Establishing a school improvement plan (SIP) is the most important first step to improving your school. Without this plan it is nearly impossible to attain success. As John Wooten, the former UCLA basketball coach said, “Failure to Prepare is Preparing to Fail.”
Additionally, Yogi Berra, the former Yankee baseball player famous for his malapropisms said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might wind up somewhere else.” So if your school does not have a SIP (or there is one gathering dust on a shelf, not updated and being used to guide your school in meeting important goals) your school is not performing as well as it could!
The purpose of school improvement planning is to create a map or guide that will improve the quality of teaching and learning in the school resulting in more student success in core subject areas. The following steps to building a functional SIP help you to identify areas to be improved (What), How they will be improved, Who will be responsible plus the timeline (When) and the resources (Needs) to make the improvements.
1. Start with a vision.
The first step to success is to write a collaborative vision or mission that will set expectations for the school. The more stakeholders who are involved in this process the better for “buy in” and “ownership.” This statement can be modified to exemplify the shared vision as it evolves.
2. Involve all staff, parents and community members in the SIP process.
The principal and other school leaders must engage the stakeholders of the school community and build a culture where people will feel that their opinions matter. Therefore, the team that is writing and doing the needs assessment and research will meet at times that are convenient for involved parents and community members.
3. Conduct a Needs-Assessment Survey.
It is vital that you take the pulse of your school and get an honest evaluation of how well your school is doing academically. Since there are many factors that affect academic achievement — such as morale of staff, parent involvement and the social-emotional health of children — these should be assessed as well. A needs-assessment survey given to all stakeholders is a great tool for gathering this important data. Once you have gathered your test data and implemented/collected the needs-assessment surveys you and your team will be equipped to analyze for selecting goals and objectives based on your school’s most pressing needs and hone your vision for directing your school’s improvement.
4. Identify goals and objectives
A word of caution here, “Beware of Fat Plans.” Resolve to set no more than three possibly four prioritized goals and try to stay with no more than three to four measureable objectives that will be your steps of focus to successfully attain your goals. Now that you have some clear ideas about what needs changing, go about setting your clear goals and concise, measureable and achievable objectives that are going to make the largest impact on improving your school.
5. Outline Specific Action Steps
Without action steps your plan will not have any legs to move forward. It is vital that the objectives are clear and measureable and include: who, what, when and how plus resources so each objective can/will be accomplished!
For example, say your school’s reading scores needed improving. The table below is an example of what that part of your SIP might look like.
Improvement Goal: The school will improve the reading achievement level from 50% to 70% during the 2016-17 year and to 80% in 2017-18.
Again, developing a carefully crafted School Improvement Plan, is possibly the most important element to achieving ongoing school improvement and meeting student success goals. The Needs Assessment helps in prioritizing your most important goals for improvement and also serves to reinforce the importance of what you are already doing. Each step in making and implementing a school improvement plan is crucial to its success.
On the contrary, omitting steps may save time, but you run the risk of the whole plan being ineffective. (For example, if you leave out allocations for resources and/or do not assign specific people or groups with specific plan responsibilities or task deadlines, the lack of implementation will create loss of trust, frustration, anxiety and result in poor performance and no improvement-a waste of effort and time.)
Be encouraged! The time and energy you spend in developing and implementing your School Improvement Plan will be rewarded with meeting your goals, building and improving PLC relationships and becoming the successful school you will enjoy leading!
This blog was written by Budd Dingwall, Consultant at Leaders Building Leaders.