Standards and Instruction

Curriculum: District curriculum is aligned with state and local standards or Common Core, where it has been adopted.
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  • Does the district publish learning standards, topics of study, and approved curriculum for all grade levels?
  • Are those standards clearly mapped to state and local education standards?

Formative Assessments: Schools regularly assess student progress—using Common Core assessments where appropriate—and use this data to improve instruction.
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  • Does the district provide a curated set of formative assessments that are aligned with district standards and curricula?
  • Do teachers frequently assess student progress and use the results to refine their instruction?
  • Are a significant percentage of school leaders and teachers trained and proficient in using data to inform school improvement and classroom practice?
  • Are formative assessments available in a timely, easy-to-use format?

Professional Development: The district effectively targets professional development where it is most needed.
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  • Does the district have a system for identifying areas in need of improvement within each school?
  • Does the district assist schools in developing a multiyear professional development plan?
  • Are adequate professional development resources allocated based on each school’s needs?
  • Does the district encourage schools to provide job-embedded professional development, such as common planning time led by expert coaches or teacher leaders, rather than off-site course based PD?
  • Does the district ensure effective professional development around cross-district adult learning needs, focused on teaching specific content and not just general pedagogy?


Evaluation: Teachers receive accurate and rigorous evaluations based on clear standards for teaching effectiveness and student performance.
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  • Are teaching standards clear, evidence-based, and aligned with Common Core or other state standards?
  • Are all teachers evaluated annually, according to the same standards?
  • Is the evaluation system aligned with standards, and does it include both practice and outcome components?
  • Are evaluation ratings an accurate assessment of teacher performance?

Hiring and Assignment: Teachers are hired promptly, deliberately assigned to teams, and supported effectively.
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  • Are virtually all district teaching positions filled by August?
  • Does the district track the quality of teacher candidate sources and adjust hiring accordingly?
  • Does the district identify schools with a high concentration of new teachers and ensure additional support?
  • Is teacher expertise equitably distributed across schools?
  • Are schools encouraged to create teams of teachers with diverse experience to fully leverage combined skills and expertise?

Collaboration: All core teachers participate in at least 90 minutes per week of productive collaborative planning.
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  • Is collaborative time focused on using student assessment data to adjust instruction?
  • Is collaborative time supported by trained teacher leaders/coaches to ensure time is used well?

Individual Development: Professional development and growth opportunities are driven by individual and team performance and needs.
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  • Is professional development primarily job-embedded rather than course-based?
  • Is professional development individualized based on teacher performance and learning needs?
  • Does the district rigorously evaluate teachers before making tenure decisions and promote only those who are proficient?
  • Do schools consistently retain and develop strong performers and manage out chronic underperformers?

Career Pathways: District compensation structure and career paths provide opportunities for teachers to pursue multiple leadership paths.
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  • Are teacher salaries competitive with other local opportunities?
  • Are there a variety of opportunities for high-performing teachers to take on increased responsibility, both inside and outside the classroom, for increased pay?
  • Are compensation increases based on performance and/or leadership contribution, rather than simply on years of experience and educational attainment?

School Design

School Portfolio: The district actively plans school sizes and configurations, balancing student needs for effective programs with available staff, facility, and funding resources.
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  • Does the district make full and effective use of existing facilities?
  • Do school types and sizes allow for flexible and innovative school designs?
  • Does the district deliberately manage the assignment of special education and ELL programs to balance quality instruction and the need for inclusion with scale and cost considerations?
  • Do school plans allow equitable access to programs across neighborhoods?
  • Does the district have a clear and cost-effective plan for staffing small (fewer than 350) and under-filled schools?

Strategic School Design: The district empowers each school leader to organize resources to support his or her chosen instructional model and student and staff needs.
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  • Does the district offer a “menu” of innovative school design options for schedule, staffing, and intervention?
  • Do schools have flexibility over their budget, including staff positions?
  • Do schools have the flexibility to hire teachers whose skills and expertise match school and student needs?
  • Do schools have the flexibility to vary teacher assignments, class sizes, and schedules?
  • Does the district help schools maximize academic time for core subjects and extend learning time for students who need it?
  • Do the rules for district and teacher work allow for adequate collaborative planning time and scheduling flexibility?
  • Do schools implement cost-effective early intervention and response models for at-risk children?


Evaluation: The district measures and manages school leader effectiveness.
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  • Does the district evaluate principals according to clear and rigorous performance standards?
  • Does the district use these evaluations to determine appropriate levels of support?
  • Does the district use these evaluations to determine compensation or new job responsibilities?
  • Does the district use these evaluations to determine assignments, strategically placing its best leaders in the toughest assignments?

Development: The district has a leadership development strategy that promotes growth and retention of high-potential school leaders.
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  • Does the district provide intensive school leadership training?
  • Does the district place high-potential leaders where they can have the greatest impact and growth?
  • Does the district provide high-potential leaders with significant operational support throughout the school year?

School Support

School Evaluation: The district sets clear and meaningful targets for academic performance growth for all schools.
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  • Are performance targets easy to understand and broadly communicated?
  • Are performance targets used to drive instruction in the schools?

School Support: The district's central office promotes a supportive culture for schools and differentiates support and resources based on the needs of each school.
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  • Are support and resource allocations based on each school’s academic performance, practice, and leadership capacity?
  • Does the central office have a culture of support rather than a focus on compliance?

Turnaround Strategy: The district has a deliberate turnaround strategy for persistently low-performing schools.
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Does the district turnaround strategy include the following components:

  • Diagnosing each school’s needs and resource levels?
  • Ensuring transformational leadership?
  • Assembling expert teacher teams?
  • Providing sufficient expert instructional support and planning time?
  • Targeted support for students in need of extra time or tutoring?
  • Additional problem-solving, support, and monitoring from the central office?

Integrated Data: The district integrates student, teacher, and resource data and uses it to make decisions.
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  • Is data integrated using a system that is easy for administrators, teachers, and central office staff to access and use?
  • Do these groups use data to drive resource allocation and other decisions?

Efficiency: The district actively manages central costs and service quality.
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  • Does the district track the costs and service quality for each central department?
  • Does the district manage its spending in response to change in key cost drivers (e.g., enrollment or funding streams)?


Equity: Students with similar needs receive the same level of resources regardless of what school they attend.
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Does the district determine school budgets by:

  • Allocating staffing and dollars through per-pupil formulas?
  • Adjusting up and down based on actual enrollment?
  • Ensuring small schools (fewer than 350) have sufficient, but not excessive, resources by deliberately considering school size in budget allocation formulas?
  • Providing additional resources to support students with greater learning needs (e.g., Special Education, ELL, low proficiency)?

Transparency: District budgets are reported transparently, in a format that is easy to understand and compare across schools.
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  • Do school budgets include all funding sources?
  • Does the district clearly publish and consistently adhere to rules for how positions and dollars are allocated to schools?

Flexibility: Principals are empowered to make hiring, staffing, and scheduling decisions for their schools.
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  • Are principals able to make decisions on hiring, adjusting schedules, trading resources, etc., without requiring a full faculty vote?
  • Do principals have control over which staff members are placed in their building?


Maximize Community Resources: The district actively partners with families and communities.
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  • Does the district partner with community providers to offer enrichment and social service support?
  • Does the district encourage and support schools to partner with parents around meeting student learning goals?

Engage Families: The district supports schools to partner with parents around meeting student learning goals.