.
- Progress monitoring that more frequently and validly monitor students’ response to intervention, and when errors are analyzed, can also diagnose students’ needs.
- Screening, diagnostic, and monitoring tools are used to assess student needs in the areas of social and academic behaviors.
- The principal and other administrators are constant participants in these analyses.
- Every student has access to the time and/or supports (academic and behavioral) they need to learn at the very highest levels.
- Grade level and content-alike teams have built time into their normal instructional day to provide additional supports (intervention and enrichment) to students on essential learning targets (academic and behavioral).
- Grade level and content-alike teams have collaboratively identified and/or collaboratively created strategies and activities to meet the remedial and enrichment needs of their students.
- The school has built times into the instructional day for students to receive more supports in addition to core instruction and differentiated instruction provided by grade level and content-alike teams.
- The school has collaboratively identified and/or collaboratively created strategies, activities, and programs to meet the specialized needs of students who have not yet responded to instruction and interventions.
- The school has inventoried all staff members’ availabilities and abilities and has assigned them to directly providing supports to students, with initial and ongoing professional development provided.
We use this self-assessment as a process much more than a product. The analyses and problem-solving that result ensure from conversations around a school’s success in meeting these critical elements of collaborative systems of supports can help focus the district and school on next steps.