District Partner 2014-2016
ERS is partnering with the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) to support four schools from the 2014-15 school design cohort in implementing the district's priority school designs. For the first phase of work, we helped the district analyze and interpret its resource use findings, support the design and implementation of a Student-Based Budgeting (SBB) system, and to support strategic school design for the 2014-15 school year.
MNPS has growing enrollment (currently at about 81,000), consistent and steady growth in test scores, and smaller achievement gaps than the statewide average. But overall student proficiency is still 10% below the state average, and the district wants to accelerate student achievement under the demands of new Common Core-aligned standards.
As part of its Education 2018 plan, MNPS wants to increase equity, transparency, and resource flexibility so that its school leaders have the resources they need to personalize learning. At the heart of Education 2018 is the belief that "knowledge about the needs of students is greatest closest to the student." In this context, ERS is working with MNPS on their transition to Student-Based Budgeting paired with support for Strategic School Design.
- Resource Analysis: Support MNPS staff as they conduct a resource analysis of the district's expenditures; advise on how the findings of this analysis might influence the SBB formula
- Student-Based Budgeting: Support MNPS as they design their SBB formula; adapt ERS' tool for modeling SBB design options and train MNPS leadership on how to use it; support implementation of SBB
- School Design: Provide intensive coaching in strategic school design to four middle schools during the 2014-2015 school year; work with the central office on how they can better support schools as they gain more flexibility; provide schools with "data maps" to allow school leaders to see their school's data in one place—data maps are a compilation of district performance data, behavior data, etc., to help schools identify their most urgent student needs and learn more about their teacher characteristics; data maps are different from school-level resource use reports, which are about resource and course schedule metrics (i.e., how schools are using time, avg. class sizes, etc.)
- School Design Implementation Support: Provide support to four middle schools from the 2014-15 cohort to ensure priority design building blocks are implemented with fidelity, including three site visits for extended observations and working sessions with school leadership teams; the working sessions aim to problem solve on how to improve the consistency and rigor of implementation, as well as introduce tools and processes to support strong feedback routines among staff members
Findings and Outcomes
- Resource Analysis: Our resource analysis identified several key findings in MNPS, including: more variance in funding across schools than other ERS client districts; less spending—in comparison to other districts—on SPED, self-contained, ELL, and low-income students relative to GenEd students; needy schools have a larger concentration of ineffective teachers
- School-Based Budgeting: Under MNPS’ SBB formula, all schools will get more flexibility over their budget; extra money will be added for ELL students; and no school will get less money than before, but previously underfunded schools will benefit first when new money comes in
- School Design: The cohort of four middle schools were able to use their data maps to inform the school planning process for the 2015-16 school year; also:
- 100% of schools have updated their schedules to eliminate transitions during core instructional blocks
- 100% of schools plan to provide intensive onboarding programs in the summer before school starts, to ensure teachers share common expectations and receive support
- 75% of schools increased expert support
- 75% of schools significantly increased planning time by 45-60 hours annually
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