Continuous Improvement

To maximize results school districts must also implement a process of that is grounded on continuous improvement. Most districts, including Cincinnati and Boston, overlook this key formative component of effective accountability systems, and rely mainly on summative components through rewards and consequences. A notable exception is the Chugach (Alaska) School District, first-ever winners of the education category of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

Indicators of student achievement (results) and composite ratings are very important, but are not sufficient, for accountability. First, they may take more than one year to measure school progress and may, at times, not accurately provide sufficient summative evaluative information. A more complete system would conduct formative evaluations focused on Indicators of Quality. Visiting teams of respected (and trained) lead teachers, principals, administrators, and community representatives would visit schools and Small Learning Communities (SLCs) up to two times a year to measure key indicators of school quality.

Indicators of Quality reflect the processes and performance measures that are needed to achieve results. They provide direction to the schools and SLCs and provide a basis for formative evaluation, feedback and help. They typically are qualitative measures that include such things as:

  1. Action Planning and Implementation
  2. Teamwork
  3. Climate/Culture
  4. Standards and Assessments
  5. Evaluation and Reporting systems
  6. Instructional Methods
  7. Sustainability

The Chugach School District utilizes both self-assessment and monitoring by visiting teams. The Quality Schools Self-Assessment Matrix (see also Explanation of Levels) assesses the school’s quality in aligning practice to standards, utilizing appropriate assessments, reporting and communicating student and school progress, utilizing multiple forms of instruction and assessment, and sustaining the school’s progress through shared vision, focused staff development, action plans, and incentives.