To support school staff in their self-assessment processes, to provide feedback and to assist schools to better understand their strengths and areas of need, the Algoma District School Board (ADSB) utilizes the District Review Process, visiting each one of their elementary and secondary schools over a two year cycle.
These school visits are intended to promote a culture of reflection, collaborative inquiry and shared responsibility for continuous improvement at both the board and the school. The District Review Team includes the Director, Superintendents, Administrators, Program Team members and Federation Representatives. Some or all team members will take part in the visits.
School Improvement Plans (SIPs) help school communities answer the questions: what are our strengths as a school and what areas do we need to identify for improvement to reach all students and improve student achievement? Similarly, a professional learning community (PLC) is a term to describe a group of educators that meets regularly, reviews student data, shares instructional expertise, and works collaboratively to improve teaching, learning and the academic performance of students.
While individual school environments are unique, at the core of all SIPs and PLCs is improved student learning, achievement and well-being. The SIP is the starting point for the District Process and helps to provide the context for the visit. At the start of a school visit, the District Review Team meets with the staff to discuss the goals of the SIP, the current Problem of Practice and the school’s actions and learning to date.
During the first half of the school visit, team members visit classrooms for approximately 15 minute blocks. They make notes of what they see and hear and may engage with students if the opportunity is available. Immediately following the classroom visits, the team reviews and analyzes the observations to look for patterns and trends across classrooms and the school and provides suggested next steps for the school to consider. At the end of the day, the Superintendent meets with the school staff to provide a verbal debrief and to answer any questions. A formal written report is provided to the school following the visit.
Algoma District School Board’s District Review is building on the concept shared by professor and author John Hattie that “The most powerful single modification that enhances achievement is feedback.” The visits are supportive rather than evaluative. To be successful, the District Process must be collaborative, collegial, equitable and inclusive and generate respectful interactions. Schools will review the written report, review the findings and determine their next level of school improvement work.
Algoma District School Board’s District Review Team completed their first school visit on March 27 and will continue the process over the coming months with plans to complete visits to half of ADSB schools this school year and the remaining half next year.