"But, where should we start?"
Recently I had an opportunity to attend a training on new tools that have been developed that will provide additional data to schools and districts to help determine the effectiveness of LCAP plans. School and district data will be provided on multiple indicators that will measure both current status, where a school currently scores on each indicator, and growth trends, if the school is improving or regressing on each indicator. There are both state and local indicators.
The State Indicators are:
English Language Arts Assessment
The Local Indicators are:
Basics (Teachers, Instructional Materials, Facilities)
Implementation of Academic Standards
Local Climate Survey
If it were determined,and reported, that a district or school had not met the necessary criteria in any of the indicators where should the improvement process begin? Is there one or more of the indicators that are points of leverage?
The above indicators are listed in the same order they are listed on the State reporting documents. The above were selected to be key indicators that could direct a district or school to higher achievement. Although it would be difficult to minimize the importance of any of the indicators it is clear that the indicators could be classified as either lagging indicators or leading indicators.
The state indicators all are lagging indicators, i.e., output indicators. Output data, is easy to measure but difficult to influence directly. The local indicators are leading indicators, i.e., input indicators. Input data is hard to measure but more easily influenced.
Another way to think about lagging and leading indicators is to classify the indicators as outcome data versus process data. For example, if it was determined that the graduation rate in a particular school or district was low, in what activities might the LEA stress to increase the percentage of students graduating?
It is apparent that working to raise graduation rates, a lagging indicator, that improvement in other processes will the lead to higher graduation rates. For example, students who are performing better in the classroom are more likely to graduate than those are performing less well.
It is also easily demonstrated empirically the relationship between students who are performing better in the classroom and being absent less often.
Students who are performing better in the classroom will perform better on both English Language Arts and Mathematics assessments.
By definition, students who perform better on assessments were taught an appropriate curriculum.
If a school or district desired to boost the scores in nearly all the lagging indicators the most powerful point of leverage would be to ensure there is an effective teacher for every student. It should not be surprising to anyone that effective teachers have the most impact on any indicator on which schools are evaluated.
Where should you start? Start with instruction. Start with teachers.
By the way, does anyone else find it somewhat interesting that the indicator that has the most impact on the effectiveness of districts and schools does not even merit its own category?