Standard 1

ACADEMIC AND CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT

A quality school maintains a culture of high academic expectations and focuses on continuous improvement by defining measurable academic goals for all of its students; articulating a fully aligned, rigorous curriculum and employing research-based instructional strategies; regularly tracking student progress; employing differentiated professional development and student intervention; and fostering a collaborative and highly effective cadre of teachers, while also maintaining compliance with applicable laws and regulations. Download the full rubric and scoring documents here.

High Expectations

1.1: CULTURE OF HIGH EXPECTATIONS

The school commits to high academic expectations for all students and holds all staff and students accountable to these expectations.

KEY QUESTIONS
  • Do the school mission and vision statements reflect high academic expectations for all students?
  • Does the school translate mission and vision statements into strategic goals that address the learning of all students in all content areas and that embody the following characteristics: specific, measureable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (S.M.A.R.T.)?
  • Does the school commit to school wide goals for absolute achievement (i.e. percent proficient) and growth of students (i.e. individual growth percentile scores)?
  • Does the school commit to and monitor growth and achievement goals for each subgroup of students (by grade level, low-income, special needs, demographic groups, etc.), ensuring all subgroups meet goals?
  • Has the school publicly communicated its academic goals? Do the school’s academic achievement goals demonstrate improvement from the previous year?
  • How does the school compare performance with similar schools?
  • Does the school explicitly align curriculum with college and career readiness standards?
  • Does the school expose students to a variety of possible careers and educational opportunities beyond high school?
  • Does the physical environment support a culture of high expectations? Does the school leadership recognize and celebrate students that make significant gains or achieve absolute goals?
  • Is a commitment to the mission and high expectations for students a part of the hiring and evaluation criteria for staff?
  • Is student achievement monitored after students leave the school (i.e. success in high school or post-secondary graduation)?
  • Does the school monitor student achievement data and use these data to determine if sufficient progress is being made?
  • Is the school using multiple measures to determine student achievement and success?
  • Do students monitor their progress in achieving learning goals?
  • Are teachers actively involved in conversations about classroom level and school wide academic goals?
  • Does student performance data comprise at least one-third of a teacher’s evaluation?
EVIDENCE
  • Written mission and vision statements
  • School continuous improvement plan (performance management plan, Title I consolidated plan, etc.) that includes measureable goals for student achievement by content areas
  • Observation records that demonstrate teachers are implementing strategies and actions identified in the plan
  • S.M.A.R.T. goals established by grade and content that addresses student achievement for all students
  • Rigorous formative and summative assessments
  • Classroom and hallway décor that supports academic goals and school mission
  • Artifacts of public recognition of students who reach academic goals or make significant achievement
  • Evidence that students monitor their progress: student journals, student goal setting sheets, student generated graphs/charts, student led conference procedures, etc.
  • Data analysis: graphs and charts displaying results of student assessments, data aggregated at the classroom and school level, electronic management of data, etc.
  • PLC norms, SMART goals aligned to school goals, identified learning outcomes, identified strategies and actions that align to SMART goals, agenda and minutes of Professional Learning Community (PLC) meetings, common formative assessments, data analysis
  • Agendas and minutes of meetings with teachers and staff addressing data analysis and use of student achievement data to progress monitor goals, school improvement planning, etc.
  • Teacher evaluation framework that reflects inclusion of student achievement data
  • Alumni tracking records

Curriculum

1.2: CURRICULUM AND INSTRUCTION

The school creates a comprehensive curriculum, instruction, and assessment system aligned to required standards, college and career readiness measures, and the school’s mission and vision. The curriculum and instruction includes effective strategies to meet the needs of a diverse student population.

KEY QUESTIONS
  • Are curriculum materials aligned to state standards and used to drive instruction
  • Is curriculum aligned with college and career readiness standards?
  • Does the school collaborate with content experts or industry professionals to ensure curriculum is meeting the knowledge and skills needed for future employment?
  • Do the curriculum materials provide a scope and sequence for instruction throughout the year?
  • Do the curriculum materials identify essential learning outcomes (i.e. learning outcomes that are necessary for readiness and can be leveraged in subsequent grade levels)?
  • Do teachers commit to teaching essential learning outcomes to mastery and monitor the progress of their students?
  • Is there a process in place for school leadership to review lesson plans for alignment to standards and the school’s curriculum map?
  • Are formative assessments explicitly aligned to curriculum materials, daily lesson plans, and end of year summative assessments?
  • Is instruction monitored to ensure alignment with stated curriculum and standards?
  • Do teachers work in collaborative teams to identify what they want students to know, determine whether or not they have learned it and use data to respond with intervention or enrichment?
  • Do teachers interpret standards and plan lessons by considering what is necessary in previous and subsequent grade levels and prior and future knowledge necessary within the current year?
  • Do teachers within a grade level or content area use research-based instructional strategies?
  • Do teachers have access to up to date core instructional materials (e.g., textbooks, comprehensive curriculum software, etc.)?
  • Do teachers use supplementary materials to provide instruction (e.g., technology, manipulatives, literature, etc.)?
  • Do teachers have access to intervention and enrichment materials or programs that can be used to support student learning?
  • Is student performance on the curriculum assessed through summative assessments at least two times prior to the end of the year?
  • Is student progress toward mastery on the curriculum assessed through periodic formative assessments?
  • Is student performance on the curriculum assessed through formative check for understandings in each lesson?
  • Are interventions and enrichments based on student achievement data collected in the assessment system?
  • Is assessment data monitored frequently to determine changes in program, instructional strategies or intervention?
  • Are curriculum materials reviewed and revised at least annually based on changes in standards or past student performance?
  • Is there a process in place to review and revise curriculum materials mid-year based on student progress?
  • Are college and career readiness assessments used to measure student achievement?
  • Does the school analyze student achievement data at least quarterly and make adjustments to curriculum to better align with standards, as needed?
  • Does the school have a systematic response to students’ learning needs (e.g., Response to Intervention, enrichment, etc.)?
  • Does the school have a formal process for identifying and testing students who might be eligible for special education services, 504 plans, remediation, language support, or gifted services?
  • Do lesson plans reflect instructional practices that differentiate based on diverse learning needs? Do teachers scaffold lessons and assessments to address multiple academic levels?
  • Does instructional monitoring include observation of differentiation strategies?
  • Are language supports provided for English language learners?
  • Do students with Individual Education Plans (IEP’s) undergo an annual review resulting in revisions to their plans based on targeted needs?
  • Is training provided for teachers on how to differentiate instruction?
  • Are curriculum and instructional materials sensitive to the diverse cultural backgrounds of students?
  • Is academic performance monitored within subgroups, such as gender, race/ethnicity, language proficiency, previous academic history (i.e. bottom 25% of performance)?
  • Is curriculum and instruction adjusted in response to performance of specific subgroups?
  • Does the school have a school improvement plan that addresses curriculum, instruction, and assessment of the state standards?
EVIDENCE
  • Curriculum materials are aligned to state standards by grade level and content area, e.g., curriculum maps, pacing guides, “essential learning outcomes” identified
  • Written classroom level outcomes are aligned to the S.M.A.R.T. goals
  • Identified and posted, student-friendly learning objectives in each classroom
  • School improvement plan (performance management plan, Title I consolidated plan, etc.) that addresses curriculum and instruction
  • Observation records demonstrate teachers are implementing strategies and actions identified in the plan
  • Classroom observations, lesson plans, samples of student work show how teachers utilize expected instructional strategies
  • Team agenda and minutes of PLC meetings, common planning materials indicate collaboration.
  • End of unit assessments aligned to taught curriculum
  • Check for understanding activities embedded in lesson plans
  • Interim formative assessments aligned to taught curriculum and/or summative assessments
  • Curriculum review report
  • Revised curriculum materials
  • Intervention logs, student portfolios, student analysis of learning and goal setting
  • Systematic response to student learning e.g., documented interventions for Tier I, II and III support, common procedures for teachers to provide intervention teacher interviews, observations, etc.
  • Schedule for annual and triennial IEP reviews.
  • Student achievement data by disaggregated groups.
  • Student IEP files and other individualized learning plans for students who have special learning needs.

Performance Management

1.3: PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT

The school implements a systematic process of monitoring and improving the effectiveness of their academic program based on data.

KEY QUESTIONS
  • Do school administrators use data to evaluate student learning and instructional programming effectiveness?
  • Is there a formative and summative assessment system in place to allows` teachers and administrators to monitor student progress?
  • Does the assessment system provide reliable and valid data for teachers to use?
  • Is there a student database that stores and reports student achievement data over time (e.g. grades, course taking, state assessment results, norm-referenced assessment results, growth percentiles, etc.?)
  • Is there a system in place to collect, analyze and report student achievement data at the classroom, grade, school, and district (if applicable) levels?
  • Do teachers use formative and summative assessments to inform their instruction?
  • Do teachers receive training on data analysis?
  • Is teacher professional development aligned with student achievement data and outcomes?
  • Is professional development monitored for effectiveness and implementation of learnings?
  • Do teachers analyze the results of assessments to determine how they can improve individually, how their team can improve and how well their students are performing on the standards?
  • Does the school collect and analyze longitudinal student data?
  • Does the school conduct student and parent satisfaction surveys to help inform program effectiveness?
  • Does the school leadership report student academic performance to the governing board? Does the school schedule time for weekly data analysis in collaborative team meeting?
  • Does the school have a continuous improvement plan that aligns professional development with curriculum, instruction, assessment and data analysis activities?
  • Are classroom and school wide academic goals determined based on ambitious and attainable improvements from previous year or baseline data?
  • Does the school conduct a review of and make revisions to curriculum annually based on summative assessment results?
  • Are student growth scores used in teacher and leader evaluations?
  • Are teacher and leader evaluations used primarily for constructive feedback and opportunities for improvement?
  • Do teachers analyze student achievement data to determine teacher, team, and student strengths and areas of improvement?
  • Are students grouped and/or intervention opportunities developed or adapted based on identified needs?
  • Does school leadership review staffing needs annually and hire, in part, based on gaps in teacher strengths (e.g. literacy, science)?
  • Is school performance data transparent and available for internal and external review and critique?
EVIDENCE
  • Assessment system (internally developed or commercially purchased) capable of implementing standards based assessments aligned to Arizona standards
  • Multiple assessments: classroom level (formative and summative), school level (common assessments, benchmarks/diagnostic) and district level (benchmark/diagnostic, predictive)
  • Reliable and valid assessments and data e.g., research reports, item analysis statistics, correlation studies between internal assessments and state standardized assessments, technical reports, etc.
  • Variety of assessment reports: progress monitoring reports, longitudinal reports, standards based reporting
  • Teacher developed assessments managed within the assessment system e.g., formative, summative, end of course, common assessments, etc.
  • Testing calendars by grade level and content area
  • Team meeting agendas, assessments, teachers’ lesson and assessment plans, grade level/team meeting data analysis show collaboration around development and implementation of common assessments.
  • Agenda and minutes of meetings with teachers and staff within the same grade level and across multiple grade levels addressing data analysis, the use of student achievement data to progress monitor goals, school improvement planning, etc.
  • Professional development calendar and agendas by topic
  • Intervention plans based on data analysis e.g., flexible grouping, instructional supports assigned by skill areas identified in assessment data, differentiation of instruction and support aligned to identified student need, etc.
  • Evidence of teachers’ participation in the identification or creation of professional development: e.g., minutes from retreats, study groups, improvement committees, samples of materials, etc.
  • Meeting minutes, agendas, sign in sheets, artifacts of their work (norms, common assessments, intervention plans, etc.) indicate collaboration.
  • Job embedded professional development: e.g., participation in collaborative teams, mentoring, coaching, peer observations, book studies, sharing opportunities, etc.
  • Alignment of professional development and curriculum, instruction, assessment and student achievement needs: e.g., analysis of student gaps, identification of content needs, identification of pedagogical needs, training in assessment development and interpretation, intervention planning and implementation, etc.
  • Monitoring of professional development activities for instructional staff: e.g., attendance sheets, electronic management of participation, participation in collaboration, implementation of learning in classroom, self-reflections, etc.
  • School wide and/or grade level performance data posted on school’s website
  • Academic performance dashboard presented to governing board
  • Teacher/leader evaluation framework includes student growth scores

Highly Effective Teachers

1.4: HIGHLY EFFECTIVE TEACHERS

The school hires, develops, and retains a cadre of highly effective educators who review student data, adjust instruction, and provide intervention when necessary.

KEY QUESTIONS
  • Are all teaching positions filled with teachers who have required qualifications and credentials?
  • Has the school articulated a clear, systematic recruitment and hiring process to ensure a pool of strong candidates aligned to school vision, mission, and values?
  • Do teachers receive professional development on topics relating to curriculum, instruction, assessment, data analysis, etc.?
  • Do all teachers identify student outcomes, administer aligned assessments, analyze results, and respond with instruction including interventions and enrichment to meet students’ needs?
  • Do teachers have common planning time?
  • Do teachers collaborate to create unit or lesson plans aligned to the school’s curriculum and pacing?
  • Do teachers collaborate to create common assessments, analyze results and respond with instruction to meet students’ needs?
  • Are teachers given opportunities to observe other teacher classrooms?
  • Do teachers lead professional development and/or workshops for their colleagues?
  • Have teachers within the school de-privatized their practice to encourage interdependence, collaboration and student learning?
  • Does the leader clearly communicate teacher and school-wide goals at least annually with at least two progress reports within the year?
  • Does the school provide formal evaluations of teachers with timely, specific feedback?
  • Does the school leadership clearly communicate expectations for effective instruction? Do all teacher evaluations include the use of student achievement data for the teacher’s content area?
  • Do teachers receive multiple formative evaluations that identify areas of strength and improvement prior to final summative evaluations?
  • Does the school leadership follow up with teachers after evaluations to see if the teacher was able to make improvements?
  • Do evaluations and related data guide professional development opportunities and teacher retention decisions?
  • Do teachers have an opportunity for self-reflection in the evaluation process?
  • Do teachers participate in the identification and/or creation of professional development opportunities?
  • Do teachers have access to job embedded professional development opportunities (e.g., collaborative teams, mentoring, coaching, peer observations, book studies, sharing opportunities, etc.)?
  • How has the Do school leaders intentionally follow up with teachers after professional development to ensure effective implementation of learned practices?
  • Does the school leader or instructional coach provide models of effective instruction for struggling teachers?
  • Is the professional development plan evaluated and revised from year to year?
EVIDENCE
  • Hiring protocols and policies adhere to state and federal hiring requirements
  • Systematic hiring practices in place (e.g., position postings, reference checks, interview protocols, etc.
  • Complete employment files
  • Teacher bio book containing resumes and applications
  • Evidence of Highly Qualified status of teachers (e.g. Highly Qualified reporting forms)
  • Standard rubric for effective instruction
  • Teacher professional development plan
  • Teacher evaluation tool aligned to state statute and regulations, including student achievement data
  • Teacher goal setting documents, observation protocols/check lists, self-reflections, completed evaluation forms)
  • Calibration reports of rubric based observations when multiple evaluators are used
  • Teacher evaluation calendar including assignment of evaluators
  • Individual Teacher Performance Plans
  • Professional development calendar, by topic area
  • Team norms, agenda/minutes of meetings, attendance logs for team meetings, interviews with team members, documented peer observations and teacher led professional development and coaching, other observations, etc.
  • Data analysis (e.g., data worksheets, charts of student results, individual, class and school reports, agenda/minutes of data meetings, student data walls, etc.)
  • Documentation of team teaching, flexible grouping, sharing students for intervention/enrichment, common planning materials, common pacing guides, common assessments implemented by all team members, analysis of data, instructional strategies support and sharing)
  • Book studies or other documentation that research-based literature is regularly reviewed and discussed.

Laws and Regulations

1.5: LAWS AND REGULATIONS

The school ensures compliance with local, state and federal laws and regulations regarding the academic program, including compliance with the charter contract and authorizer requirements regarding the academic program.

KEY QUESTIONS
  • Does the school have an annual process in place to ensure curricular alignment with required standards?
  • If a charter school, do the school governing board, leadership and staff all know the academic goals promised in the school’s charter?
  • Does the school have a process in place to ensure compliance with state and federal special education requirements?
  • Does the school have a process in place to ensure compliance with state and federal requirements for serving English language learners?
  • Does the school have designated personnel to oversee compliance with special education and English Language Learner program requirements?
  • Is there at least an annual review of special education compliance that may include a third party review?
  • Is there at least an annual review of an English language learner program compliance that may include a third party review?
  • Does the school utilize legal counsel or external agencies to monitor compliance with applicable local, state, and federal laws and regulations?
  • Does the school have a process to ensure teachers meet state and federal teacher qualification requirements?
  • Does the school have a process in place to ensure teacher and leader evaluation and performance pay frameworks are in compliance with state requirements?
  • Does school leadership proactively seek out any updates and training opportunities related to applicable laws and regulations?
  • Does all relevant staff participate in training annually regarding any new laws or regulations?
  • Does school leadership ensure and document that all staff participates in required trainings?
  • If a charter, does the school have a process in place to ensure compliance with authorizer requirements?
  • If a charter, does the school have a designated authorized representative that ensures regular communication with the school’s charter authorizer?
EVIDENCE
  • Special Education manual, compliance checklists and reports
  • English Language Learner program manual, compliance checklists, and reports
  • Written compliance review process
  • Special Education and ELL program meeting logs that reference requirements
  • Legal counsel reviews
  • Charter contract
  • Submitted amendments
  • Log of state agency memos or communication
  • Email and phone logs of communication regarding compliance with regulations
  • Agendas and attendance logs for training pertaining to relevant laws, regulations or other requirements
  • Calendar showing when all required documents and reports need to be submitted
  • Governing board minutes documenting discussion of academic promises in charter or compliance discussions
  • Organization charts designating oversight responsibilities
  • Documentation of good standing with the school’s charter authorizer*

(* applies to charters only)

 

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