Effective Schooling Practices: a research Synthesis 1995 Update


DISTRICT CHARACTERISTICS AND PRACTICES



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3. DISTRICT CHARACTERISTICS AND PRACTICES


The district supports and monitors efforts toward improved student learning, delegating much of the responsibility for operations to the individual schools. Leadership and training in curriculum, instruction and assessment, together with positive district-school interactions, create a climate conducive to successful teaching and learning.

3.1 LEADERSHIP AND PLANNING


3.1.1 District Leaders and Staff Hold and Communicate High Expectations for the Entire School System.

District leaders and staff:


a. Believe that all students can learn and that district educators have considerable influence on the level of student success. They communicate to all constituents that learning is the most important purpose of schooling.
b. Establish and protect goals and priorities for improvement. They make goals and priorities highly visible throughout the school community, particularly through efforts of the superintendent. Goals focus on improving student performance.
c. Work with one another and with school personnel for the benefit of students; they review all proposals for action in terms of their potential effect on students.
d. Establish plans and activities that focus on improving instructional effectiveness, and communicate the expectation that instructional programs will be improved over time.
e. Review recruitment, selection, and promotion policies periodically to assure that creative, innovative building administrators are hired and retained.
f. Make use of proven practices to recruit and retain excellent teachers, including teacher mentoring, rich inservice opportunities, and hiring members of cultural minorities, particularly in culturally diverse settings.
g. Establish and maintain good communication with the school board regarding progress on school improvement plans.
Boone (1992); Corbett and Wilson (1992); Everson, et al. (1986); Hallinger and Hausman (1993); Hallinger, Bickman, and Davis (1989); Levine (1990); Levine and Lezotte (1990); Lomotey (1989); Louis and Miles (1989); Miller, Smey-Richman, and Woods-Houston (1987); Murphy and Hallinger (1986, 1988); Odell and Ferraro (1992); Pajak and Glickman (1987); Pine and Hilliard (1990); Purkey and Smith (1983); Schlechty (1985); Wilson, B. L., and Corcoran (1988)


3.1.2 District Leaders and Staff Establish Policies and Procedures that Support Excellence and Equity in Student Performance.

District leaders and staff:


a. Hold and communicate the conviction that all children can be successful learners; those in culturally diverse districts regard their diversity as a strength.
b. Review district policies periodically to determine the effect they have on student performance. They strengthen policies as needed to increase support for specific district goals and for improving student performance and equity.
c. Establish policies and procedures that focus on improving student performance and require ongoing improvement efforts at every level in the district. They establish guidelines that provide a framework for action, rather than mandating specific steps.
d. Establish policies which foster the development of clear goals in each school building and work with school staffs to translate these into measurable results.
e. Encourage and support school-based management. They share decision making regarding budget, staffing, and curriculum with school leaders.
f. Require schools to generate action plans for improvement and carry them out. District administrators communicate the expectation that building principals serve as instructional leaders.
g. Establish and enforce expectations for participation in improvement efforts; building administrators are included in district planning activities.
h. Review regulations and requirements governing construction, remodeling and maintenance of school facilities to ensure that optimal physical environments are provided for teaching and learning.
i. Use their knowledge of research to guide policy development and school monitoring. They avoid (or discontinue) the use of district or school practices that conflict with the findings of well-designed research.
Biester, et al. (1983); David (1989); Dentler (1994); Everson, et al. (1986); Fullan (1993); Jackson and Crawford (1991); Jacobson (1988); Levine (1990); Levine and Lezotte (1990); Libler (1992); Murphy, et al. (1987); Paredes and Frazer (1992); Peterson, Murphy, and Hallinger (1987); Purkey and Smith (1983); Schlechty (1985); Wilson and Corcoran (1988); Wohlstetter, Smyer, and Mohrman (1994)



3.2 CURRICULUM


3.2.1_District_Leaders_and"> 3.3 DISTRICT-SCHOOL INTERACTIONS 3.3.1 District Leaders and Staff Delegate Considerable Decision-Making Authority to Schools.

District leaders and staff:


a. Work with schools to establish broadly representative school-based management teams that draw their membership from administrators, teachers, students, non-certified staff, parents, and community members.
b. Make themselves available to provide training, research-based information, and on-site assistance to help schools to implement school-based management.
c. Provide clear guidelines to school teams about their role and the extent of their authority, information about school operations and budgets, and skills training in group processes such as decision making and conflict resolution.
d. Provide resources, such as time and financial support for planning and carrying out team activities.
e. Ensure that team members have genuine decision-making power.
f. Increase schools' latitude for decision making through helping them to have state and local regulations waived as appropriate.
g. Involve teacher union representatives in discussions of school-based management, which increases their willingness to be flexible about contract constraints.
h. Assist schools to evaluate and modify their school-based management structures based on continuous review of program activities and their effects.
Arterbury and Hord (1991); Caldwell and Wood (1988); Ceperley (1991); David (1989); David and Peterson (1984); Davidson, B. M. (1993); Duttweiler (1990); English (1989); Fullan (1993); Hall (1992); Henderson and Marburger (1990); Hord (1992b); Levine and Eubanks (1989); Lewis (1989); Libler (1992); Malen and Ogawa (1988); Malen, Ogawa, and Kranz (1990a,b); Mojkowski and Fleming (1988); Murphy and Hallinger (1993); Mutchler (1989); Odden and Wohlstetter (1995); White, P. A. (1989)


3.3.2 District Leaders and Staff Encourage, Support, and Monitor School Improvement Efforts.

District leaders and staff:


a. Delegate much of the responsibility for school improvement to principals and school site management groups, while at the same time providing guidance and support for school improvement efforts.
b. Acquaint site management groups with promising practices from inside and outside the district, encourage their use, and work with building staffs to implement practices selected.
c. Monitor implementation of policies and procedures in individual schools, providing advice, clarifications, technical feedback, and support services. They pay particular attention to the progress of improvement efforts.
d. Assist local schools in their improvement efforts by providing consultation, materials development, and training assistance as requested by building personnel.
e. Establish a resource pool for building-level improvement projects. Departmental budgets include resource items specifically related to the attainment of district goals and priorities.
f. Provide principals and school staffs ongoing programs of staff development focused on strengthening instructional leadership skills, and strongly encourage them to pursue other professional development activities.
g. Protect schools from political or economic turbulence which might disrupt classroom instruction.
Berman and McLaughlin (1979); Biester, et al. (1984); Boone (1992); Corbett and Wilson (1992); David (1989); Everson, et al. (1986); Gersten, Carnine, and Zoref (1986); Hord (1992); Huberman and Miles (1984a); Jackson and Crawford (1991); LaRocque and Coleman (1988); Levine and Lezotte (1990); Levine and Stark (1982); Louis and Miles (1989); Miller, R., et al. (1987); Murphy, et al. (1987); Murphy and Hallinger (1993); Pajak and Glickman (1987); Peterson, Murphy, and Hallinger (1987); Purkey and Smith (1983); Schlechty (1985); Stringfield (1995); Wilson and Corcoran (1988)


3.3.3 District Leaders Recognize and Reward Excellence.

District leaders:


a. Use clear, negotiated criteria for supervision and evaluation of building administrators. Superintendents personally supervise and evaluate principals whenever possible.
b. Establish award programs for schools, administrators, teachers and students and take a visible role in recognizing excellence. District award programs complement school award programs.
c. Base awards on contributions staff have made to improving student performance. They use agreed-upon criteria for determining award recipients, rather than comparison to peers.
d. Make certain that district monitoring of school operations and improvement efforts is accompanied by recognition of successes.
David (1989); Everson, et al. (1986); Louis and Miles (1989); Miller, R., et al. (1987); Murphy and Hallinger (1988); Murphy and Peterson (1985); Murphy, et al. (1987); Odell and Ferraro (1992); Wilson, B. L., and Corcoran (1988)


3.3.4 District Leaders Assist Schools to Carry Out Prevention Activities and to Support High-Needs Students and Families to Access Needed Services.

District leaders:


a. Work with schools to develop and implement firm discipline policies.
b. Help school staff to create positive climates that can help reduce the incidence of illegal and/or disruptive behavior.
c. Arrange training for school staff in developing and implementing prevention programs for dropout, pregnancy, drugs, gangs, and violence.
d. Stand behind schools as they enforce policies regarding illegal and/or disruptive activities.
e. Assist schools in identifying and building linkages with social service and health agencies to support high-needs students and their families.
f. Help schools to identify appropriate placements for students who are not able to function well in the regular school environment, e.g., school-within-a-school.
Baecher, Cicchelli, and Baratta (1989); Barnes (1984); Benard (1991, 1993); Cohen, D. L. (1989); Cotton (1990a, 1992c); Driscoll (1990); Fenley, et al. (1993); Murray and Mess (1986); Sylvester (1990); Wilson-Brewer, et al. (1991); Woods (1995)



3.4 ASSESSMENT


3.4.1 District Leaders and Staff Monitor Student Progress Regularly.

District leaders and staff:


a. Collect and summarize information about student performance on a regular basis, identify areas of strength and weakness, and prepare and share reports throughout and community, giving special emphasis to priority goals and objectives.
b. Coordinate assessment efforts to ensure quality, avoid duplication of effort, and minimize disruption of classroom instruction.
c. Check alignment among tests, curriculum, and instruction regularly and work with schools to improve it.
d. Conduct district-level assessments, with major tests announced well in advance to facilitate building and classroom scheduling. They establish and use specific routines for scoring, storing, reporting, and analyzing results, and report results quickly.
e. Use assessment results to evaluate programs and target areas for improvement.
f. Provide direct support for building- and classroom-level assessment efforts.
Behr and Bachelor (1981); Everson, et al. (1986); Hord (1992); Hord and Huling-Austin (1986); Levine and Lezotte (1990); Levine and Stark (1982); Murphy and Hallinger (1986, 1988); Murphy, et al. (1987); Pajak and Glickman (1987)


3.4.2 District Leaders and Staff Support Schools' Development and Use of Alternative Assessments.

District leaders and staff:


a. Make district support of alternative assessment practices known throughout the district and its community.
b. Provide staff development for building skills needed for designing, administering, and scoring alternative assessments.
c. Develop and maintain a districtwide "tool kit" of exemplary tasks, task templates, and design criteria for tasks.
Baker (1992); Belk and Calais (1993); Wiggins (1992)




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