GO: From Planning to Action!
Once a school has participated in a robust needs assessment, it is time to begin prioritizing and planning for the implementation of evidence-based strategies to address the identified root cause challenges. In this section, there are resources to support the effective facilitation of root cause analysis, setting goals, and drafting evidence-based action plans.
The needs assessment is a systematic process that is used to identify strengths and weaknesses within the context and constraints of the organization and dig deeper into root causes (Corbett & Redding, 2017). The needs assessment “goes beyond student data to include data on the prevalence of effective practices, it includes a thorough examination of practices, processes, and routines.” A root cause analysis is also part of the needs assessment process.
A priority statement clearly identifies a change in practice, structure, or system that, if improved, will lead to progress toward achieving the vision and long-term goal. The priority statements should answer the following questions:
- What needs to change for the school team to resolve the primary root cause?
- How can a school team change their practice, structure, or system to better support educators, students, parents/guardians, or our community?
- What makes a school team think that changing these ways will improve our progress toward achieving our vision and long-term goals?
Goals are the outcomes schools and districts intend to accomplish. A school must set clear goals to address issue areas throughout the school improvement planning process. Once the team has a clear sense of where the school is currently, they can begin mapping out a strategy for progressing to where they want the school to be. The plan should include concise, measurable, and achievable goals and objectives that will lead to the path to success.
Evidence-Based Strategies are instructional practices, strategies, programs, and interventions that have been shown through rigorous evaluation to be effective at improving outcomes.
Once priorities for improvement have been identified with established goals to measure progress and improvement, the steering committee (in consultation with other stakeholders) will next develop the action plans to meet the goals. The first step in action planning is to determine the strategies that will best address the priorities. By using rigorous and relevant evidence and assessing the local capacity to implement the strategy (e.g., funding, staff, staff skills, stakeholder support), schools are more likely to implement interventions successfully and meet established goals. After selecting the strategy, the next step is to map out a plan for how the school will implement each selected evidence-based strategy. It is important to note that one of the benefits of implementing an evidence-based strategy is that the steps that are key to effective implementation are already established.
In any improvement or transformation work there is a need to ensure that professional learning and development are provided to support the identified priorities. School teams are encouraged to deeply consider the Essential Practices within the condition of Foster Quality Professional Learning as they draft the professional development plan for the school.
In order to help ensure that effective implementation and continuous improvement occur, it is critical that a school plan for the ways in which they will communicate priorities, goals, and progress with stakeholders. Remember, stakeholder engagement is an important part of the school planning process and should continue throughout the process.
- Root Cause Analysis Workbook-Center on Great Teachers & Leaders
- Root Cause Analysis and Theory of Action Facilitator’s Guide-IES
- Continuous Improvement in Education: A Toolkit for Schools and Districts-REL Northeast & Islands
- Logic Models in School Improvement
- Prioritization Toolkit
- S.M.A.R.T.I.E. Goals
- Goal as Theory of Action
- NIRN Hexagon Tool
- BiWeekly Implementation tool
- The Communication Planner from the Opportunity Culture
- Communication Planning for Innovation in Education
- Communication Planning through the Lens of SEL
- Goal Setting infographic
- Pennsylvania Evidence Resource Center
- ESSA Action Guide: Selecting Evidence-Based Practices for Low-Performing Schools
- CASEL’s Guide to Schoolwide SEL
- Attendance Works
- WWC Practice Guides
- Evidence-Based Literacy Practices Resource Map
- Implementing MTSS
- Evidence-Based Teacher Professional Learning
- Human Capital Resources