Four Domains for Rapid School Improvement: A Systems Framework

Carlas McCauley

This blog post was written by Carlas McCauley, Director of WestEd’s Center on School Turnaround

I’m very excited to introduce a new document about school improvement that contains years of cumulative knowledge and experience garnered from attempts — some successful and some not — to improve struggling schools.

The document is titled Four Domains for Rapid School Improvement: A Systems Framework.

We all know that struggling schools have been around for a long time, but it’s only in the past 15 years that the conversation has shifted to a focus on urgent and dramatic school improvement, or school turnaround.

What have we learned in those years? As it turns out, quite a bit. Perhaps one of the most important things we learned is that one size does not fit all when it comes to school improvement.

Other learnings are: 1) local context and implementation influence turnaround outcomes, 2) school turnaround requires a systems approach, and 3) successful school turnaround practices must be routinized and sustained to really have an impact.

The systems framework we’re introducing is designed to assist states, districts, and schools in leading and managing rapid school improvement efforts. It was created by a Center on School Turnaround task force with feedback from members of the Network of State Turnaround and Improvement Leaders (NSTIL) Advisory Council, which includes state education agency personnel from across the country who are responsible for school turnaround in their respective states.

The four domains, or areas of focus, in the framework are:

  1. Turnaround Leadership
  2. Talent Development
  3. Instructional Transformation
  4. Culture Shift

Those of you who are involved in school improvement may find this document helpful. We hope that you will have a look and let us know what you think.

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