This Four Domains for Rapid School Improvement Strategies and Suggestions document and The Four Domains Comprehensive Assessment of Leadership for Learning (CALL) survey and feedback system were created to support the development of the school leaders and their leadership teams in identifying possible action items and developing an improvement plan. It is intended to facilitate the school leaders’ ability to track leadership actions within each domain and provide the specificity on possible next steps for each practice identified in the framework. These practices are critical for achieving rapid and significant school improvement and outline specific areas of focus within each of the four domains to support school-level implementation.
In 2017, the Center on School Turnaround at WestEd published the Four Domains for Rapid School Improvement: A Systems Framework, a framework to assist states, districts, and schools to improve student achievement in the lowest-performing schools. The framework immediately garnered national attention by outlining four areas of focus — Turnaround Leadership, Instructional Transformation, Talent Development, and Culture Shift — that research and experience suggest are central to rapid school improvement. These practices complement a growing national focus on improvement for the lowest-performing schools and greater support for persistently underperforming student groups.
Despite national attention on the need for school turnaround, many school districts across the United States are struggling to fund even the basic costs of school district operations, despite increases in funding. The fact is, revenues are not keeping pace with expenditures in many school districts across the country. As a result, the fiscal circumstances in local school districts and state education systems are increasingly challenging as costs for pensions, special education, employee healthcare, and other cost pressures continue to rise. Yet the need to support vulnerable student populations and struggling schools remains high.
This paper outlines strategies for how school districts can maximize the use of existing resources to support the practices outlined in the Four Domains.
Because the quality of teaching is the most important school-based factor for student learning, a focus on instruction is pivotal for successfully turning around failing schools and districts. These school systems need to abandon instructional practices that are not working, usher in new approaches that lead to improved instruction, and create conditions that enable and inspire effective teaching that allows students to achieve their full potential.
To help address these gaps, the Center on School Turnaround (CST) designed a project to examine the practices of two districts — both members of the University of Virginia Darden/Curry Partnership for Leaders in Education, a CST partner — that are successfully improving instruction within their multiple turnaround schools. Our CST research team conducted a series of interviews, using protocols based on the framework defined in our Four Domains for Rapid School Improvement: A Systems Framework, to determine how these districts enacted two key instructional transformation practices: (1) diagnosing and responding to student learning needs, and (2) providing rigorous, evidence-based instruction.
This paper presents guidelines and recommendations for states and districts as they seek to improve systems that support instructional practices.
The Center on School Turnaround at WestEd presents this guide, Jump-Starting Instructional Transformation, to assist both those participating in the Transformation Academy and the many principals who are charged with significantly improving their schools, but are unable to attend the academy.
This guide rests on the research and practice base of Four Domains for Rapid School Improvement: A Systems Framework (Center on School Turnaround, 2017). The four domain framework identifies four areas of focus, and key practices in each, that have been shown to be critical for achieving rapid and significant school improvement, including instructional transformation, the focus of this guide. In the approach laid out in this guide, the principal starts down the road to instructional transformation by convening a select group of teachers as an action team (or A-team) that will look closely at how the principal makes time for instructional leadership and how teachers help each other improve their practice. The team, which includes the principal, will examine every aspect of the school’s instructional system, a system that consists of planning, providing, adjusting, and enhancing instruction. The team considers learning obstacles their students might face and how well the school builds students’ capabilities as learners. The guide includes tools and other resources that may be used to support the development of a transformation academy.
This brief summarizes the May and June 2018 Thought Leadership Forum presentations. May featured a content-based presentation by Kevin Perks of WestEd on the Visibly Improving Teaching and Learning (VITAL) program offered to build teachers’ capacity for collaboration focused on teacher and student learning. June featured joint presentations by Suzi Mast and Tracy Fazio of the Arizona Department of Education, and by Pam Betten and Steve Holmes of the Sunnyside School District in Tucson, Arizona profiling their work in formative assessment. This brief concludes with recommendations for SEAs and LEAs for implementing instructional transformation.
This document provides state education agencies (SEAs) and districts with guidance about how to assess a district’s readiness to support school turnaround initiatives. First published in 2013, the guide has been updated in this edition to highlight how its approach to assessing district readiness embeds and reflects key components of Four Domains for Rapid School Improvement, a framework developed by the Center on School Turnaround (CST, 2017).