Continuous Improvement Process  

December 20, 2013
I recently was invited to serve as an External Team member in an ESU 11 school district as part of their Continuous Improvement process. As a professional development coordinator, I believe this is a great opportunity to further expand my knowledge of the process and witness the collaborative efforts of schools in providing a sound, educational experience for ALL students.

Schools come together as communities to determine their school-wide goals, together with the accompanying values and standards. They determine what assessments they will use to provide evidence of the desired student outcomes. Then, they examine the gap between their goals and the evidence of student outcomes and identify priority objectives for school improvement.

Next, the school community examines pertinent evidence and reflects on what problems or issues are contributing to the differences between goals for student learning and assessed outcomes. Once they have determined the nature of the problem(s), they search for best practices that might improve the results and that would be needed to implement the most promising options.

Needed resources are developed, or plans for their development are initiated. Finally, members of the school community select and implement those practices that they believe will result in improvements and test their efficacy, modifying the practices as implementation proceeds. Then, the cycle continues.

As an external team member participating in the internal review, one has the opportunity to ask administrators, faculty, and staff to “account” for their practice and its impact on student achievement. The cycle of inquiry and action are a crucial part of the response to growing accountability requirements. The conclusions can inform both the school community and external audiences such as the school board or superintendent about where their greatest challenges lie and what steps need to be taken to ensure the district is providing the highest quality education for their students.

Our department has been working collaboratively with schools to assist them through each year of the continuous cycle. We have received positive feedback about our efforts to provide them with support through our technical assistance days. Districts appreciate the opportunity to get away from the building to focus their attention and seek assistance when needed. The experience to serve as a team member not only allows me personally to acquire more knowledge, but also will impact my ability to support schools within ESU 10 as they proceed through the continuous improvement process.

-by Dallas Lewandowski, Professional Development Coordinator