District Administration September 2017 - 76

ProfessionalOpinion
Moving beyond compliance
Helping high-poverty district improve student achievement and graduation rates
By Fatme Faraj and Glenn M. Maleyko

E

vidence-based best practice is
a hot topic in education, especially in regard to the proposed
ESSA accountability system. It means
that schools tailor their action plans
to meet their individual student and
school needs based on objective- and
research-based models. This process
provides for an internal accountability
system and enhanced professional learning communities. During a Specific
School Improvement Visit we go to
every class in the school to monitor instruction and provide feedback.
Dearborn City School District in
Michigan uses an evidence-based system
throughout the district to implement a
School Improvement Process (SIP) that
provides for an internal accountability
system that is based on the professional
learning community philosophy. Dearborn Public Schools-the third largest
in the state, consisting of 34 schools
and 39 K12 programs-integrates staff
expertise with research based best practices to implement a locally developed
school improvement plan process. The
district serves over 21,000 students, half
of whom are limited English proficient,
with 70 percent who are economically
disadvantaged.
Walkthroughs
The SIP is a growth model that involves
creating partnerships between all stakeholders including administrators, teachers, parents, non-instructional staff and
students. School faculty are engaged
in an internal process for continuous

DAmag.me/comply

76 September 2017

The power of the SIP
model is that it has
become a normal
operational part of the
the district.
improvement wherein they monitor and
adjust their goals and plans while they
receive evidence-based feedback from
the school improvement visiting team.
Schools host a minimum of two
formal SIP visits per year in addition
to informal walkthroughs. At least one
of the school visits is unannounced. A
team representing each of the stakeholder groups conducts classroom walkthroughs using a learner-centric rubric
of best practices and district strategic
plan initiatives.
Following the classroom visits, the
team members participate in a feedback session to report on the level of
implementation of each individual
high-impact strategy and district initiative. During the walkthrough, observers
focus on what students are doing and
saying, their level of engagement in the
lesson, depth of questions and the level
of cognitive demands of the activities.
Visitors also assess the frequency of
checking for understanding, differentiation of instruction, conferring, and
other high-impact strategies used by
the learner and the teacher. Additional
strategies that support continuous improvement include the school staff thoroughly analyzing the school data profile
following a district data protocol, aligning the professional development plan
calender with the school improvement

plan, developing a parental engagement
plan, and maintaining evidence of adhering to state and federal mandates..
(See the rubric at DAmag.me/dsip.)
Following the classroom visits, the
SIP team reconvenes and gives immediate oral feedback to the school team.
The team provides a detailed written report to the school leadership within 24
hours of the visit. This process provides
an additional formative assessment tool
used by the school professional learning
community team to address areas of
focus and maintain powerful practices.
Continuous improvement
Institutionalizing this practice in all 34
schools has resulted in continuous, systemic and vertical instructional improvement across the district. The district has
shown gains in student achievement
in math and literacy on standardized
and benchmark assessment, improved
instructional delivery as measured by the
teacher evaluation tool, and a graduation
rate that improved from 81 percent in
2008 to 93 percent in 2016.
The power of this model is that it
has become a normal operational part
of the district. It also promotes professional learning communities and knowledge sharing as administrators and
teachers attend visits to other schools
to provide feedback and learn about
implementing best practices across the
district. The consistent implementation of the rubric is another key factor
for consistent delivery of best practices
across the district. DA
Fatme Faraj is director of School Improvement/
Leadership Coaching for Dearborn Public
Schools. Glenn M. Maleyko is superintendent
of Dearborn Public Schools.
District Administration


http://www.DAmag.me/dsip http://www.DAmag.me/comply

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration September 2017

District Administration September 2017 - Cover1
District Administration September 2017 - Cover2
District Administration September 2017 - 1
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