A Teacher's Guide for Getting Serious About the System

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Corwin Press, Jun 8, 2012 - Education - 85 pages
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The Working Systemically approach is a multidimensional process for school improvement focused on key components of the system that must be in place to support student achievement. In order to ensure that the improvement is sustained for the long term, the Working Systemically approach targets multiple levels of the system. By simultaneously addressing the components and competencies at multiple levels, the approach results in systemwide improvement that increases achievement for all students. Four key findings drive this work: Improving student achievement requires a district to concentrate its efforts on aligning curriculum, instruction, and assessment to state standards Instead of trying to address every problem with a unique solution, work on the underlying issues that are impacting the system Focus improvement plans on activities that are small enough to be manageable but large enough to make a difference in student achievementLeaders at all levels of the system (including teacher leaders) need to support the selected focus of the improvement effort so that the resources of time, personnel, and energy are targeted on that focal pointIn short, sites that focused their attention on alignment and approached their improvement work systemically were more likely to show gains in student achievement. This guide is printed in two separate volumes. One volume provides a brief overview of what it means to work systemically, offers a brief rationale for a systemic approach based on research, and outlines the five phases in the process. The primary audience for this book is district and school staff, including teachers, who will be engaged in the improvement efforts. A second volume provides district and school leadership teams with the tools and resources they need to lead the systemic work.
 

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Contents

INTRODUCTION TO SYSTEMIC IMPROVEMENT
1
A Process Grounded In Research
2
Summary
4
THE WORKING SYSTEMICALLY APPROACH LEVELS COMPONENTS AND COMPETENCIES
5
Levels of the System
6
District Level
7
Curriculum
8
Policy and Governance
9
Describe the Ideal State
29
PHASE III PLANNING ACTION
30
Investigate ResearchBased Practices
31
Communicating Clear Expectations
33
Review Progress Made to Date and Existing Plan
34
Develop a District Improvement Plan
35
Formalize and Communicate the District Improvement Plan
36
Develop School Improvement Plans
37

Collecting Interpreting and Using Data
10
Ensuring Continuous Professional Learning
11
Building Relationships
12
Responding to Changing Conditions
13
The Working Systemically Approach in Action
14
PHASE I UNDERSTANDING SYSTEMIC IMPROVEMENT
17
Collect and Analyze Preliminary Data
19
Present the Approach at the School Level
20
Commit to Systemic Improvement
21
PHASE II ANALYZING THE SYSTEM
22
Form the District and School Leadership Teams
23
Begin the Comprehensive Needs Assessment
25
Conduct a Gap Analysis
27
Begin the Process at the School Level
28
PHASE IV TAKING ACTION AND MONITORING PROGRESS
38
Provide Continuing Leadership for the Improvement Work
40
Address Unique Challenges as They Arise
42
PHASE V ASSESSING AND REFLECTING ON OUTCOMES
44
Analyze and Reflect on Evidence of Implementation and Impact
45
Decide on a Focus for Continuing the Improvement Work
47
Recognize Work Progress and Accomplishments
49
WHAT IT TAKES
50
SYSTEM EXAMINATION TOOLSTANDARDS
53
LEADERSHIP SELFASSESSMENT
61
RUBRIC FOR DETERMINING SYSTEM CAPACITY
73
REFERENCES
84
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About the author (2012)

Before retiring from SEDL in October, 2010, D'Ette E. Cowan led Texas Comprehensive Center efforts to assist state and intermediate agencies in providing high-needs districts and schools with technical assistance that is systemic in nature. In her 12-year career at SEDL, she also assisted low-performing districts and schools throughout a five-state region to improve student learning, and investigated strategies for transforming schools into professional learning communities. Currently, Cowan serves as a consultant to SEDL on a variety of projects. As one of the researchers and authors of Working Systemically in Action: A Guide for Facilitators , she has had first-hand experience in helping district and school leaders apply a systemic approach to improve learning outcomes for students. Her study of professional learning communities over her career has included conducting and applying research and presenting findings at conferences and in books and journals. She has authored chapters and articles in Demystifying Professional Learning Communities: School Leadership at Its Best; SEDL Letter; Journal of School Leadership; and Learning Together, Leading Together . Prior to joining SEDL in December 1997, she served as a junior high school teacher and an elementary school principal. Her continuing research interests include leadership for change, systemic improvement, and professional learning communities.

Stacey Joyner is a Program Associate at SEDL—a nonprofit education research, development, and dissemination corporation based in Austin, TX. She participates in efforts to build state education staff capacity to serve districts and schools. She is the former editor of the USDE's Reading First newsletter The Notebook, and former editor of the Texas Comprehensive Center's newsletter Texas Focus. She is co-author of SEDL’s Working Systemically in Action, a comprehensive process for school improvement.

Prior to joining SEDL, Ms. Joyner served as the Reading Coordinator for the Idaho State Department of Education. She has 11 years of teaching experience. She has served as a reading specialist and teacher trainer for the Clark County School District in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ms. Joyner holds a BA in Elementary Education from Idaho State University and an MEd in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. She is currently a doctoral student at the University of Texas at Austin.

Shirley Beckwith is a Communications Associate with SEDL's Texas Comprehensive Center (TXCC). She provides editorial review of training materials and resources used in meetings hosted by the TXCC and prepares materials for submission to national evaluators. She also provides and reviews content for the TXCC Web site. She has been involved in several revisions of the Working Systemically approach, including the 2008 Working Systemically in Action: A Guide for Facilitators and a conversion of the process into a scripted training manual for school support teams.

Prior to joining SEDL Ms. Beckwith worked for several years at the University of Texas LBJ School of Public Affairs as the coordinator and researcher for the Guide to Texas State Agencies. Ms. Beckwith has a master’s degree in Library and Information Science.

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