Standards and Instruction


District curriculum is aligned with state and local standards or Common Core, where it has been adopted.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?



Teachers receive accurate and rigorous evaluations based on clear standards for teaching effectiveness and student performance.
  • 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.
  • 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?


All core teachers participate in at least 90 minutes per week of productive collaborative planning.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?



The district measures and manages school leader effectiveness.
  • 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?


The district has a leadership development strategy that promotes growth and retention of high-potential school leaders.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. 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.
  • 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?


The district actively manages central costs and service quality.
  • 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)?



Students with similar needs receive the same level of resources regardless of what school they attend. 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)?


District budgets are reported transparently, in a format that is easy to understand and compare across schools.
  • 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?


Principals are empowered to make hiring, staffing, and scheduling decisions for their schools.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Stay Informed

Stay in the know with the latest news and happenings.

Get in Touch

Want to talk to someone directly?

Send us an email at:


480 Pleasant Street, Suite C - 200

Watertown, MA 02472


625 Market Street, Suite 700

San Francisco, CA 94105

© 2018 Education Resource Strategies | All Rights Reserved.