Student achievement is the top priority for all schools, and student success depends on a sustained effort by an interdependent team to meet that objective. Continuous school improvement refers to the process of implementing a planned strategy and measuring the effectiveness in student outcomes over an extended period of time.
The Process for Improvement
According to the Coalition of Essential Schools, the key phases of effective continuous school improvement include the following:
- Creating a vision.
- Gathering data.
- Analyzing the data.
- Creating and outlining the plan.
- Implementing the strategies and action steps in the plan.
- Gathering data to measure the plan’s effectiveness.
While policy demands often push for quick results, continuous school improvement is an ongoing process, and the shared vision of the entire school staff fuels this recursive process.
The Role of Teachers
Teachers are crucial at every step of the process, given their active roles in gathering and analyzing data during their day-to-day interactions with students. Collaboration between teachers, teacher-leaders and administrators is vital throughout the improvement process. For continuous improvement, periodically revisiting and revising classroom instruction and assessment is vital for quality and key to effective collaboration among both administrators and teachers.
The Role of School Leadership
Strong educational leadership is important for improvement, as administrators and teacher-leaders ensure that instruction and assessment reflects the school’s vision. Administrators play a key role in promoting teacher performance, as engaged teachers create engaged and successful students. The ability to inspire and motivate teachers — and support their professional development — is the hallmark of an effective administrator.
While teachers are accountable to one another and to their school’s administration, school administrators are accountable to the larger school community, including district administrators and parents, who are active participants in school improvement and the decision-making process. Parents deserve a voice in the planning process, and school leadership is responsible for creating an inclusive, interdependent team of interested community members, as well as fostering communication.
Effective administrators and teacher-leaders can adapt readily to changing environments and student populations. Further, strong educational leadership can lead teachers and other staff through tumultuous periods of change to achieve long-term objectives. A commitment to continuous improvement underlies these strengths.
Continuous school improvement strategies must undergo regular re-evaluation and alteration to meet challenges that arise. While quality teaching is a cornerstone of school improvement, shaping a professional learning environment is equally important. Continuous school improvement is not a quick fix for immediate results but a sustained effort by all involved to effect meaningful and lasting change management.
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