WestEd/Ellis Center for Educational Excellence/Creighton Elementary School District Reform Partnership

This comprehensive districtwide reform initiative was designed to provide research-based technical assistance, build capacity, and improve student achievement in the Creighton Elementary School District (CESD) in Phoenix, AZ.

The project was funded by the Ellis Center for Educational Excellence, a local community philanthropy, which partnered with DistrictsMovingUp at WestEd and CESD in a multiyear effort.

CESD’s nine schools had high percentages of students from low-income families.

Several WestEd coaching, research, and technical assistance teams collaborated in the initiative: Our Teach for Success® service provided  interactive professional development workshops and coaching on instructional strategies for teachers and principals in all of Creighton’s classrooms; trainers from our Local Accountability Professional Development Series helped district leaders align their curriculum with state standards and develop continuous assessment systems that teachers used to improve school performance; and WestEd’s English Learners and Literacy Acceleration staff helped teachers target students who have not reached proficiency levels in English.

Together, WestEd teams worked with CESD stakeholders to close the achievement gap and improve student performance throughout the district.

Launched in the summer of 2008, this project began with an extensive needs assessment of CESD framed around DistrictsMovingUp’s 10 evidence-based guiding principles of high-performing districts. Project staff analyzed data based on observations in 82 percent of the district classrooms, as well as interviews, focus groups, surveys of stakeholders, and state and district documents. They presented the findings to the CESD leadership team in September 2008.

The CESD and DistrictsMovingUp teams then developed an action plan focused on improving instruction, aligning curriculum and standards, and creating common formative assessments.

The Ellis Center-funded project also documented DistrictsMovingUp’s planning sessions, training and coaching, and professional development.

The project worked toward full implementation of all DistrictsMovingUp guiding principles and aimed to demonstrate the effectiveness of a long-term, research-based improvement initiative on student achievement, instructional quality, and building a culture of continuous improvement districtwide.