Accelerated Improvement Plan Overview
Prepared by: Mary Ellen Cobbs, Principal Horace Mann
The Horace Mann Elementary School has partnered with the North District School Assistance Center (DSAC), a division of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, to develop and implement an accelerated improvement plan (AIP). The AIP process is guided by six principles. First, students cannot wait for incremental improvement in their educational conditions. Second, the AIP process must be grounded in a cycle of continuous improvement, rooted in data and driven by results. Third, the plan must be focused on high-leverage objectives, requires time and commitment and should be a central part of the school’s daily work. Fourth, progress monitoring will focus on outcomes and adjustment to activities outlined in the plan must be made in the best interest of students. Fifth, collaboration among stakeholders is essential if sustained improvement is to exist. Finally, the process of developing and implementing this plan requires a willingness to challenge and be challenged, that is, to confront difficult issues and make mid-course adjustments based on analysis of evidence. In short, an AIP is best described as a ‘guide to getting important things done- quickly and sustainably’ and the members of the Horace Mann AIP team have acknowledged and accepted the responsibility of developing, implementing and sharing this work with the greater community (retrieved from http://www.doe.mass.edu/apa/sss/dsac/FocusedPlanning.pdf, July, 2015).
Reflection and refinement are essential components of each phase of the AIP process, beginning with a self-assessment and analysis and continuing with the development of strategic objectives and priorities. Targets for improvement are set, the plan is implemented and progress is consistently monitored. Led by a state liaison, members of the AIP team identify key challenges faced by the school and highlight assets that can be leveraged to accelerate student learning. Analysis of both qualitative and quantitative measures such as state and local data, School Improvement Plans and District Strategic Plans are among the data analyzed during this initial phase. After identifying key assets, issues and challenges, the team identifies three to five high-leverage areas for action. These issues likely impact the instructional core of a program (students, teachers and curriculum) and therefore have a high impact on learning. Under the guidance of the state liaison, members of the team began to develop hypotheses that highlight the root causes for identified areas of need. The analysis of what may be contributing to those issues adversely affecting the instructional core becomes the framework for strategic objective and action steps for accelerated improvement.
Unique to the process is the fact that one school has embarked on this work. Typically, AIP work is reserved for level 3 and 4 districts with a goal of developing a district plan. At the request of the building and district leadership, the DSAC agreed to work with one school with the understanding that district representation would be included and that the process be shared with other principals through an open invitation to attend working sessions. Colleagues at DSAC have acknowledged and praised the thoughtful work our District Leadership Team has accomplished through the development and actualization of our District Strategic Plan and they have committed time and resources to further actualizing the vision and mission outlined therein. To date, the plan has been presented to the Horace Mann staff, presented and approved by the Horace Mann School Site Council and approved by Superintendent Taymore. The Horace Mann is committed to the AIP process and is confident that this collaboration will result in all students achieving at the highest potential.