School Improvement Work in Delaware: It Takes a Village

March 4, 2019 | Categories: Essa , State Education Agency , Updates

State Education Agency leaders from across the country came together for the second of three CCSSO SCASS meetings in Los Angeles, California. CALL Project Director Mark Blitz had an opportunity to present to the School and District Improvement (SDI) SCASS to talk more about the Four Domains for Rapid School Improvement framework and the Four Domains CALL System. Mark was joined by:

Eric Niebrzydowski, Delaware Department of Education;
Hugh Broomall, Deputy Superintendent, Red Clay Consolidated School District;
Carlas McCauley, Center on School Turnaround at WestEd; and
Bob Rosenfeld, WestEd.

The presentation, Strategic School and District Improvement Partnerships, told the story of the state-wide school improvement initiative in Delaware. Eric Niebrzydowski recounted how in previous years, there was great distrust among LEA leaders toward SEA leaders, and as a result, the effort to coordinate school improvement plans fizzled. But more recently, however, Eric elicited the support from WestEd and the Center on School Turnaround to adopt a consistent framework to be utilized by Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) schools, Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI) schools, the LEAs, and the SEA. Eric prioritized communication and establishing buy-in from these schools by bringing them into the meetings with WestEd and having them be part of the decision-making process. As a result, Red Clay Consolidated School District is making great progress and views the SEA as a partner rather than an obstacle.

Carlas McCauley from the Center on School Turnaround at WestEd presenting at the CCSSO School and District Improvement meetingAfter Eric and Hugh established the context for this work during the presentation, Carlas McCauley spoke about the importance of utilizing a framework when engaging in state-wide school and district improvement work. Specifically, Carlas referenced the Four Domains for Rapid School Improvement framework, developed by the Center on School Turnaround at WestEd. The state of Delaware adopted this evidence-based framework to guide schools, LEAs, their own state Department of Education in improvement efforts. By doing so, LEA and SEA leaders can examine trends across schools as well as trends  from the state-level through to the classroom, all of which are situated within the same constructs.

The Comprehensive Assessment of Leadership for Learning (CALL) Project Director, Mark Blitz, introduced the research and theory behind CALL and introduced the Four Domains CALL System. This system measures actual school-wide instructional leadership practices that are aligned to the Four Domains for Rapid School Improvement framework. This enhances school improvement planning by filling in the gaps in a plan rather than solely focusing on summative data to inform improvement goals and action.

Bob Rosenfeld from WestEd then demonstrated how a school and its leaders utilized the Four Domains CALL System to target their needs, engage in change initiatives, and then reassess their leadership practices to measure growth over time.

Data from the Four Domains CALL System demonstrating growth in practice from a school that utilized CALL to support school improvement planning 

The education leaders from Delaware concluded the presentation by showing how they have triangulated their data collection to obtain a comprehensive picture of what is happening in their schools. Eric and Hugh relayed that their working relationship is strong, and that the work in the CSI and TSI schools in Delaware is going smoothly.

To be sure, given the number of people from the various organizations who have come together to engage in this work and support Delaware educators, it truly goes to show that it does indeed “take a village.” SEA, LEA, and school leaders should know that for school improvement work in CSI and TSI schools, external support is available in the form of evidence-based frameworks, user-friendly data-collection systems, and expert consultants.