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Effective Schools Definition

Definition of the Effective Schools Process

…[T]he research-based Effective Schools ProcessSM… is grounded in the essential correlates of school effectiveness.  The process itself provides the knowledge and tools to improve student performance and makes possible the dual goals of closing the achievement gap and ensuring academic excellence for all.  It is a data-guided and results-oriented process that, [when fully implemented,]  addresses equity and quality of schooling through seven key interrelated components:

Effective Schools Profiles.  The Effective Schools Process begins with the collection and analysis of district and school data that reveal current academic, demographic, and perceptual conditions.  The resulting Profiles present the data to allow the school/district to determine its strengths, needs, goals, and priorities.  The Profile guides the entire Effective Schools Process in a district.

The District Leadership Team.  Although improved student learning results from the work of teachers at the school level, district leadership and support are essential (e.g., policies, funding, etc.).  The district team, comprised of key administrators and representatives from each participating school, has the primary responsibility to coordinate the implementation of the Effective Schools Process and to keep the work focused on improving teaching and learning.

Standards-Based Instructional Redesign.  Using the Profile data, the district curriculum committees work with consultants to align curriculum, instruction, and assessment with national, state, and local curriculum content standards.  At the site-level, teachers engage in the implementation of research-based practices (e.g., development of Curriculum Maps, Unit Plans, Criterion-Referenced Assessments) that are aligned with standards.

Grade Level/Departmental Consultation.  Effective Schools consultants facilitate and support classroom implementation of the curriculum standards through regularly scheduled meetings with staff.

School Leadership Team Training and Support.  A leadership team, including the principal, representative teachers, and parents, will act as stewards to guide the school’s work in the Effective Schools Process.  The teams will learn the Effective Schools Process and develop skills for leading faculty and staff in setting and achieving  school goals.  Ongoing professional development will be provided to support total participation in the school-wide improvement efforts.

Principal Training and Support.  Principals are provided training in how to recognize quality instruction (including assessment) to facilitate Effective Schools in the building.  Principals debrief frequently with Effective Schools consultants to monitor progress and reflect on the implementation of the Effective Schools Process.

Data-Guided Decision-Making Through Management of Data.  Central to the Effective Schools Process is the use of data on student mastery and stakeholder perceptions to make more appropriate and timely decisions.  Staff learn to use existing data management systems (or adopt Management Systems) to continuously monitor school improvement.

[What is implementation within the Effective Schools context?  This is the working together of all stakeholders to design, work out, and make real the necessary changes to educate all pupils.  These perspectives come together to provide smoothly-functioning schools and classrooms embodying the mission that “all students can learn.”  The needed professional and community development for this implementation process has been worked out by the National Center for Effective Schools Research and Development over a period of two decades into the 2000s.] 

© 2003 The National Center for Effective Schools Research and Development Foundation; with additions in brackets by Dr. Barbara O. Taylor and Arthur H. Miller, August 2011

NCESRD trainers and staff, early 1990s conference, including, left, Pamela Bullard; second left (blue shirt), Larry Lezotte; in front third left (in a suit), Kent Peterson; next left (rear) Janet Crispeels; and right, front Edie Holcomb. [This image shows many of the major figures/leaders in the Effective Schools Process .]

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