Now that schools have their designations, what happens next? Last year was the first year of full implementation of ISBE’s System of Support, also known as IL-Empower.
“IL-EMPOWER is a statewide system of differentiated supports and accountability to improve student learning, purposely designed for capacity development to leverage schools’ strengths to meet student needs,” ISBE’s site reads.
Designated schools must submit both a grant request to receive funding and a school improvement plan. That school improvement plan is supported by the completion of a needs assessment called the Illinois Quality Framework Supporting Rubric (IQFSR). Once it is determined what supports a school needs, the school can get additional support from an approved learning partner. Designated schools receive extra money through a 1003(a) grant to support activities aimed to improve student performance and address the needs identified within the Quality Framework.
The resulting plan and activities selected by a school and district are included in the school improvement plan. Included within the plan is a minimum of two smart goals (one related to the IQFSR and one related to the subgroup/indicator that caused the school to be identified). The school improvement plan is the road map for moving from the current status to a desired status and should include strategies and action steps to guide improvement efforts.
A critical piece to school improvement is monitoring the plan to see if the desired results are being reached. The goals set within the school improvement process should help schools move off the designation list. ISBE appears to be moving toward a system that requires (1) Overall Goals (2) Yearly Goals (3) Quarterly Goals and weekly plans that scaffold to the success of the quarterly goals.
The overall goals and yearly goals, particularly those related to changes in performance on assessments, need to be ambitious but achievable. Overall goals, such as 12% increase in ELA proficiency by 2022, may be unachievable and arbitrary unless grounded by evidence. Instead, consider using local growth models that provide schools a personalized growth trajectory for every student, providing a powerful and sensitive framework to quantify improvement efforts and return on investment.
By leveraging predictive analytics, schools and districts can use evidence to determine if selected interventions and programs are resulting in increased student growth and proficiency. This, in turn, allows districts to direct resources toward what has proven to drive student success. Learn more about the growth analytics and how it can support your school improvement efforts at email@example.com.