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Chapter Three Aligning Systems

Cassandra Erkens Solution Tree Press ePub

Have a simple, clear purpose which gives rise to complex, intelligent behavior, rather than complex rules and regulations that give rise to simplistic thinking and stupid behavior.

—Dee Hock, founder of VISA

Effective leaders know they must help align all systems to support the work of its vision, mission, values, and goals, or the work of PLCs cannot succeed. If any internal system is not aligned to these key focal points, then the overall work might be impossible to start, slow to proceed, or unlikely to maintain early changes along the way. Moreover, when leaders align systems to enact the organization’s vision, mission, values, and goals, they send the clear message that the organization’s guiding statements are more than words on a page; instead, they are actionable agreements.

The leadership practice of aligning systems is most certainly recursive (it is addressed repeatedly) and iterative (each effort builds on and refines previous efforts). It might seem that once an organization’s or team’s internal systems are aligned, the work could be considered done. Systems are dynamic, however, so there is no such thing as “done,” as leaders interact with and improve them.

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1. Defining Program Evaluation

Mardale Dunsworth Solution Tree Press ePub

As legislation and departments of education place increasing emphasis on performance and accountability, school leaders are more frequently called on to make decisions about the effectiveness of school programs, practices, and strategies. How good those decisions turn out to be is largely a function of the quality of information on which the decision was based. Program evaluation provides school leaders with the information they need to make good decisions about programs, practices, and strategies in use or being considered for use at a school or district. It can answer questions such as:

As in these examples, the specific questions addressed by the evaluation process will vary, but the process used to find the answers will be similar. The goal of program evaluation is to use data to guide decisions about how well school programs are working and to do so in a way that is both time and cost effective.

Program evaluation is an essential tool in many professions, including medicine, science, government, engineering, and business. Learning how to conduct an evaluation enables leaders “to create the best possible programs, to learn from mistakes, to make modifications as needed, to monitor progress toward program goals, and to judge the success of the program in achieving its short-term, intermediate, and long-term outcomes” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2005, p. 5). Evaluation can be used to assess key aspects of a program’s progress and implementation, and it can provide vital data to inform next steps. It can:

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Chapter 4 Gist

Patricia M. Cunningham Solution Tree Press ePub

CHAPTER 4

Gist

When friends start to tell you about a movie they’ve seen or a book they’ve read, and it seems like they are going to talk for a while, you may ask them just to give you the gist. The gist is the main part or essence of something. It is the nub, the core. In reading, a gist is a one-sentence summary of the text (Cunningham & Moore, 1986). In order for readers to compose a good gist, they must be sensitive to the various clues in the text that indicate which ideas are most central and important. For example, an idea referred to throughout a text is more central and important than an idea only communicated in one place. Being able to grasp the gist of a text is essential. To comprehend a text, readers need to understand more than each sentence or paragraph. The reader must also understand what those sentences and paragraphs add up to.

The major emphasis in Gist lessons is helping students identify central and key ideas in a particular text. Gist lessons also teach students to read closely until they have exhausted what a short text says explicitly or implicitly about a subject. Beginning in third grade, with Reading for literature and informational text standards one (RL.3.1 and RI.3.1), students must be able to cite textual evidence to explain any words in their Gist statements that you or another student questions: “Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers” (NGA & CCSSO, 2010, pp. 11, 14). Using the gradual release of responsibility model of instruction, Gist lessons combine student trios and teacher-led collaborative conversations to discuss various aspects of the text’s content.

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Part Two Collecting, Interpreting, and Reporting Data

Thomas R Gusky Solution Tree Press ePub

Michelle Goodwin, a twenty-two-year veteran of education, is associate superintendent for Instruction for Montcalm Area and Ionia County Intermediate School Districts in Michigan. In this capacity, she serves the needs of over a thousand teachers, administrators, and paraprofessionals by securing or directly providing professional development in the areas of assessment, preK–12 English language arts, and K–3 literacy/Reading First. She assists with new teacher training, school improvement, and data analysis. In addition, Michelle serves as the county coordinator for state assessments. Her collaborative work includes participation in and leadership of the Consortium of Mid-Michigan Instruction Teams and state-level assessment projects. As a high-school classroom teacher, Michelle taught English language arts to students at risk and with special needs, most often within a co-teaching arrangement.

 

Michelle Goodwin

Most educators realize there is more to creating good assessments than meets the eye. As teachers, we do our best to explain assignments to students, but sometimes we receive a product we did not expect or even consider as a possibility; we create tests or quizzes we think measure exactly what we taught, only to see half the class does poorly on them. Experience reinforces that there is not only an art to creating good assessments, but also a science. But before we assume that educators must deeply understand statistics and be able to talk about the “p value” of assessment items in order to create respectable classroom assessments, let me offer this reassurance: when teachers and students are clear about the learning targets that must be met and will be assessed, and when teachers create assessment items or tasks that are carefully matched to these targets, then, more often than not, we get back data that we can use to change our instruction to best meet student needs. For student involvement in this work, “if assessments are to support improvements in student learning, their results must inform students how to do better next time” (Phi Delta Kappa International, 2006, p. 1).

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Chapter 3: Leaders as Teachers: Facilitating Individual Learning, Growth, and Development

Alper, Larry Solution Tree Press ePub

Leaders as Teachers:
Facilitating individual
Learning, Growth,
and Development

Many view the quality of relationships in an organization as the foundation for its accomplishments and success. In schools, as in other organizational settings, the culture that develops as an expression of these dynamics is a central determining factor of the school’s ability to improve and thrive. Bolman and Deal (1997) identify culture as one of the “wellsprings of high performance” in high-performing groups (p. 261). Martin-Kniep (2008) cites research suggesting that culture can create the conditions for people to act courageously and exercise initiative without fear of retribution or ridicule. Wagner et al. (2006) Define culture as “the shared values, beliefs, assumptions, expectations, and behaviors related to students and learning, teachers and teaching, instructional leadership, and the quality of relationships within and beyond school” (p. 102). Culture, they say, represents the “invisible and powerful meanings and mindsets held individually and collectively throughout the system” (p. 102).

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