Just released: Continuous Improvement Toolkit 

Continuous Improvement Toolkit

Tools for getting organized, making a plan, and taking action

Educators have passed the first hurdle of reopening during an unprecedented time, but continue to face many interconnected and complex problems. In our work with schools and systems across the country, we’ve identified three major challenges leadership teams are working hard to address:

  1. How do we better orient our planning around priority groups of students? 
  2. How do we devote extra attention to all students’ emotional needs and unfinished learning? 
  3. How do we plan to advance and preserve student learning across multiple instructional scenarios?

We worked with our partners to design and test tools, resources, and guidance that supports leaders in answering these questions. 

Get the toolkit
What's in the toolkit?

Practical tools, templates, and recommendations for keeping students engaged in meaningful learning, whether they are learning in a classroom or at home.

Who should use it?

School and system leadership teams looking for clarity on what is working and what is not working, and educators in search of practical resources for supporting improvement efforts.

Toolkit highlights

  • Scenario-specific guidance for planning in-person, remote, and hybrid learning, as well as useful tips for minimizing disruption despite constant changes
  • Content-specific guidance for ELA, math, and science
  • Content-agnostic guidance on how to adjust plans and pedagogy to deliver high-quality distance learning experiences, as well as resources for teaching the same content in a changing environment (for example, how to adjust your scope and sequence to account for a sudden switch to virtual learning)
  • Considerations for antiracist instruction that affect how we teach, what we teach, and who we teach

Getting started

  • Use the framework for long-term planning: Organize your planning around instruction, culture, and operations for the 2020–21 school year.
  • Use it as a workbook: Complete a set of questions that will help you reflect on the current state of instruction, operations, and culture. After identifying your challenges, the toolkit will point you towards tools and resources that support your specific continuous improvement efforts.
  • Use it as a resource bank: Our supporting resources provide free and customizable samples, templates, and/or guidance for the work of the corresponding step. Please leverage them, as well as any Instruction Partners resources, and adjust the tools to meet your needs.

Need a refresher on prerequisite activities around instruction? We assembled a set of essential steps, outcomes, and resources for supporting school reentry—review them here.

Continuous Improvement Action Steps and Guiding Questions

Confirm priorities and aspirations for student learning and culture
Guiding Questions
1. Do our priorities and aspirations that we outlined in the spring/summer hold true? Do we need to make adjustments?
2. Do we have the most up to date list of priority students?
3. Have we ensured our priorities and aspirations include the need for affirming relationships, particularly with priority students?
In this step, leaders will:

Reflect on the priorities and aspirations of reentry and make any adjustments that may be necessary, update the list of priority students, and determine a plan for progress monitoring towards the priorities and aspirations.

Set up sources of data and progress monitoring
Guiding Questions
1. Are students showing up? How do we know? What data do we need to collect?
2. Are students connecting to each other? Teachers? How do we know? What data do we need to collect?
3. Are students being given worthy work? How do we know? What data do we need to collect?
4. Are students doing the work? How do we know? What data do we need to collect?
5. Are students learning? How do we know? What data do we need to collect?
6. What is our plan for measuring progress towards these priorities and aspirations?
In this step, leaders will:

Determine systems and/or structures that can be used to progress monitor vision and aspirations, specifically around student attendance, student connection, worthy work, student completion of work, and student learning.

Set up leadership structures and routines for reviewing data and making a plan for adjustment
Guiding questions
1. Based on our identified data sources, when will we collect data?
2. When will we step back and review the data? Who needs to be a part of those stepback meetings? Are priority students and families’ voices represented?
3. How are we ensuring we are putting additional focus on the data of students from identified priority groups?
4. Are the originally identified priority groups still accurate? Are there new priority groups?
5. Who are the decision makers when it comes to making adjustments?
6. Who owns the execution of those action steps?
7. Is there a system or structure that needs to be established to ensure execution of those action steps?
In this step, leaders will:

Determine practices and routines—Who? What? When?—for data collection and analysis and how data will be used to make adjustments to current plans.

Identify focus areas for improvement and review resources to support with constructing a plan
Guiding questions
1. Based on our data analysis and continuous improvement cycles, what are the focus areas we are aiming to improve?
2. What do we want to see be different and by when?
3. Who are the key players in this improvement effort?
4. What resources provided in this toolkit will be helpful in our improvement efforts? How will we use them?
In this step, leaders will:

Identify focus area(s) for improvement; determine indicators of success, locate resources (inside and outside this toolkit) that support the focus area(s) for improvement.

Access resources within this toolkit:

 

 

Set up systems and structures for supporting teachers and staff with training, planning, and coaching
Guiding Questions
1. When will teachers receive ongoing training? Who decides the topics of those trainings?
2. What evidence will we use to determine the type of training needs?
3. What are our individual and collaborative planning expectations for teachers? Do adjustments need to be made?
4. What are our current coaching practices, and who provides the coaching? How does coaching support teachers in noticing and addressing bias (e.g., documenting response rates, analysis of seating arrangements, student partnerships, selected work for whole group analysis, academic vs. compliance feedback to students)?
In this step, leaders will:

Determine a professional learning schedule for teachers and staff, determine individual and collaborative planning expectations for teachers, and identify, reflect, and make adjustments to current coaching practices.

Communicate to all stakeholders the findings, the proposal, and the rationale for response
Guiding Questions
1. What are the adjustments we plan to make and how do we want to communicate those adjustments?
2. Who are the stakeholders that need to be made aware?
3. How will we communicate the rationale for changes to stakeholders?
4. What communication avenues will we use to ensure everyone is in the know?
In this step, leaders will:

Determine the adjustments that need to be made to the existing plan and the key stakeholders to whom they should be  communicated, identify coaching and training implications of adjustments, and determine the appropriate communication structure for all stakeholders.

Quickly build capacity of teachers and staff
Guiding Questions
1. Based on the adjustments we plan to make, what supports do teachers and leaders need? In what form will those supports take?
2. Who will be responsible for the necessary support?
3. What is the timeline for these supports?
4. How will we measure if we are seeing teacher progress translate into stronger outcomes for students?
In this step, leaders will:

Identify the highest leverage supports teachers and staff will need based on adjustments, determine the person(s) best equipped to deliver the necessary supports, and confirm a structure to measure teacher progress.

Gather data on student and staff engagement and wellbeing
Guiding Questions
1. What information do we want to gather from students and staff?
2. How are we ensuring we are hearing from every student in our identified priority groups?
3. How do we want to gather data?
4. Based on the data we gather, what adjustments will we make? Who will make those decisions?
5. How are we looking at data across different groups? What are we learning from this data?
6. Who will execute those action steps?
In this step, leaders will:

Determine the information to be collected from students and staff and the appropriate data collection structure, create structures to ensure that they have heard from every identified priority student, and identify the person(s) responsible for determining the response to the collected data and executing the action steps.

Check in with families
Guiding Questions
1. What are some ways we have worked/need to work to build relationships with families?
2. What information do we want to gather from families when we check in?
3. How often are we checking in with all families?
4. How often are we checking in with families of priority students?
5. How do we want to gather the data?
6. Based on the data we gather, what adjustments will we make? Who will make those decisions?
7. Who will execute those action steps?
In this step, leaders will:

Determine the information to be collected by families and the appropriate data collection structure, create a schedule for checking in with families, and identify the person(s) responsible for determining the response to the collected data and executing the action steps. 

Confirm priorities and aspirations for student learning and culture
Guiding Questions
1. Do our priorities and aspirations that we outlined in the spring/summer hold true? Do we need to make adjustments?
2. Do we have the most up to date list of priority students?
3. Have we ensured our priorities and aspirations include the need for affirming relationships, particularly with priority students?
In this step, leaders will:

Reflect on the priorities and aspirations of reentry and make any adjustments that may be necessary, update the list of priority students, and determine a plan for progress monitoring towards the priorities and aspirations.

Set up sources of data and progress monitoring
Guiding Questions
1. Are students showing up? How do we know? What data do we need to collect?
2. Are students connecting to each other? Teachers? How do we know? What data do we need to collect?
3. Are students being given worthy work? How do we know? What data do we need to collect?
4. Are students doing the work? How do we know? What data do we need to collect?
5. Are students learning? How do we know? What data do we need to collect?
6. What is our plan for measuring progress towards these priorities and aspirations?
In this step, leaders will:

Determine systems and/or structures that can be used to progress monitor vision and aspirations, specifically around student attendance, student connection, worthy work, student completion of work, and student learning.

Set up leadership structures and routines for reviewing data and making a plan for adjustment
Guiding questions
1. Based on our identified data sources, when will we collect data?
2. When will we step back and review the data? Who needs to be a part of those stepback meetings? Are priority students and families’ voices represented?
3. How are we ensuring we are putting additional focus on the data of students from identified priority groups?
4. Are the originally identified priority groups still accurate? Are there new priority groups?
5. Who are the decision makers when it comes to making adjustments?
6. Who owns the execution of those action steps?
7. Is there a system or structure that needs to be established to ensure execution of those action steps?
In this step, leaders will:

Determine practices and routines—Who? What? When?—for data collection and analysis and how data will be used to make adjustments to current plans.

Identify focus areas for improvement and review resources to support with constructing a plan
Guiding questions
1. Based on our data analysis and continuous improvement cycles, what are the focus areas we are aiming to improve?
2. What do we want to see be different and by when?
3. Who are the key players in this improvement effort?
4. What resources provided in this toolkit will be helpful in our improvement efforts? How will we use them?
In this step, leaders will:

Identify focus area(s) for improvement; determine indicators of success, locate resources (inside and outside this toolkit) that support the focus area(s) for improvement.

Access resources within this toolkit:

 

 

Set up systems and structures for supporting teachers and staff with training, planning, and coaching
Guiding Questions
1. When will teachers receive ongoing training? Who decides the topics of those trainings?
2. What evidence will we use to determine the type of training needs?
3. What are our individual and collaborative planning expectations for teachers? Do adjustments need to be made?
4. What are our current coaching practices, and who provides the coaching? How does coaching support teachers in noticing and addressing bias (e.g., documenting response rates, analysis of seating arrangements, student partnerships, selected work for whole group analysis, academic vs. compliance feedback to students)?
In this step, leaders will:

Determine a professional learning schedule for teachers and staff, determine individual and collaborative planning expectations for teachers, and identify, reflect, and make adjustments to current coaching practices.

Communicate to all stakeholders the findings, the proposal, and the rationale for response
Guiding Questions
1. What are the adjustments we plan to make and how do we want to communicate those adjustments?
2. Who are the stakeholders that need to be made aware?
3. How will we communicate the rationale for changes to stakeholders?
4. What communication avenues will we use to ensure everyone is in the know?
In this step, leaders will:

Determine the adjustments that need to be made to the existing plan and the key stakeholders to whom they should be  communicated, identify coaching and training implications of adjustments, and determine the appropriate communication structure for all stakeholders.

Quickly build capacity of teachers and staff
Guiding Questions
1. Based on the adjustments we plan to make, what supports do teachers and leaders need? In what form will those supports take?
2. Who will be responsible for the necessary support?
3. What is the timeline for these supports?
4. How will we measure if we are seeing teacher progress translate into stronger outcomes for students?
In this step, leaders will:

Identify the highest leverage supports teachers and staff will need based on adjustments, determine the person(s) best equipped to deliver the necessary supports, and confirm a structure to measure teacher progress.

Gather data on student and staff engagement and wellbeing
Guiding Questions
1. What information do we want to gather from students and staff?
2. How are we ensuring we are hearing from every student in our identified priority groups?
3. How do we want to gather data?
4. Based on the data we gather, what adjustments will we make? Who will make those decisions?
5. How are we looking at data across different groups? What are we learning from this data?
6. Who will execute those action steps?
In this step, leaders will:

Determine the information to be collected from students and staff and the appropriate data collection structure, create structures to ensure that they have heard from every identified priority student, and identify the person(s) responsible for determining the response to the collected data and executing the action steps.

Check in with families
Guiding Questions
1. What are some ways we have worked/need to work to build relationships with families?
2. What information do we want to gather from families when we check in?
3. How often are we checking in with all families?
4. How often are we checking in with families of priority students?
5. How do we want to gather the data?
6. Based on the data we gather, what adjustments will we make? Who will make those decisions?
7. Who will execute those action steps?
In this step, leaders will:

Determine the information to be collected by families and the appropriate data collection structure, create a schedule for checking in with families, and identify the person(s) responsible for determining the response to the collected data and executing the action steps. 

Continuous Improvement Resources

Find specific resources by clicking the links to the right, or download the toolkit below to access the complete.  

Vision Setting

Name or revise your aspirations for this school year, and step back and reflect on your current progress.

Student Attendance

Ensure that students are fully present in school each day, regardless of what school looks like.

Relationships and Connections

Gather and act on data that gets at the perspectives and experiences of various stakeholders, including students, families, and staff.

Professional Learning & Coaching

Prepare for teacher observation, teacher feedback, teacher coaching, and professional learning communities.

Pacing

Support your instructional planning by accessing content prioritization, as well as curriculum-agnostic and curriculum-specific guidance for scope, sequence, and pacing.

Lesson Preparation & Internalization

Plan how to address unfinished learning with lesson internalization protocols and curriculum-specific reference guides.

Distance Learning Practices

Find content-agnostic and content-specific distance learning guidance and best practices, as well as considerations for virtual teaching platforms and structures.

Ready to leverage the toolkit in your school?
Get the toolkit