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Resources:
School and District Leadership

Resources on addressing social-emotional needs to help students succeed in school.

A Universal Prevention Measure’ That Boosts Attendance and Improves Behavior (EdWeek)
link to article

Relationship mapping helps staff identify students who need stronger connections with school members. Building these connections can improve attendance, academic performance, and student well-being. Various schools use similar strategies like mentoring, clubs, and check-ins to foster a sense of belonging and reduce absenteeism.

Key Findings

  • Relationship mapping strengthens student connections.
  • Strong student connections lead to better attendance and academic performance.
  • Disconnected students show higher chronic absenteeism.
  • Mentoring, clubs, and check-ins are effective strategies.
  • Connected students experience long-term health benefits.

Action Steps

  • Implement relationship mapping to identify disconnected students.
  • Foster mentoring relationships between staff and students.
  • Create clubs and activities to engage diverse student groups.
  • Regularly check in with students on their academic and personal well-being.
  • Conduct surveys to gather student feedback on their school experience.

Resources on developing and executing long-term vision and goals for the schools and district.

Resources on promoting fairness and inclusivity in all aspects of district operations and student outcomes.

Resources on ensuring the provision of equitable and quality education for students with special needs.

Resources on building strong partnerships with diverse stakeholders, including parents, community members, and local organizations.

Toolkit of Resources for Engaging Families and the Community as Partners in Education Part 1:
Building an understanding of family and community engagement
(McREL)
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The toolkit provides strategies for schools to engage families effectively, emphasizing the importance of collaboration between schools and families to support student success. It outlines practical steps and resources for fostering meaningful family engagement, highlighting communication, relationship-building, and inclusive practices. The toolkit also offers examples and case studies from various schools that have successfully implemented these strategies.

Key Findings

  • Importance of family engagement in student success.
  • Effective communication strategies between schools and families.
  • Relationship-building techniques for stronger school-family connections.
  • Inclusive practices to ensure all families feel welcome and involved.
  • Examples and case studies from successful school programs.

Action Steps

  • Implement regular, clear communication channels with families.
  • Foster relationships through events and regular meetings.
  • Utilize inclusive practices to engage all family members.
  • Provide resources and support to families to help them engage.
  • Learn from successful examples and case studies to tailor strategies to your school.

Toolkit of Resources for Engaging Families and the Community as Partners in Education Part 2:
Building a cultural bridge
(McREL)
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Part 2 of the toolkit focuses on building cultural bridges between schools and diverse families. It offers activities and tools to help educators develop trusting relationships, respect family strengths, and engage families as partners in student learning. The aim is to overcome barriers to engagement and boost student achievement by fostering meaningful family involvement.

Key Findings

  • Building Trust: Developing trusting relationships with families.
  • Respecting Strengths: Recognizing and leveraging the strengths of families and communities.
  • Shared Responsibility: Encouraging families to share power and responsibilities in education.
  • Overcoming Barriers: Addressing barriers to family and community engagement.
  • Cultural Sensitivity: Understanding and respecting cultural differences.

Action Steps

  1. Develop Relationships: Implement activities that build trust with families.
  2. Leverage Strengths: Focus on family and community strengths in school activities.
  3. Encourage Participation: Ask families how they want to be involved and respect their input.
  4. Address Barriers: Identify and work to overcome barriers to engagement.
  5. Cultural Training: Provide training for educators on cultural sensitivity and communication.

Toolkit of Resources for Engaging Families and the Community as Partners in Education Part 3:
Building trusting relationships with families and the community through effective communication
(McREL)
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Part 3 of the toolkit focuses on improving communication between schools and families, especially those from diverse backgrounds. It highlights the importance of cross-cultural communication and two-way dialogues to build trust and enhance family involvement in education. The toolkit provides strategies and activities to help educators engage effectively with all families.

Key Findings

  • Cross-Cultural Communication: Differences in culture can cause misunderstandings. Educators need strategies to communicate effectively across cultures.
  • Two-Way Communication: Listening to families and involving them in decision-making strengthens partnerships.
  • Trust Building: Consistent outreach and respect for cultural differences build trust with families.
  • Family Involvement: Engaging families in meaningful ways supports student learning and achievement.

Action Steps

  1. Implement Cross-Cultural Communication Strategies:
    • Train staff on cultural sensitivity.
    • Use interpreters and translated materials when necessary.
  2. Promote Two-Way Communication:
    • Create opportunities for parents to voice their opinions.
    • Involve families in school decision-making processes.
  3. Conduct Outreach Activities:
    • Visit homes, community centers, and other local venues.
    • Ensure outreach is consistent across all school sites.
  4. Build Trusting Relationships:
    • Show respect for different cultures.
    • Be transparent and consistent in communications and actions.

Toolkit of Resources for Engaging Families and the Community as Partners in Education Part 4:
Engaging all in data conversations
(McREL)
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designed to help educators learn which student data are important to share with families and community members and how to share such data in a meaningful way.

Resources for staying informed about and effectively implementing educational policies at the district and school levels.

Tough Love: Study Shows Kids Benefit from Teachers With High Grading Standards
link to article

Recent research from Brown University’s Annenberg Institute suggests that students benefit academically from teachers with tougher grading policies. Eighth- and ninth-graders taught by math teachers with higher performance standards achieved better scores in Algebra I, leading to sustained improvements in subsequent math classes. Contrary to expectations, these students showed lower absenteeism and demonstrated lasting engagement with school, suggesting that higher expectations enhance student learning experiences.

Key Findings

  • Students under tougher grading policies performed better in Algebra I and subsequent math classes.
  • They exhibited lower absenteeism rates compared to peers under more lenient grading.
  • Academic benefits were consistent across various student demographics, including race, gender, and prior achievement levels.
  • Grade inflation, where student course grades exceed exam performance, is prevalent, particularly in affluent schools.
  • The study involved over 365,000 students across 27,000 classrooms and 4,415 teachers in North Carolina.

Action Steps

  • Encourage teachers to maintain rigorous grading standards to improve student outcomes.
  • Provide professional development to support teachers in implementing fair and challenging grading practices.
  • Advocate for policies that address grade inflation and promote accountability in grading.
  • Conduct local studies to assess grading practices and their impact on student achievement.
  • Incorporate student feedback to ensure grading policies support equitable learning opportunities.

AI Guidance for Schools Toolkit (TeachAI.org)
Link to toolkit
Sample AI Use Policy

This toolkit is designed to help local, state, and national education systems worldwide develop guidance on the responsible use of AI, ensure compliance with relevant policies, and build the capacity of all stakeholders to understand AI and use AI effectively. The recommendations in this toolkit may also inform the early stages of developing policies and procedures, whether mandatory or voluntary.

Resources on using data analytics to drive informed decision-making processes for student achievement and district improvement.

Research Article: Doomed by 8th Grade (The 74)
link to article
link to source research report

A recent report examines postsecondary outcomes among students from five New England school districts, revealing substantial racial and socioeconomic enrollment gaps in four-year colleges. However, once enrolled, disparities in college persistence between white students and their Latino and Black peers are comparatively small. This suggests that while access to four-year institutions remains unequal, success rates among enrolled students are similar across racial and economic lines.

Key Findings

  • Enrollment rates in four-year colleges are significantly higher for white students compared to Latino and Black students in the study.
  • Postsecondary persistence rates (through sophomore year) show minimal differences between racial groups, despite initial enrollment gaps.
  • The study tracked approximately 7,000 students from 8th grade through high school graduation, linking their data to postsecondary outcomes using the National Student Clearinghouse.
  • Differences in persistence were also observed across class, disability status, and English language proficiency.
  • Students attending four-year institutions are twice as likely to graduate compared to those attending two-year colleges.

Action Steps

  • Ensure equitable access to four-year institutions for all students, particularly those from underrepresented groups.
  • Provide strong supports and guidance in high school to prepare students for success in four-year colleges.
  • Advocate for policies and practices that reduce enrollment gaps and support college persistence among diverse student populations.
  • Conduct further research to understand why persistence rates among low-income, Black, and Latino students in this study align closely with those of white and more affluent peers.
  • Expand tracking beyond two years post-high school to fully assess college graduation rates and long-term outcomes.

Video: Essential Excel (Sheets) Techniques for Understanding Student Data (REC-1 Tech Bits)

Wide variety of techniques for pulling specific data from your data sets and making sense of what they mean

Resources on leading efforts to develop, evaluate, and align curriculum standards and resources across the district.

Resources on strategies for promoting professional growth, providing professional development, and implementing effective teaching practices and curriculum alignment

10 STRATEGIES FOR EFFECTIVE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT (WITH EXAMPLE) (University of San Diego)
link to article

Teacher professional development (PD) is crucial for educators to improve teaching skills and subject knowledge. It includes workshops and courses that help teachers stay updated with new strategies and standards. Effective PD enhances student learning and supports career growth.

Key Benefits:

  • Enhances teaching skills and subject expertise.
  • Improves student learning outcomes.
  • Supports new teachers and encourages career advancement.
  • Promotes a growth mindset and professional satisfaction.

Action Steps for Effective PD:

  • Focus on improving classroom teaching techniques.
  • Develop advanced subject knowledge relevant to teaching.
  • Address specific classroom challenges like bullying prevention.
  • Encourage networking and collaboration among educators.
  • Explore various PD formats and integrate technology effectively.
  • Provide ongoing support and feedback for continuous improvement.
  • Ensure teachers apply new skills and knowledge in their classrooms.

WHAT WORKS — AND WHAT DOESN'T — IN TEACHER PD (Education Week)
link to article
link to referenced research report (PDF)

Effective teacher professional development (PD) is crucial for improving teaching practices and student outcomes. However, many PD programs fail to make a significant impact, despite being a substantial $18 billion industry with limited quality control. A recent paper from Harvard and Brown University outlines key findings on what works in PD:

Key Findings:

  1. PD should focus on improving instructional practices rather than just content knowledge.
  2. Providing concrete materials and support for day-to-day implementation is more effective than teaching general principles.
  3. Follow-up meetings or coaching sessions significantly enhance PD effectiveness by providing accountability and support.
  4. Building strong teacher-student relationships through PD improves student engagement and academic success.
  5. Peer collaboration and coaching are highly effective, but their success depends on focused goals and dedicated time.

Action Steps:

  • Design PD programs that focus on practical teaching strategies.
  • Provide concrete materials and ongoing support for implementation.
  • Implement follow-up sessions to ensure accountability and refine practices.
  • Incorporate strategies in PD that help teachers build strong relationships with students.
  • Promote peer collaboration and effective coaching with clear goals and dedicated time.

Resources for enhancing communication skills with staff, students, parents, and the community, and for resolving conflicts and managing difficult situations effectively.

Resources for supporting the physical, emotional, and mental health and well-being of staff.

Resources for creating a safe learning environment for all students and staff, and implementing crisis response plans to ensure the safety and well-being of students and staff.

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